It is time our development vision included a long-term, sustainable solution
Dhaka city is bursting at the seams, and every day, more people arrive at the capital in search of livelihoods.
All these people, it goes without saying, need a place to live, and therefore find refuge in Dhaka’s numerous slums.
But the living conditions endured by Dhaka’s urban poor do not befit a country aspiring to middle-income status, or a city that is trying to shed the stigma of being one of the least liveable cities in the world.
To fix this problem, low-income public housing is needed, so that the urban poor can live productive lives with dignity.
Right now, the slums of Dhaka are not fit for habitation -- the structures are dilapidated, not to mention dangerous; they lack proper sanitation and waste management properties and are therefore unhygienic, and they contribute to the overall mismanagement of the city, with slum problems spilling into other areas.
The benefits of urban growth become questionable when such a large section of the population continues to live in such an unsafe and unsustainable way.
A recent meeting organized by Power and Participation Research Centre, which brought together urban experts, rights activists, and NGO and community organizations, rightly pointed out that very little progress has been made on the matter of improving conditions for the urban poor since the 1980s -- low-income families still live in constant fear of eviction or fire incidents in addition to all the other hardships of the slum environment.
It is time our development vision included a long-term, sustainable solution to this problem, which may require an updating of the policy framework, and the construction of multi-storied buildings that can house more people in a smaller amount of land.
Because when we plan for the betterment of this city, we need to keep all of its residents in mind.