Understanding urban livelihoods in a secondary town; the case of Faridpur, Bangladesh.
This case study looks at urban livelihoods in Faridpur, Bangladesh. The town is home to a high number of victims of floods and river erosion, who take refuge mainly in the elevated khas (fallow government land) and along the embankments and riverbanks. Mastaans, who are in turn linked to the local political establishment, mediate their access to plots and any services. There are 22 informal settlements (slums) within the municipal area. The total land of the Faridpur Municipality is 5,777 acres, of which 22 slums cover 49.24 acres (i.e. just 0.85 per cent). According to data from the municipality 9,955 people are living in 1,988 households in these slums out of a total municipal population of around 109,000 (around 9 per cent).
The study is the first detailed survey of the state of urban poverty in a secondary town in Bangladesh. The study revealed the huge lack of co-ordination between the 24 different non-governmental agencies working in the town. The result was that some slum neighbourhoods were neglected while others benefited from a wide range of interventions. The interventions themselves, too, were uncoordinated reducing their effectiveness. As is the case elsewhere in Bangladesh, there was a great deal of activity around micro-credit, with less attention to other issues. The study and its recommendations resulted in the establishment of a co-ordinating body with strong representation from slum dwellers themselves, to work in close collaboration with the Municipality.