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Article by: Nurul Islam Nazem, Ph.D & Md. Anwar Hossain 04 June, 2012

Mapping Poor Settlements in 27 Cities and Towns of Bangladesh: UPPR Experience

Introduction

Urbanization is an important factor in the development process of Bangladesh for a number of reasons.  First, about 65 percent of GDP of the country is being generated in the urban sector Choe and Roberts (ADB 2011), while less than a third of its population lives in its urban areas. Second, high population density and desperations in rural Bangladesh makes it difficult for the rural people to making their livelihood from within rural areas.  And third, the pace of urbanization has been very rapid during last 40 years, which means that the concentration of rural migrants in the cities of Bangladesh dominates in urban population growth.  Most of these people are poor and it is evident that they largely concentrate in large urban areas of the country and make substantial contribution to city’s economy. The number of the poor in urban areas will be massive in 2030, when the size of the urban population in country will be double, from 40 million in 2012 to about 60 million in 2030 (ADB 2012).

In the past poverty alleviation programmes in Bangladesh were oriented mainly towards rural areas. It was perhaps due to an overwhelming majority of the people used to live in rural areas and used to be involved in agricultural sector.  In the recent years, however, new thinking to look at urban areas, particularly at the urban poor as well as to initiate various programs in urban areas is taking roots (Rahman 2011). Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction is a massive effort towards alleviation of poverty in urban Bangladesh was undertaken by the Government of Bangladesh with assistance from UNDP and some other donor agencies, and implemented through Local Government Engineering Department of the Government.  This massive project in the urban areas of Bangladesh indicates that urban poverty in Bangladesh is a reality and needs attention from all concerned.

Background to the Study

There were several projects on the urban poor communities in cities and towns of Bangladesh. UNICEF started Slum Important Project in 1990s, to improve the living condition of the poor people in urban slum areas. The project later expanded and renamed as Urban Basic Services Delivery Programme UBSDP with similar aims and objectives (CUS 1999). The project was introduced in 4 city corporations and 21 Paurashavas under direct supervision of LGED, Ministry of LGRD. The coverage was all urban poor population, particularly the women and children. City authorities were also directly involved in the process of this project peoples participation was one of the strategies to implement the project. This is one of the successful projects by UNICEF.

A complementary to UBSDP, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiated a new project titled Local Partnership for Urban Poverty Alleviation Project (LPUPAP) (UNDP 1999). The success of SIP and UBSDP in terms of reaching the poor and method of operation encouraged to launch such a new programme. However, compared to the number beneficiaries the amounts of resources were insufficient. Secondly SIP and subsequently UBSDP achieved a success in micro-credit operation in a limited manner, which were considered inadequate for smooth functioning of the project. Third, NGOs were involved in operation, but their operational standards were high. Moreover NGOs overlooked the issue of empowering the poor (CUS, 2001). Thus, a new strategy was required to overcome these problems.

During the operation of the above programme it was also felt that there were no usable statistics on the poor to make appropriate decision to fix the target population. Nor there were comprehensive maps, where the location of the poor settlements were identified for programmes as mentioned above each settlements and community to be on the list and map for their proper identification and programme management.

The present project on Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction (UPPR) Programme is a continuation of LPUPAP, which included in its coverage the communication under LPUPAP. UPPR’s scope of operation and coverage is far greater than LPUPAPs. While LPUPAP targeted the more stable communities, UPPR is targeting those that are most poor and vulnerable. Without any data on the number, size and location of these poor communities, UPPR cannot achieve a success. Thus, UPPR needed reliable survey through appropriate method to identify all poor settlements in its programme cities and towns.

