This study explores the internal structures and differentiation of neighbourhoods in Khulna, a typical large city in Bangladesh.

Analysis of city – and neighbourhood-level information reveals the critical challenges that citizens face in terms of urban sustainability, health and education, and that require focus for future policy-making for the city.

Key findings:
  • Khulna’s neighbourhoods have evolved spontaneously over the last 30 years, leading to urban sprawl and distinct internal changes. The rapid decline of farmland (by 49%) and water bodies (by 19%) in Khulna and the dramatic increase in human settlements (96% in the city and 468% in the periphery) have reshaped the future of this city.
  • 91% of Khulna’s neighbourhoods have evolved organically and have been adaptive to the transformation process. Population growth, shifts in economic activities, and the development of roads, urban amenities and related infrastructure have influenced changes at the neighbourhood level.
  • The old, organically transformed neighbourhoods accommodate a diverse mix of socioeconomic groups and have avoided significant social segregation. Yet, there are isolated clusters of slums, religious minority groups and certain ethnic classes.
  • Poor coverage of urban amenities and limited formal economic activities have resulted in neighbourhood differentiation and a division between well – and under-served areas. Such divisions have severely affected the poor and working-class population, forcing them to live in low-cost communities with inadequate amenities.
  • While neighbourhoods are responding to the city’s growing need for housing, the same cannot be said about urban amenities, and health and education facilities. The unplanned and organic nature of urbanisation in Khulna has resulted in unsustainable and unequal living environments across neighbourhoods.