Home to nearly 163 million people, Bangladesh is among the most populous countries in the world with more than 1,200 people packed into every square kilometer. According to a World Bank study, the capital Dhaka is rapidly growing, drawing in an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 poor migrants every year to provide key labor for the city’s industries and services.
Bangladesh is also one of the poorest countries in the world. 4 out of every 10 people live below the national poverty line, according to government data on income, consumption, and ability to meet basic human needs.
While the country is predominantly rural, the exponential growth in population and urbanization puts tremendous pressure on housing, sanitation, health, education, and infrastructure. In addition, Bangladesh relies on a relatively narrow range of resources and is subject to frequent natural disasters. Collectively efforts to relieve poverty face formidable challenges.
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 low-lying regions near rivers or coasts.
Dhaka is growing rapidly. One-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. Two-thirds of the poor in Dhaka rely on squatter settlements, refugee rehabilitation colonies, or slums.
The government sees its role as a facilitator or enabler of housing rather than as a provider. Construction is left in the hands of the 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$17,000). Such units are not only unaffordable to the poor but also to many in the population.
Bangladesh country profile
Population: Over 163+ million (2017)
Urbanization: 35.4 percent lives in cities
Life expectancy: 72.22 years (2017)
Unemployment rate: 4.12 (2018)
Population living below poverty line: 24.3 % (2016)
Access to improved water sources: 84.8 % (2012)
Access to improved sanitation facilities: 57 % (2012)
Bangladesh country facts
When Habitat started in Bangladesh: 1999
Families served: More than 17,528
Volunteers hosted in FY-19: 456
Volunteer hours performed in FY-19: 4657
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 the Dhaka district (City corporation area) and the districts of Mymensing, Jamalpur, Patuakhali, Satkhira, Pirojpur, and Kurigram. The programs include descent, affordable housing, clean water, and safe sanitation, training in affordable construction technology as well as disaster response and mitigation.
The housing need in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is among the most populous countries in the world with more than 1,200 people packed into every square kilometer. According to United Nations data, about 25 million people are living in abject poverty and nearly a quarter of the female-headed households live in extreme poverty. 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 readymade garments sector, and educational opportunities. While most people migrate for economic reasons, more than 26 percent leave for the cities because of natural disasters, river erosion, and recurrent flooding.
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 to lead to better attendance in school and greater economic productivity.
Improved living conditions and health through housing and WASH Intervention
Habitat Bangladesh is working in the Dhaka district as well as in the north to implement integrated housing, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects. Recently Habitat Bangladesh has successfully implemented a 34-month long project in Dhamrai Upazila of Dhaka and Kaliganj Upazila od Gazipur districts. The project was funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). By the completion of the project in December 2017, the project has improved the lives of 618 households through improved housing and trained over 15000 individuals through over 1100 training sessions e.g. appropriate construction technologies, comprehensive WASH training, masonry, carpentry, electrical wiring, sewing, and embroidery, etc.
Community-based disaster mitigation and preparedness
In the disaster-prone and poverty-stricken district of Satkhira in the southwest, HFH Bangladesh aims to help 3,000 people protect their lives and build disaster-resilient housing. Members of the community will also learn to cultivate and build with bamboo. Jersey Overseas Aid Commission is funding this project.
In urban Mymensingh and Jamalpur City Corporation areas, Habitat Bangladesh is working with Korean partners in separate projects to build up the local community. The partnership with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) through a three-year housing and comprehensive WASH program in Sadar Upazilas of Mymensingh and Jamalpur districts involving both the rural and urban areas including slums that started functioning in January 2018. Habitat Bangladesh has also implemented a similar kind of project in Dhaka and Gazipur districts from 2015 to 2017. This new project came after the successful implementation of the prior one aimed to address a severe shortage of adequate housing and improved sanitation in this Upazila through the provision of housing and sanitation and other related issues.
To improve urban WASH practices and ensure access to clean water sources, Habitat constructed 4 community bathhouses and water reservoirs in both the districts in FY19. Moreover, a total of 553 feet of walkways and drainage systems have been constructed in both the districts. Along with these construction activities, Habitat also trained more than 375 community people on inclusive WASH, focusing on sanitary toilet use and hygiene behavior change. More than 375 people in the community also received appropriate construction technology (ACT) training.
Urban slum upgrading
Habitat Bangladesh has been implementing urban projects to build resilient urban slum settlements in Mirpur, Dhaka since 2012. Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity has implemented urban slum renewal projects in 5 different slums with support from Habitat for Humanity Australia. This 5-phase program uses a resilience framework to conduct community vulnerability assessments through meetings, resident feedback, and survey, to come up with a long-term Community Development Plan (CDP). Subsequently, a range of infrastructure interventions and training was provided to increase the resilience of the slum dwellers. In FY19, Habitat Bangladesh has constructed a community toilet with 2 chambers,1 community bathhouse with a water reservoir and 170 feet drainage systems with walkways in Kurmitola (Raju’s Slum) Slum in Mirpur, Dhaka. Habitat has selected East Shahidbag slum of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to be its next destination as we start the fifth phase of this project.