Community Housing Development: UPPRP’s project in Sirajganj I Chittagong I Rajshahi
One night before going to sleep, while Mrs. Rokeya and her husband Mr. Tara were laying on the bed, Mr. Tara slowly told his wife, with a deep voice: “Rokeya, I had never thought, even in my dreams, that I’d be able to live in a good house such as this.’’ They had just moved in their new house, which they constructed with support from Sirajganj’s Community Housing Development Fund (CHDF)  and Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPRP)  – a UKAID-funded project executed by UNDP with technical support of UN-Habitat. With technical support from the UPPR Project poor people of Sirajganj have established a CHDF, a revolving fund for providing land tenure security and better housing for the urban poor. 

Sirajganj CHDF has provided housing support for 35 families in 4 settlements in two wards in the municipality area. A total amount of 72000 USD has been distributed as housing loans from the fund. CHDF has established a process for providing land tenure security and housing. Through a number of primary savings groups, CHDF is operating its financial activities. 

Rokeya is living in one of the four settlements CHDF is working with in Sirajganj. She took a 200,000 BDT (2500 USD) loan, and like her nineteen more families have taken out a loan – from as low as 60,000 BDT (USD 750) up to 200,000 BDT (USD 2500) – and constructed their houses. ‘Rokeya settlement’, previously known as a slum, is now a well designed community housing.

Communities themselves select the most vulnerable community to start work, based on some preset indicators and with help from UPPRP. Then with the help of UPPRP team, which consists of Community Mobilization team, Urban Planners and Architects, community people prepare their own community map. After a series of consultation community people identify their own problems and come up with the solutions as well.

With a little help from the team of professionals, these community people have been building their own capacity to come together, work side by side to overcome any difficulty, any disaster, any misfortune they might face.

Another community impacted by UPPRP’s work is Jelepara,   a Hindu riverside community in Chittagong, the country’s second most populous city. The primary occupation of men in the community is fishing, up to 6 months annually. Their income range is 125-180 $ per month. Jelepara residents face many problems, such as income generation, poor land use, poor infrastructure and illiteracy, along with climatic vulnerability such as tidal-erosion with tidal-flooding. Due to a lack of proper knowledge beside these fundamental issues, livelihood standards have dropped. UN-HABITAT technical team, composed of a Community Architect and an Urban Planner, and the Community Housing Development Fund of Chittagong (CHDF) with direct participation from the Community Development Committee is playing a vital role for resolving or minimizing these weaknesses.

Problems were identified based on a survey and community consultation in groups. Intense mapping of present and future developments with the community members drove the household development programme, which resulted in a comprehensive, community-led Settlement Improvement Plan (SIP). The long-term plan also includes income generation strategies, for the development of a better life-standard in the future. For now, 13 households have started house construction, with an approved fund of 1250-2500$ for each from the CHDF.

On the other end of the country, in Rajshahi city, UPPRP is working with Koyerdara Christianpara community, located on a plot that belongs to a local church. 34 families with extreme vulnerable housing condition were living with verbal agreement, but no legal contract, inside the church’s land; another 9 houses were located inside the Church’s cemetery and suffered in fear, experiencing a serious eviction threat.

The Church was willing to lease some land to the very poor Christian community of Koyerdara, for them to secure land tenure in a planned way inside the housing area. After several meetings in 2014, with assistance from the Community Housing Development Fund CHDF Rajshahi and UN-HABITAT technical team, the community reached an agreement with the Church authority and signed a 50-year lease agreement for the land, for only 5 USD a year.

Mapping and housing design has already been completed by the community with Community Architects, and construction is due to start this month. 

There is no actual conclusion for community development as the development itself may change due to contingency. But the people in the community, together with their future generation, could save themselves from natural and man-made disasters. Getting the chance to participate to the new “idea” is what impacts the community the most, and indeed this aspiration uplifts their livelihood standard. Financial limitations are a major issue here; nobody among us is beyond this. UPPR along with CDC team is paving the road for these community people to overcome that, with time. | Kh. M. Abdullah Lizu, Fatema Sharmin Sonia and Z. H. M. Monjur Murshed Turjo

For more information on UPPRP’s project in Sirajganj, and to see many more pictures, write to Abdullah at
abdullahlizu@gmail.com or visit Sirajganj CHDF fb page. 
Contact Sonia for more information about Jelepara and Koyerdara at sonia.arch05.ku@gmail.com.
Location:
Bangladesh
Team:
UNDP, CHDF
Year:
2014