Objectives of Mapping and Study

This study on Mapping Poor Settlements and Vacant Lands in 27 UPPR towns and cities is an initiative primarily to identify the locations where the poor people live and to derive their poverty status.  The aim is to set a base line to monitor future changes in these settlements in terms of their existence (age), physical area, household numbers and density. Secondly the study also aims at explaining 16 thematic poverty indicators and aggregate poverty index at city/town, ward and settlement levels. Third is to identify vacant lands to suggest appropriate measures for a pro poor land use strategy. All these objectives were set to improve our knowledge about the dynamics of urban poor in terms of their location pattern, size, and the magnitude of poverty and also to assess the capacity to address problems they are facing.

Methods of Mapping and Study

The study has adapted a participatory methodology to identify and assess poor settlements in all UPPR project towns. The methodology involved a number of actors who participated in the process of activities from conceptualization to generating final maps and data base, such as specialized researchers, authorities or stakeholders at city /town level and community people in a series of sequential activities both in the field and desk work. It was an imperative that each of the stakeholders participates in making maps so that the maps could be understood easily by all of them.

Base Map Preparation

Using satellite image was an essential technique for identifying poor settlements and mapping in this study. Subsequently collecting information from each poor community was the main activity at the field level.  The first attempt was to prepare a base map for each town.  A base map of a town or city contains boundary major road network, important features such as physical infrastructure, administrative, economic, social and cultural land marks, etc. on a map so that one can easily recognize the various locations on maps.  The aim of preparing base map was to produce an accurate and well illustrated map which can be used for poor settlement mapping during the survey.

The present study demanded an innovation approach in the process of conducting the survey, and in preparation of maps and data base, which is a bit departure from the conventional surveys. Since the whole exercise was carried out through a partnership basis, the survey team was mobilized in such a manner that it can keep the spirit of partnership. The partnership was formed by the CUS consultant team, UPPR Project team, the community and the stakeholder/users.

Training and Orientation

The CUS team with support from UPPR conducted a two-day training program at town level for Field Research Assistants and Community Development Committee leaders, as these two groups were responsible for poor settlement mapping and identification of vacant lands. The first day training was limited to class room lecture while on the second day they were taken to the field to conduct a Pilot Survey to demonstrate what they had learnt on the first day. After two days training each (three member) team was assigned to a particular ward to conduct the survey until the survey is completed with full satisfaction.

Field Survey

Settlements were identified and drawn on the provided images. Each of the identified settlements were numbered according to ward number, block number and settlement number.  After identifying the settlements, the surveyors recorded the settlement characteristics in the provided score card consulting with the dwellers.

CUS has not compromised with the data quality. Sample sites were identified through satellite image and survey data for field checking. Approximately 15% to 25% of the wards were checked by the quality control team. This team updated data if required.  After quality checking database were finalized for final map preparation and data tabulation. The final step is the production of maps as per requirements and database as per format agreed upon between the two parties (CUS and UPPR).

 

Building Database, Processing and Analysis

All the identified settlements were shown on map as mentioned above and formed a database for further analysis.  We followed two approaches to analyze the data.  First, a city wise comprehensive analysis of the data; and second, ward wise explanation to have a closer look on the scenario at ward level.  The analysis of findings through maps, statistical tables and graphs were presented in atlas and reports.

The following procedure has been used to analyze the poverty score.  Each poor settlement community was asked 16 questions issues.  Each issue contained four possible answers or assessment with a value ranging from 1 to 4 respectively.  Thus, the 16 questions generated a total score which varied from a minimum of 16 to a maximum of 64.  This has been generated during field survey.  However, to make this score more meaningful, comparable and analytical 16-64 values have been converted into 0-100, where 16 equals a score of 0 and 64 equals a score of 100.

Then the data were processed in maps and statistical tables for the town, wards and settlements. Each settlement has a unique identification and has comprehensive information including a score which defines its status as poor settlements. All settlements were thus classified into four poverty classes such as extreme poor, very poor, moderately poor and marginally poor.

