Rural areas to become urban spaces for rising urban population: LGRD minister

The minister for local government, rural development and cooperatives, Md Tajul Islam, stressed that urbanisation in Bangladesh should essentially follow the direction the prime minister has given to transform rural areas into urban spaces. “If we cannot accommodate people migrating into the urban areas, we must transform the rural areas into pre-planned urban ones,” he said.

The LGRD minister made these observations in his chief guest’s speech on Thursday at an online seminar on housing and livelihood development of the urban poor communities.

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The minister emphasised that simply putting the rising urban population into high-rises will not provide sustainable solution until communication is eased and other problems related to logistics and utilities are taken care of. Therefore, urban resilience is an absolute necessity.

The seminar titled “Pro-poor, climate and disaster resilient urban development: Challenges and opportunities” was organised by BRAC Urban Development Programme (UDP) and attended by 20 city and municipality mayors from around the country.

Empowerment of local government institutions, deliverable activities and social accountability are imperative for pro-poor, climate-resilient and sustainable urban development
Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University

Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, Akhter Mahmud, president, Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), and Imran Matin, executive director, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, also addressed the seminar, among others. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER), BRAC University, moderated the event. BIP, C3ER and BIGD also assisted in organising the seminar.

Professor Ainun Nishat appreciated the municipalities and city corporations of the country for their intent work on their development plans while drawing on own resources to address the growing challenges. He further said, “Empowerment of local government institutions, deliverable activities and social accountability are imperative for pro-poor, climate-resilient and sustainable urban development.”

DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam observed that many problems of the urban poor can be addressed through sustainable slum management in Dhaka city. While he asked for BRAC’s assistance in proper slum management in his jurisdiction, they mayor also stressed the importance of community members’ active involvement in monitoring the quality of service delivery of the city corporation staff.

Satkhira municipality mayor Md Tazkin Ahmed said trained and skilled manpower is essential for a municipality to do quality service delivery to its residents.

BRAC executive director Asif Saleh observed that empowerment and resource planning capacities of the local government bodies are two vital issues for creating a robust and sustainable urban area. “It’s important that the local authorities are given the power to take actions in solving the local issues.”

“There are still issues of providing the mayors with planned budgets and required authority to approve action plans that need to be addressed. Though the condition of the capital city has improved as its mayors have more authority now, things must improve in all the other cities too,” he said.

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