Scholarly article on topic 'Building Resilience of Urban Slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh'

Building Resilience of Urban Slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — Iftekhar Ahmed

Abstract This paper is derived from a pilot project implemented by Habitat for Humanity during 2012-2013, where the author was a technical advisor. Rapid urbanisation and the growth of slums in developing countries such as Bangladesh has led to slum upgrading as an approach to address the problems of the urban poor. The project here was in essence such a slum upgrading project, targeted at an urban slum settlement called Talab Camp in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the residents comprised an ethnic Bihari community. Dhaka is a rapidly urbanising megacity in one of the world's most densely populated and poorest countries, where almost 30% of its more than 14 million population lives in slums and faces the impacts of a range of hazards, hence the need for building resilience. The project began with a study of this urban context to identify the challenges and opportunities for building resilience in slums there, followed by a sequence of inter-related activities. This consisted of provision of training to local professionals on concepts and applications of Urban Resilience and toolkits for Risk Assessment and Action Planning; a Community Based Participatory Risk Assessment (CBPRA) to identify the inter-related hazards and vulnerabilities affecting Talab Camp, supplemented by a survey of city level institutional actors; and a set of pilot activities guided by the above and Community Action Planning (CAP) workshops, together with community capacity building and developing community organisations. Three main risks were prioritised for addressing in the pilot activities – inadequate drainage, inadequate waste disposal and poor sanitation, and thereby focused on WaSH (drainage, community toilets, water supply, and water purification), solid waste management (household and community level waste collection and disposal), housing improvement (plinth-raising above flood level) and awareness raising (cleaning event and billboards). The pilot activities also included extensive training and capacity building activities. A long-term Community Development Plan (CDP) was also developed in parallel to the pilot activities. The project faced a number of challenges in terms of local expectations, capacity building, and working in a megacity like Dhaka. A number of key lessons were learnt including the time required for adequate community consultation and participation, and unpredictability of political circumstances, in addition to a set of other lessons that can inform future such projects.

Academic research paper on topic "Building Resilience of Urban Slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 218 (2016) 202 - 213

11th International Conference of The International Institute for Infrastructure Resilience and

Reconstruction (I3R2) : Complex Disasters and Disaster Risk Management

Building Resilience of Urban Slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Iftekhar Ahmed a *

a School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia

Abstract

This paper is derived from a pilot project implemented by Habitat for Humanity during 2012-2013, where the author was a technical advisor. Rapid urbanisation and the growth of slums in developing countries such as Bangladesh has led to slum upgrading as an approach to address the problems of the urban poor. The project here was in essence such a slum upgrading project, targeted at an urban slum settlement called Talab Camp in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the residents comprised an ethnic Bihari community. Dhaka is a rapidly urbanising megacity in one of the world's most densely populated and poorest countries, where almost 30% of its more than 14 million population lives in slums and faces the impacts of a range of hazards, hence the need for building resilience. The project began with a study of this urban context to identify the challenges and opportunities for building resilience in slums there, followed by a sequence of inter-related activities. This consisted of provision of training to local professionals on concepts and applications of Urban Resilience and toolkits for Risk Assessment and Action Planning; a Community Based Participatory Risk Assessment (CBPRA) to identify the inter-related hazards and vulnerabilities affecting Talab Camp, supplemented by a survey of city level institutional actors; and a set of pilot activities guided by the above and Community Action Planning (CAP) workshops, together with community capacity building and developing community organisations. Three main risks were prioritised for addressing in the pilot activities -inadequate drainage, inadequate waste disposal and poor sanitation, and thereby focused on WaSH (drainage, community toilets, water supply, and water purification), solid waste management (household and community level waste collection and disposal), housing improvement (plinth-raising above flood level) and awareness raising (cleaning event and billboards). The pilot activities also included extensive training and capacity building activities. A long-term Community Development Plan (CDP) was also developed in parallel to the pilot activities. The project faced a number of challenges in terms of local expectations, capacity building, and working in a megacity like Dhaka. A number of key lessons were learnt including the time required for adequate community consultation and participation, and unpredictability of political circumstances, in addition to a set of other lessons that can inform future such projects.

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Dept of Transportation Engineering, University of Seoul. Keywords: Dhaka; Capacity Building; Risk Assessment; Resilience; Slums.

