Habitat for Humanity, Fiji

Habitat for Humanity Fiji (HFHF) works in partnership with low income families and communities to build and improve homes, civic buildings, and infrastructure – such as water/sanitation systems, evacuation centres, schools, orphanages, women’s shelters, medical clinics, and community halls.

Australian volunteer Sally Dowling working with local collegue at Habitat for Humanity in Fiji. Photo: D. JamesHFHF describes its model of assistance as a 'hand-up' instead of a 'hand-out', lowering costs by utilising volunteer labour under the direction of qualified HFHF carpenters and plumbers, and asking the community to contribute in kind with accommodation and meals, as well as provide local materials (primarily sand & gravel). 

Established in 1991 as a charitable trust under the auspices of Habitat For Humanity International, HFHF has since helped over 28,600 people to build homes and a range of other projects throughout Fiji (including disaster response and recovery) through partnerships with governments, non-profit organisations and international volunteers.

Location

HFHF is based in Fiji's capital of Suva. Located on the eastern side of Fiji's main island Viti Levu, Suva is a harbour city built on a peninsula, featuring a mix of modern buildings and traditional colonial architecture. With a population of around 90,000 (over 170,000 in the greater urban area), Suva is the commercial and political centre of Fiji, and the largest urban area in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand. Students from the Pacific region and a growing expat community make up a significant proportion of the inhabitants. Despite its coastal position, Suva has no beach but social pastimes include weekend getaways to islands and local villages, and an annual cross country hike.

Assistance requested

HFHF's rapid expansion in recent years has driven a corresponding need for management level capacity building in governance, PR and marketing. With little available funding for hiring someone of the requisite skills, assistance is required to align staff roles with the expanding strategic direction of the organisation, mentor program managers, and continue the development and implementation of HFHF's communication and resource development. The organisation has also identified access to finance as major barrier to ensuring that all Fijians have a roof above their heads. Incorporating a micro-finance housing or mortgage product may address this need but requires support to assess feasibility, design and implementation.

Impact

Through the Australian Volunteers program, an Australian Government initiative, volunteers have supported the development of Human Resources and Marketing and Communications systems. They have provided mentoring for local staff to support the organisation in its service delivery to provide simple, decent and affordable housing and infrastructure that reduces Fiji's poverty deficit.