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The 1998 floods, which inundated much of Bangladesh, had a major effect on the lives and work of urban slum children. Lack of work opportunities, and beliefs about appropriate roles for young children, meant that the floods did not lead to great increases in workforce entry and in some cases led to a reduction in the opportunities available. Children’s domestic work was also affected. Children’s paid and domestic work had an important impact on how well households survived during and after the floods. The findings highlight the simultaneously beneficial and harmful nature of much child labour, and are therefore relevant to the dilemmas that face policy makers in this area. The research reported on in this article also has implications for those involved in disaster relief policy making.

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