In the past, HH has looked to Bangladesh for important lessons in the development of low-income communities. Here, we present another example of a collective of local organisations and individuals taking control of their community’s living environment. Through collaboration on financing, design and the construction of new houses, this participatory model has tailored the community development process to the specific needs of its residents.
The Bangladeshi founder of the Grameen Bank, and advocate for social business, Muhummad Yunus often states that women are critical in delivering sustainable outcomes for their communities. This is exemplified in Jhenaidah, where women from five low-income communities and poor households have formed action groups that mediate directly between local community members and funding bodies, administering loans and planning future development. Their self-organisation and collective orchestration of stakeholders has also meant that the communities of Jhenaidah have been linked up with architectural professionals whose community focus ensures the delivery of locally sourced, high-quality housing solutions for the residents.
Suhailey Farzana is a community architect committed to a socially engaged process in architecture. Along with the rest of her team, Farzana played a key role in the delivery of housing for the residents of Jhenaidah. She reflects on the program, saying that, “Now the poor women groups know where to buy good quality building materials with less cost, how to keep the accounts and how to manage the construction in the community. It appears that freedom to design own spaces and learn through mistakes enhance people’s confidence.”
Each house costs approximately US$1200, for which funding is supplied by the women action groups in the form of micro-financed loans. These loans are expected to be paid back over the course of 8 years, with a minimal amount of interest being charged in this time. This interest is then fed back into the kitty so as to administer loans to more residents, allowing the program to grow over time. So far 20 houses have been built, with another 18 on the horizon for 2017!
Below you can find a short video created by Co-Creation Architects that outlines the entire process in a clear, and concise way. It is well worth a watch!
Photos courtesy of Khondaker Hasibul Kabir