Lives during the pandemic in informal urban settlements
This photo-narrative book was developed with community members from Green Land (Khulna), Bajekazla (Rajshahi) and Shyampur (Dhaka) communities. It tells the stories of how most marginalised people in urban informal settlements of Bangladesh were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they came together to respond to the challenges. This action was stimulated and facilitated by ARISE project, and is one element of the project’s research supporting health, wellbeing and accountability. The stories are emotional, and they draw on memories of the initial phases of COVID-19. They also offer hope, documenting how communities can provide social and material support in times of strife. They are a reminder, while much of the world moves on and constructs a ‘new normal’, that the financial, psychological and health impacts will affect some of the most marginalised people living in extreme poverty for many years to come.
Like most countries in the world, urbanisation is an inevitable phenomenon for Bangladesh. Each year, millions of people migrate from rural areas to big towns or cities in search of better opportunities. According to the census of slum areas and floating population 2014, 2.3 million people live in cities’ informal settlements, which accounts for more than 1.5% of the total population of Bangladesh.
The urban population continues to increase, and it is projected that by 2035 around half of the population of Bangladesh will reside in urban areas. This has created a housing issue where most of the urban poor have ended up living in informal settlements that are not equipped with basic facilities such as safe drinking water, sanitation, and healthcare.