Placemaking through Transformation and Adaptation within Informal Settlements: A Case of Ershadnagar Resettlement Camp
Ershadnagar Resettlement Camp is an existing peri-urban informal settlement located at Tongi, Dhaka which has undergone a transformation process in the past 43 years. Dhaka - the most densely populated city in the world, has always been under extreme pressure to accommodate its ever-increasing number of slum dwellers. This almost 100-acre Ershadnagar resettlement camp had been a government initiative to house the evicted illegal slum dwellers as a part of ‘Dhaka Clean project in 1975. From inner Dhaka city, the evicted homeless population was relocated to the vacant land of this resettlement camp without any amenities or shelter provision. Since then, the camp dwellers have gradually developed themselves into a community with help from the government and non-government organizations. Yet major parts of this settlement still suffer from tenure insecurity, dilapidated housing conditions, lack of formal supply of basic infrastructure and services. Therefore, it can be considered as a slum except for some small parts that discretely achieved better living conditions. Although the word ‘slum’ has derogatory notions attached to it, this paper discusses how the camp area has gained the attributes of a ‘place’ through the transformation and adaptation process of ‘Placemaking’despite being a slum. Here, both the informal struggles of people and formal organizational initiatives are equally valid. Through the theoretical lens of place and Placemaking, this paper highlights qualitative data regarding the socio-cultural complexity of slums rather than statistical data. From field surveys, interviews of inhabitants and development workers, and available secondary data; the Placemaking process has been investigated both at the community and household level. While the process of ‘Placemaking’ is observed, the lack of tenure has been identified as a negative catalyst in the process.