Poor conditions of infrastructure, healthcare, culture and environment, and education are what have continued to keep Dhaka on the list of the least liveable cities in the world for years.
Even though the Bangladesh capital has moved up three places from last year's position, it is still the seventh least liveable city in the world, according to the Global Liveability Index 2022.
And the slight improvement in this year's performance is largely influenced by the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, the Economist Intelligence Unit said in its report published on Thursday.
With an average score of 39.2 out of 100, Dhaka ranks 166th among 172 cities included in the Global Liveability Index 2022. Last year, it scored 33.5 to rank 137th among 140 cities.
The city ranked the 3rd and 2nd least liveable city in the world in the 2019 and 2018 editions of the index, respectively.
Dhaka performed worst in 2012 when it was named as the world's least liveable city, and in the following five years too it was among the four worst performers in the global index.
Dr MH Chowdhury Lelin, public health expert and chairman of Health and Hope Hospital, told The Business Standard, "In an area where people live, the quality of water and air, noise level, light level, and waste management system should be good.
"But unfortunately, we see that Dhaka is a city of polluted air, it has a lot of noise pollution, the waste management system is absolutely shaky, there is a shortage of safe drinking water, adulterated food are found in abundance, and there is a shortage of fast access to healthcare. For all these reasons, Dhaka remains one of the least liveable cities."
Lenin, also joint general secretary of Paribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba), stressed reducing traffic congestion, and noise and air pollution, and giving Dhaka the shape of a planned city with adequate water reservoirs, and walking spaces to enhance Dhaka's liveability. If anyone falls ill, there must be arrangements to quickly take them to the hospital, he added.
Professor Dr Adil Mohammed Khan, executive director of Institute for Planning and Development (IPD), said "When a city carries a population four to five times higher than its capacity, whatever initiatives the government undertakes prove insignificant. And this is what happens in the case of Dhaka, causing the city to remain at the bottom of the list of liveable cities for years."
He strongly suggested decentralisation of the capital Dhaka to save it from imminent collapse.
"We need to stop new capital-bound migration by creating more employment opportunities outside Dhaka," he added.
He further said, "A significant portion of the Dhaka-based workforce needs to be attracted to work outside Dhaka. With a better working environment and pay structure, a significant portion of the workforce will be interested to work outside the capital."
"For decentralisation, we can easily take advantage of the Padma Bridge that is slated for inauguration on 25 June."
The EIU report mentioned that the Liveability Index rose sharply in the 2022 survey that was conducted between 14 February and 13 March.
The global average liveability score has rebounded to 73.6, up from 69.1 a year ago, as scores for culture and environment, education and healthcare improved on the back of Covid-19 curbs being eased.
This year, Vienna has re-captured the top spot that it held three years ago, before it slipped to 12th place in 2021 due to the Covid-induced closure of museums and restaurants.
The Austrian capital just pipped Denmark's Copenhagen to the post, thanks to a higher healthcare score, while Switzerland's Zurich and Canada's Calgary and Vancouver round out the top five.
Syria's Damascus and the Nigerian city of Lagos continue to languish at the bottom of the list of the index. It is followed by Libya's Tripoli, Algiers in Algeria and Pakistan's Karachi.
The EIU assesses cities across the world on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors in five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.
Dhaka's performance across categories
Among the five categories, Dhaka's score on infrastructure remains the worst, only 26.8 points.
This category is based on indicators such as quality of road network, public transport, water provision, telecommunications and international links, and availability of good-quality housing.
Dhaka has got its second lowest score on healthcare. However, this year Dhaka's score on healthcare has improved to 29.2 from 16.7 points last year. The category is based on such indicators including availability and quality of public and private healthcare.
The city has scored 40.5 on culture and environment this year, up from 30.8 in 2021.
It has got 41.7 on education this year, up from 33.3 in 2021.
Meanwhile, Dhaka's score on the stability category remains the same as last year's at 55.
"Stability and good infrastructure are the city's main charms for its inhabitants, supported by good healthcare and plenty of opportunities for culture and entertainment," highlighted the report.