Banyan Global operates seamlessly within four practice areas:
Afghanistan is undergoing dramatic population growth and rapid urbanization, but the quantity and quality of the housing infrastructure remains insufficient. Between 1999 and 2002 the population grew by 15 percent each year. Growth now continues at an estimated rate of 5 percent (150,000 people per year). Much of this growth has occurred in Kabul, now home to more than 3 million people, 80 percent of who live in informal settlements.
Afghanistan's housing stock suffers from neglect, war damage, and poor construction. According to a 2002 survey conducted by the municipality of Kabul, 62,000 houses are fully or partially damaged, while 51,000 of these homes are informal settlements. This means that most people live in harsh conditions with little access to basic services. Only 13 percent of Afghans have access to safe water, 12 percent to adequate sanitation, and 6 percent to electricity. Overcrowding is a huge issue, with an average family size of 6.4 people and an occupancy rate of 2.3 families per home.
Unfortunately, most households don't have the money to upgrade their homes and services to a standard that ensures good health and wellbeing. While most households are simply in need of space for family members, an extra room could also facilitate income-producing activities, either through renting or having a space from which to run a small business or cottage industry.
The Agha Khan Development Network and the First Microfinance Bank of Afghanistan contracted Banyan Global to design a housing microfinance program. We worked with the First Microfinance Bank of Afghanistan and the Agha Khan Trust for Culture to survey residents in the slums of Kabul and get a better understanding of demand and needs. The survey revealed a robust demand for a housing-loan product. Most homeowners said they would use the loan for home upgrades, such as adding a room or improving structure or sanitation facilities.
Based on our findings, Banyan Global designed a housing-loan product that would be affordable to low-income residents along with a pilot program to test it. We also recommended steps that the First Microfinance Bank and Agha Khan Trust for Culture could take to begin implementing the pilot in Kabul and Herat, which could then be expanded into a nationwide housing finance program.
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