1. Introduction

This paper is derived from a 1-year (2012-2013) pilot project on "Building Resilience in Urban Slum Settlements" implemented in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in partnership between Habitat for Humanity Australia (HFHA) and Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh (HFHB), together with a local partner NGO, Participatory Development Action Program (PDAP). Technical support was provided by Architects Without Frontiers (AWF) and Arup, and the author was a technical advisor on behalf of AWF. This paper provides an overview of the project and presents the key lessons learnt that have implications for future work. The widespread and rapid urbanisation process in developing countries over the last few decades has been accompanied by the growth of slums characterised by impoverished and difficult

Corresponding author. Tel.: +61449625992 E-mail address: ifte.ahmed@rmit.edu.au

1877-0428 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Dept of Transportation Engineering, University of Seoul. doi: 10.1016/j .sbspro. 2016.04.023

living circumstances for a signficant segment of the population. Recent estimates indicate that urban growth and extensive urbanisation has led to 54% of the world's population living in urban areas, with the urbanisation process occurring most rapidly in Asia and Africa, regions that consist of a significant number of developing countries (United Nations 2014). More than 30% of the world's population live in slums and after Sub-Saharan Africa, the largest proportion of urban population living in slums is in South Asia, where Bangladesh is located (UN-Habitat 2012). A common approach by most governments is to demolish slums and evict their residents, but since the 1970s, authors such as Turner (1972) have advised against such an approach. An outcome of this is the concept of slum upgrading, that is, improvement of slums instead of their eradication, now promoted and applied widely by prominent international agencies such as the World Bank (2011) and United Nations (UN-Habitat 2014). Typically slum upgrading projects include activities such as "provision of basic services such as housing, streets, footpaths, drainage, clean water, sanitation, and sewerage" (Cities Alliance 2014). They also often include social and economic development elements such as access to healthcare and education, and support for livelihoods and enterprises.

In essence, the project discussed in this paper is a slum upgrading project. However, the context of the project, Dhaka, is highly vulnerable to natural and human-induced hazards, as discussed below; hence the upgrading initiative necessarily had to be linked to addressing these hazards and building the resilience of the project's beneficiary community.

2. Background and Context

To guide the project, at the outset a review of the context was undertaken to provide an understanding of the constraints and opportunities for the project and thereby advise the project partners (Ahmed 2012; also see Ahmed 2014). The key aspects of the context that became evident in the review, particularly relating to vulnerability and resilience of urban poor communities in Dhaka, are summarised below.

Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital is a rapidly urbanising megacity in one of the world's most densely populated and poorest countries (UNFPA 2011; World Bank 2012). Almost 30% of the city's population of more than 14 million lived in slum settlements (Islam et al 2005). Slum settlements were characterised by tenure insecurity and evictions, and controlled by mastaans - ganglords who charged exorbitant rents and charges for basic services (Banks 2008). Such a situation deterred investments for improving living conditions by slum residents and agencies. Poor quality and densely built housing was typical in Dhaka's slum settlements and basic public infrastructure for water, energy, sanitation and hygiene were non-existent or very limited.

A combination of human and natural factors resulted in various urban hazards with serious impacts on the urban poor. Some of the key urban hazards in Dhaka included, widespread flooding and waterlogging due to poor drainage; windstorms caused havoc in slum settlements because of the weak construction of houses; unplanned urbanisation and sub-standard building practices posed great risk in the event of a major earthquake; urban fires were common and were often believed to be ignited intentionally; Bangladesh was one of the countries most threatened by climate change and impacts such as erratic weather, increased flooding and temperature rise were already evident (see for example, (Daily Star 2011; IRIN 2009; Khan 2010; USGS 2012).

A large number of development agencies are active in Bangladesh, but most of them did not engage extensively in urban areas. Some of the key initiatives include, the Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction (UPPR), a very large program in urban slum settlements targeted for 3 million people in 30 cities including Dhaka (UNDP 2013); WaterAid Bangladesh addressed water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) in urban slum settlements with a range of partners (WaterAid 2011); the Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) was a network of more than 40 NGOs and advocated for the rights of slum-dwellers, and supported community-based organisations in slum settlements (Banks 2008; NDBUS 2010). The challenges of building resilience in urban slums are many, but there are also opportunities. Particularly recent government policies on urban development and climate change, as well as emerging interest among agencies to address urban issues, offer potential for advocacy for building resilience in urban slum settlements.

