Housing review Europe and Central Asia 2013

Habitat’s review and analysis of housing provisions in 23 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

It has become obvious that a legacy of chronic underinvestment in housing has resulted in a severely inadequate housing stock in many of the countries in Europe and Central Asia. At the heart of the huge social problems facing the region lies a ticking time bomb of inadequate shelter.

This report puts emphasis on understanding systemic housing issues rather than a detailed analysis of poverty housing conditions and causes in each country.

In the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan

In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which has spread devastation across the Philippines, the first essential step is to provide people with emergency shelter and clean up kits.

The super typhoon Haiyan that swept through the Philippines, locally known as Yolanda, is one of the most powerful storms that the world has ever seen. It is feared it has destroyed more than 70 percent of everything in its path, including 40,000 homes damaged and over 20,000 completely destroyed.

It will take weeks and months to estimate the final number of victims and the real damage caused to the country. However, at this moment in time, we know that thousands of people are without access to food, water or medicine.

First aid kits, medicine and food are starting to arrive and will be distributed to the affected provinces. However, it is equally important to think about shelter. Recovery after humanitarian disasters is a multi-dimensional process and consists of various components. One of the approaches that we, as an organization believe in, is cooperation and support on the ground very early on.

This has been our approach in the recovery after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

We believe that one of the first essential steps is to provide people with emergency shelter and clean up kits.

These kits have important tools which can be used to start fixing damaged homes – buckets, shovels, torches, hammers and so on. They also contain blankets and other plastic materials that can be used to temporarily protect damaged homes from the hard elements.

However, the devastation in the Philippines has meant that some houses, that were made up of light materials, were washed completely away and thousands of people are now left without a roof above their heads.

These victims need tents and temporary protection. In those situations, our approach has been to provide designs of temporary shelter that can step-by-step be transferred into permanent houses. These solutions, if implemented from the very beginning can considerably help in the recovery.

The typhoon also shattered other buildings, like offices and schools, which has seriously damaged sanitation facilities.

Thus, the cleaning and de-clogging of blocked drainages are desperately needed to restore access to sanitation and prevent the spread of diseases. Clean up kits too can be instrumental in this work as well.

By Mihai Grigorean
Disaster Response Coordinator
Habitat for Humanity, Europe, Middle East and Africa

This opinion article first appeared in the Information Daily.

2012 Hungarian Housing Poverty report

In June, Habitat for Humanity Hungary released its annual report on the situation of housing poverty in Hungary. This is the second study on the topic, the first one was launched in June last year. The 2012 report aims to assess housing problems and trends based on available data and analyze policy developments over the past year, from the time of the first report.

The situation with housing poverty in the country has not improved since the 2011 report. Negative trends continue as more people live in poverty and the number of people in insecure and inadequate homes is on the rise, too. National socio-economic and policy measures continue to lag behind. Typically, these measures fail to serve the most disadvantaged parts society and provide only limited responses to problems that affect many people.

To see the full report and info graphics of the housing data download the PDF document.

Elevating housing in the post-2015 dialogue

In 2000, more than 150 heads of state signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This unprecedented document provided a common vision for poverty reduction and set the stage for the creation of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. For the first time, a framework existed with specific and measurable indicators to guide development globally.

The MDGs were given a 15-year timeline, creating a sense of urgency and meaning. With less than three years until the MDGs expire, the there is movement toward creating a “post-2015” development agenda.

Because of the importance of and dire need for adequate housing around the world, it is critical that the post-2015 development agenda elevates housing as a key issue.

Habitat for Humanity has prepared a position paper advocating for the inclusion of housing indicators in the new MDS. Habitat’s scope and reach on the issue of adequate housing means the organization is well-positioned to participate in the creation of the post-2015 development agenda. The organization operates in nearly 80 countries and is one of the largest facilitators of housing solutions for those in need.

While the paper’s scope is limited to housing, Habitat recognizes the critical role other issues play and supports a comprehensive global development agenda.

To see the full text of the paper, please check the PDF file.

Habitat contributes to the civil society Roma reports

In June 2013, the Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat released the civil society monitoring reports on the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies and Decade of Roma Inclusion National Action Plans.

In the reports, civil society coalitions supplement or present alternative information to Decade Progress Reports submitted by participating governments in the Decade of Roma Inclusion and to any reports submitted by state parties to the European Commission on implementation of their national strategies. This report is not meant to substitute for monitoring and quantitative evaluation by state authorities but to channel civil society knowledge into national and European policy processes and reflect on the quality and outcomes of government measures.

The recommendation part of the reports encourages a focus on the four areas where EU leaders signed up to common goals for Roma integration: access to education, employment, healthcare and housing. For putting together the targeted actions, it is important to allocate not only EU but national, private and third sector funds to Roma inclusion.

Habitat for Humanity contributed its expertise by verifying housing sections of the country submissions and advised on the report from Hungary.

You can read the full report here.

Cities: the battle ground for sustainable housing

A new way of approaching urbanization is desperately needed, writes an expert at Habitat for Humanity International.

Wealth accumulated in cities after WWII has contributed to the expansion of the middle class. Cities have offered us many improved opportunities such as health and education. Today, the ongoing economic crisis is derailing a lot of these achievements. Rapid urbanisation in the developing world is also posing problems without offering effective solutions.

A guest column by Lucija Popovska, director of programs for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Habitat for Humanity International appeared in July at the Information Daily. See the full text.

