Every year thousands of homes are decimated across the world. Reports frequently refer to floods, cyclones and earthquakes but these are only part of the problem. The underlying disaster is often the desperate poverty in the rural communities which forces people to live in hazardous locations and in unsuitable housing.

Families in the rainy district of Dinajpur are especially vulnerable to having to rebuild their homes and lives on a regular basis.

Earthen plaster is the most commonly used building material for homes in Dinajpur. While affordable and environmentally friendly, it’s vulnerable to torrential rains, flash floods, and humidity, all common conditions during the annual monsoon rains. Addition of cement can mitigate these risks, but it is an expensive and environmentally damaging material.

Engineers Without Borders UK works in partnership with Simple Action for the Environment (SAFE), a local NGO in Dinajpur, to find affordable and sustainable ways of improving the housing conditions of rural communities in the area.

Jo Ashbridge, an Engineers Without Borders UK volunteer, investigated a variety of sustainable and affordable alternatives to cement. She discovered that adding mulch from the local Bijla tree into traditional earthen plasters offered a major improvement to the durability of housing for families in Dinajpur.

Jo’s work has helped to alleviate poverty, through an affordable change of building material. This change will make homes safer, longer-lasting, more durable and resilient to extreme weather.

With the help of Engineers Without Borders UK volunteers, SAFE continues to reduce the vulnerability of low income households. In 2015, Engineers Without Borders volunteers worked a staggering 32,054 hours on international projects, such as this one. With your help we are determined to help everyone everywhere have a safe home of their own.