The Habitat for Humanity (HFH) pilot project was targeted at an urban slum community of 650 households known as Talab Camp in Mirpur in the north-western part of Dhaka. During the 1947

India-Pakistan partition, Hindu-Muslim communal strife led to large numbers of Muslim refugees, particularly from the Indian state of Bihar, to flee into East Pakistan. When East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and formed Bangladesh in 1971, the Biharis, who sided with West Pakistan at that time, were contained in refugee camps by the Bangladeshi government to separate them from the mainstream Bengali population and thereby avoid ethnic conflict; hence the name "camp" (see for example, World Directory of Minorities 2008). There were a number of other such "Bihari camps" around Talab Camp. Being an ethnic community, it still faces the difficulty of assimilation into the mainstream Bengali society even after more than 65 years, despite being granted Bangladeshi citizenship in 2008. Given that this was a marginal community, and hence poor and vulnerable, there was a strong rationale to implement the project there. Additionally as the community was protected under the Geneva Convention for Refugees, it provided an opportunity to work there because it was safe from eviction drives.

3. Project Activity Sequence

The project followed a sequence of inter-related activities that were conceived as part of the project design, and also evolved as the project progressed. The flowchart in Fig. 1 shows the project activity sequence and the activities are discussed in the subsequent sections. It should be noted that due to the tight 1-year project timeframe, some of these activities although conceived to be ideally conducted in a sequence, the Pilot Activities were implemented before the Community Development Plan (CDP) could be completed. These activities then continued in parallel, and indeed the CDP continued to be refined even after the project concluded, to inform future potential long-term development initiatives.

BRIEFING TRAINING: CONCEPTS & TOOLS

COMMUNITY BASED PARTICIPATORY RISK ASSESSMENT (CBPRA)

C< IMMUNITY

action planning

(CAP) FOR PILOT ACTIVITIES

EVALUATION. DISSEMINATION & PLANN I NO NEXT STEPS

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN (LONG-TERM)

] MPL EMEN TAT I ON OF PILOT ACTIVITIES

Fig. 1. Project Activity Sequence Flowchart

4. Briefing/Training: Concepts and Tools

To build local capacity, a 3-day training course on "Urban Resilience" was provided in Dhaka. It was designed and delivered jointly by AWF and Arup, and was attended by staff of HFHB and its partners including PDAP, CUP and Shelter for the Poor (SFP). The training was delivered as a series of thematic lectures and interactive group exercises focusing on: Key Concepts Relating to Hazards, Vulnerability, Resilience & Sustainability; Urban Resilience; Applying an Urban Resilience Framework; Community-Based Participatory Risk Assessment (CBPRA); Community Action Planning for Resilience; Settlement-Wide and Shelter-Related Hazards; Networking for Community Development.

To set the scene, at the outset of the training key concepts relating to Urban Resilience were presented. This was based on the Resilience Framework developed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC 2012). The six key characteristics of a Resilient Community were explained, which include: (a) Knowledgeable and healthy; (b) Organised; (c) Connected; (d) Has infrastructure and services; (e) Has economic opportunities; and (f) Can manage its natural assets. Although, initially, the training participants perceived the Resilience Framework as too broad and general, at a later stage it was adapted for the Community Development Plan, as discussed below in section 8.

The Community-Based Participatory Risk Assessment (CBPRA) toolkit based on similar toolkits developed by the author and colleagues (Ahmed et al 2012) was used by the HFHB team in the next stage of the project to understand the hazards and vulnerabilities that the Talab Camp community

faced. Similarly the Community Action Planning (CAP) toolkit was utilised to prioritise actions undertaken in the Pilot Activities of the project.

Importantly, on the final day of the training a group of community leaders from Talab Camp were invited to participate. The group presented the findings of a Needs Assessment that was undertaken under the UPPR program, which was also active in the area.

The training thus provided an understanding of urban resilience issues spanning from the wider international context to the project target community. It provided 'hands-on' learning to the participants on understanding, assessing and action planning for building resilience in urban slum settlements.

