Canadian architects to micro-finance low-income housing in Nepal

Twelve representatives of the Canadian Architects’ Legacy Fund, a project of University of Manitoba alumni, will join Habitat for Humanity International in celebrating the building of that organization’s 1,500th Nepalese house as the first of many hundreds to be micro-financed by Canadian architects.

The celebration will take place on Wednesday, November 29, at 10:00am at Habitat’s bamboo housing demonstration site in the Himalayan tea plantation town of Ilam.

Invited are members of government, diplomats from Canada and other nations, researchers and practitioners of affordable bamboo technologies, micro-financers, representatives of Nepali and international humanitarian organizations, and benefiting families.

The US$25,000 Legacy Fund was established as a revolving fund in June 2006 to mark the founding architects’ 35th class anniversary. It represents a small but determined response to the global need for decent affordable housing. HFHI-Nepal was chosen as the catalyst partner because of its reputation for achieving results and the micro-financing creativity of its director.

A planned beneficiary of the “Save & Build” micro-financing is the Family Strengthening Program of SOS Children’s Village Itahari, in southeast Nepal. A pilot project of 100 houses is proposed for 200708. To overcome the most disadvantaged families’ dilemma of not being able to finance houses for want of sustainable income to pay back loans, the Legacy Fund anticipates partnering with Habitat and other specialist organizations to blend micro-financing for homes and income generation.

Included in the celebration will be a demonstration of the use of bamboo laminate panels to lower material costs and to make houses portable. As a multiplier of the housing program, Habitat and the Legacy Fund are facilitating a first-in-Nepal community-owned micro-enterprise to manufacture the panels.

The Canadian Architects’ Legacy Fund is a gift in the name of Canada whose benefits will be felt for many years to come.