Noted Norwegian academic-analyst Dr.Atle Pearson said Ashrayan Project of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is a unique one in the world as there is no such precedent of building permanent houses in government land and giving ownership to people having no address.
“Today, Ashrayan is not only a unique project in Bangladesh but also in the world. There are various initiatives to help the backward people in different countries of the world, but there is no precedent of building permanent houses in government land and giving ownership to people with no address, and building houses with electricity and sanitation facilities through the government's expenses,” Dr. Alte Pearson wrote in an article.
Following is the full text of the article:
Bangladesh's Ashrayan Project (Shelter Project for homeless) is empowering the marginalised people through inclusive development by playing a vital role in alleviating poverty. The housing project is aiming to help the country attain at least eight targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Ashrayan Project, labelled as 'Sheikh Hasina Model for Inclusive Development', is ushering in a new era of growth towards building a Bangladesh free from poverty and hunger. Through the project, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is introducing a new dimension of growth and socio-economic development for the homeless populace based on the philosophy - ‘No one will be left behind.’
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is providing new houses to 22 thousand and 101 more families as a gift to landless and homeless people. These houses are being provided in the second phase of the fourth phase of the Prime Minister's Office Asharyan-II project. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hand over these semi-furnished houses along with two hundred acres of land to the families for free on Wednesday. At the same time, the Prime Minister will declare the 123 upazilas of the country as completely free of landlessness and homelessness.
In May 2020, the Prime Minister's Office undertook the Asharyan-2 project to implement Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's declaration, 'Not a single person of Bangladesh will be homeless or landless in the Mujib year.' In January 2021, the Prime Minister handed over 63 thousand and 999 single houses in the first phase of this project. At the same time, 3 thousand and 715 families were rehabilitated in 743 barracks. In June of the same year, the Prime Minister handed over 53 thousand and 330 houses in the second phase. 65 thousand and 674 houses were constructed in the third phase. In the fourth phase, 39 thousand and 365 houses were handed over in March this year. 238,851 families have been given houses with land within four stages of this project. A total of 1,194,035 displaced people have been resettled with an average of five members in each family. It is the largest government rehabilitation program in the world in terms of the number of beneficiaries and rehabilitation methods.
Studies have confirmed that 555,617 families have been given shelter after the shelter project started in 1997, as a total of 2,778,085 people had been displaced in Bangladesh. Realising the suffering of the homeless marginal and ultra-poor people, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina started the 'Sheikh Hasina Model for Inclusive Development' after coming to power. So far, around 1 million families have received houses across the country, giving shelter to more than 3.5 million people. There are also other projects similar to the Shelter Project including Veer Nibas, Minority Resettlement, Cluster Villages, Disaster Resilient Houses and Housing Fund Houses. Through these projects, 414,800 people have become house and land owners. More than 28,000 acres of land have been allotted for the homestead alone.
In the houses constructed in the Asharyan project, there are two-room semi-furnished houses with a toilet, a kitchen and a balcony for each family. There are houses specifically designed for riverside areas, for small ethnic groups in hilly areas and for small ethnic groups in other areas. There are also tong houses, multi-storied buildings for climate refugees, paved barracks for coastal people, semi-paved barracks for plain areas, barracks for charanchelors (Islands areas) and single houses for beggars. The variety of designs have been carefully implemented so that the beneficiary community gets the maximum practical benefit in their respective areas.
The shelter project has also ushered in massive changes in the socio-economics of the country. Shelters and similar initiatives have empowered the backward communities as well as improved the social status of destitute women by helping them return back to the society. By eradicating hunger and poverty, providing permanent housing, education, health and sanitation, ensuring social equity and rehabilitating climate refugees, this initiative has brought massive and visible change to the rural economy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's original philosophy is not limited to just theory or words. The practical aspect of this philosophy is also strong. The Shelter Project and similar projects are visibly a form of the 'Sheikh Hasina Model of Inclusive Development'. The features of this model are- increasing the earning prowess of the poorest, establishing them a respectable livelihood and social status, empowering women in land and house ownership, building the self-confidence, self-esteem and skills of backward people, giving them environmental protection and ensuring village-to-city facilities.
The statistics and indicators have shown that the beneficiaries of the shelter project have increased their sense of security by 98.87 percent, their social status by 98.5 percent and their standard of living by 95.2 percent. Their ability to buy new furniture has increased by 70.22 percent, their positive behavior has improved by 60.78 percent, their social harmony by 60.21 percent and their ability to buy electronic devices by 56.78 percent. Similarly, the savings rate have increased by 44 percent and the cultural activities by 35.5 percent.
The Ashrayan project, like several other initiatives by the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has caught the attention of the world's policy makers as the largest rehabilitation project in the world. The project is being discussed in the United Nations Human Settlements Program known as the UN Habitat. In the 77th session of the United Nations, held on September 21, 2022, policy makers from various countries including the United Nations participated in the discussion titled 'Refuge: Sheikh Hasina Model for Inclusive Development'.
Today, the poor, disrespected and neglected women of Bangladesh have become land owners and built their very own 'houses' with their husbands and families. This project has given them respect, dignity, strength and confidence.