Vol. 5 Num 710 Sun. May 28, 2006  

34 lakh live in 5,000 city slums
Reveals study

The population of Dhaka city's slum dwellers has increased by 12 times from 1974 to 1995 while the number of slum clusters enhanced 4 times in last 15 years.

The total slum population of Dhaka city was 2.75 lakh in 1974, which stood at 34 lakh in 2005 while the number of slums in the city was 2156 in 1991, which is now nearly 5000.

This was revealed in a recent study titled 'Slums in Bangladesh Cities: Mapping and Census 2005' conducted by Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) in collaboration with National Institute of Population Research and Training (Niport) and MEASURE Evaluation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The study observed that Dhaka's slums occupied only 5.1 percent of the city's total land (3,840 acres) accommodating 37.4 per cent of the total city population.

Moreover, the overall gross population density for Dhaka was less than 121 persons per acre. But the population density in slums is 891 persons per acre, which is at least 7 times higher than the average for the city as a whole.

The study said one area of notable change has been made in the proportions on government and privately owned land. The share of private property has grown steadily as the government has become more vigilant in guarding its land against squatters.

Another feature of slum evolution has been made in the improved quality of housing in some private slums. There has been an increase in supply of semi-pucca (brick wall-tin roof) houses in slums, which has been accompanied by rent increase.

Among the slum dwellers of the city 52.3 per cent live in semi-pucca houses while 39.7 per cent live in kutcha jhupries (flimsy impoverished dwellings).

Using a household income of Tk 5,000 per month as a reference of poverty line, the study said the slums are generally the places of concentrated poverty, with 85.4 per cent residents living below the poverty line in Dhaka city.

The single largest concentration of slums was found in Kamrangir Char on the western bank of the Buriganga river. The total population of that area is about 300,000 of whom some 250,000 are slum dwellers.

The largest single slum in Dhaka was found at Karail in Mohakhali near Gulshan, with more than 100,100 people, the study said.