Housing could be generally termed as a habitable shelter but its meaning stretches far from merely a shelter. It is the total living environment including dwelling units, land, the neighborhood services and utilities needed for the well being of its inhabitants. Housing is one of the basic beings, which provides security, and sense of belonging to the owner. The pre-requisite for health and comfort is proper housing.
Bangladesh, like many other developing countries face an acute shortage of affordable housing both in the urban and rural areas. The housing shortage was estimated in 1991 to be 3.10 million units out of which 2015 million units in rural areas and 0.95 million units in urban areas. The shortage was projected to be 5.0 million by the end of the year 2000. The government is fully aware of the problem and various steps are being undertaken to counter it.
The National Housing authority has been the principal public sector agency engaged in solving the enormous housing problem of the country, particularly for the poor, the low and the middle-income group of people.
Background of Establishment of the National Housing Authority (NHA)
The end of the British rule and the partition of the subcontinent resulted in migration of million of Muslim refugees flocked into the four main cities of Bangladesh and started living on vacant government lands in these cities. They erected makeshift houses creating unplanned and unhygienic condition. The influx of these refugees also produced tremendous strain on the existing services and infrastructures. In view of these situation the then government created housing wing under the Works, Power and Irrigation Ministry in 1958.
The government undertook housing programs throughout the country in order to rehabilitate the refugees and the local low and middle-income families in an organized way. The “housing wing” was upgraded to the present Housing and Settlement Directorate in 1971 after successful completion of the refugee rehabilitation program. To ascertain shelter for all by 2000 the Democratic government now formulating National Housing policy 2004, considering the present need of the country. In the light of the National Housing policy, the national Assembly has adopted and approved the National Housing Authority (NHA) Act. 2000. in accordance with the act, Housing and settlement direction (HSD) and deputy Commissioner Settlement (DCS) office have been abolished and a new organization NHA has been formed by merging these two organization. The National Housing authority Act 2000 has been implemented on the 15th July, 2001 through the government notification.
Post liberation housing situation
The liberation of Bangladesh brought about an influx of rural population to the urban areas, Bangladesh has an agriculture-based economy and most of its rural population is dependent on agriculture. There is a huge surplus of labor in the rural areas as only farming cannot support all the rural population. As a result, they remain unemployed or under employed for most of the year. These population along with the millions affected and uprooted by the war of 1971 migrated to the cities in search of jobs and better life. Most of them started squatting on the government owned vacant land like the road reserve; railway stations sides of railway tracks, launch terminals and market places. These poor people lived in appalling conditions, totally unfit for human habitation without the presence of any sanitary or utility facilities. As a result, an unhealthy condition was created causing serious threat to the public health and the overall environment of these cities.
The housing and Settlement Directorate implemented housing projects to rehabilitate the low income and to provide housing for the middle income people including the refugees during the pre-liberation era. during the pre-liberation era, HSD took in various housing projects including sites and services and squatter resettlement projects. They were implemented in various urban centers of Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and the districts HQ's.