Like most developing countries Bangladesh is undergoing rapid urbanisation. The focus of urbanisation in the past few decades has largely been concentrated on the country’s mega city Dhaka and its commercial and port city Chittagong. However, more recently Bangladesh has experienced significant urbanisation in other parts of the country, reflected in the emergence of a number of middleweight cities and secondary towns. While the cities are largely seen as engines of economic growth, urbanisation in Bangladesh has at best produced a sub-optimal outcome, reflected in higher population but lower economic density in its major cities. More worryingly, Bangladeshi cities are categorised as ‘least liveable cities’, as indicated in some influential global city liveability rankings. The common ills of urbanisation, notably congestion, pollution, crime, urban poverty, and squalor are the apparent by-products of the country’s rapid urbanisation, pointing out the need for good governance. According to an estimate, the urban centres are concentrating a large pool of poor people — approximately 40 million people in Bangladesh live in urban areas, out of which 21 percent live below the poverty line.

To understand the economic and social potential of Bangladeshi cities as well as the challenges that the country face in managing its urban transition, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University has a strong focus on urban economics and urban governance and development related issues.