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Title: Sanitation interventions in the urban informal settlements of Bangladesh : the role of government, NGOs and the grassroots
Author: Rahman, Md. Mizanur
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2012
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The Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, is the world’s fastest growing primate city, having nearly 15 million people and approximately 6 million living in slum areas. Their high population density and growth rates, coupled with inadequate and inappropriate water and sanitation (WatSan) facilities, are creating social, economic and environmental effects. Until recently, several attempts have been made to provide infrastructure services to those slums. But the extent of the services is unsatisfactory due to resource constraints and a burdensome concentration of slums that contaminates the city ecology on a broad-spectrum. In consequence, the trend of development ventures through government (GO) and non-government organizations (NGO) is not only disappointing but also questionable due to disastrous project histories. The complex social dynamics of these informal settlements, together with inappropriate or inadequate WatSan facilities and incompetent governance systems obstruct the pace of sanitation interventions. Apart from this, Bangladesh has succumbed to political indiscretion and bureaucratic intemperance which have severely diminished the capacity of the GOs and NGOs to perform at a reasonable level. The result is all round deterioration in the quality and adequacy of the urban basic services and people of the informal settlements are the worst sufferers. It is widely recognized that the poor communities mostly have no proven demand for improved sanitation facilities, as their basic priority, rather, is managing their next meal. In this situation, some NGOs have come forward with their ‘flexible’ and ‘tailor-made’ working strategies developed from previous project experiences whereas government agencies are more geared to ‘facilitation’ and continue with their ‘supply-driven' strategy, ignoring criticisms and pitfalls. As one of the most dysfunctional sectors in Bangladesh, urban sanitation is traumatized and its coverage is affected by several interconnecting factors while the government continues to bypass questions related to slum improvement arguing that the slums are illegal settlements and do not qualify for government services. Several NGOs have come forward to work in the urban sanitation sector and in most instances, the poor slum-dwellers have appreciated the NGOs’ participatory working strategies. In fact the dynamics of the ‘social-technological-governance’ system of the slum areas often determines the success of sanitation interventions. In this research, the vibrant dynamics of ‘social-technological-governance’ systems and the roles of GO-NGO service providers and beneficiaries in the selected slums are critically analysed through a qualitative methodology and a bottom-up approach that has the potential to identify inherent policy weaknesses and factors that facilitate or hinder the successful implementation of sanitation programmes. This research is entirely based on empirical evidences and the qualitative assessment of field data that were collected from five informal settlements of Dhaka city and associated GO-NGO sources. The outcome of this research suggests that the impacting factors are not equally weighted in WatSan projects as some could be defined as crucial and influencing factors that shape other interrelated factors. In order to smoothen the pathways of different WatSan projects it is necessary to carefully identify and restrict those problem-breeding factors on a priority basis. This research also describes different stakeholders’ practices and links with existing policies to identify the gaps between them. Here, the proposals are made for reality-based, short-term and long-term solutions and policy recommendations that might offer guidelines for addressing the overwhelming slum sanitation agenda in urban Bangladesh.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sanitation ; Water ; Slum ; Dhaka ; Bangladesh ; Society ; Technology ; Governance ; Policy