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From farmer to entrepreneur

Two years ago, Habitat for Humanity started working in a community in Northern Bangladesh to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices amongst households. This included training to construct toilet facilities to a safer and more sustainable standard. Previously, people in the community would have likely used pit toilets which aren’t hygienic or practised open defecation.

Globally, 946 million people practice open defecation in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water. This practice leads to the spread of diseases and approximately 280,000 diarrhoeal deaths are caused by poor sanitation each year. Better water, sanitation and hygiene could prevent the deaths of 361,000 children under the age of 5 annually.

As the community strived to improve their hygiene practices, there was a rising need for materials in toilet construction. This gave 29-year-old Nayan Mia, a member of the community, an idea to start a business in this area.

Nayan in his workshop

After Nayan received training from Habitat, he decided to quit his job as a farmer and focused solely on growing his business. Previously, he used to work in seasonal agriculture and struggled to find an income during the off-season periods.

Today, Nayan is a successful entrepreneur selling and making materials that can be used in the construction of sanitary toilets. This includes toilet and well rings, slabs and pillars. In addition, he has since employed two people to help out in his workshop.


“I am grateful to Habitat for giving me the idea for the business. I am not just making money from the business but also helping people to practice better hygiene and sanitation through this. That gives me pleasure of doing the business,” Nayan said.

Habitat is now the third year of its water, sanitation and hygiene project and it is expected to complete by 2018.

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