Individuals served in FY17: 5,485
Volunteers engaged in FY17: 369
- Population: Almost 163 million
- Main country facts: Gained independence in 1971
- Urbanization: 35.8 percent lives in cities
- Life expectancy: 72 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 Dhamrai, Dhaka district, and in the districts of Gazipur, Mymensingh, Netrokona, Tangail and Satkhira. 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
Based on UN-Habitat’s data, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the most crowded city in the world with a population density of 44,500 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 more than 2,400 families through various disaster responses and training in disaster mitigation and preparedness. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provided a 3.222 million Hong Kong dollar (over US$412,000) grant to help families affected by Cyclone Roanu in May 2016. Habitat Bangladesh has distributed 2,400 emergency shelter kits in Banshkhali upazila in Chittagong district by the completion of the project in November 2016.
Local corporations, schools and embassies are strong supporters of Habitat’s work in Bangladesh. International volunteers made their presence felt under the Global Village program. Due to security concerns in the country, Habitat Bangladesh has temporarily suspended the hosting of international volunteers since mid-2016 and is monitoring the situation with a view of resuming the program when feasible. Meanwhile, local volunteers continue to support Habitat Bangladesh’s work. 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.
Meet a Habitat family
As a young widow with two growing children, Rani had sleepless nights worrying about how she could provide for her family. She became the sole breadwinner when her husband died of cancer six years ago. There is a lack of work, however, for those like her in the small village of Fuldi, Gazipur district, where she lives. Her eldest son had to leave school and start working. Her family’s situation improved after she became a Habitat homeowner in August 2017. With a decent, secure home, Rani can have the strength to withstand trials in her life and support her family of three.