Learning on the job: Chattogram migrant survey report



By Tamim Billah

The field survey of the project Safe and Sustainable cities: human securities, migration and well-being was completed successfully in different parts of Chattogram.  Four sites were selected for data collection with migrants. The sites were Amin Colony area, Free port, Barrister college area and Karnaphuly bridge slum. Firstly, we listed 570 migrant people coming from different regions of the country including coastal regions. 450 migrants were then selected for interview. Dwellings were assigned a unique id so that enumerators could locate them once the survey rolled out. Before each interview, enumerators called selected respondents over the phone to ensure their availability on the date of the interview. In the survey sites we found migrants working in many different jobs. The majority of survey respondents are garments workers who are working in different factories in the city. We also found rickshaw pullers, hawkers, vendors, domestic workers and hotel workers.

Our survey also included people from different ethnic groups who migrated to Chattogram from the Chittagong Hill Tracts. However, we observed mixed responses towards the survey. Some people were very curious and happy to contribute to the survey. Other respondents did not take it lightly. Those respondents assumed that enumerators were there to record their name for eviction or any other purpose that would impact their lives. It was very challenging for the enumerators to explain them about the objectives of our study.

We faced some operational challenges during our survey.  As people are busy working in garment factories or other activities, they usually leave in the morning and come back in the dawn. Some migrants work extra hours in their workplace. At times it was very difficult to reach them, and we worked around the times they suggested for conducting interviews. We employed a range of strategies to conduct our interviews successfully and we are pleased with have been able to complete the target number of complete questionnaires. As it was my first experience supervising a team of 6-7 enumerators I have learned a lot about how to manage and motivate people. From this field survey, I have also learned many techniques to conduct such type of challenging fieldwork.

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