Individuals served in FY18: 5,420
Volunteers engaged in FY18: 506
- Population: Almost 164 million
- Main country facts: Gained independence in 1971
- Urbanization: 35.9 percent lives in cities
- Life expectancy: 72.5 years
- Unemployment rate: 4.4 percent
- Population living below the poverty line: 24.3 percent
Source: World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in Bangladesh
Since 1999, Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh has been working with low-income families to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Habitat Bangladesh currently operates in Dhaka, Chattogram, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Khulna and Barishal districts. The programs include decent, affordable housing, clean water and safe sanitation, training in appropriate construction technology as well as disaster response and mitigation.
The housing need in Bangladesh
According to urban planning policy consultancy Demographia, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the most crowded city in the world with a population density of 47,400 people per square kilometer. About 3.5 million people in Dhaka are living in slums, home to most migrants in search of better job prospects and driven by climate change, according to Cities Alliance. Slum dwellers not only face a lack of adequate housing, infrastructure and services but also bear the brunt of natural disasters including floods, storms and cyclones in hazard-prone Bangladesh. About 25 million people are living in abject poverty and nearly a quarter of the female-headed households live in extreme poverty.
How Habitat addresses the need in Bangladesh
Habitat 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 Bangladeshi 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.
Decent, affordable housing
Based on a low-cost core house design, families begin by building a house with a single room, a veranda and a latrine. They have the option of adding a second room or building walls around the veranda to expand living space when their situation allows. In addition to providing technical support for home renovations, Habitat Bangladesh has developed guidelines and manuals on building with various materials and equipment, construction of water and sanitation facilities and project management, among others. Habitat also trains construction workers and community members in building or renovating homes.
In 2012, Habitat Bangladesh started its first urban project with the upgrading of three slums in Dhaka city. With funding from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, about 9,000 people were helped through house renovations, distribution of water filters, construction of water pumps and drainage system and walkways as well as bath houses and community toilets. Since 2014, Habitat Bangladesh has also been playing a catalytic role in engaging other nongovernmental organizations, the government and partners in urban forums and dialogues.
Disaster response and mitigation
Habitat Bangladesh aims to help disaster-affected families through emergency shelter kits and transitional housing in the early phase of its response. Habitat also provides technical assistance and project management expertise to help families rebuild their houses. Since 2007, Habitat Bangladesh has helped about 5,000 families through various disaster responses and training in disaster mitigation and preparedness. Funding support came from the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Korea International Cooperation Agency, Jersey Overseas Aid Commission, Christian Aid Ministries, Annuri Church from Korea, Bloomberg and Habitat Germany.
Local corporations, schools and embassies are strong supporters of Habitat’s work in Bangladesh. Habitat Bangladesh is currently not hosting international volunteers under the Global Village program but local volunteers continue to lend their support. Young people, in particular, play a key role in the annual Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign by volunteering, raising funds and speaking out for the need for decent housing. More than 500 individuals provided 3,400 volunteer hours in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018.
Meet a Habitat family
Lal, a 45-year-old deliveryman, has been living in Alalpur village, Mymensingh, since he was born. His family of six used to huddle together in a rundown shack. He recalled having to take refuge in other people’s homes when storms and heavy rains fell. “We were poor and did not have friends. We lack decent shelter; we felt undignified,” says Lal. In 2002, he partnered with Habitat Bangladesh to build a safe, affordable home after learning about Habitat’s work from his neighbor. Under a former Habitat program known as “Save & Build,” he repaid 400 taka (about US$4.70) monthly and owned his home after three years. He is currently expanding his home by building three more rooms. With four children aged between 15 and 21, he is planning for the future. “I have three sons who will get married in future and have their own kids. It’s my long cherished dream to improve this home to a five-storied building and I have already laid the foundation for that.”