Empowering Bangladeshi slum dwellers through transformative city wide resilience planning - Post expert feedback - updated Dec 18
Forge a city wide systemic understanding of urban climate resilience challenges affecting slums in Bangladesh
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA
We are addressing the lack of slum dwellers meaningful participation in resilience planning and decision making in Bangladeshi cities by establishing city resilience forums in three secondary cities in Bangladesh linked to the planning, investment and overall decision making of the local governments - Sirajganj, Narayanganj & Comilla.
Integrating environmental concerns, such as city wetland, coastal management and climate change, in planning and decision-making processes through community engagement and dialogue mechanisms is a crucial tool to ensure environmental sustainability and poverty reduction. The effects of climate change and urbanization impacts on wetland and coastal areas will need to be addressed through this engagement --- sea level rise, saline intrusion of water tables, recurring floods and sanitation contaminating water supplies in slums.
Our approach involves in the first instance organizing currently fragmented slum dweller communities around existing data on resilience in their communities linked to housing, services and livelihoods. Through community organization and strengthening of an organized slum dweller federation to organize around resilience challenges facing their community, we will convene city-level resilience forums which build active and informed citizens and provide a platform for regular engagement with local authorities for more risk informed resilient outcomes directly informing planning and investment decisions of municipalities.
The initiative will establish a sustainable community platform for at least 25,000 slum dwellers in the 3 secondary cities in Bangladesh (Sirajganj, Narayanganj & Comilla) to directly influence local government decision making and investment concerning climate change and resilience issues which impact their daily lives, whilst leveraging larger resources from National Urban Poverty Reduction and Informal Settlements programmes being rolled out by the GoB, World Bank, DFID & UNDP in these cities.
HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?
Despite an increasing focus on the most vulnerable and poor residents of cities, there has been little interaction of the global resilience community on the issue of informality. This is particularly apparent in developing countries such as Bangladesh where climate-vulnerable cities are concentrated, where cities are characterized by high levels of population density, slum concentration, informal settlements with chronic habitat inadequacies and dependence of the urban poor on informal livelihoods characterised by unreliable and low levels of income. A high proportion of urban population in the country are vulnerable to shocks and stresses (e.g. assets damaged by periodic heavy rains or flooding).
The project will support the establishment of city wide forums in three secondary cities in Bangladesh to build active and informed citizens and provide a platform for regular engagement with local authorities to ensure climate related shocks and stresses are integrated within city resilience strategies. This shall provide active citizenship of the urban poor in city level investment strategies and settlement plans working with the affiliates from the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), leveraging larger resources from flagship national urban programmes from the World Bank, DFID and UNDP. These forums will serve as essential spaces to unite currently fragmented slum dweller movements in the city, for reflection on community urban resilience data, for dialogue between communities and authorities on local climate policy and strategy formulation.
Yes, for two or more years
I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development. The Cities Alliance partnership brings together a broad range of members, including local authorities, national governments and slum dweller associations.
IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?
Since 2010, the Cities Alliance has been supporting slum communities in secondary towns in 5 countries – Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Vietnam - to negotiate with local governments to access services from improving habitat conditions in their settlements. This is being achieved through communities increased participation in governance and partnership with other stakeholders for improved delivery of services. The focused is on gaining ‘right to the city’ for slum communities and addressing chronic habitat service deficiencies in their settlements. Delivery. These programmes do not address the climate change issues and are not strongly focused on building resilience of communities and cities to climate change shocks. This is the additionality that is proposed to be built into the Project in Bangladesh thereby strengthening communities to address various resilience factors in partnership with various other urban stakeholders.
HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?
Generally cities view climate change response as the subject within the purview of national governments and/or adopt a top-down approach in incorporating resilience aspects in planning and city development. The project proposes to adopt a participatory, bottom-up and collaborative approach to resilience to build strong local ownership and promote concerted efforts to addressing the climate change challenges. These success factors are generally ignored in city development and the urban agencies tend to adopt a siloed approach. The bottom-up approach would help identify ‘hot-spots’ in the city and also local solutions to addressing them. The approach would help cities to be resilient to climate change shocks, in the bargain protect the urban assets and contribute to sustained economic growth. In addition, slum communities would be able to engage with various city stakeholders to address the chronic and acute service deficiencies in their settlements, thereby improving their habitat conditions and quality of life, in general.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?
The multi-stakeholder engagement would help find local solutions to chronic resilience and climate change shocks. These solutions are yet to be found in the absence of city-wide hot-spot mapping and a city platform for a dialogue with various urban actors in the city. Concerted efforts to addressing city-wide challenges would also require engagement of national, provincial and parastatal agencies and drawing on resources available under various development programmes. The matrix for such complex implementation arrangement and multi-sourced flow of funds has not been drawn and tested in Bangladesh within the country’s legal and institutional framework and would need to be addressed.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?
The key success factors in the proposed project are assigning central role to elected local government, community participation in city planning and development, and convergence of action of various stakeholders. Although Pourshava Act has been legislated assigning more functions to elected local governments, it is still in works and effective decentralization is yet to happen in Bangladesh. In addition, and more importantly, local governments lack capacity to engage with communities and other stakeholders for planning and developing resilient cities. The capacity issues would be sought to be addressed in the proposed project through delivery of handholding support to municipalities.
HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?
Promote a participatory, bottom-up and collaborative approach to planning and developing resilient cities in Bangladesh, focusing on secondary towns. This is sought to be achieved by designing this proposed project to complement the DFID-funded National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme and World bank-funded Pro-Poor Slums Integration Project. This would ensure not only investments for building resilience in the 3 secondary towns but also an opportunity to scale up the approach to other secondary towns being/proposed to be covered under these programmes. A communications strategy will also be developed to disseminate the learning from the 3 selected secondary towns to scale up the approach.
WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?
The ultimate objective is to develop a culture of partnership between organized slum dwellers and local governments enabling the mobilization of both community talents and resources and local government institutional capacities better enabling the planning for and implementation of resilient cities in Bangladesh. Our next step to get there is to create the institutional space that enables slum dwellers and local governments to build an understanding of each others objectives and ultimately working towards finding common solutions.