Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh
Habitat's work in Bangladesh
Bangladesh News and Stories
Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh was established in 1999 and now works in eight locations around the country. It works in mainly rural programs involving new home constructions, renovations, repairs, disaster response and mitigation, training on water, sanitation and hygiene practices and appropriate construction technology. It currently operates as a branch of Habitat for Humanity International.
Housing needs in Bangladesh
Home to nearly 160 million people, Bangladesh is among the most populous countries in the world with more than 1,000 people packed into every square kilometer. Situated on a low-lying delta, Bangladesh is subject to annual floods and cyclones which destroy lives and livelihoods, especially for the rural poor. Lacking access to land, poor families often have to live in vulnerable areas such as near rivers or coasts. In recent years, Bangladesh has reduced poverty levels and improved living standards significantly. The poverty level declined to 31.5 percent of the population in 2010 from 40 percent in 2005, based on a collaborative survey between Bangladesh and World Bank. Despite the progress made, the sheer number of rural poor migrants moving to the cities and towns makes urban poverty an increasing important issue.
In the rapidly growing city of Dhaka, a third of the current residents live in slums and informal settlements. Demand for housing is already great; yet high land prices put housing out of the reach of low income families. The government sees its role as a facilitator or enabler of housing rather than as a provider. Construction is left in the hands of private sector and non-government organizations. Private developers, however, generally serve the upper and middle income groups with “low cost” housing products selling for about one million taka (US$13,000). Such units are not only unaffordable to the poor but also to many in the population.
How Habitat for Humanity works
HFH Bangladesh partners with local non-government organizations and community-based organizations to ensure effective delivery of its housing projects. Families can start by building a house with a single room, a veranda and a latrine. Once this is completed and a portion of the non-profit loan repaid, they can add a second room and veranda through an additional loan if their circumstances allow. Habitat also helps to renovate or repair existing homes for families who do not have the need and/or means to build new houses.
In disaster-prone Bangladesh, Habitat seeks to reduce not only the devastating effects of a disaster, but also to protect families and strengthen homes against future calamities. The Habitat Community-Based Disaster Mitigation program mobilizes local communities to form village disaster management committees that actively prepare for and respond to disasters. HFH Bangladesh has developed guidelines for training and educating susceptible communities on how to protect themselves and their property by mitigating the impact of disasters before they occur. Habitat also trains community members on how to build and strengthen their homes to be disaster-resilient with low-cost materials.
Habitat conducts training on water, sanitation and hygiene issues to raise awareness and encourage safe practices. Families also receive financial assistance to build sanitary latrines.
HFH Bangladesh builds with volunteers from China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Korea, Japan, Qatar, the U.K. and the U.S. It also hosts teams from schools, corporations and embassies in Bangladesh as well as expatriate teams.
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.
Meet a Habitat family
Moshammat Joygon lives in Goshaibari village, Tangail district, central Bagladesh, with her plumber husband and two sons. Twenty-six-year-old Joygon used to worry about her family’s health because of poor sanitation facilities. “We used to have a pit toilet with no roof. There was no water connection. The pit would always be wet because the rings and slab were old. The smell was terrible. There were many flies.” She attended a water, sanitation and hygiene program conducted by HFH Bangladesh in January 2011 and built a sanitary latrine later with Habitat’s help. “Now we are healthier because of Habitat’s training and the latrine.”
- June 2011: HFH Bangladesh successfully completed a 10 month WaSH (water and sanitation and hygiene awareness) project funded by AusAID through HFH Australia. This project assisted 4,250 individuals by providing training, knowledge and awareness on WaSH issues while an additional 201 families have benefited from improved sanitation facilities.
- March 2011: HFH Bangladesh started a community-based disaster mitigation project to help 280 low-income vulnerable families in Satkira and Netrokona districts. Habitat will provide training, technical and financial assistance to make houses more disaster-resilient. In addition, 2,700 people from the communities, along with Village Disaster Management Committee members, are expected to be trained in disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction and mitigation. The project is funded by Jersey Overseas Aid Commission through HFH Great Britain.
Population: 158,570,535 (July 2011 est.)
Area: 143,998 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Bengali 98%, other 2% (includes tribal groups, non-Bengali Muslims) (1998)
Languages: Bangla (official, also known as Bengali), English
Religions: Muslim 89.5%, Hindu 9.6%, other 0.9% (2004)
Literacy: 47.9% (2001 census)
Urbanization: 28% of total population (2010)
Population Living Below the Poverty Line: 40% (2010)
Access to Improved Water Sources: 80% (2008)
Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 53% (2008)
Sources: World Factbook, World Bank