Limitations

The study has several limitations.  Conceptually, defining poor settlements in an area and physically identifying them to record were serious problem.  Finding a poor settlement by looking at it physically or by perception was in most cases correct.  However, in small towns, such settlements some times were not poor.  Secondly, drawing settlement boundary from image and subsequently through ground truthing for mapping is arbitrary. It is not a legal boundary for settlement.  If some other people do the same exercise may come up with slightly different results.  Thirdly, obtaining information on each settlement from community people was difficult and challenging.  The information is aggregate scenario of the settlement.  Especially, the use of score card and the value assigned for each question is also arbitrary. Finally, the present study is unique in the sense that it involved community people for conducting the survey along with trained expert surveyors.  The community people were in most cases less educated and women.  Their concentrations were in most cases poor, conceptually weak in conducting the survey and obtaining data efficiently.

Key Findings

The survey explores the nature of the key problems that are facing the poor settlements. However, the primary focus of the survey was on the identification of the poor settlements, their location and geographic size including their basic characteristics.  The departure point of this study from the others carried out in the past was employing a working definition of poor settlements for a clear identification of the settlements.  A poor settlement is defined as a group of households living in a geographically identifiable area and characterized by one or more of the following: poor housing condition, fragile environmental condition, lacking basic services, insecurity of tenure and high density of population in inner city areas. The procedure of identification of the poor settlements was a two stage process representing a powerful and innovative integration of advanced tools with traditional fieldwork techniques involving community people.

The present study identified about 44 thousand poor settlements in 27 cities and towns. These identified settlements contained 1.12 million poor households. As the total households in all 27 cities were 2.03 million in the year 2010, the proportion of poor households in these cities can be estimated at 55 percent.  Of 44 thousand poor settlements 27.10 percent were found to be extremely poor, 25.43 percent very poor, 25.04 percent moderately poor and the remaining 22.43 percent were marginally poor. If the marginally poor households an excluded, the poverty level stands at46.4 percent. It is to be mentioned here that all the poor people do not live in slum settlements in cities.

Table 1: Poor settlements and households by poverty class

Type ofSettlement

Settlement

Household

Number Percentage Number Percentage
Extreme Poor

11910

27.10

409461

36.33

Very Poor

11174

25.43

278857

24.74

Moderately Poor

11005

25.04

255201

22.64

Marginally Poor

9859

22.43

183614

16.29

Total

43948

100.00

1127133

100.00

Figure 1: Proportion of Poor Households in Study Cities and Towns

Figure 1: Proportion of Poor Households in Study Cities and Towns

In terms of the distribution of households by poverty class in poor settlements, 36.33 percent were found to be extremely poor, 24.74 percent were very poor, 22.64 percent were moderately poor and 16.29 percent were marginally poor. Extremely poor settlements are highly densely populated and larger in size, which can be evident from the fact that 33.4% of the households live in 27.10% of the settlements.

 

Settlement Characteristics by Poverty Indicators

In terms of land ownership about 32.3 % of the settlements were on private individuals land or land owned by land lords about whom the respondents hardly know anything clearly either about them or the ownership pattern. Only 9.0 percent and 4.8 percent of the settlements were identified as owner respectively by the central government and Local Government.  On the other hand, majority of the poor settlements, 36.7 percent (about 37.4% of households) live as tenant without a written contract of any kind. About 54.5 percent of the poor settlements in the study towns show that, the housing condition is very poor as less than 75% structure were semi permanent. This average picture vary substantially among the cities and towns.

