Our community-driven approach

Over a quarter of Bangladesh's population now live in towns and cities. Rapid urbanisation, coupled with limited financial and physical capacity, has put significant strain on these areas.

To date, the Government of Bangladesh has mostly ignored the growth of informal settlements, or reacted by evicting squatters. New approaches to the urban context are needed.

Throughout the world, slums upgrading is often done through investments in neighbourhood improvement that result in de facto security of tenure for the urban poor. This in turn allows families to incrementally improve their shelter conditions, thereby improving human capital, and leading to synergies in savings, employment and poverty reduction, and gradually incorporating informal settlements into city development.
— Pro-poor slums integration / The World Bank

Global experiences show that slums upgrading requires strong engagement from urban poor communities for a number of reasons.

  1. Slums and informal settlements are dynamic and variable. No single solution is suitable for all situations. Engagement is essential to create locally relevant and contextually appropriate solutions.

  2. Government delivery and private sector engagement can crowd out the poor. A community-driven approach ensures that those involved in designing and implementing initiatives are also the beneficiaries.

  3. As governments are slow to address urban improvements for slums, community-driven approaches are often the only alternative.

Our current project will pilot a community-driven approach to improve living conditions in an urban slum of Bangladesh. This will be achieved by mobilising the community, supporting committee capacity building, facilitating access to banking facilities and improving infrastructure.

We're working with a group of 50 households in Jogen Babu Maath slum, in the northwest of the country. We've worked with the community since 2010, but now we're taking our engagement to the next level.


Author: J. Ashbridge