5. Community-Based Participatory Risk Assessment (CBPRA)

Utilising the CBPRA toolkit, HFHB and its partner PDAP undertook an extensive vulnerability and risk assessment in Talab Camp (HFHB 2012). The diagram below in Fig. 2 shows the conceptual framework of the CBPRA toolkit. As shown, there were three main stages with a series of activities at each stage for which there were specific guidelines and tools. Of importance was the Assessment Stage, where a similar set of assessment activities were suggested for undertaking with institutional stakeholders/service providers (City Level Analysis) and the community (Community Level Participatory Risk Analysis), allowing triangulation and validation of findings.

Fig. 2. Conceptual framework of the CBPRA process

However due to time constraints and political disruptions, the toolkit was applied primarily for assessment at the community level. At the city level, instead of using the toolkit which would have required more time, a survey of key stakeholders and agency representatives was undertaken. The findings of the survey confirmed the findings of the community level assessment, and thus triangulation was achieved to a large extent. Additionally, on a broader level, the findings of the

community level assessment also concurred with the findings of the review of the context mentioned above in section 2.

The community level assessment identified the following inter-related hazards and vulnerabilities in Talab Camp:

■ Water-logging of roads and public spaces due to lack of or poor drainage.

■ Flooding, related to the above, of roads and public spaces as well as houses with low floors.

■ Storms /thunder storms that impact on houses commonly of weak construction and materials.

■ Heavy rain, which caused water-logging and flooding, as well as deterioration of buildings.

■ Inadequate drainage was a key problem, causing water-logging.

■ Inadequate living conditions due to poor quality of housing and overcrowding were widespread.

■ Health hazards were widely prevalent due to the some of the other factors listed here, as well as lack of adequate healthcare facilities.

■ Polluted water from the main supply, which is a city-wide problem; the residents of Talab Camp generally did not have the resources to purify drinking water.

■ Fire was often a risk because of the widespread use of flammable building materials - timber, bamboo, plastic sheet, etc, and also because of the high density and poor electrical wiring.

■ Improper sanitation because the residents could not afford proper toilet facilities; even communal toilets were not maintained because of a lack of community organisational structure.

■ Garbage was disposed indiscriminately throughout the settlement and there was no municipal waste collection system.

■ Social hazards including drug abuse, domestic violence, child marriage, dowry demand, etc were common, in addition to the community bearing a stigma as a refugee ethnic group.

■ Electrocution due to poor electrical wiring was also a hazard.

6. Community Action Planning (CAP) for Pilot Activities

The CAP involved reviewing the findings of the CBPRA together with the community and prioritising the risks identified in the CBPRA in order to decide corresponding action or pilot activities to address them. This was done at a workshop with more than 30 participants from the community representing youth, women, men and community leaders. One of the prime prioritisation tools was the risk quadrant, as shown below in Fig. 3, which allowed ranking the risks in terms of impact and probability.

Fig. 3. Risk Quandrant tool

The consolidated findings of the risk quadrant exercise at the workshop are shown below in Table 1. There were 7 break-out groups of 5-6 community participants in each group. As shown in the table, all the 7 groups ranked "inadequate drainage" and "inadequate waste disposal" as risks in their community that had both high impact and high probability. Although "poor latrines" (sanitation) was not ranked very high in the exercise, in subsequent plenary discussion the workshop participants reassessed their rankings and identified it as one of the top risks. These three risks - "inadequate drainage", "inadequate waste disposal" and "poor latrines" - were inter-related and had a cause-and-effect relationship with each other. Therefore these risks were prioritised in the CAP to be addressed

through the pilot activities. Although inadequate housing was not ranked as high as the above risks, community participants strongly stated the importance of improving housing conditions in the CAP.

Based on such community consultations in a number of meetings, the CAP was developed to formulate the pilot activities that were most relevant to building resilience of the Talab Camp community.

