Catorce personas

Fourteen People, One Room: Housing and Hope in Guyana


“We used to be choked up in one room – my brothers, my sisters, my cousins and my parents,” Lendize Daniels recalls.

Today, she lives in a household of just four: herself, her partner and two children. She also has a supply of fresh water when she turns on the tap, a stove to cook on, and access to sanitation. These are amenities that some might take for granted, but not Daniels, and not in her reality.

In the hinterland of Guyana, where the population is predominantly Amerindian, nearly two-thirds of the people live in inadequate and overcrowded housing. Six in ten people do not have access to safe drinking water, mainly due to issues related to the remoteness of the region. Poverty is commonplace.


Quintiles de ingresos


However, the tide is beginning to turn for some hinterland communities. To date, the Sustainable Housing for the Hinterland Program, or SHHP, has changed the lives of some 350 families, providing adequate housing, safe drinking water, electricity, sanitation and recreational spaces. The program’s objective, however, goes beyond alleviating poverty; it also seeks to empower residents – particularly women – to take ownership of their communities and their lives.

Micro-documentary: the stories behind the beneficiaries


The SHHP, funded with a $3.1-million loan from the IDB and executed by Guyana’s Ministry of Communities, focuses on Regions 1 and 9 of the country, two of its poorest. Most of the people living in these areas earn less than the national minimum wage, which is equivalent to approximately US$172 per month. Agriculture serves as the primary form of employment for indigenous people in Guyana, but its income is unpredictable given that residents depend exclusively on rain-fed farming.

“We used to be choked up in one room – my brothers, my sisters, my cousins and my parents,” Lendize Daniels recalls.


Nuevos techos


The program begins on the local level, recognizing the power of the communities themselves to resolve housing and related issues. The communities determine the households that are most in need of intervention. Then, residents, including women, help to design and build houses with materials funded by the program. In some places, up to 87% of the households in the selected communities benefitted from the program.
At the close of the pilot phase in 2015, women who were part of the decision-making process were setting their sights on bigger goals. Daniels, who no longer must trek 800 meters to reach drinking water, now lives in a house that is closer to work opportunities and her children’s school. She now feels motivated to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Overall, women reported feeling included, comfortable, safe and less burdened.



The SHHP is part of Guyana’s ten-point plan for the hinterland, which identifies adequate housing as a basic building block of rural and indigenous socio-economic development. 

If you want to know more about social housing in the Caribbean region, you can download our report The State of Social Housing in Six Caribbean Countries for free, here.

Want to hear more about this story? Listen to the episode on our Improving Lives in the Caribbean podcast: 

Improving Lives