As our economy ascends, so must the quality of life for all who call Bangladesh home
In the capital city, news of fires razing buildings and factories to the ground are, tragically, all too frequent. However, the biggest victims of such fires are, without a doubt, the urban poor living in the various slums of Dhaka.
While the upward trend that our economy has been experiencing is definitely noteworthy, a sizeable portion of our population still lives well below the poverty line -- most of them with little choice but to live in slums.
Exacerbating the matter is the fact that up to 400,000 low-income migrants arrive in Dhaka every year, making these slums all the more densely populated. It is of little surprise, then, that these areas are massive fire-hazards.
A comprehensive overhaul of how our slums operate is the need of the hour.
When a fire breaks out in a slum, it is next to impossible for fire services to reach the affected area on time, mostly because of unusable road networks in the slums. To that end, Brac’s Urban Development Program could be a good first step towards renovating households in slum areas in a way that helps inhabitants avoid any hazardous situation, like a fire breaking out.
Of course, any such measure would require the cooperation of our city corporations -- entities which have not, in the recent past, risen to fix this dire problem.
Yesterday, at least 200 shanties were destroyed when a fire broke out in Banani, and while fire-fighters eventually managed to extinguish it in time, the cost will ultimately have to be borne by those who inhabited the area -- the ultra poor.
As our economy ascends, so must the quality of life for all who call Bangladesh home, and if we cannot even provide the most basic living standards to our urban poor, all our progress will be undermined.