Lakhs of people in Bangladesh are hit by flood almost every year. Many lose their homes to the disaster and have to seek refuge in shelters and on embankments until the water recedes.
However, an initiative from a team of Brac University's Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER) could bring a change in the lives of those most affected by floods.
Under a project funded by the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), the team has made flood-resistant floating houses, using bamboo, wood and plastic barrels.
Members of the team, led by Dr Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus of Brac University, said each house was built at a cost of Tk 10 lakh, but could now be made for around Tk 5 lakh.
As part of the project, tilted "A Dream House", three houses, each covering around three kathas, were constructed in Dular Char area of Shariatpur's Bhedarganj between January and July of 2017.
Earlier in 2016, the team had won a $250,000 fund after getting selected in a flood management competition organised by the GRP.
Apart from withstanding floods, the houses can also survive strong storms and earthquakes of magnitude 8, Nishat claimed.
Keeping the theme of sustainable development in mind, the process of generating earnings for inhabitants has also been created within the houses through an effective integration of modern technology, he said.
Agriculture, fisheries and poultry production can be ensured inside the house through special arrangements. Through hydroponics and aquaculture and the utilisation of vertical farming method, around 4,500 vegetable plants and 1,000 fish can be produced inside the house. There are also facilities to rear 216 chickens, said members of the team.
The house is environment friendly, said Nandan Mukherjee, the main designer and head of the project, and a Bangladeshi researcher of UK's University of Dundee.
All the bio-waste from the chickens and those living in the house would be turned into gas through bio-digesters and can be used for cooking, he added.
The energy demands of the house have been cost-effectively and sustainably met through the implementation and integration of solar panel, solar concentrator, wind mill and mechanical energy.
The most modern technology has been used to store and supply rain water. Even if it doesn't rain for 167 days, there is a reserve tank beneath the house that can store 17,000 litres of water.
"Simply speaking, there are round-the-clock facilities of pure water, energy and gas supplies in an environment-friendly floating house. The house is self sustainable, hence the inhabitants will not face any kind of crisis during the time of a natural calamity," said Dr Nishat.
He added that anyone would be able to build such houses as the procedure and design would be published on the GRP website.