IGC-BIGD Round Table on Urbanisation Challenges: Formulating a Research Agenda for Policy Action held

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and London based International Growth Centre (IGC) co-organised a Roundtable on Urbanisation Challenges: Formulating a Research Agenda for Policy Action on August 22, 2015 at the Daily Star Centre, Dhaka. The discussion focused on current urbanization challenges affecting Dhaka with the aim to define a research agenda that can be helpful in providing policy solutions to the downsides of urban density.

Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD and Country Director, IGC gave an introductory speech on the urban challenges that Dhaka is been facing for now more than two decades: congestion, environment and economic disparities. These challenges have been undermining the quality of life in Dhaka as regularly reported by the urban liveability indexes. Mr. Fahad Khalil, IGC Lead Academic and Castor Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics, University of Washington, chaired the event.

Architect Iqbal Habib and Architect Tanwir Nawaz contributed to the first session on the congestion issues in Dhaka discussing the necessity of better transport policies for Dhaka city, clear pathways for pedestrians and efforts in educating Dhaka city-dwellers with road traffic rules. The use of private transportation in Dhaka streets was also raised as one of the main challenges. Today 80 percent of Dhaka roads are occupied by private transports while public transportation needs to be improved to provide a better and cheaper alternative to Dhaka commuters.

Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Chairperson, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) introduced the second session focusing on urban health and environment. Dr. Hossain Zillur expressed the need of a continuous dialogue between academia and public sector, and how the former can contribute to provide solutions to the policy makers in health and environmental issues.

Dr. Taibur Rahman, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Planning, and Dr. Khairul Islam, Country Representative, Water Aid Bangladesh, evidenced the need of more government attention to the urban issues. Dr. Taibur Rahman discussed the government activity in drafting the Delta Plan, the upcoming government environmental plan and its priorities. Dr. Khairul Islam highlighted how water borne diseases caused by poor water sanitation infrastructures are putting at stake urban health.

Mr. Rashadul Hasan, Project Coordinator, Value for Waste, Swisscontact, discussed the challenges and the economic potential of waste recycle. He also presented Swisscontact’s experience in introducing household recycling practices in Dhaka northern area.

Finally, Mr. Ashekur Rahman of UNDP, introduced the third session on housing and urban disparities presenting the UNDP Urban Housing project and how new forms of collective financing can be implemented to provide land tenure and housing to the urban poor. Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman also added how urban poverty is a major area about which the decision makers lack research knowledge.

In the concluding remarks, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Prof. Khalil discussed the importance of having the public sector, civil societies and private sector discussing with the research institutions in order to find sustainable and long term solutions to the social and environmental challenges faced by Bangladesh.

Media Coverage:

The Daily Star