Like many women in Bangladesh, Khadiza is the head of her household while her husband works as a security guard in Dhaka. She takes care of her mother-in-law Saleha, 65, and her son Hasib, 13. Whatever money that her husband Ahsan sends home, most of it was used to repair their old house in Titkata village, Patuakahli. When a cyclone or heavy storm hit, the roof would sometimes be broken and often water got in through the gaps in the wooden walls, making the earth floor muddy. Often, her family had to take refuge in their neighbor’s house. “I was ashamed we had to do that,” said Khadiza. The house repairs barely lasted a year and each time, they would spend most of the money sent by her husband, who earns about 8,000 taka (US$92) a month.
In addition, both Khadiza and her mother-in-law felt vulnerable when they two use the toilet which was located farther from the house, particularly at night.
Instead of continuing to struggle with inadequate, disaster-prone housing, Khadiza took a decisive step. She partnered with Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh to build a disaster-resilient house that is also age-friendly. The house was built on a raised plinth to prevent flood waters from entering, and diagonal bracing on the wall alongside the top fixing of roof set at certain degree angle with improved wood joining to withstand cyclonic wind loads.
For the safety and convenience of Saleha, handrails have been installed along the steps to their Habitat home as well as to the toilet just outside.
Her family moved into their new home in September 2021. “We are really thankful. Amid COVID-19, We no longer have to take shelter in our neighbor’s house. We feel safe and secure, even if a disaster hits. With this home, our dignity and social status is raised.”
Khadiza’s family is among 74 families who have partnered with Habitat Bangladesh to improve their homes and disaster resilience in a project funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s Humanitarian Assistance program.