New research shows that working men and women in poor urban settlements across Bangladesh often fail to meet the wellbeing needs that they prioritise. Looking across ten key areas of wellbeing, the study (conducted by a partnership of the Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with BRAC University and ActionAid Bangladesh) explores informal worker perspectives on what it means to live well in the city. It investigates issues that are not commonly addressed in urban poverty policy debates, such as social relations, empowerment and dignity.
The study finds that on most wellbeing domains, very small proportions of respondents are thriving. Whereas there are only small differences in prioritisation between women and men, levels of achievement on these priorities regularly vary for these groups. Across sites, people are satisfied with physical access to the dwelling, settlement, and their workplace. However, access to affordable drinking water, medical facilities, and in some cases latrines, is a serious unmet need.
Overall, wellbeing priorities vary between sites, reflecting their specific urban environments, and this suggests the need for urban policies and programmes to be highly sensitive to context. The study also notes the absence of such policy, and limited government providing public services to these urban poor communities.
Action Aid Bangladesh. Failing the Urban Poor: applying a wellbeing approach to understand urban poverty. Action Aid Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2015) 6 pp.