Through the work of Habitat for Humanity organizations and partners throughout the four years of our global advocacy campaign, Solid Ground, more than 3 million people in over 40 countries across the world have increased access to land for shelter. Habitat for Humanity hosts the Global Advocacy Award as an acknowledgement of the outstanding policy and advocacy efforts implemented through the Solid Ground campaign by our national organizations. We received many amazing applications from across our network, and today we are pleased to celebrate our three award winners: Habitat for Humanity Brazil, Habitat for Humanity Côte d’Ivoire, and Habitat for Humanity India.
Congratulations to all of our colleagues in Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, and India!
This year’s Global Advocacy Award will support ongoing efforts to further the advocacy and policy changes beyond the Solid Ground campaign, for each of the winners. The work that these three national organizations have engaged in to create systems and policy changes on land and housing issues has been resourceful and inspiring.
We encourage everyone in our network to take a moment and learn more about these three winners, detailed below. This is also an opportunity to pause and reflect on the incredible things we have learned from implementing the Solid Ground campaign in 41 countries over the last four years. Our network worked and mobilized in new ways, and the hurdles and achievements are detailed in the final report “Multiplying Impact Through Advocacy: Capturing lessons from Solid Ground on improving access to land for shelter through policy and systems change.” We also captured the incredible and varied advocacy efforts in five case studies, profiling the advocacy efforts of our colleagues in Côte d’Ivoire, Lesotho, Jamaica, Bangladesh, and Brazil.
We are proud of the work of our advocacy teams around the world, and can’t wait to see who applies for next year’s Global Advocacy Award. What can we all accomplish to unlock policies and systems to increase access to adequate and affordable housing in the next year? I can’t wait to see!
Habitat for Humanity Brazil: Putting a stop to forced evictions through policy change and coalition building
Since enrolling on the Solid Ground campaign in 2016, Habitat for Humanity Brazil has been working on improving tenure security for low-income communities at risk of eviction. Even though protected by the constitution of Brazil, many low-income people are still forcibly evicted from their land. This has resulted in greater numbers of individuals living without security of tenure or losing their homes and being displaced, while many buildings remain vacant in city centers. To respond to the ongoing and recurring forced evictions, Habitat Brazil has taken a local approach to their advocacy strategy, developing methodologies that can be replicated in national and global contexts. Habitat Brazil’s strategy is multi-pronged: building coalitions with stakeholders; facilitating outreach to judicial and representative authorities; mapping and monitoring land conflicts; conducting a feasibility study for turning abandoned buildings into social housing units, and; building public support and advocating for democratic processes in local and national decision-making. As a result, increased tenure security for many families has followed. For example, due to Habitat’s work in the city of Recife, the government ratified the Decree for Collection by Abandonment which gives low-income people access to social housing. Additionally, Habitat Brazil was involved in shaping the Urban Plan of Recife, which now protects people living in informal settlements from evictions.
Habitat for Humanity Côte d'Ivoire: Increasing tenure security through grassroots efforts and improved land certification systems
Habitat for Humanity Côte d'Ivoire has focused on ensuring access for all to land tenure security for people living in rural communities. Following the land-based conflict in the 2000s, the Ivorian government has made land governance a priority. However, the government does not have all the necessary resources to implement wide-scale land reforms to address the challenges in securing land and property rights. Recognizing the importance of land documentation, Habitat Côte d’Ivoire took a multipronged approach to create change. They engaged directly with individuals to explain the steps community members should take to obtain land documentation. They also worked with regional and village authorities to implement a more effective and efficient land certification system. They created new tools through technology and apps to enable collection of land data and they established a regional observatory on land rights that will lead to further research and innovation. To date, through these systems that Habitat Côte d'Ivoire helped to improve, over 99,457 people in local villages have received land documentation.
Habitat for Humanity India: Connecting marginalized communities with their land rights
For many of our national organizations, addressing the housing needs of marginalized groups has been a priority, and the case of Habitat for Humanity India is an excellent example. Habitat India has been working on ensuring existing land and housing policies are more inclusive and support marginalized groups, such as the Irula community. The Irula people have historically faced significant discrimination, as they have been deemed part of the lowest caste in India and have been disenfranchised from equitable land rights. In order to ensure implementation of existing policies enabling land allocation for previously unrecognized communities, Habitat India worked with Irula families to equip them with necessary tools to advocate for proper land documentation and ownership. To date, approximately 5,000 people have successfully petitioned the government for land documentation. Habitat India has supported the Irula people in petitioning the government for land tenure documents, additionally enabling them the right and freedom to access markets more easily to invest properly in their homes. Habitat India has provided guidance to the Irula people to form inclusive community committees, including women, youth and community leaders. It is through these committees that Habitat India has supported local Irula communities in building relationships with district-level government authorities and advocating for their land rights. The close cooperation with the government has resulted in leveraging US$5 million in the form of land, subsidies for housing and livelihood.
Although the Solid Ground Campaign is ending on March 8, 2020, we know that this is just the beginning of what we can achieve in policy and advocacy across our network. The campaign has provided us with a solid foundation by building advocacy capacity across our network, and the inspiring work of our national organizations continues to encourage us all to keep striving and creating a world where everyone has a decent place to live.