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Abstract

Bangladesh is a country of about 146.10 million of people containing nearly 5.3 million of slum people. Two censuses and many surveys on slum people were conducted by the government of Bangladesh to know and figure out the key problems of slum dwellers. A brief overview about the slum of Bangladesh has presented in this paper by analyzing the censuses and survey report. An informative scrutiny on number, structure and housing condition of slum, nature of slum people, common standard of living and wretchedness of slum people, income patterns, poverty scenario and NGOs coverage has presented in this paper. Finally, some suggestion has designed to remove the problems of slum people.
Slum of Bangladesh: An Overview
Basharat Hossain;
Assistant Professor of Economics; International Islamic University Chittagong; Bangladesh
Abstract:
Bangladesh is a country of about 146.10 million of people containing nearly 5.3 million of
slum people. Two censuses and many surveys on slum people were conducted by the
government of Bangladesh to know and figure out the key problems of slum dwellers. A brief
overview about the slum of Bangladesh has presented in this paper by analyzing the censuses
and survey report. An informative scrutiny on number, structure and housing condition of
slum, nature of slum people, common standard of living and wretchedness of slum people,
income patterns, poverty scenario and NGOs coverage has presented in this paper. Finally,
some suggestion has designed to remove the problems of slum people.
1. Introduction
Slum is a word, a name that reflects the miseries of deprived people who have to struggle
with poverty to survive in this beautiful world. Slums and shanties are available in every
countries regardless which are developed or developing countries. Usually poor people
migrated from village and very poor people in urban areas live in slum. They choose the slum
to live, because they have no afforded. Basically, for eight reasons people usually migrated to
slum life. In this paper it has been tried to give a brief description of slum of Bangladesh with
some policy suggestion.
1. Slum: definition
A slum is a cluster of housing units which grow unsystematically in government owned or
private vacant land. The walls and roofs of such houses are generally made of straw
leaves, Gunny bag, polythene paper, bamboo etc. a tin shed house or even a building may
be added, if it is situated within the purview and environment of a slum. The physical and
hygienic conditions of such houses are far below those of a common urban residential
area. Generally, this segment of people are distressed and forced to live in such
unhygienic condition due to economics reason[i].
A slum is a cluster of compact settlements of 5 or more households which generally grow
very unsystematically and haphazardly in an unhealthy condition and atmosphere on
government and private vacant land. Slums also exist in the owner based household
premises[ii].
slums are defined as settlements with a minimum of 10 households or a mess unit with a
minimum of 25 members and predominantly very poor housing; very high population density
and room crowding; very poor environmental services, especially water and sanitation; very
low socio-economic status; lack of security of tenure[iii].
Causes behind slum creation:
Usually it is claimed that, a large number of poor people come to the divisional cities and
adjacent paurashavas for livelihood and many other purposes, which highly contribute to
create slums. In the slum census of 1997, firstly it was tried to find out the key reasons of
migration to slum areas.
Table-2: Reason for coming to slum (as % of total households)
Causes %
River erosion 17.2
Uprooted 12.53
Driven out 2
Abandoned 1.22
Meager income 19.97
Insecurity 2.43
For job 39.53
Others 5.12
Total 100
Total households 334431
The eight reasons founded for migrated to slum areas in which 39.53% of slum households
for looking job followed by insufficient income, River erosion, uprooted and others etc.but
the recent data is not available.
