Parks and open spaces are essential for the proper development of children and cities like Dhaka should better accommodate their needs, experts told an urban planning roundtable in the capital on Monday.
The Urban Planner of Narayanganj City Corporation, Md Moinul Islam, said he had spoken to 100 students from 10 Dhaka schools over the past year and their most common complaint was the dearth of playing fields and parks.
“Children today suffer from obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle because they have nowhere to play or exercise,” Moinul said during his inaugural speech at the “Child Sensitive Urban Planning” discussion.
“This will affect the future of Bangladesh itself if the younger population grows up to be so unhealthy.”
Ten students from seven schools in Savar and Narayanganj were asked to speak at the discussion to better understand their stance on the issue.
The students listed their other “big issues” as air pollution, bad public transport, insufficient spacing in front of residential buildings, improper waste management, and inadequate space on the sidewalks.
The experts discussed how proper urban planning can help children become both responsible and responsive citizens for building sustainable cities and towns in Bangladesh.
Joint Secretary of BIP, Adil Mohammad Khan, stressed the importance of implementing existing policies to make Dhaka a children friendly city. “Children need to be given enough open space and light, as sometimes the congestion does not even let them see the sky,” he said.
Iqbal Habib, member secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, said playing fields must be wrestled back from land grabbers, pointing out his organization’s successful campaign to free a field in Dhanmondi.
General Secretary of BIP, Md Akhter Mahmud, and Programme Manager of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, Maruf Hossain, also spoke at the programme.