The most meaningful projects will be the ones that lift the standards of living for poor people
One of the most basic requirements in having a decent standard of living is a roof over one’s head, and certain minimum standards of safety, hygiene, sanitation, and power supply.
Unfortunately, a vast pool of Dhaka residents with low incomes have, for years, been forced to live in slums. These slums are, simply put, not suitable for habitation. They are dangerous, they are unsanitary, and they are overly congested. Also, as we have seen from numerous recent fire incidents, many of them are disasters waiting to happen.
This newspaper has editorialized repeatedly about the need for decent, affordable housing for the poor in urban Bangladesh. It is wonderful to see, then, that the government is all set to distribute 533 newly built apartments to families that are currently living in slums. This is just the kind of initiative that Bangladesh needs: Modern apartment buildings with lifts, generators, solar power, and well-lit open spaces.
It cannot be denied that Dhaka is an overcrowded city, so the solution here is to build upwards. The Ministry of Housing and Public Works had the right idea, then, when it decided to construct five 14-storey buildings in an area that used to be a slum. While the slums are not free, at a daily rent of Tk150 or a monthly rent of Tk4,500, these modern flats are cheaper than the slums were, so this is an absolute win on all counts.
Bangladesh takes immense pride in the ambitious infrastructure projects it has taken on its plate. But perhaps at the end of the day, some of the most meaningful projects will be the ones that lift the standards of living for poor people, and allow them to live with dignity.