Table 1. Consolidated findings from the Risk Quadrant exercise

Hazards High Impact Low Impact High Impact Low Impact

High Probability Low Probability Low Probability High Probability

Water-logging 5 0 1 1

Flood 0 4 2 1

Storm 6 0 1 0

Heavy rain 4 1 2 0

Inadequate drainage 7 0 0 0

Bad house condition 5 0 0 1

Poor health condition 5 0 0 1

Polluted water 5 0 2 0

Fire 2 3 2 0

Poor latrines 3 0 0 0

Inadequate waste disposal 7 0 0 0

Social problems 4 1 0 2

Electric hazards 3 0 0 1

At this stage a number of other activities were also undertaken, including:

■ Detailed settlement mapping: In order to implement pilot activities, maps of Talab Camp were produced by a professional cartography company. These included four maps on (a) Detailed layout of housing, roads and other physical features; (b) Contour; (c) Drainage and (d) Water/Waste/Sanitation points. These maps were particularly useful in planning drainage layouts and identifying houses that required urgent improvement.

■ Formation of Community WaSH Committee (CWC) and re-organisation of existing Community Development Committee (CDC): Because the focus as discussed above was on water, sanitation and health (WaSH), a committee (CWC) to manage and sustain the activities in this field was formed and provided with training. There was already an existing community organisational structure (CDC) formed separately and earlier under the UPPR program; this was aligned towards the agenda of this project.

■ Training on Financial Management and Good Governance for the CWC and CDC members: A number of training courses were provided by HFHB to the community leaders to raise their capacity for financial management and running the CWC and CDC.

Thus a two-pronged approach was followed for leading into the pilot activities: On one hand prioritising and planning activities through community consultations, and on the hand community capacity building and developing a community organisational structure to translate the activities on the ground and sustain them. These two elements were complementary, and indeed, essential to each other. The second aspect, community capacity building and organisational structure, can be expected to prevail and remain within the community beyond the project's timeframe, thereby contributing to the long-term development of the community. Nonetheless, this would need to be evaluated after a few years to understand the impacts of the pilot activities and the effectiveness of the community's capacity and organisational structure.

7. Implementation of Pilot Activities

Based on the results of the CBPRA and CAP, a set of pilot activities were implemented, focusing largely on WaSH, and also on solid waste management, housing improvement and community awareness-raising, as discussed below.

7.1. Water, Sanitation and Health (WaSH)

Firstly about 500 metres length of existing drainage was cleaned and nearly 300 metres repaired. Then new drains with 'U' channels and concrete slab covers were constructed. An existing community toilet was renovated and a 200-litre capacity overhead water tank and running water facilities was incorporated.

An underground water reservoir with a tube-well (hand-pump) was constructed as a water collection point for the community. About 200 metres length of poorly laid out water pipeline was replaced to ensure proper water flow in the reservoir. To purify the water, locally available water filtering devices were provided to 350 households.

In addition to the above physical provisions, 14 training sessions for the community on comprehensive WaSH was conducted for proper utilisation and maintenance of the WaSH facilities. 350 community members (326 female and 24 male) attended the training.

community awareness-raising.

7.2. Solid Waste Management

16 garbage collection drums were installed in strategic locations within the community. Household waste containers were provided to 350 households including multi-family households. Two rickshaw vans were provided to the CWC for collection and disposal of solid waste to municipal garbage bins outside Talab Camp.

Again, a Training of Trainers (ToT) course on Waste Management was provided to the partner NGO, PDAP, and CWC and CDC leaders for sustaining the solid waste management activities. Among the 30 training participants, 17 were female and 13 were male. Also 10 waste management training courses were conducted for community members for better management of waste within the community. Out of 320 community participants 303 were female and 17 were male.

7.3. Housing Improvement

Initially 26, and later 10 more houses, that had low earthen floors and were regularly affected by flooding were identified in consultation with the community. Then the plinths of these houses were raised above flood level and the earthen floors were replaced by brick and concrete to better resist flooding. Some additional repairs were done including replacement of weak doors to improve safety.

Also, 16 training courses on Appropriate Construction Technologies were conducted for 250 community members (225 female and 25 male).

7.4. Community Awareness-Raising

A day-long cleaning event was undertaken in Talab Camp with the community and HFHB volunteers. In addition to much-needed clearing of garbage from the settlement, the event brought into focus the importance of solid waste management and raised awareness within the community. To expand the awareness, billboards with the message "My neighbourhood, my house, let's clean them regularly" in Bengali were installed at the three entrances to the settlement to raise community awareness.

