HABITAT for Humanity Cambodia yesterday launched its first programme specifically targeting families affected by HIV/AIDs and officials announced plans for 120 homes in Phnom Penh and Prey Veng province.
The programme, to be implemented in concert with other local NGOs, will also provide for repairs to 200 houses, according to a Habitat press release.
Ian Pearce, programme manager for Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, said at a press conference in the capital yesterday that the project would benefit families receiving assistance from participating local NGOs, including Khemara and the local office of Save the Children.
“We know that the project partners are already bringing a tremendous change in the lives of the beneficiaries by the care that they provide. But we have seen the photographs where the beneficiaries are living now,” Pearce said. “They deserve much better, both as a human right, but also because a decent and safe house will aid the treatment they are already receiving.”
The government came under fire from local and international rights groups last year for its treatment of about 40 HIV/AIDS-affected families evicted from the central Borei Keila community to Tuol Sambo village, located in Dangkor district. In particular, the groups criticised conditions at the site – which they said lacked infrastructure and access to jobs and medical care – as well as discrimination at the hands of other families in the village.
Bernadette Bolo-Duthy, the country director for Habitat for Humanity Cambodia, said that while the programme launched yesterday was conceived two years ago, one of its objectives was to house families without subjecting them to “further discrimination”.
She said Habitat for Humanity wanted “to be sure [the houses] aren’t grouped in one location”.
Pearce said Cambodia was selected for the programme, the first of its kind in the region, because of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the high number of NGOs working with those affected by the disease.
One other Habitat for Humanity programme offering housing to HIV/AIDS-affected families was just getting under way in Uganda, he said.