Wednesday, 1 December, 2021

Ashrayan: An empathetic gesture

That there should be no homeless in Bangladesh is the motto with which our empathetic Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undertook her dream project - ‘Ashrayan’ - derived from the Bengali word ‘Ashroy’, meaning shelter. The project name itself is self explanatory. It is among the most magnanimous and thoughtful acts of the present government for the poorest of the poor.

Shelter is among the most basic primary human needs, coming right after food and clothing, which is a requirement for security of the self and family. Without meeting the basic needs of the citizens, no country can move ahead nor aspire to be among the developed countries in the competitive world of today. As Bangladesh has ambitious aspirations to become a developed country by 2041, therefore, these steps are part of eventually reaching that goal in time. 

It is commendable that the government is constructing pucca and semi-pucca barracks along with essential utilities like electricity, drinking water and sanitation for the homeless families all over the country. Civic amenities like community centres, internal roads, box culverts, tube wells, drains, slope protections will also be built in each project-village.

Several things must be taken into consideration while constructing these houses for the homeless and destitute to ensure long-term improvement of their living standard.

The Ashrayan houses should be durable to withstand the annual natural calamities that are typical of the area they are being built in. Bangladesh, being a lower riparian country, is prone to almost inevitable annual floods in the northern regions during the monsoon. On the other hand, her coastal areas are lashed viciously during two cyclone seasons every year. Therefore, the houses must be built keeping in mind the characteristics of their location; otherwise it will be of no avail, as the houses will become decrepit and unworthy of living as soon as they are completed.

Being a key dream project of our Honourable Prime Minister, the Ashrayan Project should remain standing for decades to come, as witness of her thoughtful care for the less fortunate people of the country. The coming generations of the beneficiaries of the Ashrayan Projects should be able to tell the tales of their windfall which elevated them from being homeless to living in their own secure homes. Therefore, extra care must be taken in constructing this exceptional undertaking of the present administration.