State of Cities

Urbanization  has  become  a  powerful  force  in  developing  countries, having recently taken place in Asia,  Africa  and  Latin  America.  The world  shift  in population  from  rural  to  urban  areas,  a re-evaluation  of  the  economic  importance  of  cities,  and  a  reaffirmation  of  the  significance  of local  institution  building  for development have all become significant factors for consideration in light of this mammoth shift in the context of current development literature. In this backdrop of rapid urbanization, urban governance has become an important approach to evaluating cities’ growth, development and performance.

In this backdrop, the State of Cities report aims to provide a diagnostic of the country’s urban governance. BIGD has published three SoC research reports since 2011 focusing three cities of Bangladesh which experienced fastest urbanisation.

State of Cities: Governance for a Liveable Chittagong

State of Cities: Governance for a Liveable Chittagong is the third report of the State of Cities series published by the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University (formerly Institute of Governance Studies). Given the growing challenges that Chittagong City faces with regard to its service delivery, transport provisions, environmental challenges, devolution of power, fiscal problems, inter alia, there is a need for extensive analysis on cross-cutting issues involving urban governance. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the economic and political dynamics which shape various facets of urban governance in Chittagong, and aims to provide solutions in addressing the mounting problems that the policymakers face as far as urban governance is concerned. The study adopted a mixed method of both qualitative and quantitative approaches using primary and secondary data. To conduct the study, a structured questionnaire survey was carried out among 1,200 households of Chittagong City. Moreover, four Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and over 50 Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) were conducted to support the research.

Drawing from the individual chapters, the report analysed a number of cross-cutting governance issues that have far reaching consequences with regard to the city's agglomeration and liveability. The final chapter suggests that there is a need for co-ordination among service delivery and regulatory agencies, streamlining of dualism in service delivery and social inclusion of low income groups, imperatives of need-based development and implementation of urban plans, importance of greater role of citizens and civil society organisations, and imperatives of practicing horizontally accountable devolved governance model.

Being third of its kind, the report has demonstrated that Chittagong's physical infrastructure and service provisions are ill-equipped to foster agglomeration, ultimately affecting its liveability adversely. This is partly, if not largely, an outcome of the ‘urban primacy’ of Dhaka that is difficult to break, if the experiences of other developing countries are any guide, as discussed in the report. The report provides a set of recommendations pertaining to the city's administrative and financial devolution by making the CCC a single point authority ensuring ultimate accountability to the city dwellers. Moreover, the literature on urbanisation in relation to developing countries and experience of other cities show that cities have to be innovative and learn from success stories of developing and developed countries by initiating financial reforms to become financially independent. This could help cities to reduce their dependency on the centre. The empowered local authorities could help rationalisation of utility prices and mobilisation of revenue to meet Chittagong city's short-term and long-term needs.

SoC: Governance for a liveable Chittagong (Full Report)

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State of Cities: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj

The year 2012 was significant for urbanisation in Bangladesh due to the emergence of new City Corporations (North DCC, South DCC and Narayanganj), promulgation of city corporation laws and amendments (29 November, 2011) and the division of the capital city in order to ensure basic services, along with proper governance. State of Cities: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj is the second report of the State of Cities series published by the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS), BRAC University.

Are we therefore witnessing a new emerging trend in the governing process of urban areas?  At this critical juncture, it is important to explore the effect of these changes, especially their impact on causing a shift from governing to governance.  In this year’s report, an effort has been made to provide such an analysis and we have focused on the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC), which is situated in the northern side and adjacent to Dhaka city. Narayanganj was very recently separated from Dhaka and upgraded to a city corporation. Studying the city, which has become an extended industrial wing of Dhaka and which has a separate governance system, thus may be considered as a natural extension and continuation of last year’s state of cities research.

Being the second of its kind, this year’s State of Cities report takes a holistic approach to understanding the existing process of urban governance and service delivery, to comprehending the present state of efficiency and effectiveness of services provided and identifying the areas for possible reforms. The report consists of six chapters. The first chapter, ‘Re-thinking Urban Governance: An Overview of Narayanganj’ starts with a brief profile of the city of Narayanganj and briefly explains the context and the perspective followed to understand the urban governance within political and economic reality and the research methodology followed. Chapter on ‘City government: contextualizing the concept in Narayanganj’ deals with the city governance system of Narayanganj. ‘Service provision at Narayanganj, actors and factors’ is a chapter which provides a description of different types of services available to the residents of Narayanganj City Corporation and explores the accessibility of these services to them. In the chapter titled, ‘Fiscal Strength of city building’ highlights the taxation and revenue issues of the Narayanganj City Corporation. From the historical analysis of taxation, the chapter has given importance to the economic reality of taxation in Narayanganj. Chapter 5 on ‘Urban Land Use and Social Space in NCC’ analyses trends of urban land use in Narayanganj city. The report ends with a conclusion which summarises the main contributions of the chapters in this report and proposes ways forward for further research on the issue of urban governance.

SoC: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj (full report)

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State of Cities: Urban Governance in Dhaka

Urbanization  has  become  a  powerful  force  in  developing  countries, having recently taken place in Asia,  Africa  and  Latin  America.  The world  shift  in population  from  rural  to  urban  areas,  a re-evaluation  of  the  economic  importance  of  cities,  and  a  reaffirmation  of  the  significance  of local  institution  building  for development have all become significant factors for consideration in light of this mammoth shift in the context of current development literature. In this backdrop of rapid urbanization, urban governance has become an important approach to evaluating cities’ growth, development and performance.

Dhaka is one of the fastest growing megacities of the world (UN-Habitat 2009) with an existing population of 13 million that is annually growing 4.4% constitutes 40% of the country’s total urban population. But the physical expansion and population growth is not reflected in city development which is mainly featured with slow and highly unequal growth, rising poverty, fragmented and inefficient service delivery.

In this backdrop, the State of Cities report aims to provide a diagnostic of the country’s urban governance.  Being the first of its kind, the report will analyze Dhaka city’s urban governance on the bases of three principles of governance namely fluidity, informal vs. formal governance and governance as a life experience.  The report consists of five chapters. The first chapter provides introduction and conceptual framework of the report. The second chapter deals with governance history of Dhaka city by taking a chronological view on Dhaka’s journey from a provincial capital of a vast empire to a chaotic megacity of today. Chapter three focuses on Dhaka’s politics by looking into both formal and informal political management through analyzing institutions and policies and thereby discusses how citizens are being marginalized through the informal governance arrangements. Chapter four covers economic governance of Dhaka city with a focus on stakeholders and institutional arrangements for the city’s transport sector. Chapter five discusses governance of urban public services that present a comparative analysis of public service delivery from the users end based on their socio-economic profile.

SoC: Urban Governance in Dhaka( full report)

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