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Responding to Social Disruptions and Urban Complexities in Post-Pandemic Dhaka Using Resilience Framework: Implications for Low-Income Urban Populations

01, June 2021 |


Ahmed S.


Social, economic, and spatial inequalities are not unknown in megacities like Dhaka, which have a degree of urban- ization that could be termed “hyperurbanization” or “overurbanization.” Currently, Dhaka is the home of almost 18 million people and, prior to COVID-19, the population grew, mostly by the rural-urban migrants, by thousands of people every day. In Bangladesh, various natural hazards, food insecurity, low-investment, and policy priorities in rural areas have played a major role in mass-scale rural-urban migration. COVID-19 has brought a new reality. Despite an initial effort, the state is not in a position to provide food and other resources to its citizens for the duration of the pandemic. An increased rate of employment loss and decreased salary, along with poor-management of gov- ernment response and emergency assistance to the people who are in need have complicated the overall scenario. All of these factors have contributed to the situation of deurbanization. During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of low-income people have left this megacity, where they once came to pursue their dreams, and returned to their home villages. Even though going back to rural origins is not a defeat for all, overall prospects are not very promising in their villages, either. Many of these people might experience long-term poverty traps, with no adequate employment or live- lihood opportunities. Some see this “deurbanization” as an opportunity to ease Dhaka’s population strain; however, the deurbanization process might create a deep scar in the post-COVID economy, including the nation’s capacity to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) by 2030. Using the core arguments of resili- ence, this article provides critical insight on the management of urban complexity and social disruptions in post- pandemic Dhaka. Even though this article has a geographical focus, it has broader policy relevance to other cities in the Global South that are facing similar challenges.