Table 2: Status of Poor Settlements in the Study Cities by 16 Poverty Indicators

Indicators Determinants

Settlements

Households

Number

%

Number

%

1.Land Ownership Private Landlords

14145

32.19

370029

32.83

Central Government

3940

8.97

197629

17.53

Local Government

2102

4.78

66423

5.89

Owned by Occupants

23761

54.07

493052

43.74

2.Type of Occupancy Squatter

2788

6.34

153372

13.61

Tenant Without Contract

16119

36.68

421767

37.42

Tenant With Contract

3428

7.80

103378

9.17

Individual Owner

21613

49.18

448616

39.80

3.Housing Nature >75% Semi permanent

4919

11.19

172024

15.26

<75% Semi permanent

23972

54.55

635605

56.39

50% Permanent & 50%Semi

12678

28.85

268926

23.86

75% Permanent

2379

5.41

50578

4.49

4.Water Supply No Drinking Water

9356

21.29

308630

27.38

1 Common Tab>15 HH

15599

35.49

474341

42.08

1 Common Tab<15 HH

15221

34.63

275482

24.44

Individual Pipe

3772

8.58

68680

6.09

5.Sanitation Facilities No Toilet Available

10799

24.57

328449

29.14

1 Toilet>15 People

16088

36.61

475357

42.17

1 Toilet<15 People

14419

32.81

278343

24.69

Individual Toilet

2642

6.01

44984

3.99

6.Drainage Facilities No Drains, Stagnant Water

25258

57.47

628568

55.77

No Drains

9153

20.83

284133

25.21

Open Drains

7578

17.24

177568

15.75

Masonry Drains

1959

4.46

36864

3.27

7.Access Roads No Access Roads

13097

29.80

345286

30.63

Earth or Gravel Roads

16225

36.92

421487

37.39

Paved Roads, no Maintenance

9209

20.95

235152

20.86

Paved Roads, Maintenance

5417

12.33

125208

11.11

8.Electricity Supply Not Available, Line is Far

1765

4.02

41556

3.69

Not Available, Line is Close

3683

8.38

98205

8.71

Available, no Streetlights

27865

63.40

737696

65.45

Available, with Streetlights

10635

24.20

249676

22.15

9.Solid Waste Collection Not Available

34610

78.75

915252

81.20

Bins but no Reg. Collection

3752

8.54

101172

8.98

Bins and Reg. Collection

2782

6.33

60987

5.41

House to House Collection

2804

6.38

49722

4.41

10.School Enrolment <25%  Children Enrolled

3474

7.90

113800

10.10

25%-50% Children Enrolled

11462

26.08

344547

30.57

50%-90% Children Enrolled

18782

42.74

479363

42.53

>90% Children Enrolled

10230

23.28

189423

16.81

11.Employment >50% Families Employed

2511

5.71

84651

7.51

25%-50% Families Employed

14065

32.00

368757

32.72

>50% Families Self-Employed

20031

45.58

523330

46.43

>50% Families Reg. Employed

7341

16.70

150395

13.34

12.Civic Facilities Not Available, Limited Access

15443

35.14

444612

39.45

Not Available, Easy Access

24589

55.95

582209

51.65

Available, Limited Access

2399

5.46

64625

5.73

Available, Easy Access

1517

3.45

35687

3.17

13.Income >75% HH Income <TK4000

9294

21.15

282843

25.09

>50% HH Income <TK4000

17642

40.14

439514

38.99

50%-75%HH Income>TK4000

10655

24.24

254218

22.55

>75% HH Income>TK4000

6357

14.46

150558

13.36

14.Savings and Credit Activities Not Available

9000

20.48

152908

13.57

<50% Families Participate

18849

42.89

469762

41.68

50-75% Families Participate

12209

27.78

385396

34.19

>75% Families Participate

3890

8.85

119067

10.56

15.Risk and Vulnerability High Risk

6795

15.46

264197

23.44

Medium Risk

16338

37.18

417562

37.05

Low Risk

14859

33.81

337404

29.93

No Risk

5956

13.55

107970

9.58

16.Social Problems >50% Families Face Problems

7157

16.29

295184

26.19

50% Families Face Problems

13826

31.46

388305

34.45

A Few Families Face Problems

17306

39.38

361550

32.08

Not an Issue in Community

5659

12.88

82094

7.28

Total  

43948

100.0

1127133

100.0

Source: CUS (2011), Mapping Urban Poor Settlements and Vacant Lands in 27 UPPR Project Towns, Dhaka: CUS

 

Environmental services in the poor settlements in study cities and towns were found to be very poor. About 21.3 percent of the poor settlements do not have drinking water facilities within their settlements. Nearly one fourth of the poor settlements do not have toilets available in their settlements. Drainage condition is extremely poor. About 58% of the settlements suffer seriously from water logging problem. Worst situation has been found in garbage collection. The data shows that 78.75 percent of the poor settlements do not have waste collection service within their settlements.

