Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Speaker, Bangladesh Jario Sangshad speaking as the Chief Guest _Photo : Monitor
: The World Bank has stressed on the need to more sustainable way of City planning in Bangladesh, so that rapidly urbanising parts of the country, have the necessary infrastructure and services, to make them good places to live.
The observation of the World Bank, on how the country needs to better manage its city planning were made, in a conference to discuss challenges and ways to improve cities in Bangladesh.
The World Bank organised the conference in partnership with the Municipal Association of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Institute of Planners, Institute of Architects, Bangladesh and Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh with financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
The 2-day conference forged partnerships for knowledge exchange on global best practices and city leadership. On the last day of the conference, the Center of Excellence will also announce the winners of the national Champion City Awards Programme the first of its kind in the country, which recognises good practices and innovative solutions.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Sayeed Khokon Mayor for South, spoke at the inaugural session, which was chaired by the President of the Municipal Association of Bangladesh, Md. Abdul Baten.
More than 300 mayors from all over the country, as well as a number of mayors from other countries, urban planners and professionals participated in the conference.
In Bangladesh, rapid and unplanned urbanization has affected the livability in the cities. Today, about 54 million Bangladeshis live in cities and the number will more than double in the next 35 years. Yet, one fifth of urban dwellers live in poverty.
Most of the cities and municipalities in Bangladesh offer inadequate infrastructure and low levels of urban services. Bangladesh needs to increase spending for the local infrastructure. The share of local spending compared to total public expenditure in Bangladesh is about 3 percent, one of the lowest globally. The cities are underperforming in terms of livability.
To meet the challenges of rapid urbanisation, the conference introduced a Center of Excellence for Urban Development, a platform to exchange knowledge and build the capacity of the municipalities aimed at improving the livability of cities. The center is piloting a Young Professional Internship Programme, aimed at planners, architects and engineers, in 11 urban local governments.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed more than US$26 billion in grants and interest free credits to the country. In recent years, Bangladesh has been among the largest recipients of the World Bank's interest free credits.