One year on from the devastation of Cyclone Sidr, Habitat Bangladesh has announced that the construction of 480 transitional shelters and 480 hygienic sanitary latrines in the cyclone devastated areas of Mirzaganj and Bakerganj will be completed by January 2009. To celebrate the progress and process of rebuilding after the disaster, HFHI-B and its partners held a Shelter Handing-Over Ceremony at the Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in Dhaka on 29 November 2008.
The ceremony featured speeches from Mr. Sayed Ershad Ahmed, President, American Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh, and, Mr. B.M.M. Mozharul Huq, Advisor, Humanitarian Response Team, Disaster Management Cluster, UNDP. The Chief Guest, and Guest of Honor respectively.
Mr. Ahmed explained to the audience, “I feel proud that Chevron Bangladesh and other individual donors from Bangladesh came forward generously and chose a trustworthy organization, such as Habitat for Humanity International, that was focused on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Sidr affected families.”
Mr. Shah Muhammad Nasim, Deputy Secretary from the NGO Affairs Bureau, Kelly Koch, National Director of Habitat Bangladesh, Mr. MK Aaref, National Board member, Md. Abul Bashar, CSRP Project Manager, and donor partners in the project: Chevron Bangladesh, Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) and UNICEF Bangladesh, also spoke during the ceremony.
Under the Cyclone Sidr Rehabilitation Project (CSRP) of Habitat Bangladesh, 450 houses were constructed in Mirzaganj and Amragachi Union in Patuakahli District in partnership with US based charity organization Christian Aid Ministries. Another 30 shelters were constructed in Bakerganj in the District of Barisal through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program of Habitat in partnership with its longest CSR partner Chevron Bangladesh.
Along with the above-mentioned funding, HFHI entities in the Netherlands and Great Britain supported the over all shelter project and the construction of 480 hygienic toilets and the hygiene promotion training funded by UNICEF Bangladesh.
The impact of HFHI-B’s work has been significant. Shelter recipient, Aleya Begum, described her family’s situation at the time of the cyclone: “My husband was not at home at that time. Only the children and I were at home. Floodwater swallowed everything and left nothing behind. Everything was lost; our entire house including plates, pillows, blankets, doors and even our livelihood of ducks, chickens.” Aleya was impressed with the work of HFHI-B and the volunteers that spent their time at the project. She said that she expects “a tremendous change in our lives,” in terms of her children’s education, the ability to lock and secure their house to live safely and improved hygiene standards with a concrete toilet.
“The impact of Habitat’s work has been huge to these families who otherwise would today still be left in inadequate shelter or worse yet, homeless – vulnerable to the multitude of effects resulting from inadequate housing as well as future severe weather conditions” said Kelly Koch, National Director, HFHI Bangladesh.
The ceremony was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the success of HFHI-B’s Disaster Response Program following the devastation of Sidr. In addition, the ceremony provided an opportunity for all those involved with the Project, and those who recognize the importance of Habitat’s work to come together and celebrate.