International Build Jun. 30, 2017

Planting seeds for stable housing in Nicaragua

When Lisseth was pregnant with her son Gabriel, she was living in a home that had been constructed out of scraps of zinc, plastic and wood. She had a dirt floor and a roof that constantly leaked. Neither healthy nor secure, Lisseth, her husband Rafael and her daughter Griselda where almost constantly sick. But by the time her son was born, Lisseth had become a Habitat homeowner and she had a new home built in partnership with Habitat Nicaragua that was made of brick and had a concrete floor.

The "Seed Houses for Families of Women Entrepreneurs" is a project that focuses on 13 neighbourhoods in the municipality of Estelí. Through the construction of 30 modular homes, this project will provide 150 people with safe and decent shelter and financial education training.

“I felt very relieved that my baby is going to grow up in a real house. He is not going to get sick,” says Lisseth. “Now we know for a fact that our home is stable and this marked a new beginning for each member of our family.”

This area of Nicaragua is especially in need of housing support. Forty percent of the people here live in poverty and 1 in 4 live in inadequate housing. Many of the families in this region use their homes as a work place and business and a third of the households are led by women. Many of these women are barely generating enough income to survive and, as a result, they do not qualify for credit and live in often precarious living conditions. Supporting female entrepreneurs in this area is an effective way to promote the economic and physical well­being of these vulnerable families. That’s why this project is supporting families with an emphasis on women entrepreneurs who work from their homes, in order to support them in developing their businesses in an improved – healthier and safer – work environment.

The project directs support to home improvements and basic home construction of modular homes, called “seed houses.” The expectation is that as families grow and become more financially stable, they will build on additional rooms to these ‘seed houses’ as needed.