Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, holding approximately 900 people per square kilometre. Despite developmental progress in recent years, Bangladesh continues to have high levels of poverty – ranking 142 out of 187 in the United Nations Human Development Index.
Controlling the rate and impact of urbanisation remains a major challenge for Bangladesh. The capital, Dhaka, has an overwhelming 14 million residents, with 4.1 million of these residents living in urban slums throughout the city.
The conditions in Dhaka’s slums are dire – it is common for families of six or more to live together in one cramped room. There is garbage overflowing in the streets, drains are blocked, and the communal latrines are dirty and dangerous for women and children.
To make matters worse, Dhaka is vulnerable to natural disasters, and densely built communities are particularly at risk of flooding and fires. Habitat for Humanity’s work in Bangladesh addresses some of the most vulnerable groups and focuses on empowering communities.
In the slums of Dhaka, our focus is on building the capacity of residents to withstand and prepare for natural disasters. We also create resilient communities by clearing drains, repairing toilet blocks, installing wells and upgrading homes (including installing secure doors and cement floors).
Families are also provided with training on health and hygiene. In Northern Bangladesh, a four year integrated water, sanitation and hygiene program is underway in three districts.
This project focuses on improving access to facilities for the poor and vulnerable, while strengthening local markets and community groups for sustainable, long term water, sanitation and hygiene services.