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835 indigenous families from the Caribbean region received houses designed according to their traditions.

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A total of 835 families living in indigenous territories in the cantons of Talamanca, Matina, Siquirres and Limón now live in a new house, financed with resources from the housing voucher.

During the Alvarado Quesada administration, the Banco Hipotecario de la Vivienda (BANHVI) invested ȼ10.5 billion in the construction of the houses, which are distributed in multiple hamlets and villages in four indigenous territories of the Costa Rican Caribbean.

According to the Minister of Housing and Human Settlements, Irene Campos, these are 393 houses in the Cabécar Tayní Territory, 302 in the Bribrí de Talamanca Territory, and 140 in the Cabécar Alto Chirripó and Cabécar Bajo Chirripó Territories, located in the cantons of Talamanca, Matina, Siquirres and Limón.


The houses are built in wood and erected on stilts. The design responds to a process of dialogue with the indigenous associations, as a result of which the needs and preferences of the communities in terms of construction materials and design are known in detail, in accordance with their culture, with aspects of topography and prevailing climate.

In total, twelve indigenous housing projects built in the Huetar Caribe region were submitted for analysis and financing to BANHVI by the Costa Rica-Canada Foundation, COOPENAE, COOPEUNA and the National Institute of Housing and Urbanism (INVU).

The construction companies participating in its development are: Sociedad Maderera de Barrio Cuba (Somabacu), Darqco SRL and Constructora Brenes y Morgan S.A.

The construction is carried out on the land given to each family within the territory by the local Indigenous Development Association.

Currently, there is a project to build 39 single-family wooden houses on stilts in Cabecar Bajo Chirripó.

Houses adapted to tradition. The general manager of BANHVI, Dagoberto Hidalgo, stressed that the institutional commitment is to invest what is necessary to provide housing for indigenous peoples, quality housing adapted to their needs. “Providing housing for indigenous families not only provides quality of life, but also equal opportunities and closes social gaps,” he said.

With respect to the construction typology, he commented that this type of housing allows its occupants to enjoy fresh houses with family spaces and environments that respond to traditions. In addition, the use of piles helps to reduce earth movement and minimises the impact in the event of flooding.

The First Lady of the Republic, Claudia Dobles, highlighted the importance of building houses in accordance with the traditions and needs of the families who will live in them.

“Listening to the beneficiary families and adapting the projects to their requirements is essential to ensure that the constructions are of real benefit. This project is an example of inter-institutional dialogue and dialogue with indigenous associations,” Dobles said.

Complex processes. The houses are characterised by being built with certified wood and chemical treatments to make it more durable, as the construction material for all its structural elements, as well as the walls.

The topography of the territories and the location of some villages require additional funding from BANHVI for transport, as in many cases materials have to be transported to the construction site by helicopter, horseback, boats across rivers, quadricycles and even by teams of workers through the mountains.

In the case of villages with very difficult access and no electricity supply, BANHVI finances the installation of a solar panel to guarantee the family lighting at night and the possibility to connect kitchen utensils and other household appliances.

“From the Mesa Caribe Human Security Hub we have promoted programmes and projects to improve the living conditions of different priority groups, such as indigenous populations. We recognise that there are significant gaps in some sectors that must be addressed as a priority and access to housing is one of them. We welcome the efforts of the Ministry of Housing to provide these 835 indigenous families with decent housing. We will continue to work to provide more housing opportunities and thus contribute to building well-being and quality of life for the people of Limón,” said Marvin Rodríguez, Vice President of the Republic and political coordinator of the Mesa Caribe.

Randall Otárola, Deputy Minister of the Presidency for Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue, expressed himself in similar terms. “It is important that the inhabitants of these territories have housing adapted to the culture and conditions of the area. We are very pleased with the realisation of the investment made by this administration,” he said.

Finally, the Minister of Housing, Irene Campos, summarised that “our work has focused on providing housing for both extremely needy and middle class families throughout the country. It is important to point out that even 2020 closed with a total of 12,873 bonds granted, the highest figure in the last 20 years, with an investment of ¢120,714 million,” she said.

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