Creat. Sp.

'Beltola Lilies' A Solution of Housing for Lower Income People and Introduction of A Module for Flooded Areas

Jayedi Aman, Nabeela Nushaira Rahman and Shehzad Zahir


Slum, Flood, Household, Indigenous materials, Dwelling problem, EPS, Beltola Lilies, Modules.

PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2015. This article is published with open access at

The paper analyses the issues faced by a minuscule area of a slum habitat in Dhaka city, Bangladesh. The area of the slum worked upon, the “Beltola Bostee”, faces major problems of frequent flooding when the households of the area become unfit to live in. Hence, the inhabitants of this area shift to share other households, overcrowding the already cramped living quarters. The idea of “Beltola Lilies” emerges as an attempt to resolve the problem and provide the best possible solution. The “Beltola Lilies” is conceived as a modular accommodation that stands on ground during the dry season, but floats on water during floods, providing the inhabitants a healthy, organised, productive and cost-effective solution for housing. Built with inexpensive and indigenous materials, requiring minimum effort in construction and maintenance, having low energy needs and being sufficiently livable, it promises to address and eradicate some of the current dwelling problems in the slums that exist all over the country.


Housing or shelter for the poor is indeed one of the key issues of urban areas. The UN-Habitat estimates that between 800 million to a billion people live in urban slums (Hacker, 2013; UN-HABITAT, 2008). The abrupt expansion of urban slums, predominantly in supply-deprived countries, is an acute challenge for social and public policies. Inflexible explanations of slums are constricted for the diverse and vigorous attribute of slum populations.

To depict, define and prototype urban slum structure at an operative perseverance, a methodical and flexible approach is essential to plan, deploy and monitor intrusions at the limited and general level. In countries like Bangladesh where eviction of slum dwellers -- for lack of proper funding, resources, institutional guidance, implementation of rules and the ever growing uncontrolled population -- is not only tedious but expensive to the point of being nearly impossible, steps need to be taken to instead rehabilitate the slum dwellers in the same place, which they have occupied either spontaneously or for lack of options, by providing a solution of modular living units that serves their purpose, organises the slum area and provides better living condition.

To find work opportunities and to mitigate hunger problem, the urban poor had no choice but to live in the much degraded slums and squatter settlements. Located at Darus Salam in Mirpur under Ward no 10, “Beltola Bostee” is one of the comparatively smaller slums in Dhaka city. After partition of British India in 1947, the newly formed Pakistan government acquired this area, along with the nearby larger slum of “Kallyanpur Pora Bostee”, for rehabilitation of the Bihari community2 [1,2]. Gradually, over the years, the underprivileged, shelter-less people of the country started to occupy this government-owned vacant land.. The victims of the devastating flood of 1988 gathered in this area for survival. From then on this slum began to expand and is now densely populated. The slum residents are involved in numerous occupations such as day labourers, garment workers, rickshaw/van pullers, bus and truck drivers/ helpers, cleaners, household workers and petty business entrepreneurs.

In 1996, the House Building Research Institute (HBRI), under the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, gave an eviction notice to the slum dwellers. The dwellers moved the High Court Division of Supreme Court, with the help of Dr. Kamal Hossain3, and managed to stop eviction. The Coalition for Urban Poor (CUP) also extended their hand in support of their continued stay in thearea. However, the slum dwellers were evicted on December 21st, 2003 by the government agencies, with written notice being served on them only a day prior to the eviction.. Many slum-dwellers were evicted forcibly using heavy bulldozers under supervision of the police force.

Subsequently, a landmark decision of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court established that slum evictions cannot be carried out without prior written notice as mandatorily required by the law. The slum residents are now better informed and more organised in responding to eviction. Some national and international organizations have also played supportive roles including social, educational and health services through sponsors, microcredit, aid and awareness programs. Some renowned organizations such as Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), European Union (EU), Water Aid Bangladesh (WAB), Islamic Foundation, Dustha Shasthya Kendro (DSK), Plan Bangladesh, and Bandhan Society are providing services to the dwellers of these slums [11].

Page(s) 119–131
ISSN Print : 2321-3892, Online : 2321-7154
DOI 10.15415/cs.2016.32008

Overall, this idea of modular slum units can be put into effect in the current conditions without needing too much effort. Even the slum-dwellers themselves can take part in this easy and efficient construction system. As it is built with indigenous and low-cost materials, requires minimum effort in construction and maintenance, has low energy needs and is sufficiently livable, it has the promise to eliminate some of the dwelling problems of the slums that exists country wide. The module, though designed for one particular area, can be applied to similar areas with necessary modifications. The adoption of this idea can effectively put an end to a lot of feuds among slum dwellers and the authorities over eviction and allow the inhabitants to lead a secure, healthy and a much better lifestyle.

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