The 2005 census and mapping of slums in Bangladesh: design, select results and application

Int J Health Geogr. 2009 Jun 8;8:32. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-8-32.


Background: The concentration of poverty and adverse environmental circumstances within slums, particularly those in the cities of developing countries, are an increasingly important concern for both public health policy initiatives and related programs in other sectors. However, there is a dearth of information on the population-level implications of slum life for human health. This manuscript describes the 2005 Census and Mapping of Slums (CMS), which used geographic information systems (GIS) tools and digital satellite imagery combined with more traditional fieldwork methodologies, to obtain detailed, up-to-date and new information about slum life in all slums of six major cities in Bangladesh (including Dhaka).

Results: The CMS found that Bangladeshi slums are very diverse: there are wide intra- and inter-city variations in population size, density, the percent of urban populations living in slums, and sanitation conditions. Findings also show that common beliefs about slums may be outdated; of note, tenure insecurity was found to be an issue in only a small minority of slums.

Conclusion: The methodology used in the 2005 Bangladesh CMS provides a useful approach to mapping slums that could be applied to urban areas in other low income societies. This methodology may become an increasingly important analytic tool to inform policy, as cities in developing countries are forecasted to continue increasing their share of total global population in the coming years, with slum populations more than doubling in size during the same period.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Censuses*
  • Humans
  • Maps as Topic*
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health / trends
  • Urban Population / trends