Slums of Bangladesh: an overview
Table-3: Total Number of slums in Bangladesh:
Years
Number of slums
and squatter
clusters
Number of slum
households
Slum
population
1986 – 176745 831645
1997 2991 334431 1,391,459
2005 9048 1043329 5233217
The slum area census 1986 covered the three Statistical Metropolitan Areas (SMA),
Chittagong, Dhaka and Khulna including Paurashavas and city and counted 176745
households in slums whereas this figure was recorded as 259244 in Census of slum areas and
Floating Population 1997, for these same areas. With some variation, Mapping and Census of
urban Slum of Bangladesh, 2005 accounted it as 977891 for the city corporation areas of
these cities. Furthermore, the number of population living in these areas was founded as
831645, 1063010 and 4876453 in the census of 1986, 1997 and 2005 respectively.Moreover,
the Number of slums and squatter clusters in the same areas were recorded as 2991 in 1997
while it increased to 7300 in 200
Table-4: Number of slums in Dhaka city:
years of survey
Number of
slums and
squatter
clusters
Number of slum
households Slum population
1974 – 275,000
1986 121328 –
1991 2,156 718,143
1996 3,007 1500000
1997 1579 185917 754866
2005* 4966 673883 3286770
*Due to the variation in the definition of slum, the figures of the table ill matched for
different years, but table depicted the tremendous increase in the slum, slum household as
well as Slum population in Dhaka city.
Table-5:Number of slums in Bangladesh: by division:
Number of slum and cluster between 1997 and 2005 census
City 1997
% of
total 2005 % of total
Dhaka Mega
city 1579 52.79 4966 54.9
Chittagong
SMA 186 6.22 1814 20
Khulna SMA 202 6.75 520 5.7
Rajshahi SMA 84 2.81 641 7.1
Barisal * 351 3.9
Sylhet ** 756 8.3
14 cities 293 9.8 *** ***
100-
Paurashavas 647 21.63 *** ***
Total 2991 100 9048 100
*Included with Khulna** Included with Chittagong*** Not coverage
According to the report of the Census of slum areas and Floating Population 1997, the largest
number of slum situated in Dhaka city followed by 100-Paurashavas and 14 cities
respectively. While in 2005, Dhaka remained the first followed by Chittagong, Rajshahi SMA
and Barisal accordingly.
In addition to that, the report confirmed that, 1579 slums and cluster were situated in Dhaka
SMA whereas this figure reached at 4966 in 2005 with a broad definition of slums. (See
definition of slum).the percentages of these numbers recorded as 52.9 and 54.9 respectively.
Between 1997 and 2005, the percentages of slum in Chittagong SMA, Khulna SMA and
Sylhet fluctuated in the range of 5 to 8.in 2005 census, 641 slums founded in Rajshahi SMA
while it was only 84 in 1997.
The data insure that, the expansion of slums is not confined not only to divisional cities but
also in the urbanized areas and Paurashavas.
Number of slum Households and their % between 1986 and 2005 census
Table-6: Number of slum Households and their % between 1986 and 2005 census
City 1986
% of
total 1997
% of
total 2005
% of
total
Dhaka Mega
city 121328 68.65 185917 55.59 673,883 64.6
Chittagong
SMA 30854 17.45 45143 13.5 266,182 25.5
Khulna SMA 24563 13.9 28184 8.43 37,826 3.6
Rajshahi
SMA 6998 2.09 27,665 2.6
Barisal *** *** * * 19,460 1.9
Sylhet *** *** ** ** 18,313 1.7
14 cities 24448 7.31 *** ***
100-
Paurashavas 43741 13.08 *** ***
Total 176745 100 334431 100 1,043,329 100
*Included with Khulna** Included with Chittagong*** Not coverage
During 1986, the number of slum households was 176745 in the three divisional Cities
including Paurashavas, while this figure increased and reported at 334431 in the six
divisional Cities including Paurashavas and some urbanized areas, called SMA.in the census
on the slums of six city corporation in 2005, this number recorded as1, 043, 329.however,
Dhaka still occupied the first position in terms of living slum household, which was 68.65
and 64.6% in 1997 and 2005 respectively. Chittagong SMA secured the second position
followed by Khulna SMA, Rajshahi SMA and sylhet containing 25.5%, 3.6%, 2.6%, 1.9%
and 1.7% respectively.
