Bangladesh is among the most populous countries in the world with more than 1,100 people packed into every square kilometer. Nearly one-third of the 160 million population is living below the national poverty line, according to World Bank’s data in 2010. More than two million people in the capital city of Dhaka either live in slums or are without any proper shelter. Urban migration is mainly due to better employment opportunities, especially in the ready-made garments sector, and educational opportunities. While most people migrate for economic reasons, more than 26% leave for the cities because of natural disasters, river erosion and recurrent flooding.
More than two million people in the capital city of Dhaka either live in slums or are without any proper shelter.
HFH Bangladesh works with partners and volunteers to provide decent homes as a way out of poverty. Responding to disasters such as cyclones or storms has enabled Habitat to help Bangladesh families rebuild more resilient homes. Improving communities’ access to clean water and safe sanitation along with raising hygiene standards lead to better attendance in school and greater economic productivity.
HFH Bangladesh is working in Dhaka and Gazipur districts as well as in the north to implement integrated housing, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) projects. In a partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), 164 low-income families will receive new houses or repair their houses while 62 permanent latrines will be built and 32 tube wells will be installed. The wider community in these districts will also receive WaSH training.
Funding support comes from partners such as the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Australian Government Direct Aid Program and Habitat programs in Great Britain and Canada.
In urban Mymensingh, HFH Bangladesh is working with Dutch and Korean partners in separate projects to build up the local community. The partnership with Foundation Op Eigen Wieken from the Netherlands aims at promoting a healthy living environment, particularly for women, children and young girls. Habitat will provide technical support to help female-headed households improve their housing. In the same area, a KOICA-funded multi-purpose building will serve as a community center for social gatherings and livelihood training apart from the provision of classrooms and a public library. The building also comes with gender-specific public toilets and bath houses.
HFH Bangladesh is partnering with HFH Australia to strengthen the Beguntila slum in Dhaka through the provision of clean water supply, improved toilets, communal bath houses and training in better hygiene. The project has the potential of being replicated in another urban slum.
“Everyone is feeling good and happy that something has been done for the community.”
-Shabana | Dhaka, Bangladesh
Collecting water used to be a daily struggle for Shabana, a 30-year-old mother of four, who lives in Talab camp in Dhaka. Things have changed since HFH Bangladesh installed wells in the community and provided water filters for home use. Shabana is among some 3,000 people who received AusAID-funded training in WaSH and waste management. Shabana said: “Everyone is feeling good and happy that something has been done for the community.”
With Habitat’s help, Shabana replaced the old mud floor of her house with a cement floor. The home is now more comfortable for Shabana, and her three daughters and a son. Shabana became the sole breadwinner after her husband left the family five years ago. Shabana and her two older daughters, Popy, 13, and Roshni, 10, work from home. By sewing beads on shoes, they earn about 1,000 taka (USD 13) a week. More importantly, replacing the flimsy wooden door with a steel door which can be locked has made the family of mostly females feel more secure.