Calling to remove obstacles for low-income groups to access housing loans

Affordable and appropriate constructions materials, from reeds to steel, should be considered when building homes.

Delegates at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Bangkok, Thailand.

BANGKOK, 9th September 2011: Today, the 3rd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum and Exhibition concluded with recommendations on housing policy, finance, technology disaster mitigation and response, for more resilient homes and communities.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 3rd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, Jonathan Reckford, Chief Executive of Habitat for Humanity International, said: “Tackling the challenge of substandard housing and disasters must involve mitigation – to avoid the unmanageable – and adaptation – to manage the unavoidable.”

When disaster strikes, tackling immediate needs is the understandable focus. However, without attention given to longer-term recovery and reconstruction from the beginning, the transition from emergency response to reconstruction is disjointed and uncoordinated.

One of the recommendations of the Forum focused on removing the difficulties faced by low-income families when trying to access housing loans. Obstacles like not having official identification or credit history need to be overcome by NGOs, civil society organizations and community groups, working together with governments and financial institutions.

“When you are poor, you cannot think of the future because you face eviction. But once you have secure housing, you can start to think about your welfare and that of your community. Once your house is secure, you can do a lot of things,” said Mrs Sanong Roeysungnoen, community leader from Champae city, Khonkaen Province, Thailand.

A variety of affordable and appropriate building materials were presented at the Forum, including reeds and bamboo. Other materials were presented as useful in disaster mitigation, like used tires. Construction experts at the Forum stressed that humanitarian agencies should not simply experiment with new technologies in low-income communities, but rather work with local residents to identify suitable solutions.

Rick Hathaway, Habitat for Humanity International’s vice president for Asia-Pacific, announced that the location for the next Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in 2013 will be Jakarta, Indonesia.

Organized by Habitat for Humanity and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 700 delegates attended the 3rd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. More than 220 organizations from 35 countries were represented, drawn from governments, international and local NGOs, private sector, academia, civil society organizations, and local communities. The theme was ‘Sustainable shelter in an age of climate change and disasters.’

Visit the Asia Pacific Housing Forum website for more information.

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