Raquel Rolnik: Adequate housing is not just four walls and a roof

Listen to the speech made by Raquel Rolnik, UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, addressing the questions of rethinking the housing policies and recognizing opportunities during the “biggest housing crisis of the last decade”.

Housing Forum Europe & Central Asia 2013 in numbers

ECA Housing Forum in one Prezi

ECA Housing Forum in one Prezi

ECA Housing Forum 2013 was attended by 147 delegates from 71 organizations and covered number of themes, including vulnerable populations (migrants and Roma population), finance, energy efficiency, mental health, social housing, tenure, regulatory frameworks and legal issues, co-benefits of housing, as well as housing and disaster response.

Remind yourselves of ECA Housing Forum 2013 with a Prezi presentation from Anna Lena Schiller. The presentation is also available online.

Speak up! At the Fourth Asia Pacific Housing Forum

SPEAK UP! against poverty housingThe fourth Asia Pacific Housing Forum, which is being organized by Habitat for Humanity International, will be held at the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel from 2-4 October 2013. This biennial, three-day event is a leading platform for governments, private sector businesses, thought leaders and civil society to discuss creative solutions to poverty housing and the inter-related issues of sustainable energy, land tenure, climate change and disaster risks, among others. The forum’s agenda will focus on the theme “Housing as a foundation for breaking the poverty cycle”.  We would appreciate if you could help us forward this invitation to your network. Details on registration are at

Shelter is acknowledged as a basic human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a fundamental catalyst in breaking the cycle of poverty. Living in a decent home means improved health for the family, children doing better at school and increased livelihood opportunities. Yet in Asia Pacific, which is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, over 500 million people, or about one in eight, still live in slums.

To date, our partners for the event include the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Asian Development Bank, the Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council, the Aditya Birla Group, the Philippine Climate Change Commission, Citi, Bayer, Ayala Land, Panasonic, among others.

We have a number of distinguished personalities who have already confirmed their participation. They include Vice President Jejomar Binay of the Philippines; former US Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros; Deputy Secretary General Alicia Bala of ASEAN; Secretary Dinky Soliman of the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development; Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the Philippine Climate Change Commission; Donovan Storey, Chief of Sustainable Urban Development at UNESCAP; Dr. Liu Thai Ker, Chairman, Centre for Livable Cities; Zaigham Mahmood Rizvi, Secretary General of the Asia-Pacific Union for Housing Finance; Vikram Gandhi, Founder and CEO of VSG Capital Advisors; Hassan Ahmad, Chief Executive, Mercy Relief; Graham Saunders, International Federation of the Red Cross; among other distinguished panelists.

In addition to breakout sessions, there’ll be a one-day Housing Finance Course to be run by the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania (Wharton-Habitat for Humanity Housing Finance Course); a one-day workshop on the Eco-Town Framework by the Philippine Climate Change Commission; and demonstration/discussion workshops by the Asian Development Bank on energy efficiency technologies and sustainable energy for all. We look forward to your participation.

To see more information download our information brochure.

Housing sector in Eurasia needs a mind shift and cooperation

To solve housing problems in the region, practical as well as strategic actions are needed with more emphasis on education and awareness among citizens about their rights and responsibilities in relation to shelter, property and housing

Geneva, Switzerland (April 24, 2013) — Raquel Rolnik, UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, said in a video message to the delegates of the second Housing Forum for Europe & Central Asia a paradigm shift is needed from the belief that the market can solve all housing problems. She emphasized as the ongoing crisis since 2008 demonstrates, we need to redefine the responsibility of states in providing social services, including housing.

A market approach is necessary to develop housing microfinance and residential energy efficiency, among many other things, but state intervention for vulnerable groups, like the Roma, elderly, low-income, mentally and physically challenged, or refugees, cannot be overlooked. At the same time, international organizations and NGOs should shift from direct services toward shaping market solutions and policies.

These are some of the outcomes of the second Housing Forum Europe & Central Asia, which concluded on April 24, 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland. The debates and discussions touched on important thematic areas such as housing inclusiveness and equal access to adequate standards of living in cities, including the right to adequate housing.

Among the voiced recommendations were calls to increase the supply of rental housing through new models, address the problem of management and deterioration of privatized multi-household housing, work with the Roma on empowerment and legalization of informal settlements, as well as involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation of housing projects.

The three-day gathering brought together 147 delegates and 71 organizations: UN agencies, international NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent, academia, financing institutions, housing experts, real estate business and donors from 38 countries.

The Forum is organized by five international organizations – Habitat for Humanity International, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). UN-HABITAT is supporting the Housing Forum for the first time in this region as part of the regional implementation of its Global Housing Strategy.

Organizing partners will start the groundwork for the third Housing Forum for this region in 2015.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built and renovated more than 600,000 homes worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 3 million people. For more information, visit

About International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It works to support and develop the capacities of its member National Societies around the world in their humanitarian mission to assist the most vulnerable members of society, without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. The IFRC’s work focuses on four core areas: promoting humanitarian values, disaster response, disaster preparedness, and health and community care. For more information, visit

About UNDP
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States is on the ground in 28 countries and territories in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. For more information, visit

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. It was established in 1947 by the UN Economic and Social Council. The overall mandate of the UNECE is to facilitate greater economic integration and cooperation among its fifty-six Member States and promote sustainable development and economic prosperity. For more information, visit

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT programmes are designed to help policy-makers and local communities to get to grips with the human settlements and urban issues and find workable, lasting solutions. For more information, visit