Urban Poverty in Bangladesh: Causes, Consequences and Coping Strategies

University of Manchester, BWPI Working Paper 178

73 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2012

See all articles by Nicola Banks

Nicola Banks

University of Manchester - Global Development Institute

Date Written: October 25, 2012


Bustees are places where physical, social, economic and political vulnerabilities collide, creating a multi-layered blanket of vulnerability for their residents. Although income is central to day-to-day survival in an urban environment in which cash income is needed to meet a household’s basic needs, work options are limited to low-paid and irregular work, primarily dependent on physical labour. This forces households to rely upon loans and labour mobilisation strategies to get by. Unsanitary, poorly serviced, and densely populated environments – frequently situated in environmentally hazardous areas – mean ill health is both endemic and chronic, playing a routine and devastating role in the lives of the urban poor. The repercussions of resource scarcity at the household level are compounded by the social and political exclusion of the poor from urban governance structures and processes. Amidst a lack of formal institutional support, and in the absence of formal rights and entitlements, the process of facilitating and maintaining patron–client relationships is a central coping strategy for the urban poor. It is a means of trying to manage uncertainty and improve their access to resources. For the majority, however, these strategies are limited to helping households to cope, rather than advancing their interests. Informal systems of governance at the bustee level reproduce and exacerbate existing inequalities, with access to power, information, resources, employment and other lucrative income-generating opportunities limited to a close circle of well-connected bustee households.

Keywords: urban poverty, inequality, Bangladesh

Suggested Citation

Banks, Nicola, Urban Poverty in Bangladesh: Causes, Consequences and Coping Strategies (October 25, 2012). University of Manchester, BWPI Working Paper 178, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2166863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2166863

Nicola Banks (Contact Author)

University of Manchester - Global Development Institute ( email )

Humanities Bridgeford Street Building
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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