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By : Diane Diacon

For twenty years the World Habitat Award competition organised by the Building and Social Housing Foundation has identified innovative and long-lasting solutions to housing problems faced by countries of the global South as well as the North. Included in this special edition of Open House International are eighteen housing projects which demonstrate successful approaches to some of the most prevalent housing problems in the world today. These are all winners or finalists in the competition over the last five years. A brief description is provided of each project, together with a summary of the key innovative approaches used. Details are provided at the end of each chapter as to where further information can be obtained. The projects are drawn from a range of different contexts. They vary in size from large national programmes to individual projects in small neighbourhoods and address a broad range of housing- related issues. They include examples of environmentally and socially sustainable housing developments, co-operation in housing provision and management, post-disaster reconstruction, empowerment and community development programmes for the urban poor, the provision of healthy housing and the re-use of empty buildings to provide affordable housing. What this wide range of projects has in common is an approach that recognises the value of involving people fundamentally in the decisions that affect their homes and lives. All the projects are people-centred and help to build and strengthen people and communities as well as houses. The approaches used here transcend the divisions of North and South and present concepts and approaches that have proven capacity for transfer. Encouraging the transfer of the approaches and experiences identified through the Awards is a key aspect of the Foundation's work, as we seek to ensure that the lessons learned can be widely used by others who face similar problems. International exchange programmes, seminars and the provision of information on the projects, both in hard copy and electronically continue to be used to further encourage the transfer of experience. Project submissions for the World Habitat Award 2006 competition are now being sought. Entries should be received by 1st June 2006 and details of how to enter can be found on the BSHF website Projects are sought that: �� Demonstrate practical, innovative and sustainable solutions to current housing issues faced by countries of the Global South as well as the North. �� Can be transferred or adapted for use as appropriate. �� View the term habitat from a broad perspective and bring other benefits in addition to housing, such as energy or water saving, income generation, social inclusion, community and individual empowerment, capacity building or education. The international judges of the competition include Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT and Dr Hans van Ginkel, Rector of the United Nations University. The Awards are presented each year at the global celebration of World Habitat Day.

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