An exploratory study of Slum Development projects in Dhaka city: a case study of UBSDP and WATSAN
PublisherMasters of Development studies, BRAC University
AuthorKhan, Shakila Parveen
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Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of growth of urban population at over 6 percent per annum over the last three decades compared to the national population growth rate of about 1.67 percent (Fourth decennial population census, 2001, Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh, 2004). The number of the urban poor has also increased from 7 million in 1985 to 11.9 million in 2005 (CUS Slum Report, 2005). According to the third decennial population census, 1991 the percentage of urban population was 20.2 while that of rural 79.8. A major reason behind it is the concentration of economic, social, political and administrative organs of a nation or region in the cities have made it a magnet for rich as well as poor households. This has created certain adverse effects such as mass poverty, proliferation of slums and squatters, inadequate supply of urban facilities such as water, electricity, garbage disposal, sanitation, sewerage, and fuel for cooking as well as degradation of social and physical environment. These harsh conditions are faced mainly by the urban poor(compared to their counterparts in the rural areas). This is more so for the capital city Dhaka where 70percent people live below the poverty line. They are the most deprived sector with respect to obtaining basic urban facilities. According to a census in late 1990s, only 26 percent of the urban population was served by piped water and only 11 percent had access to adequate excreta disposal facilities. The environmental conditions, especially water pollution problems arising from in adequate treatment of sewage, poor drainage and inappropriate disposal of solid waste, are often appalling and worse than in rural areas (Islam, N. et al., 1997). Several attempts in the form of programs or projects have been taken for the overall development of the poor of the Dhaka city slums. A few such projects are the Slum Improvement Project (SIP) launched in 1995, the Urban Basic Service Delivery Project (UBSDP) in 1997 and The Water and Sanitation Rehabilitation Programs (WATSAN) in 2005. Studies on urban development projects and programs are considerably small in number unlike in the case of rural development. Some analysis is done on the basis on Household Expenditure Surveys (HES) but it is not widely used since definitions often vary from time to time restricting its usefulness. There is however a great need to explore the true impacts of the urban development project at the recipient level. In Bangladesh the need for adopting policies responsive to the need of urban poverty alleviation are now felt by the government as well as the planners and the professionals from outside the government. This widely felt need has prompted the undertaking of this dissertation. By looking into all the above issues and by taking the sector of the urban populace that resides in the urban slums of Dhaka city this dissertation attempts to find out how fruitful the projects are in fulfilling their activities with respect to their specific objectives to understand how they work for these poor people. The key findings were that the situations before the slum development projects interventions under study much differed from the situations after the slum development projects interventions, particularly in the areas of their activities as part of the process of fulfilling their objectives. These changes, in most cases were found positive and advantageous in improving the standard of living of the beneficiaries. This reveals that the urban slums' development projects or programs may become essential or become a prerequisite for creating a self sustained nation that conforms to the Millennium Development Goals.