Living in Dhaka is a challenge, no matter who you are. Traffic is manic, there are motorcyclists cruising the footpaths and people are forced to walk on the streets. There are no designated bus lanes and no bus stops. The roads are home to everything and everyone. Buses, cars, rickshaws, CNGs and people coexist in a situation where anything can happen at any time.
Dhaka resident Mohammad Ali lost the life he had known within seconds because of river erosion. He was forced to come to the capital and largest metropolitan area in Bangladesh in search of a better future. He is another face in the sea of 6.5 million people who have migrated to the city.
The UN World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/5, observed every third Sunday in November, is a major advocacy day for road traffic injury prevention.
Chinta Didi just got a new, two-storied house. It costs less than USD 1,500 - and her neighbours built it for her. She has been partially blind since birth, and relies on the little income that her husband earns from working at a welding shop.
On a quiet Wednesday afternoon in early August, Dhaka’s Tejgaon fire station got a call from Beltola, a crowded part of Korail slum. An electric wire was sparking and nearby houses were starting to catch on fire.
Over the past decade Bangladesh has been experiencing urbanisation at an unprecedented speed and scale. For Bangladesh, urbanisation has been identified as a leading engine of growth with the urban sector already contributing to more than 60 per cent of the GDP. On the downside, like in many other developing countries, this rapid urbanisation is also accompanied by increasing urban poverty and inequality.
In Dhaka, it is a common sight to see street children running around, dodging vehicles, and weaving in and out of traffic jams. Some beg for money while others attempt to sell flowers, stickers or candy. It is also common to see street children carrying loads, often too heavy a burden for their little shoulders. But these are only a few examples of occupations street children are forced to take on. Many homeless boys and girls at BRAC’s children’s centres for the urban street children programme (USCP) were involved in similar jobs before being taken in, in 2013.
According to a WHO global status report, more than 1.24 million deaths occur globally, every year because of road accidents. It has been identified as the eighth leading cause of death. However, road accidents are more common in low and middle-income countries.
Life had not been kind to 12-year-old Shohag. Living in a Dhaka slum, home to some of the worst forms of poverty and depravation in Bangladesh, Shohag lacked access to basic rights such as a secure shelter, food, drinking water and an education. His father died in a construction accident a year ago and when his mother remarried, he found it difficult to see eye to eye with his stepfather. Shohag preferred to face the harsh realities of Dhaka’s streets, looking to earn money any way he could to avoid sleeping hungry at night.