Proyash formed 32 such groups organising 762 women in Savar-Narayanganj-Mirpur, raised voice to solve problems like waterlogging
Sultana Yeasmin Mili, a resident of Savar municipality in Dhaka district, could not even imagine that she will be a focal person in her community a year ago.
The 40-year-old housewife likes to help people and think about solutions for the problems that she and her neighbours face. But she did not have any platform to raise her voice.
Proyash — an urban risk reduction project of Save the Children — gave Mili the opportunity through formation of Women Group, a platform of unprivileged women in the area, which she had been expecting for a long time.
The project, implemented by Social and Economic Enhancement Program (SEEP) and funded by C&A Foundation, formed 10 such groups, consist of 25 members each, in ward-6 of the municipality. And, Mili was selected the leader of a group.
Besides, Proyash formed 10 groups in Mirpur and 12 in Narayanganj.
The ward was one of the most important areas in the town and several thousands of people, mostly the garment workers, live there. At the same time, the ward was one of the most polluted and waterlogging prone areas.
If you visit the ward’s Karnapara area where Mili lives, you will have to keep your nose closed while walking on the streets due to bad smell of garbage, scattered here and there.
Instated of walking, you may sink into the water of drain or cannel nearby during the rainy season. Because, most of the drains in the area were uncovered and the banks of the channels were too low that can easily submerge the roads after a moderate rain.
Such situation has been continuing over the years, and a number of children in the area have already been drowned in the last few years.
Mili and her group members pointed out the problems and formed an action plan containing several maps and graphs in July 2016 with support of Proyash. They submitted the plan to the municipality mayor, and he assured to solve the problems.
“People in our area have to suffer a lot due to the waterlogging problem. Our kids cannot go to school regularly during the rainy season, and we cannot do our daily activities properly then,” said Mili.
“We also suffer from different type waterborne and mosquito transmitted disease for it,” she added.
“Proyash organised a total of 25 women in our area to form the group in January 2016. Then, the group members worked together to identify the problems,” said Mili, the leader of the group titled Shapla.
“We formed an action plan with support of the project authorities in order to find some solutions, and then we submitted it to the mayor of the municipality,” she said.
“All of us became very glad that the mayor accepted our plan and assured to solve the problems. Although the solutions have not been brought yet, we did not give up hope,” Mili added.
Beyond the solution, Mili and her group members as well as the other 225 women of Proyash Women Group did a remarkable job through raising their voice to solve the problems.
The initiative of the project also enhanced women empowerment in the area and ensured their participation in the mechanism of disaster risk reduction.
“Proyash made us wake and grew leadership among us,” said Mili. “Why should women depend on men for everything? If we [women] come forward, we will be able to solve our own problems,” she said.
“I would like to thank the Proyash authority a lot as the project made a significant change in our society,” she added.
Launched in September 2015, Proyash also disseminated knowledge for preparedness of different disasters, like fire and earthquake, among the women by organising several meetings, said Obidul Islam, an officer (urban risk reduction) of Save the Children in Bangladesh.
After the activities of the Women Group, the authorities concerned, including the municipality mayor, showed eagerness to solve the waterlogging problem, he said.