Fire and water – two essential factors of day to day life have not been comfortable for the people of Bon Laudob village of the Sundarbans for many years. Women of the village had to walk several kilometers everyday with pitchers and cans to collect water from far away ponds for domestic use – washing, drinking, cooking and bathing. The unclean and contaminated pond water caused chronic physical ailments putting people, particularly women and children of the village in vulnerable health condition.
Another routine work of the women was collecting firewood from the forest across the river. This involved health risk of women and contributed to the process of deforestation, thus polluting the environment.
The fire and water picture of Bon Laudob is different now. Four ponds of the village have been re-excavated to find a better layer of water. A filtering device with a big plastic tank has been installed by the side of each pond. Women now collect safe water from nearby ponds. It saves their time and protects them, their children and other family members from water borne diseases.
The fire story is also encouraging. Each of the 355 families of the village has been provided with an eco-friendly fuel efficient oven. These ovens consume one third of fuel compared to the traditional ovens and hardly pollute the air because the smoke passes through a tall chimney. Women do not have to go deep into the forest to collect firewood. They can collect the small amount of required firewood from nearby bushes.
All these have been possible due to an initiative taken by MRDI to establish CSR fund as an alternative development fund. MRDI, under its Mainstreaming CSR to Address Poverty (MCAP) project with the funding support of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) identified several local problems through a process of social investigation that could be addressed through corporate interventions. One such issue was health problem of the people of Bon Laudob village.
After a series of discussions and presentations, Bank Alfalah and Midas Financing showed interest in providing funds for safe water and improved oven respectively. Green World Communication, a development organization took the responsibility of implementing the project.
MRDI reached the people of a remote village with the services they need badly for their very survival in collaboration with two socially responsible corporate houses and a development organization. This collaboration is essential for making the desired change.