Mr Kazi Nazrul Fattah1
1University Of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Literature on community development interventions in urban slums often highlight the patron-client relationships among non-government organisations (NGO), politically-connected local elites, and corrupt local government officials, in which they serve each other’s mutual interests by influencing such interventions in their favour. This paper argues that the micro-politics revolving around community development interventions are considerably more complex than documented in existing research and requires a nuanced understanding of interests and contestations of power among a range of actors, including grassroots community-based organisation (CBO) members, local political leaders, NGO fieldworkers, and municipal officials. Drawing on empirical data from an ethnographic study in Korail slum in the megacity Dhaka, this paper demonstrates that in their attempt to gain greater negotiating power over the NGOs and ensure control over resources, CBOs adopt a range of strategies such as, among others, direct recruitment of political leaders in the organisation. NGOs attempt to maintain control over leaders by manipulating the very processes that they established for empowering the CBOs. Such contestations alter the configurations of local power in the slum in a manner where the previously noted patron-client relationships transmute into complex negotiations of power, control and resistance among various actors with vested interests.
Kazi Nazrul Fattah is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research interests include socio-political dynamics of urbanization in the Global South, urban governance, public policy, and civic engagement. His current research explores the circulations of power and modes of governance in urban informal settlements in Bangladesh.