Urbanisation changing face of poverty in bangladesh

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Information about Urbanisation changing face of poverty in bangladesh

Published on November 7, 2016

Author: MSSiddiqui2

Source: slideshare.net

1.     VOL 23 NO 349 REGD NO DA 1589 | Dhaka, Monday, November 07 2016 http://print.thefinancialexpress‐bd.com/2016/11/07/155971  Urbanisation changing face of poverty in Bangladesh  M. S. Siddiqui Urbanisation, to a large extent, has become an undeniable reality for many countries. Unfortunately, the nature of rapid urbanisation in Bangladesh is taking place without the benefit of a substantive and sophisticated urban policy or vision. The rise of urbanisation is not a convivial agenda but it has enormous potential to guide the country towards inclusive growth and sustainable environment. The eleventh of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - envisioned by the United Nations -- is a call for sustainable cities and communities. By and large, informal economic activities play an important role in fostering urbanisation. The informal sector plays an 'intermediary' role in this regard - the transformation of a rural agriculture-based economy to an urban industrialised economy. However, this transition varies according to demographic and economic factors of a country. In Bangladesh, as in other developing countries, poverty has long been associated with rural areas. Nevertheless, rapid urbanisation during the last few decades has spread poverty in Dhaka and other cities due to the transfer of rural poor to the urban areas. To some extent, urban poverty reflects active rural-urban transmigrations because cities offer better opportunities for individuals to improve their welfare. Indeed, cities have served poor people as platforms for upward mobility in the past. Almost 70 per cent of the transmigrations are intended for better employment opportunities. Urban poverty has got inadequate attention in the governmental policy, practice and research due to the ambiguity of its causes and consequences. Scholars often argue that the 'cycle of poverty' perpetuates the social exclusion of many people. Their descent into a 'vicious cycle of exclusion' produces even more exclusion. The impoverished city-dwellers comprise different groups with diverse needs, levels and types of vulnerability. These differences are based on genders, physical or mental disabilities, ethnic or racial backgrounds, household structures, and the extent of poverty itself. Different components of social exclusion influence each other as it creates a spiral of insecurity ending in multiple deprivations. The words 'income' and 'consumption' are the most frequently-used proxies for defining poverty in multiple dimensions. Besides, poverty is also associated with insufficient outcomes in terms of health, nutrition, literacy along with social exclusion, insecurity, low self-

2. esteem and powerlessness. Urban poverty is better understood by an illustration of the informal sector in all its facets -- people, activities and habitat. People denote the labour force, activities denote the occupations or enterprises in which they work and habitat -- their shelter or residential environment such as the slums and squatter settlements. Moreover, the average welfare indicators such as, income, healthcare, education or sanitation cannot give a correct picture of poverty within a city. As a result, cities of different sizes tend to have different problems. In most cities, coexistence of the poor and the rich is an actuality despite their intra-urban differences in social, environmental, and health conditions. Until recently, the government has apparently ignored urban poverty. The 7th Five-year Plan has an urbanisation strategy to address the challenges of health, shelter, land, infrastructure and employment without any particular reference to the urbanised poor. Urbanisation is changing the face of poverty in Bangladesh. The city is increasingly characterised by large slums, poor housing, excessively high land prices, traffic congestion, water shortages, poor sanitation and drainage, irregular electric supply, unplanned construction, increasing air pollution and an incompetent urban governance causing problems of law and order. Everyday, countless migrants come to Dhaka and usually start living in the slums in a miserable condition. In 2003, a study found that 53 per cent of poor migrants of Bangladeshi cities are living in private slums and 44 per cent squat on public land. Significant portions of the city's population are living in the slums and squatter settlements experiencing extremely low living standards, low productivity and unemployment. In spite of living in the city for a long period of time, the urbanised poor have limited access to the economic and social systems of the city, the migrated urban poor fall into mental state of insecurity due to the loss of social capital which they were enjoying in rural livelihood. In partnership with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and with support from the World Bank, the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) undertook a comprehensive city- level research study in 2015-16. The study revealed some details of urban poverty in the metropolitan areas and municipalities like Dhaka and Chittagong. The urban areas include the periphery of cities where all the problems and opportunities exist with accommodation and job opportunities for the urbanised poor. The research observed that Bangladesh is a populous country at the stage of development, the informal sector provides as urban foothold for the rural migrants. However, the rate of job- creation in the urbanised industrial sector suggests that this particular sector has lagged behind in terms of the growth of the urban labour force -- not fuelled by migration or natural population growth in the urban area. Undoubtedly, increasing participation of the women in the urban labour force is another factor. Majority of the migrant-labour force are not endowed with adequate level of schooling and skills for competing for the formal sector jobs. The children of urban informal sector labour force -- those who are already working as rickshaw drivers, hawkers, petty traders, maids, waste pickers,

3. construction workers, and similar urban informal occupations -- belong the new generation of the urban informal-sector labourers. The study also revealed that more than six per cent of steady economic growth over the last two decades has not accompanied growth in jobs -- characterised as a 'jobless growth'. Since many of the unemployed are underprivileged and they cannot afford to remain unemployed, such jobs are created by poor themselves. Members of the informal-sector labour force such as rickshaw- drivers, street-vendors, repair service workers and waste pickers denote such job creation for earning their livelihood. The urbanised population in Bangladesh was barely 2.64 million in 1960. Today, Dhaka metropolitan area alone contains almost 15 million residents. Projections indicate that urban population in Bangladesh will rise to between 91-102 million by 2050, about 44 per cent of total population. Overcrowding, unplanned population growth and filthy slums have become the hallmarks of the country's urbanisation process. Bangladesh has three interconnected economic stories of urban transition. The first corresponds to the growth policies centred on Dhaka and Chittagong and it is driven by manufacturing growth. The country's massive urban sector, comprising of 525 urban centres, continues to grow. Secondly, there is the consumption-and-service-sector-driven growth of the secondary cities. The third story tells the expansion of rural non-firm sector fuelled by remittance inflows and a growth in urban consumption. The long-prevailing structural realities of landlessness and lack of assets, marketable education and skills, disasters and the entailing loss of land and homestead to riverbank erosion, and the death of the breadwinner in the family - all contributed to the branding of Bangladesh as an underdeveloped country for a long time. In the recent times, the country's economic growth, economic development, rapid urbanisation and its contact with globalisation have unlocked new opportunities for the poor - both migrating and the settled poor in the cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong. For such poor, one way to make a living is to engage in the informal sector. The natural trend towards urbanisation cannot be halted or reversed. Local authorities like city corporations and municipalities should assess the causes, characteristics, and location of poverty within their jurisdictions in order to design appropriate poverty strategies and to make necessary regulatory changes. Updated information regarding poverty and social development may be acquired through the use of a city poverty assessment -- a tool using various poverty indicators. The writer is a legal economist. mssiddiqui2035@gmail.com  

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