- Improve the community development activities around our plant, to meet the needs of the local community more effectively;
- Introduce new approaches and initiatives to contribute to local socioeconomic development.
Lafarge in Bangladesh has implemented a comprehensive community program with the assistance of a local NGO, to benefit those people living in the vicinity of its cement plant in the north of the country, a remote wetland area.
Following a survey carried out with the NGO, a number of areas were identified for priority action, related to health, education and skill development to boost employment opportunities. In these areas, a number of actions were undertaken:
- Health: we set up 5 new ‘sub-centers' to complement an existing Community Development Center next to the plant. These ‘sub-centers' include medical facilities and employ a full-time paramedic, providing 25,000 people from around 40 villages in the area with easy access to health services.
- Education: coaching and teaching activities were also set up at these sub-centers, for students who cannot afford to go to school. This has more than doubled the number of people who now have access to Lafarge education facilities.
- Skill development and job creation: we set up free training courses in solar panel installation and mobile servicing, two areas identified as offering significant local job opportunities. 40 trainees completed the training in the first year of the program, all of whom subsequently found employment. An existing tailoring and embroidery program for local women was also boosted and support provided to help them find new outlets for their products.
- Business development opportunities: Lafarge provided business advice to four local cooperatives to help them professionalize their practices, and guaranteed a fixed amount of labor and raw materials contracts each year, provided that quality standards were met.
Through this program, our plant in Bangladesh has significantly increased health coverage and access to education for the surrounding population. It has also helped local people to gain relevant skills and, through the work with the local cooperatives, has contributed to generating local business opportunities.