Building with the Poor

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130 families (10 more than originally planned) could upgrade their makeshift shelter. 75% are women headed households, with an average of 5 persons per family. Selection was based on a socio-economic assessment and consulted with community representatives. Most beneficiaries are extremely poor. They are eager to participate in the project with labour and own resources. This is a good example of a people-driven strategy that empowers community organizations and promotes a collective approach to solve the needs of all members. Families share and learn, build their own doors, look for the most convenient alternatives to buy and transport materials and components, and help each other during the building process. Materials are used in an efficient way, and recycling makes possible to stretch resources to build a new room or add new improvements. That is why they could include more families into the project. The housing project was also a starting point for other initiatives that the community wants to implement, and motivated their interest to negotiate changes at a higher level. They are now associated with other NGOs and CBOs, with the support of the National University, to demand that the National Congress approves some changes to the Housing Law that will favor the poor. Contact: M. Elvira Sanchez