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Dhaka: improving living conditions for the urban poor

Dhaka is the fastest growing mega-city in the world, attracting an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 mostly poor migrants a year. This paper argues that urgent measures are required to address the vital needs of the city’s rapidly growing urban poor. Based on a comprehensive analysis of poverty in Dhaka, it aims to provide the basis for an urban poverty reduction strategy for the Government of Bangladesh, local authorities, donors and NGOs.

The study focuses on analysing the characteristics and dynamics of poverty, employment, land and housing, basic services, and crime and violence. Key points highlighted include:

  • poverty affects a third of Dhaka’s residents, mostly living in slums
  • adequate access to shelter, basic services, and a living wage are major challenges for the poor
  • crime and violence have also become a major problem in Dhaka, particularly affecting the poor
  • the institutional deficiencies in Dhaka impede effective city management and poverty concerns.

The authors outline a series of policy priorities for addressing these problems and, in each case, suggest specific measures to be taken. Key priorities suggested are: 

  • developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy for urban poverty reduction
  • implementing institutional mapping, reform and capacity building of key agencies / institutions affecting urban growth and poverty reduction
  • implementing the National Housing Policy to ensure shelter for the poor
  • improving service delivery and access to infrastructure for the urban poor
  • addressing crime and violence in slum areas.