Vicious circle; either break it or suffer in it

Bangladesh, the rising sun of Bengal, is playing important role in global fast fashion industry and vice versa. Keeping the price tag low, Bangladesh is successfully meeting the global demand on garment. Thanks to the fast fashion boom, 88% of exports in manufactures is now from Ready Made Garment production. While the sunshine of Bangladesh is reaching worldwide, the shadow in Bangladesh is getting darker. Working in garment factory is paid one of the lowest in the world and safety regulations and protections are almost none existed.

This is small part of vicious circle. The vicious circle is getting bigger and more complicated, as a city urbanised. Informal settlement, who just moved in, face many difficulties which slip in to the vicious circle. Once they are trapped by it, they will face more difficulties, making their life more and more vulnerable. They have higher chance to be exposed by natural disasters and more likely to be damaged by them, more than the others, which make the inhabitants even more vulnerable.

Wicked problem is, we understand, the result of repetitive vicious circle. One way to solve it would be breaking the vicious circle in to pieces and get rid of the problems bit by bit, so that the resilience of the informal settlement can be improved.

 

 

Realising the illusion of industrialisation

Bangladesh is geologically vulnerable for natural disaster. The gulf of bengal is exit of many rivers from Himalaya and is famous for river delta. As a result, most of the land is lower than 10 meter above the sea level. Climate change is making everything worse, making rainy season wetter and dry season drier.

Due to varieties of severe disasters in whole country, people ended up leaving their farmland and move to the big cities, attracted by illusion of industrialisation, looking for a more stable income and safer place, such as Dhaka and Chittagong. Factories in big cities are real magnet for people who is looking for a new job. Dhaka is especially highly populated and the number of informal settlement alone is already 1.5 times more than the whole population on Chittagong.

Since those cities are still prone to disaster and overpopulated, there isn’t much safe spaces left for newcomers. In addition, being pushed away by government, they are forced to move to more dangerous places, where there are more likely to be flooded.

Informal settlement inhabitants are often working in very poorly paid, tough and potentially dangerous job as well, such as garment factory, brick factory and rickshaw driver. Garment factory workers, for example, work 14-16 hours a day and 7 days a week. Brick factory, which is responsible for 40% of air pollution, is not so differ from garment factory.

 

 

Finding safe place to live

Situation of informal settlement in Adabar is highly unfavourable. Most men are working in brick factory and 75% of women are working in garment factory and suffering from severe labour exploitation. However they are facing many other threats and challenges as well.

Government’s abuse of power is one example. Dhaka informal settlement dwellers are always living under the threat of eviction under the name of formalising the town. Destroying more areas that government has announced is not a new story. What inhabitant found after work is devastation and destroyed home. What’s worse is after eviction. Rich people, who can afford construction, start buying bricks and building houses on evicted site. Since modern buildings are not affordable, people who lost their home ended up moving somewhere more disaster prone area. Brick factories need more brick to meet the demand and it will be informal settlement who are working these factory with low salary. Another vicious circle. Informal settlement in Adabar is, just like the others, alienated by society.

©2018 MAI.