On June 19, 2017, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala staff gathered from around the country to talk about their commitment to Habitat for Humanity’s newest global advocacy campaign: Solid Ground.
Solid Ground was created by Habitat for Humanity International and thirty countries to address a fundamental issue that exists across the globe: access to land for shelter. Most people around the world have no rights to land on which they live due to pre-established rules and regulations, and currently this is a reality affecting a large segment of the population in Guatemala, particularly women and underprivileged minorities.
Today in Guatemala, there is a housing deficit of over 1.6 million homes (of which need to be improved or constructed), and it is estimated that this number will increase to 2.1 million homes by 2020. During this national forum, several presenters shared their point of view, and alarming statistics, regarding the causes and effects of the problematic housing situation in Guatemala. Earthquakes, tropical storms, political turmoil, extreme poverty, difficulty to tenure land, and legal and financial aspects all play a role in this large deficit. In addition, 67.8% of the population works in the informal sector. This means that the average monthly income of 2,158 Quetzales ($294 US) is not enough to provide a family with the bare minimum essentials, which has a cost of 4,171 Quetzales ($568 US). Consequently, Guatemalans are affected socially by troubles with emotional development, lack of a sense of security, health issues, among many other effects that prohibit individuals from living a healthy lifestyle.
It is this realization that has compelled Habitat Guatemala to advocate the Social Ground campaign. Habitat Guatemala believes that by changing land policy and systems, more Guatemalan families will have access to an adequate home. This solution can be achieved by motivating policymakers to enact and implement protocols and systems that advance access to land for shelter. The team at Habitat Guatemala has already begun mobilizing new and existing allies by contacting 11 different municipalities across the nation, with the hope of working together to decrease the housing deficit.
The forum ended with a visit from two members of the local government: Mayor of Salcajá, Rolando Miguel Ovalle Barrios and Architect Dálida Ively Ramírez de León. They presented the results achieved by approving the second Territorial Ordinance Plan in the entire country. They believe that by implementing such a plan, there is a positive effect on social housing and a possibility to decrease the housing deficit.
As Habitat Guatemala continues its work with the Solid Ground campaign, it is our desire that our partners and supporters are excited about the movement as well. If you would like more information about how you can get involved with Solid Ground, please contact Steven Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.