The highest number of poor people of Dhaka South City lives in West Jurain. Yet just six miles away, there are no poor people living in Motijheel.
Jurain is located in ward 53 of Dhaka South City while Motijheel in ward 10. Poor people reside in one third area of the Jurain ward and they lack access to civic amenities. Motijheel is mainly a commercial area. Here the people mostly live in government colonies and quarters. However, there are some homeless people who live on the street.
These findings were revealed in a study carried out as part of the “Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project,” being jointly implemented by the government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project aims to find ways to reduce urban poverty in the country.
The study was conducted in 75 wards of Dhaka South City last October taking into consideration 16 civic amenities including shelter, drinking water, round-the-clock bathing facilities, latrine facilities, land security, waste management, electricity connection, and road and drainage facilities. The non-government organisation Disaster Management Watch (DM WATCH) carried out the field work.
The study said the habitation of poor people in 10 wards 1, 7, 15, 16, 32, 33, 40, 50, 55 and 75, of Dhaka South City lacks adequate drainage system. These areas face water-logging problems. Some 75 per cent of the poor living in 15 out of 75 wards of Dhaka South City earns less than Tk 8,500 on an average a month.
Regarding the civic amenities, Mizanur Rahman, a resident of Jurain, told Prothom Alo, there dust is the air around the roads. Rainwater enters the houses. WASA water is often filthy. There are transport problems. House rent is relatively low due to poor quality of civic services. That is why more poor people reside in the area.
According to the research, ward 33 has the highest density of poor people. This ward includes Bangshal Road, Abdul Hadi Lane, Nawab Katra, Agamasih Lane, Sikkatuli Lane and Aga Sadek Road.
In reference to the research findings, Dhaka South City chief executive officer ABM Amin Ullah Nuri told Prothom Alo, if the areas of the underprivileged or the poor in a ward are not cited specifically, it will not be possible to implement the project properly later.
A poverty map has been created based on the research, but the issue needs further clarification, he added.
The mapping of habitation of the poor through participatory method and the research findings were scheduled to be released at a progaramme at Mohammad Hanif auditorium of Dhaka South City head office last Tuesday.
But within half an hour of the progamme starting, the councillors started questioning the research findings. The programme eventually was foiled. Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh was present at the event. He himself also raised question on the study.
Bayazid Hasan, who led the research team, was present at the programme. Later, he told Prothom Alo, the councillors didn’t specify their objections to the research that day. Yet during the survey, their representatives were present at each ward when the field work was carried out. The research does not cover the entire scenario of the wards, rather it focuses on the living standard of the poor and their access to different services, he added.
According to the study, newly included wards 58 and 71 are homes of the second largest number of poor people after Jurain in Dhaka South City. Ward 58 encompasses Kadamtali, New Shaympur and several other locations with poor people residing in more than 20 per cent of the total area.
Before the expansion, ward 71 was a union parishad (Manda). Poor people live in more than 20 per cent area of the ward.
Urban planner Nazrul Islam Khan thinks the research findings should be used for improving the living standard of poor people in the city.
He said, if (city) mayors and councillors show their honesty and commitment in the implementation of the projects, improvement of the poor people's condition would be possible.
Such projects should not be just for show. If funds are embezzled, big projects for the poor will have no results, he added.