Monday, January 25, 2010

Migrants’ tales – Mixed fortunes in the city: Part III

Diverging levels of poverty in the Slum
Like Monin and Ahsan, Dulal also left his village called Chadpur some time ago in the search for better income opportunities. His wife and their 5 and 9 year old sons joined him after some years in order to have access to better health facilities and to offer them the chance to go to school. In their small hut, they have a broad bed which is used by the whole family for sleeping, eating and living on. Dim light floods the room from a single bulb in their room. Besides the bed, there is a commode with dishes inside and an old TV on top. Having these facilities, Dulal's family is better off than many other people in the area who do not have the means to maintain such a lifestyle. Right beside their house I leave the slum and enter directly into a lively street. Not far from here is a school, where many of the children in the slum go. On each side of the street, I see hawkers working, tailors with their sewing machines and road side vendors selling cloth or vegetables from the fields outside of Narayanganj. A large variety of options offer work places compared to the original villages of the people.
Dulal has developed his business as a tea-vendor working at the bazaar, after starting first as a blue-collar worker in local factories and the construction business. Compared to life in his village, he and his family now have a far better standard of living. Thus, living in the slum does not always go hand in hand with deprivation and marginalization. For a significant number it really does offer a way out of poverty through access to the labor market. It is not surprising therefore that so many people risk poor living conditions and sanitation facilities to gamble for a better life.

(A tailor at the side of a street: Many slum inhabitants locate their businesses closely to the slum areas)

Migration to the capital of Bangladesh
Unlike in many other parts of Bangladesh, the people living in the Slum are not very likely to migrate further than to Narayanganj. Even though Dhaka is the fastest growing city in Asia with 600,000 people every year, joining the 14 Mio inhabitants of the capital and it appears lucrative to many who are willing to give up their homes, most do not consider it as a feasible option as the living conditions are too expensive to afford.

1 comment:

  1. Hello - interesting blog. You might be interested in the blog I wrote on my doctoral research in Dhaka in 2008.

    A paper is forthcoming and I'm still working on my thesis.