• Thursday, May 28, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:05 am

An action plan for our cities

  • Published at 05:48 pm November 22nd, 2018
Flood
NASHIRUL ISLAM

It is high time we woke up to the problems that plague us, and focused on building resilient cities

Much has been said about the adverse impact of climate change in rural areas of Bangladesh, because it is always the rural poor who get hit hardest.

But that does not mean the toll taken on urban areas is any less alarming.

According to World Bank data, the urban population from Bangladesh has gone from 5 million in 1970 to a staggering 55 million in 2015 -- our capital and largest city Dhaka is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with five thousand hectares added in recent years to accommodate our rapidly growing population.

This has involved reducing the drainage capacity of the city, which in turn has severely worsened the flooding situation during the heavy monsoon rainfalls.

Needless to say, much of our urban growth has been unplanned, and unsustainable. 

But it is high time we woke up to the problems that plague us, and focused on building resilient cities that can withstand the challenges of climate change in the years to come. 

To build urban resilience, we can look to the strategies adopted by rich countries; for example, the Dutch city of Rotterdam has integrated spatial planning in its water management efforts, and has developed public plazas that serve as water storage spaces during storms.

Our public urban spaces, sadly, have been shrinking to keep up with the inflow of people, and there has hardly been any smart planning that would help us brace for climate disaster.

In the long run, building secondary cities and towns to reduce pressure on our major urban centres may be needed, and these cities should have all the facilities and amenities needed for a peaceful and dignified life.

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