The pilot activities were backed by extensive training for capacity building as noted above. These were supplemented by 5 financial management training courses for 91 CWC and CDC members (59 female and 32 male).

It should be noted that in all the community trainings, there was a significant majority of female participants. Building the capacity of women was a key objective of the project, particularly because of their weak position in the typically male-dominated context of Bangladesh.

8. Long-Term Community Development Plan (CDP)

Work on developing a long-term CDP had begun before the pilot activities stage and continued beyond the 1-year project timeline. To prepare the CDP, linked to but extending beyond the pilot activities, the IFRC Resilience Framework (IFRC 2012) shared during the training (see section 4) was reviewed and adapted for the context of the project together with HFHB staff.

The six elements of a resilient community as outlined in the IFRC framework - (a) Knowledge & Health, (b) Organised, (c) Connected, (d) Infrastructure & Services, (e) Economic Opportunities, and (f) Natural Assets - were reviewed for the CDP and it was agreed that instead of grouping Health and Knowledge together, in this project Health deserved to stand on its own, and a new characteristic Knowledge & Capacity was included because of the significant inputs for capacity building in the community already provided and further needed. Also, being a dense urban slum settlement, Natural Assets was agreed to be of low significance and was not included in the revised framework. However this was considered for further thought when actually implementing the CDP; there might be potential for maximising the benefits of even the meagre available natural resources, say for example through rainwater harvesting and urban agriculture. Because this was a marginal ethnic group, Social Issues was included as an important element. Some of the key social issues specific to this community include stigmatisation due to ethnic background and restrictive scope for assimilation into the mainstream Bengali population, limiting opportunities for schooling, health care, assertion of rights, employment, etc. Table 2 shows the template for developing the details of the CDP.

Following on from the above framework, initial work on the CDP followed a structure as in a project plan to allow HFHB staff to conceptualise it more easily. This structure is shown in Table 3. It should be highlighted that in the diagram in the table, Fig. 5, the aspects of the CDP, that is the Resilience Characteristics, are all inter-linked and support each other to enable long-term community resilience. Work on the CDP continued beyond the pilot project and it can be expected that future work of HFHA and HFHB in urban slum settlements in Bangladesh and elsewhere would translate it into reality.

Table 2. CDP framework template based on the IFRC resilience framework

Rank Resilience Key Rationale Budget Timeline Sustainability Characteristics Activities

Health

Organised

Connected

Infrastructure & Services

Economic Opportunities

Social Issues

Knowledge & Capacity

Table 3 . Structure of CDP

1. Initial consultations with the community on the CDP

2. Analysis of existing conditions: - Detailed mapping; - Assessment of needs, problems, opportunities, vulnerabilities and capacities

3. Interventions & Activities: - Focus on shelter & infrastructure - Overlaps/Relationships with other sectors (see diagram below)

4. Expected outputs and outcomes: - eg Upscaling and replication of pilot interventions - Linkages to broader aspects (social, economic, legal, etc)

5. Management structure: - HFHB & partners - Community level (CDC, CWC)

6. Sustainability plan

7. Budget

8. Timeline

9. The CDP should be conceptualised as comprising two main clusters based on the adapted IFRC Resilience Framework as shown below in the diagram: - Shelter & Infrastructure (central cluster) (housing, drainage, WaSH, waste management, services) - Socio-economic cluster (social issues, connected, organised, economic opportunities, knowledge & capacity, health)

Fig. 5. Diagrammatic representation of the CDP 9. Dissemination and Next Steps

The concepts and results of the project were disseminated primarily through the HFHA and HFHB annual reports, newsletters and websites (see for example, HFHB 2013). Two main public events allowed further dissemination:

■ Shelter Forum, Sydney, 2013: This event was organised by the Australian Shelter Reference Group (SRG). Here, HFHA and AWF gave a presentation on the project to a large audience belonging to the international development community, particularly from agencies working in the shelter sector. The presentation highlighted the wider linkages of shelter in urban slum settlements and the importance of capacity building as a vehicle to enable resilience of urban poor communities.

