An Innovative Approach to Improving Land Access for Shelter

by Anne Shaffer Myers, Global Advocacy Campaign Director, Habitat for Humanity International

Just a few short months ago, Habitat for Humanity launched its very first global advocacy campaign. Solid Ground is reforming international, multinational, national, and local policy and systems to improve access to land for shelter for 10 million people through this three-year campaign – and I’m excited to tell you how.

The global focus of the campaign is centered around Habitat III, the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. Habitat III will produce an outcome document called the “New Urban Agenda,” a plan that will help define urban priorities and shape implementation of sustainable urban development for the next 20 years. Sustainable urbanization includes a broad range of issues, including transportation, infrastructure, environment, and others, but to be successful, urbanization plans must meet the housing needs of urban residents. Without the basic human right of adequate shelter, the billions of current and future urban residents will not be able to thrive and contribute to a vision of sustainable cities, and Solid Ground is promoting housing – and secure tenure, the freedom from fear of eviction – at the center of the New Urban Agenda.

But Solid Ground isn’t just one campaign. It’s a collection of work addressing the issue of access to land for shelter by focusing on four main subthemes – secure tenure, gender equality, disaster resilience and slum upgrading. And Solid Ground campaigns are taking place at all levels all around the world.

Habitat for Humanity Honduras is eliminating barriers to accessing land for shelter by advocating for changes in legal and political frameworks of housing within municipal governments. Specifically, they are applying a demonstrated model of engaging diverse stakeholders to identify and address the barriers to land access for shelter one municipality at a time.

Kenya has one of the strongest and most stable economic growths among Sub-Saharan African countries, but around 60% of the population lives in informal settlements. Women and minority groups are at greater risk of living in substandard housing. Through Solid Ground, Habitat for Humanity Kenya is alleviating pressures of uneven access to resources for marginalized populations by advocating for a higher percentage of women to practice their property rights and acquire land titles or other forms of tenure documented under their own names.

Due to an upsurge in the population and the increasing rate of migration to urban cities, Cambodia is in drastic need of housing. In 2014, the Royal Government of Cambodia enacted the National Housing Policy, but the policy has yet to reach low- and middle-income families. Habitat for Humanity Cambodia is advocating for the effective implementation of the National Housing Policy in Cambodia to facilitate access to improved housing for the growing number of urban residents.

We can’t carry out this important work alone. We are fortunate to have over a dozen diverse partners – including IHC Global – who are building capacity and expanding the reach of Solid Ground in innovative ways. Solid Ground’s expanded network of allies with common goals provides an opportunity to build sector impact. Participating Habitat entities at every level also seek partners who endorse Solid Ground’s vision. Partnerships acknowledge that by working collaboratively, the organizations will have a greater effect on access to land for shelter.

To read more about the Solid Ground campaign and take action with us as United Nations member states negotiate the New Urban Agenda, visit

IHC Global is a proud supporter of the Solid Ground campaign.