Dhaka city: where we live
Our understanding of cities both in theory and practice are at a turning point. Certain urban areas across the world are becoming challenges as liveable habitats in this modern era. Do we know what amenities are essential for a city? It is absolutely imperative that public, private and government sector should be engaged to work together for urban sustainable development.
Sustainable development is development to meet up present generation demands without compromising the future generation to meet its own needs. But the term has now turned into a rubber band that can be stretched in all directions. Whatever the interpretation, one thing is clear: sustainable development is not enough anymore, as we are continuously compromising future generation to meet up their own needs.
Human as well all animals are eating into the natural capital of the planet. So the ecosystem is not in the same condition as it was 15 to 20 years ago. It is no doubt that cities and urban areas largely contribute to this trend. Now the cities are turning into urban slums where factors like conflict, disasters and climate change severely disrupt livelihood conditions. There are many pull factors such as access of food, water, education and health care facilities behind migration from rural to urban areas. Loss of soil carbon and low fertility of cultivable lands in rural areas act as push factors for migration.
A report recently surfaced that Dhaka City is the second worst liveable city by the London based Economist Intelligent unit. The cities are measured on the basis of political and social stability, crimes rates, access to quality health care, natural environment, education and the standard of infrastructure including public transport.
Why is Dhaka city so overpopulated now? What types of pull factors are responsible to bring people into the capital? There are many causes behind the overcrowding of the city. Geographically, Bangladesh is low-lying and has a shapes into a funnel in front of Bay of Bengal. Sea levels are rising across the world for ice melting due to hot weather. The sources of our many rivers are upstream that control the water flow, which causes the navigation problem. As a result salinity intrusion disrupts our agriculture, fisheries, forests and hence the total ecological system. Every year, the rural people face multi hazards like floods, cyclones, storms etc and get displaced. On the other hand, in the northern part of the country, desertification is occurring and crops of the country are destroyed. The rural economy is always neglected. People of this area only depend on agro base activities and have no professional diversification. Decentralisation now is the demand of time and should be part of the solution to develop the rural economy.
So people come to Dhaka in search of better livelihood and stable conditions. There is an increasing number of slums and anti social activities, which is why city authorities need to pay more attention to discipline and regulations. The city authorities as well as various urban experts have to re-contemplate the city to make it resource-efficient and minimise traffic congestion. The infrastructure of the city consequently requires an integrated approach and coordinated actions among all different departments. Various stakeholders should be made aware and engaged. A wide range of technical and management solutions towards this end are already available, but so far the implementation has been too slow and too little.
Md Mahiul Kadir
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