2016 has been an eventful year to say the least. I am, of course, speaking about the significant political events that transpired in countries around the world with surprise; however, I am also referring to the scores of policy and systems changes – events that may have gone unnoticed save for the tremendous impact they will have on our communities for decades to come.
At Habitat for Humanity, 2016 marked the launch of our global advocacy campaign to improve access to land for shelter – Solid Ground. The campaign, which started as an ambitious idea to improve the lives of 10 million people around the world, has materialized into a global movement. Today, our network is implementing the campaign in 27 countries as a means to increase access to land for shelter by improving one of the four campaign subthemes: secure tenure, gender equality in property rights, slum-upgrading, and disaster resilience. Fifteen global partner organizations and countless local partners have joined us to expand the capacity and reach of the campaign. In just a few short months, the campaign has already seen success in many forms; thanks to the hard work of the our network, partners and supporters, adequate and affordable housing, secure tenure and community-led development remain a focal point of the New Urban Agenda, hundreds of thousands of people in Poland have increased security of tenure, over half a million people in Honduras are benefitting from improved housing and land policies, and that’s just the beginning.
For Solid Ground, 2017 will be a year of even more change. The type of change that will leave communities prospering from, rather than suffering from, the effects of rapid urbanization. The type of transformative change that occurs when women and men have equal property rights. The lack of change after a disaster strikes a community that is resilient and equipped to respond swiftly and efficiently.
This year, seven Solid Ground country programs – Bulgaria, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Lesotho, and the Philippines – have received challenge grants to bolster their advocacy work. Some of these countries, such as Hungary, are well-versed in advocacy, using the campaign as a platform to continue the crucially important work they have been carrying out for years. Others, such as Lesotho, are newer to the advocacy arena and will leverage campaign resources to become a prominent voice and thought-leader in their local communities. These country programs, along with the additional 20 where Solid Ground is being implemented, will be the ones to watch in 2017.
Right around now, many people are making a list of New Year’s resolutions. If one of your resolutions is to bring positive, transformative change to communities around the world, then you are in good company. The Solid Ground campaign is gearing up to create lasting change in 2017 contributing to our campaign target of increasing access to land for shelter for 10 million people around the world. Join us to make your mark.