Empowering women through sustainable housing in Dinajpur, Bangladesh

Empowering women through sustainable housing in Dinajpur, Bangladesh

News facts

Objective
Adaptation
Mitigation
Source organisation
Women Engage for a Common Future
Sectors
Cross-sectoral
Approach
Gender
Cross-sectoral enabler
Innovation & RDD
Publication date

 

Sharing the story of the recipient of the GJCS Award 2023

If you ask the local children about bamboo houses in Dinajpur district, they might tell you that these houses have always been part of the community's landscape. Many young people won’t remember that a decade ago, the majority of houses looked vastly different. Back then, families had no choice but to endure hazardous living conditions in poor-quality housing.

But times are changing in Dinajpur, thanks to AzuKo's Build for safety programme run in collaboration with Nirapod Bangladesh Songstha. It stands as a beacon of hope for women living below the poverty line, empowering them to construct safer, more resilient homes using locally sourced materials like bamboo and compressed stabilized earth blocks. This initiative doesn't just strengthen homes; it also fosters community agency, reduces carbon emissions, and bolsters local economies.

The challenges faced by Dinajpur reflect broader issues across Bangladesh – a nation grappling with climate change. Despite contributing minimally to global emissions, Bangladesh finds itself among the world's most vulnerable countries. Located in the northwest, Dinajpur district epitomizes these struggles, with a historically underserved population facing increasing poverty levels compounded by climate-induced disasters. The Build for safety programme, through the support of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) to the Gender Just Climate Solutions Award, aims to uplift women in this region through sustainable construction practices.

 

Photo: AzuKo

 

For Ponchomi, Shrove, and Popi[1], being a woman in a rural community always meant bearing a disproportionate workload. From household chores to fieldwork alongside their husbands, they juggled numerous responsibilities. However, they also struggled with the ongoing worry of living in homes that weren't up to standard and could be easily affected by natural disasters, putting their families' safety at risk.

“My house is much stronger now. It will last longer. These are small improvements, but they make a big difference,” shares Ponchomi, reflecting on her empowering journey. Ponchomi used to worry a lot about monsoons, floods, and snakes in her mud house. And her dream of a safe home for her children felt far off. However, with the alternative offered by the Build for safety programme, she learned valuable construction techniques. Borrowing a small sum, her family now resides in a sturdy bamboo-frame house, fortified against the elements.

Ponchomi's transformation into an advocate for bamboo construction is emblematic of the programme's impact. Meanwhile, Shrove's resourcefulness extended beyond household improvements, as she used her newfound skills to construct a sturdy toilet using treated bamboo. Popi's gratitude reflects the sentiments of many, underscoring the programme's transformative nature.

Recognized by the 2023 Gender Just Climate Solutions Award as a winner under the technical category, Build for Safety transcends mere construction – it embodies a holistic approach to community resilience, improved housing standards, and gender equality. With over 900 women trained since 2018 and plans for an additional 1000 by 2025, the initiative heralds a brighter future for Dinajpur. As Ponchomi, Shrove, and Popi dream of extended homes, the initiative envisions a community where every woman possesses the skills and confidence to build a safer, more resilient home for her family.

 

Photo: Nirapod Bangladesh Songstha

 

As a recipient of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)-supported Gender Just Climate Solutions Award, the Build for Safety programme stands as a scalable model. It underscores the potential for local solutions to effect significant change in vulnerable communities, emphasizing inclusivity, sustainability, and adaptability in addressing climate challenges.

[1] Shrove and Popi's identities/names changed for privacy reasons.


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