Table-7: Percentage of male and female In Distribution of population between 1986 and
1997 census
% of male and female In Distribution of population between 1986 and 1997 census
City 1986 1986 1986 1997 1997 1997
City
Total
populati
on
% of
male
%of
Female
Total
population
% of
male
%of
Female
Dha 575604 52.75 47.25 745866 54.66 53.82
ka
Meg
a
city
Chit
tago
ng
SM
A 138282 58.58 41.42 188839 14.05 13.07
Khu
lna
SM
A 117750 52.5 47.5 119305 8.05 9.15
Rajs
hahi
SM
A *** *** *** 29766 2.11 2.17
Bari
sal *** *** *** * * *
Sylh
et *** *** *** ** ** **
14
citie
s *** *** *** 109012 7.77 7.9
100-
Paur
asha
vas *** *** *** 189670 13.39 13.88
Tota
l
pop
ulati
on 831645 53.69 46.31 1391458 51 48.99
In 1986, the total population in slum was 831645 with 53.69 % and 46.31% of male and
female respectively in three divisional cities with adjacent Paurashavas.while in 1997.this
figure reached at 1391458 with 51% and 48.99 % of male and female respectively in six
divisional cities with adjacent Paurashavas and urban areas. The slum population figured out
as 5233217 in 2005 for six divisional cities.
Population Density: Slum Area and Overall City, 2005
Table-8: Population Density: Slum Area and Overall City, 2005
City person Per acre person Per acre
City slum area city total
Dhaka 891 121
Chittagong 1032 94
Khulna 536 82
Rajshahi 272 39
Sylhet 626 52
Barisal 541 29
all cities 831 95
The density figure reflects the miseries of slum people.The average population density in
slums were 831 persons per acre in 2005. Density varied from 272 persons per acre in
Rajshahi to 1,032 in Chittagong. Dhaka had the second highest density at 891 persons per
acre. The overall gross population density for Dhaka was less than 121 persons per acre.
Thus, the population density in slums there was at least 7 times higher than the average for
the city as a whole. In Chittagong, the population density in slum areas was 11 times that of
the overall city.
Table-9 Housing Structure and condition of slum
Diagram-1
Housing Structure (percentage of households)
1986 1997 2005
Jhupri/Shacks/Mud 20.55 41.41 11.3
Bamboo structure/ Tong 44.66 0 0
Tin shed 30.48 28.33 0
Tong 0 8.57 0
Chhai 0 17.69 0
Pucca 0 0.91 0
semi pucca 0 3.09 42.4
Kutcha flimsy structure 0 0 44.8
Dilapidated old buildings 0 0 1.1
Others/better quality 4.31 0 0.5
total 100 100 100
The Housing Structure of slum dwellers is very poor. According to the report of the slum
census-1986, 44.66% households lived in Bamboo structured houses followed by Tin shed
30.48% and Jhupri/Shacks/Mud 20.55%.however, in 1997, Jhupri dominate housing
structured by capturing the highest portion 41.41% and reduced to 11.3% in 2005.Conversely,
44.8 % households lived in Kutcha housing followed by semi pucca 42.4% and old buildings
1.1% respectively.
Ownership of agricultural land
The alarming indicator is that, with the course of time, the slum households are becoming
landless with an increasing trend. In 1986, the percentage of landless people was 78.08 which
were reached to 83.47 in 1997.As depicted from the diagram.
Diagram-2
Consequently, the slum people live in the land of Govt. or private organization. As data
shows that, in 2005, the majority portion of slum land, 88.6% was owned privately followed
by government. (9.3%) and others (2.2%) respectively. whereas these figures were counted as
51.92%, 43.83% and 4.25% for government.
Rental status of slums
In2005, 73.9% of slum households live in rented land while it was 63.33% in
1986.conversely, 63.33% of slum households were lived in rent-free land whereas it was
reduced to 11.74% in 2005 .it is bad news that, only 14.5% households lived in their own
land in 2005.
Table-10: Rental status of slums
1986 1997 2005
owner 44.54 14.5
Rented 63.33 48.45 73.9
rent free/others 36.67 7.01 11.7
Sources of light
Diagram-3
For lighting the housing unit, 70.99% of households used Kerosene in 1986, while it was
reduced to 27.59% and only 7% in 1997 and 2005 respectively.conversely,28.51%
households depended on electricity for lighting in 1986, whereas it has increased to 57.7%
and 91.10% in 1997 and 2005 accordingly. Furthermore, a tiny portion of households
depends on other sources for lighting such as 1.10% in 2005 compared to 0.16% in 2005.
