The wealthier people of Swaziland live in modern houses made of cement block or brick walls, with tin or tiled roofing, electricity, piped water and a sewage system or septic tank. These are the minority.
However, those who live in the rural areas live in small one or two room dwellings constructed of timber frames with walls made of mud, sticks, crushed rock, plastic, scrap metal or a combination of each. The roofs are usually made of thatch or sometimes rusty scraps of corrugated iron sheeting. The floor is usually bare beaten earth or polished cow dung. Sanitation is by pit latrine (or any nearby bush). Electricity and water is a luxury only for those who can afford it. Because water is so scarce (particularly during the dry season) many of the poor collect water from waterholes or communal taps, sometimes located several kilometres from their home. There is no guarantee of a clean water supply.
These houses are vulnerable to the elements and deterioration is inevitable. Houses are in constant need of repair. During our homestead visits we frequently come across housing that require urgent attention.
Operation Build It is an emergency relief building program that builds housing for the very poor and desperate.
The houses we commission are built from solid besser bricks which are slurried and painted on the inside and out. Each room has at least one window to provide adequate light and ventilation (which also helps reduce the risk of contracting tuberculosis). The roofs are constructed of corrugated iron with gutters to collect much valued rainwater. A ventilated pit latrine is also constructed with every home we build, promoting sanitation and health.
A simple 2 room house with a pit latrine costs around AU $4200. Seeing a little bit of dignity restored and joy on a recipient’s face – absolutely priceless!