Islamic Relief Worldwide Bangladesh has been implementing different types of projects in northwest Bangladesh since 1994, dedicated to improve socio-economic situation of extremely poor peoples. During course of its work, Islamic Relief observed that there are some orphans, their sibling and mothers in every community living in extreme penury with not even a proper roof on their heads. They belong to some of the most vulnerable and socio-economically marginalised groups in Bangladesh. They live in very poor houses with not enough to eat and very poor schooling. Most of the time they are also left out of the safety net or social security program of the Government. The prevailing patriarchal family dynamics and socio economic environment around them, further limits their access to even the other basic needs and services.

These women-headed families with orphan children are extremely marginalized. These families struggle from dawn to dusk for food with low wage rates and irregular opportunities for them even to sell their labour. They cannot even dream to improve their house and install tube well and latrines of their own. Most of them live in very poorly built houses made of thatch, straw or leaves. They are not even able to maintain it properly. The house drips in rain and lets in the cold during severe winters.

As they have no tube well and sanitary latrine of their own almost all such families frequently fall ill to water borne diseases. Most of these families depend on home-based livelihoods like poultry, goat and cattle rearing, homestead gardening. But when they are affected by any disease, they are forced to sell their productive assets to pay for medical bills and become asset less. Thus continues their vicious cycle of poverty.

To address their poor situation, Islamic Relief Worldwide Bangladesh implemented a project –

“Access to Improved Housing Safe Water and Sanitation for Orphans families” in Mithapukur sub-district under Rangpur district.The objective of the project was to provide improved houses, safe water and sanitary latrines for families of selected orphan children.

The inputs of the project have improved the houses, water hand pumps and sanitary latrines of the orphans and their families. It is expected that this project would make a significant impact on orphans and their family members. Better living and sanitary conditions will reduce their exposure to diseases and also the treatment cost. It will also improve their physical and mental health and increase their capacity to work. A proper house will also give them a social dignity to the orphan children and their families. They would feel more secure and would be more confident about their future.

Islamic Relief supported the families of orphans irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or gender. However priority was given to teenage girl orphan children. The targeted orphans included 53 girls and 47 boys and among these 82 are Muslims, 17 Hindus and 1 from the indigenous community.

Beneficiary’s choice and opinion was given priority during the construction process. The provisions for the house included corrugated iron sheets and fence with wooden structure, cement pillars, bamboo for the roof, wooden door and window and stairs built of bricks in front of the door.

Beneficiaries are now happily living in their houses. No more dripping houses in rains or cold shivers in the cold spells! Ensured availability of safe water and sanitary latrines also means dignity in bathing and defecation and freedom from water-borne diseases for these families.