Why is clean water important?
In Bangladesh, there is a proverb about water: “The other name for water is life.”
A young heart with hope
Mohammed Selim Miah is a strong, tall and enthusiastic boy of sixteen. Known as Selim, he has a glow of youthfulness in his face. However, he hides a difficult past. He has endured hardship, loss of a parent, and poverty
Selim’s father died young from an unknown illness twelve years ago. Since that time, his mother and younger brother Mohammed Barek have been living at his grandfather’s house in a distant village called Maguntinagar. There his mother works as a day laborer.
Away from his mother, Selim has been living on his father’s land in the village of Raniyat with his grandmother Mossammed Hawshi Begum for the past nine years. He has grown up here, and he studied at the local school. His mother’s work paid for his tuition fees. When he was not in school, Selim worked as a household servant to help support his family.
Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh has a range of different approaches to providing housing solutions to low-income families. Habitat understands that each family differs in size, circumstance and need. Habitat’s approach is flexible enough to offer different and adaptable solutions to all. Home partners invest their own labor known as “sweat equity” to construct their homes. In all current projects, Habitat works through partners and also directly with the families to fully-fund homes and provides technical support for housing.
New House Construction
HFH Bangladesh offers a low-cost ‘core house’ design. Families start by building a house with a single room, a veranda and a latrine. Once this is built, the design allows the owners to add a second room and veranda.
Renovation and Repair
Habitat renovations and repairs are planned changes and upgrades made to a sub‐standard house so a family can have improved and adequate living space. We offer technical support for a range of major and minor renovations. By offering the option of renovating a home, Habitat is able to support families who already have a house which only needs improvement.
A major renovation is recommended if a house is in a poor condition and requires a large amount of work to bring it to a decent, stable shape. The work includes strengthening foundations and concrete floors, building new walls or rendering existing walls, fixing roofs (framing and covering), raising plinths and building verandas.
When a house structure is stable, the need may be for minor renovation. The work might involve sealing a floor, rendering a wall, repairing a roof, extending a veranda, adding doors and windows, plastering and painting, building a sanitary latrine, installing a rainwater-harvesting system or building a tube well for safe water.
Appropriate Construction Technology Training
Few people living in rural areas have expert knowledge or adequate skills to build houses. HFH Bangladesh has developed a set of comprehensive guidelines and training modules on different ways to build using a variety of materials and equipment; how to create water and sanitation facilities such as rainwater harvesting systems; and project management tips such as making estimates, managing labor and time, controlling waste and quality. Habitat trains existing building workers as well as community leaders and other people who want to develop the ability to make and repair their own homes in an effective and sustainable manner.
Sharing the experience
Nur Akter, 44, candidly shared the difficulties she had in her community before she was the beneficiary of a Habitat project.
At the closing ceremony of the Korean aid funded project in January, Nur Akter spoke in front of over 100 of her fellow community members, saying her relationship with neighbours was poor because her family's toilet was unhygienic and had a pungent smell. The toilet was an open pit, closed in by flimsy plastic sheets so it offered little privacy. With a husband, one son and a daughter at home, it was a health hazard for her family as well as the community. With just a small income from farm laboring, the family could not afford to upgrade the latrine on their own.
With a new latrine installed beside the house by the Habitat project, not only has it improved sanitation and the smell, it's also improved the asthetic of the house and relationships with neighbours.
Nur Akter says that after the new latrine was installed, her status in the community improved and now others who need a toilet come to see hers as an example of best practice.