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Architecture for Humanity Helps Poor Communities

The nonprofit group provides free services and launched the Open Architecture Network. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Slums are densely populated areas of housing where people live in poverty and dirty conditions. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that by two thousand twenty, a billion and a half people will live in slums. These are among the people that a group called Architecture for Humanity wants to help.

Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit organization based in California. The group provides free design and architectural services to poor communities.

Cameron Sinclair is the executive director. He says Architecture for Humanity has developed a network of about four thousand architects in one hundred countries. They partner with local communities to work on projects. Cameron Sinclair says a "community design" process gives everyone an equal share in the project.

Architecture for Humanity also provides money and skills training to build structures. In some cases, this training has led to separate micro businesses within communities.

Architecture for Humanity is ten years old and has built about two hundred fifty structures around the world.

The group is building schools in West Africa through a partnership with UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. And it is working with football's governing organization, FIFA, to build sport centers in Africa before the two thousand ten World Cup.

The group also designed housing and community plans in Sri Lanka after the South Asian tsunami in two thousand four.

Structures built by the nonprofit do not require electric power.

Two years ago, Architecture for Humanity launched a Web site to make architectural plans and drawings freely available for download. The Open Architecture Network has about twelve thousand registered users and two thousand projects. Anyone can add projects and ideas to the site,

Cameron Sinclair predicts that the Open Architecture Network will one day have enough designs to fit any environment or situation.

Architecture for Humanity has a budget this year of almost one and a half million dollars. The executive director says about ninety percent goes toward materials, labor and skills training.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. A link to Architecture for Humanity can be found at You can also find transcripts and MP3s of our reports, and learn about other nonprofits working in the developing world.