The urban poor in Dhaka City: their struggles and coping strategies during the floods of 1998

Disasters. 2000 Sep;24(3):240-53. doi: 10.1111/1467-7717.00145.


Bangladesh experienced one of the worst floods in recorded history in 1998. This paper focuses on the needs and coping strategies of the urban poor in Dhaka City, which had been very badly affected. The city's roads were completely under water, and most areas were water-logged with drainage and sewage systems blocked. Rising water levels compelled many slum dwellers to move to temporary shelters and relief camps. Women and children were the worst affected. The lack of sanitation facilities and privacy forced women and children to defecate in their own homes. There was an acute scarcity of safe drinking-water, and food prices rose dramatically. Diarrhoea, fever and colds were the most common illnesses affecting the poor. The floods left many of them unemployed, and in some families, the result was increased tension and incidents of domestic violence. In some areas, members felt pressured to repay micro-credit loans. Most NGOs, however, suspended loan repayments. During this period, a committee was set up to co-ordinate and work towards addressing some of the main post-flood problems.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bangladesh
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Relief Work
  • Urban Population*