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Bangladesh Completes More Than Half Of 120 Houses For Flood-Hit Families

Completion Of Japan-Funded Project Expected To Be On Schedule In Mid-March

BHUAPUR, 15th February 2008: More than a month after Habitat for Humanity began its flood response program in Bangladesh, over half of the 120 bamboo core homes have been completed. To date, 77 houses have been built in the project funded by the multi-agency funding body, Japan Platform.

All hands to deck: Wetting the stilt columns (left) and putting up the bamboo house frame.

Flood response: A typical core house built in Bhuapur, north of the capital Dhaka, has bamboo wall panels and is elevated on stilts to avoid flood damage.

Relieved: Gol Hosen (right) is happy that his family can be safe from the flood in their new Habitat core home.

And the rate of building is speeding up. It now takes just three days to build a bamboo house - down from six days at the beginning of the project - partly due to familiarity with the process and partly due to the pre-assembly of components such as bamboo wall panels and bamboo decks.

In December 2007, Habitat began building the core houses in Bhuapur upazila, or sub-district, north of the capital Dhaka, in response to the summer 2007 floods that affected over 10 million people. The homes are being constructed in Arjuna and Nikrail unions in Bhuapur. The disaster also damaged over 500,000 homes in 39 districts throughout Bangladesh and was reportedly Bangladesh’s worst floods in a decade.

In response to the flood victims’ need, Habitat designed a house in which families will be raised safely above water levels in the event of a flood. Bamboo panels are used for the walls and thick bamboo strips for the deck of the house that is elevated on pre-cast stilts.

Gol Hosen’s family was among those who received their new Habitat houses. “With this house, we can be safe from the flood, and no possibility of our house being damaged by the flood. We do not need to go to another place,” he said.

Space was a constraint at his old house, leading his daughter Golapi to comment: “It has been hard for us to study, but now we got a house. So, there will be no problem for us to study.”

Mohamad Habibur said: “This is the kind of the house I dreamed of. Now, even with the flood, the house would not be damaged. We can live in peace with family together, and the children can study well.”

The Bangladesh flood response program is expected to be completed in mid-March.

Meanwhile, Habitat is making preparations to begin rebuilding the lives of families who were affected by Cyclone Sidr that hit southern Bangladesh in November 2007. More than four million people were affected in the cyclone that damaged over 920,000 houses.

Construction of core transitional houses is expected to commence at the end of February 2008. Support from the local office of US oil major Chevron will enable the production of pre-cast cement columns for the houses. The project is located in the south-central Barisal district. The columns will then be transported further south, by barge, to Mirjagonj village in Patuakhali district, among the worst-affected areas. A Habitat office and guest house will be built in Mirjagonj to accommodate Global Village volunteers and other teams helping in reconstruction.

HFH Bangladesh’s partner organization, Christian Aid Ministries (CAM), has already sent an advance team to Mirjagonj to start preparations for hosting volunteers whom they will mobilize for the construction. Non-governmental organization CAM is providing funding to build more than 250 houses with the target being expected to increase.

HFH Bangladesh aims to assist 3,500 cyclone-affected families over the next 12 to 18 months and seeking funds to this end.