■ Urban Dialogue Workshop, Dhaka, 2013: Organised by HFHB, this event was attended by representatives of many international and national NGOs, bilateral donors (AusAID, DFID) and others. In addition to presentations and panel discussions by prominent urban experts and stakeholders in Bangladesh, the workshop included break-out sessions on key aspects of urban community development. Importantly, presentations by HFHB and AWF shared the objectives and results of this project. The event allowed networking between urban stakeholders, which may prove productive for future urban work of HFHB.

After the project, further activities continued, including housing and spatial improvement (more paved walkways and a community open space). Importantly, other partnerships were developed, such as with World Vision Bangladesh (WVB); WVB had also engaged in solid waste management and other initiatives in Dhaka slum settlements. HFHB was aiming to refine the CDP and seek funding for its implementation. Once again, this was planned to extend beyond Talab Camp and to build new partnerships.

The concepts driving the project had relevance to cities in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region with large slum settlements. HFHA planned to provide training to its partners in the Philippines and Indonesia on the Resilience Framework, CBPRA Toolkit and CAP, together with training on Shelter (based on IFRC's PASSA) (IFRC 2011). Depending on availability of funding, a set of pilot activities as in the Dhaka project might also be implemented.

10. Lessons and Conclusion

Two key lessons strongly emerged from the project. Firstly, it became clear that adequate community consultation and engagement can enhance project outcomes, but requires time and commitment. Secondly, initiatives such as this also require time and commitment to be implemented with adequate understanding, often difficult in a time-bound project such as this, compounded by unpredictable circumstances, particularly unstable political situations, such as that in Bangladesh in 2013, and in a bustling megacity like Dhaka.

The project also offered other important lessons. It showed how a project such as this implemented in partnership between several agencies could draw on their different skills and resources and thereby achieve positive results. Such multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary partnership was essential for the success of a multi-pronged project like this. However the roles and responsibilities of the different partners would have worked better if more clearly defined and balanced from the project outset.

Because of strong security measures and contingency plans by HFHB, it had been possible to implement the project successfully despite the volatile political situation in Bangladesh. It therefore serves as a model for future work in Bangladesh where such a situation may arise again.

In terms of capacity building, although the training course provided was largely successful, feedback from the training participants indicated that such training should have less theoretical content and should focus on tools and techniques that can be directly utilised in the context of a project. More time should be provided in the training to understand and practise using the tools. This an important lesson for community-based projects which are action-orientated and thus require hands-on guidance and practical tools. Training courses should therefore aim to include as much content as possible which have direct andd practical applications. The CBPRA and CAP toolkits were effective in this regard, although it was found that that more time was needed to build the capacity of local staff. To address such local capacity issues, it was evident in this project that more 'on-the-ground' technical guidance was required beyond provision of training.

Working with the right local partner was also important. While working with a local NGO allowed access to the community and other advantages, differing expectations weakened the partnership. There was misjudgement in interpreting the respectives roles of the partners, although defined at the outset, but perhaps somewhat loosely. A tendency by the local partner (PDAP) to view the internationally connected partner (HFHB) in terms of a donor-recipient relationship was a main factor in the differing expectations arising. Ideally such a partnership should be based whenever possible on previous successful working relationships, whereas here, this was the first significant collaboration.

A key issue was the sustainability of the pilot interventions - will the community sustain and maintain the physical improvements implemented in the project? Will the community organisations formed function on their own without external support? This was not clearly evident from the project. Clear and more robust mechanisms for achieving sustainability needed to be formulated through consultations with the community, particularly when developing the CDP. More extensive and extended community capacity building and support to the community organisations - CDC and CWC - is required for sustainability and long-term resilience, which was beyond the scope of this 1-year pilot project. Nonetheless the project established a stepping stone for future resilience-building initiatives for slums in Bangladesh, where such projects are scanty because of widespread lack of tenure security and the political, and often volatile, nature of Dhaka's slums. Furthermore, the process followed in the project offers wider guidance to the international development community and related local stakeholders for building the resilience of urban poor communities.

Acknowledgements

This paper is based on research commissioned by Habitat for Humanity Australia under the project Building Resilience of Urban Slum Settlements: A Multi-Sectoral Approach to Capacity Building funded by AusAID (ex) under its NGO Cooperation Program Innovation Fund.

Participation at the I3R2 Conference was funded by the School Research Committee (SRC), School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne.

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