5) Sources of fuel
The slum dwellers usually use straw leaves, gas etc. as fuel for preparation of their meals.
Wood is still the main sources of the fuel in the slum areas. the data states that, in 1986, the
majority percent (71.60%)of the slum household used wood as fuel followed by 10.60%
straw/leaves/cowdung,7.44% gas,4.79% husk and 3.38% kerosene etc.
But the census report- 2005 claimed that, gas has become the second sources of fuel in the
slum and 44.6% of households depend on gas. It was not available in Khulna, Rajshahi and
Barisal. In Dhaka, 81.2% of clusters and 57.6% of households in slums had access to cooking
gas while in Chittagong and Sylhet gas was available to only 27.9% and 16.1% of slum
households, respectively.
Toilet facility
Diagram-4, 5, 6
It is highly alarming that, the toilet and sanitation facilities are absolutely unsafe as well as
unsatisfactory. The three pie diagrams depicting toilet facilities show that, unsafe and
unhealthy toilet facilities occupied the majority percent of toilet in the slums. such as
temporary (79.45%) ,Kancha (53.80%) and pit (52.8%) in 1986,1997 and 2005 respectively.
even open space were used and still using as toilet which accounted 8.99% and 4.1%in 1997
and 2005 respectively. while the safety toilets were few in numbers such as sanitary
(20.55%) and sanitary (7.93%),pucca(20.14%) in 1986 and 1997 respectively.
In addition to that, Latrines linked to sewers and septic tanks and water sealed latrines are
considered safe from a hygienic standpoint. Only 28.8% of slum households had access to
one of these three types of latrines in 2005. Dhaka slum residents had the best access to safe
latrines (35.6%) while those in Sylhet and Barisal had very poor access (only 2.1% and 0.4%,
respectively) for the same time. Pit latrines, a variety widely regarded as unsafe, were
common in slum areas. In almost all slums, latrines were usually shared by two or more
households. In 13.4% of slums, one latrine was shared by 11 or more families.
Sources of drinking water:
Diagram-7
The census report-1997 states that, the 55.42% of slum households used Tube-well as the
sources of their drinking water followed by municipal tap 21.59%, others 15.35% and
river/canal 2.88% respectively. Only 1.01% households were collected drinking water from
the ponds.
Conversely, 61.10% households were getting their drinking water from the municipal taps
followed by tube-well 37% and others 1.90% respectively as reported in slum census-2005.
Table-11: Literacy rate of slum people
Literacy of slum people by locality 1986 and 1997
City 1986 1997
Dhaka Mega city 12.61 14.35
Chittagong SMA 16.48 16.99
Khulna SMA 15.08 16.67
Rajshahi SMA *** 13.36
Barisal *** *
Sylhet *** **
14 cities *** 14.66
100-Paurashavas *** 12.53
National 13.6 14.66
Literacy refers to the ability to write a letter. The literacy rate of slum’s population
was14.66% where the male literacy rate was 17.88 and female literacy rate was 11.32%
respectively, which was slightly higher than that of 1986 figures. But it was significantly
smaller than the literacy rate of 32.4% in 1991 census. It appears that literacy rates very low
in slum areas.
Employment Scenario:
Diagram-8
A person is termed as employed who is engaged in some gainful work. In slum areas, most of
the adults are found to be engaged in some activities in exchange of some benefits either in
cash or kind. The census report 1986 figured out that, 40.98% of the slum population was
employed where 65.53% was male and 11.91% was female while 59.02% people including
children and student was unemployed due to having no specific job. Moreover, the
employment rate slightly increased to 47.88% while unemployment rate was 52.12%.Among
52.12%,4.71% were not working, 8.60% were students ,0.71% were begging and others
38.10%,who had no specific jobs ,but were seeking to job.
The reported data claim that, unemployment rate is very high among the slum population and
almost all of the employed persons were engaged in informal sector. It will be cleared from
the list of job structure of slum population as given below.
