In this working paper, which is based on recent research in Biswanath, Sylhet (in Bangladesh), the authors take issue with generalised notions of 'social protection' common to development discourse. The context is a 'Londoni' village (i.e. a village with high levels of transnational migration to the UK). This has led to what appears to be an economic 'boom': new houses and businesses have proliferated, whilst villagers returning from the UK either for a holiday or longer periods are often lavishly generous, giving a great deal of 'help' to their village-based relatives, as well as other forms of charity to the local poor. Partly in response to the availability of work in Londoni villages, plus the more favourable employment conditions offered in them, there has been a high level of internal migration into the area by those whose livelihoods have either failed elsewhere, or who are reliant upon temporary migration as a wider livelihood strategy. Many of these internal migrants come from other districts of Bangladesh such as Mymensingh and Comilla. Others come from neighbouring non-Londoni districts.
The paper attempts to assess not only the extent to which 'the poor' can and do receive 'shahajo' (help) from wealthy Londoni households in Jalalgaon, but also the social and political meanings of such assistance. In so doing, the authors interrogate the relationship between migration, poverty and social protection in an area of Bangladesh where the high levels of migration to Britain (or London, as it is locally termed) and other destinations in the Northern hemisphere are met by equally high levels of inwards migration by poorer individuals and families from elsewhere in Bangladesh.
WP-T18, Sussex, UK, DRC on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty, 36 pp.