Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s housing initiative grants dignity for Bangladesh’s homeless

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Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina

On June 11, 2024, in a significant and transformative event, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina distributed 18,566 houses to homeless and landless families across Bangladesh. This distribution is part of the ‘Ashrayan-2 Prakalpa’ (Project), a flagship housing program under her government, and coincided with the Eid celebrations. This initiative goes beyond merely providing shelter; it represents a substantial step towards restoring self-dignity and self-respect for the nation’s most vulnerable populations.

Addressing the nation through a video conference from her official Ganabhaban residence, Prime Minister Hasina emphasized the profound impact of the housing projects on improving the living standards of the landless and homeless. She articulated that these homes are not mere structures but symbols of a new beginning, fostering self-confidence and dignity among the beneficiaries. “Houses are being given free of cost under various Ashrayan projects. So, the living standard of the landless and homeless people has changed, bringing self-dignity for them and making them self-confident,” she remarked.

The Ashrayan project, initiated in 1997 by Prime Minister Hasina, first provided homes to 70 families on Saint Martin Island in Cox’s Bazar. Since then, the initiative has grown exponentially, rehabilitating 771,301 families and impacting approximately 3,856,505 individuals. This year’s Eid distribution of houses is a testament to the continued commitment of the government to ensure housing for all, further consolidating the vision of a developed and prosperous Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Hasina’s drive to uplift the homeless is deeply rooted in the legacy of her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In 1972, he pioneered the rehabilitation program for the homeless, laying the foundation for a long-term vision of social welfare. Prime Minister Hasina has carried forward this legacy, transforming it into a comprehensive national strategy through the Ashrayan project.

The project’s name, “Ashrayan,” which means “shelter,” signifies the essence of security and belonging that these homes provide. Each house, constructed on two decimals of land, features two bedrooms, a kitchen, a toilet, and a veranda, ensuring basic amenities and a dignified living environment. Ownership documents are granted in the names of both husband and wife, promoting gender equality and family stability.

The Ashrayan-2 Prakalpa (Project), has significantly contributed to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh. By providing secure housing, the project has not only improved living conditions but also fostered community development and economic stability. Prime Minister Hasina highlighted, “We are fulfilling the basic rights of the people that include food, clothing, accommodation, treatment, and education guaranteed by the constitution.”

Moreover, the initiative aligns with the government’s broader objectives under Vision 2021, which successfully transitioned Bangladesh into a developing and digital nation. The government now aims to pursue Vision 2041, transforming the country into a developed, prosperous, and smart Bangladesh. The housing program is a cornerstone of this vision, ensuring that no citizen is left behind.

Prime Minister Hasina also acknowledged the current global challenges, including inflation driven by wars and sanctions. She called upon the citizens to practice economic prudence, especially in the use of water and electricity, and to maximize agricultural productivity. “Grow whatever you can on your land,” she urged, emphasizing the need for self-sufficiency in food production to mitigate the impact of global economic pressures.

In the face of natural calamities, such as the recent cyclone Remal, the government has shown unwavering support. Prime Minister Hasina assured the affected populations that the government is ready to rebuild completely damaged houses and provide materials to repair partially damaged ones. This swift response underscores the government’s commitment to standing by its people in times of need.

The success of the Ashrayan project is not solely attributable to the government but also to the collective effort of the nation. Prime Minister Hasina extended her gratitude to the leaders and activists of the Awami League for their relentless efforts in supporting the program and ensuring her release from imprisonment in 2008. Her personal journey, marked by resilience and dedication, mirrors the spirit of the Ashrayan project-overcoming adversity to build a brighter future.

The Prime Minister’s distribution of homes today included 1,282 houses in Lalmonirhat, 261 in Cox’s Bazar, and 1,234 in Bhola districts. These distributions are part of a broader phase that has already seen 266,012 families rehabilitated across multiple stages. The government’s target is to declare 70 more upazilas in 26 districts as landless-and-homeless-free, bringing the total to 464 upazilas across 58 districts.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s housing initiative, encapsulated in the Ashrayan-2 Prakalpa (Project), is a beacon of hope, resilience, and national pride. By providing homes to the homeless and landless, the government is not just offering shelter but fostering a sense of ownership, community, and self-worth among the beneficiaries. This initiative is a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of inclusive governance and the enduring legacy of visionary leadership.

As Bangladesh strides towards its ambitious goals under Vision 2041, the Ashrayan project stands as a testament to what can be achieved through dedication, empathy, and collective effort. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s unwavering commitment to the welfare of the homeless and landless continues to inspire and shape a future where every citizen can live with dignity and hope. The Ashrayan-2 Prakalpa is more than just a housing project; it is a symbol of a nation’s commitment to its people, a testament to the power of collective action, and a beacon guiding Bangladesh towards a brighter, more inclusive future.

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