The economic condition of the poor settlements were explained by income, employment status and savings and credit activities (Table 2). These were at least 21% settlements in the study cities where more than 75% of the households earned less than Taka 4000. This explains the level of their extreme poverty condition. However, the employment condition was found to be better as of the settlements (50% of the households) involved in self employment. Most of the poor settlements enjoy credit and saving facilities in all these towns. However, there were at least 20 percent of settlements where there were no credit and savings facilities available.

Among socio-economic services, access roads, electricity supply and civic facilities were considered. About 30 percent of all poor settlements in the study cities had no access to road. Access to electricity condition is however found better compared with other facilities. Nearly 90% of the settlements have access to electric power, but the service is extremely poor. Civic facilities are not available in more than one third of the study settlements. The poor can access these facilities true elsewhere in their towns, if they can afford it.   

Conclusions

Most of the findings of the study confirm our existing knowledge and understanding about the characteristics of the poor and their settlements.  The significant features of this study are: the poor settlements are dominantly scattered all over the city; settlements are mixed with large and smaller in size and the larger ones are worst off.

Poor settlements are growing at an accelerated rate.  This indicates that the economy of the city is not healthy, and the functions are not dynamic.  The city cannot provide various services to most of the people. This can be evident from the poor income and economic activities of the poor.  The size of the poor and the magnitude of poverty confirm these findings.

Out of five major areas concern (land and housing, environmental services, infrastructure, Economic and social condition) economy and environmental services were found to be in critical conditions.  Economic opportunity is limited and the management of environment services was not efficient.

From the above conditions of the poor settlements in the study cities and towns, one can identify some possible areas on interventions.  The most important area is to improve environmental services such as water, sanitation, waste management and drainage condition.  This needs proper planning and integrated interventions.  Second area of intervention is to enhance income opportunities of the poor through careful investment.  Especially, micro credit facilities can be strengthened in the City.

Cities in most developing countries are divided between the rich and the poor.  Poor’s pre-perceived economic gains and expected living condition in the cities of their destinations can hardly match the situation they really enjoy.  The poor in fact live in miserable conditions in cities under a desperate situation; while the rich can always make their fortune under any circumstance.  Bridging such division within cities is the most crucial challenge for the planners and urban development authorities.

The first step of facing such challenge is to understand the causes, dimension, magnitude and the nature of the problem.  The second step is to remove visible and invisible barriers through democratic governance.

 

References

CUS (1999) “Evaluation of the Urban Basic Services Delivery Project.” Dhaka: Centre for Urban Studies.

CUS (2011), “Local Partnership Approach for Urban Development in Bangladesh: A Comprehensive Study of Four Participatory Urban Development Projects”, Dhaka

Rahman, H. Zillur (2011), “Urban Bangladesh: Challenges of Transition”, Dhaka: PPRC

UNDP (1999) “Local Partnership for Urban Poverty alleviation,” National Development Programme

 

 

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About Author: Nurul Islam Nazem, Ph.D

Professor, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Dhaka

+880 1819234025 nazem.info@yahoo.com
+880 2 9130965 [ Download CV ]

About Author: Md. Anwar Hossain

Md. Anwar Hossain, Lecturer, Department of Geography and Environement, University of Dhaka. and Life Member and Research Associate, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), Dhaka

+880 1911463312 anwar.geo.du@gmail.com
+880 2 8120047 [ Download CV ]

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