.
Table-12: Income Pattern and poverty rate in Slums
Households’ Monthly Income Pattern by City (percentage of households)
City
<2000
tk
2001-
3000tk
30001-
4000tk
4001-
5000tk
above
5000 tk
Number of
households
Dhaka 3.8 19.6 34.5 27.6 14.6 673,883
Chittagong 21 36.8 27.6 11.6 2.9 266,182
Khulna 34.4 54.3 9.4 1.5 0.3 37,826
Rajshahi 8.8 52.1 33.9 4.7 0.5 27,665
Sylhet 0.8 1.9 22 69.3 5.9 18,313
Barisal 44.6 44.8 9.9 0.6 0.1 19,460
all cities 10.7 26.8 29.6 23.7 9.1 1,043,329
The census report-2005 explained that, 90.8% slum people lived below the urban poverty
line[i] (tk.5000 as estimated by the CUS study team for May 2005) with 37.5% having
incomes below Tk. 3,000 per month. Most of households (29.6%) income range was 2001-
3000tk followed by 2001-3000tk (26.8%), 4001-5000tk (23.7%) and <2000
tk (10.7%) respectively. on the other hand, only 9.1% of households had the income of
tk.5000.
Besides, poverty was very high in the slum households of Barisal and accounted that,99.9%
people live below the urban poverty line of tk.5000.even 44.6% had income below tk.2000.
Khulna (99.7%) occupied the second position in the slum poverty followed by Rajshahi
(99.5%), Chittagong (97.1%) and Sylhet (94.1%) respectively. Dhaka was slightly better off,
with 14.6% having incomes above the poverty line and slum poverty 85.4% with 23.4%
having incomes that fell below the hardcore poverty line.
NGO Coverage of Slums
About three-fourths of the slums (71.5%) received services from one or more NGOs.13.1%
and 58.4% of clusters received services from one and more than one NGOs respectively.
Whereas 28.5% clusters did not receive any service from NGOs. Besides, by division,
Rajshahi received the highest services followed by Barisal, Dhaka, Khulna, Chittagong and
sylhet respectively. The figures were 86%, 81.2%, 58.5%, 51.3%, 50.4% and 40.7%
respectively as reported by slum census 2005.
Table-13: Percentage of Slums Covered by NGO Programs (percentage of clusters)
NGO
coverage
Dha
ka
Chittag
ong Khulna
Rajs
hahi Sylhet Barisal
all
cities
one NGO 11.3 7.2 27.1 7 34.8 13.1 13.1
more than one 58.5 50.4 51.3 86 40.7 81.2 58.4
none 30.2 42.4 11.5 7 24.5 5.7 28.5
don’t know 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
total slum 4966 1814 520 641 756 351 9048
[i] The household monthly income of Tk. 5,000 was estimated as the urban poverty line for
May 2005 by the CUS study team on the basis of urban poverty line per capita income of
TK.906 (or Tk 4344 for an average urban household) for May 2004 determined by the
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and presented in its “Preliminary Report of the
Poverty Monitoring Survey, 2004”. p.13
Conclusion:
“Slum life” means a bad dreamy life, life of man as non-human being, and the final
deprivation from fundamentals constitutional rights-it is proved from the description of this
paper. Though every government committed to eradicate poverty completely, they did not yet
take the appropriate program. To save the lives of 5.3 million slum people, it is urgent to take
immense steps by government, NGOs even an individual level. Otherwise, instead of
becoming a peaceful and developed nation, our country will be a hell for us.
[i] Report on the slum area census 1986,Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics,June-1988,page 4,
[ii] Census of slum areas and Floating Population 1997, Volume-1, Bangladesh Bureau of
Statistics, October-1999, page 2
[iii] Slum of urban -Bangladesh, Mapping and Census, 2005 by Centre for Urban
Studies(CUS), http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=93293
Urban slums of Bangladesh, by-Professor Nazrul Islam,Dr. AQM Mahbub,Dr. Nurul Islam
Nazem, The Daily star, Published On: 2009-06-20
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