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Urban poor housing in Bangladesh and potential role of ACHR

Housing is a serious problem for the urban poor in Bangladesh. In the capital city of Dhaka alone nearly 30 per cent of the population live in informal settlements. Tenure insecurity is a dominant characteristic of informal settlements. This paper presents findings from a study on this problem, conducted in the wake of widespread eviction of the informal settlements under the interim government.

Commissioned by Asia Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) the study identifies and documents examples of good practice in addressing the housing situation. It also examines the impact of ACHR’s involvement in Bangladesh and recommends directions for future work.

The study shows that:

  • in Dhaka initiatives for redress can pose serious impediments, especially with unstable political environment, corruption and increasing gap in income and resource distribution.
  • the situation in other cities is similar in terms of the quality of housing and tenure insecurity. Nonetheless, because of less land prices and demand compared to Dhaka, it has been possible in some cases to facilitate processes for acquiring land tenure by the urban poor in some of the smaller cities
  • although there are policies against eviction without resettlement, these have usually not been followed, or resettlement projects are mostly inappropriate to the needs of the urban poor
  • there are some areas of successful intervention and they need to be supported and scaled up.

In order to address the problem, the study suggests,  the ACHR

  • can play a crucial role in the next phase of the Local Partnership for Urban Poverty Alleviation Programme (LPUPAP) which will be a large program and will include activities not undertaken in the past, such as upgrading, physical planning and housing improvement.
  • should develop a mechanism for maintaining a link and good relationship with Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) by way of experience sharing, exposure visits and including CUP representatives at meetings in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the region.
  • should include community-to-community linkages in collaborative activities with LPUPAP
  • can provide technical support for community-level mapping
  • can initiate and facilitate a government level roundtable