The minister for local government, rural development and cooperatives, Md Tajul Islam, said rural areas must be transformed into planned urbanisation to house the rising urban population and stressed that the urbanisation in Bangladesh should essentially follow the directions of our prime minister 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 as the chief guest at an online seminar on housing and livelihood development of the urban poor communities on Thursday.
The minister further emphasised that simply housing the rising urban population in high-rises will not provide sustainable solutions until the 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 and attended by 20 city and municipality mayors from around the country. Dr Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research (C3ER), Brac University, moderated the event.
Professor Ainun Nishat acknowledged the municipalities and city corporations of the country for the work on their development plans, while drawing on their resources to address the growing challenges.
"Empowerment of local government institutions, deliverable activities and social accountability are imperative for pro-poor, climate-resilient and sustainable urban development," he further said.
Dhaka North City Corporation 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, the 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 deliver quality services to its residents.
Brac executive director Asif Saleh observed that to create a robust and sustainable urban area, empowerment and resource planning capacities of local government bodies are vital.
"It's important that local authorities are given the power to take action in solving their local issues.
Still, there are issues that need to be addressed, e.g., providing the mayors with planned budgets and the required authority to approve action plans. Because the mayors now have more authority, the condition in the capital city has improved from before, but this must also be replicated in the other cities," he said.
Professor Dr Akhter Mahmud, president, Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), and Dr Imran Matin, executive director, Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), Brac University, also addressed the seminar, among others.
BIP, C3ER and BIGD also helped to organise the seminar.