State of Cities 2013: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj

After its separation from Dhaka, Narayanganj has assumed a new governance structure. But questions remain about the newly established city corporation’s ability to effectively govern its citizens by providing adequate services. In our second annual flagship report of its kind, the “State of Cities 2013: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj,” we examined the urban governance of Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC). It was found that despite having great potentials, NCC has not yet become an autonomous body to support itself financially and make administrative decisions independently.

Researchers: Dr Ferdous Jahan; Raju Ahammed; Kazi Niaz Ahmed; Md. Akteruzzaman; Syeda Salina Aziz; Fahim Subhan Chowdhury; Tapos Kumar Das; Md Mahan Ul Hoque; Md. Khobair Hossain; Muhammad Hedayet Hussain; Md. Saiful Islam; Mohammad Sirajul Islam; Shameem Reza Khan; Manash Mitra; Md. Moniruzaman; Md. Abdur Rahim; Md. Mamun-Ur-Rashid; S. M. Rofiquzzaman; Asif Shahan

Partners: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Timeline: 2012-2013

Status: Completed

Contact: Mohammad Sirajul Islam;


  • Report:  State of Cities 2013: Re-thinking Urban Governance in Narayanganj


From a sub-division of Dhaka, Narayanganj was declared as a city corporation in 2011. It has two zones and two zonal offices instead of a city corporation office to ensure that the services are delivered efficiently to the dwellers of NCC. As a city corporation, NCC mainly has to endure pressure from two separate sides: the economic side and the political side. The economic pressure is exerted by the global market or the central government to collect and allocate resources to foster economic development. And the political pressure is exerted through the electoral groups and different civil society organisations (CSOs) to respond to the needs and demands of the citizens. To ensure good governance, it is necessary to examine the actual decisions made by the city government in terms of collecting and allocating resources and the use or abuse of the governance framework to meet the expectations.


Through this study, we analysed the existing process of governance to find out the basic principles of urban governance, the efficiency of the city government in delivering services, and the process of service delivery. Furthermore, we also aimed to study the ground-level and mediating actors and their roles and effectiveness in delivering public services.

This study is relevant to SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), partocularly to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.


It was a mixed-method study. We have used qualitative techniques to examine the mechanisms of service delivery and the governance system of Narayanganj. The qualitative techniques included 36 interviews with the local politicians and ward councillors and four focus group discussions (FGDs). The data collected from these interviews and FGDs were also used to provide an in-depth analysis of the survey findings. Furthermore, we reviewed existing relevant literature throughout the whole process of the study.

Findings and Recommendations

Our findings indicate that as a newly formed city corporation, Narayanganj is facing a number of administrative challenges. Some of these challenges are quite typical, which include excessive control exercised by the central government and lack of coordination between the City Corporation and different public agencies. Meanwhile, some of the challenges result from the impractical expectations of the citizens and the city corporation’s lack of skilled human resources. Nevertheless, we have found that despite having these limitations, the NCC has achieved applaudable success in delivering some specific services. A significant number of city dwellers, for instance, have admitted that in areas like waste management and providing immunisation services, the city corporation has done a wonderful job. However, the seeming success in delivering these two services was achieved by a public-private partnership between the city corporation and various non-government organisations (NGOs), local elites, and social institutions like mosques, clubs, etc. We also found that due to minimal resources and limited fiscal autonomy, city-building has not received enough attention in comparison to service delivery. Examining the social role of urban land usage in Narayanganj, we found that if urban land does not return any economic benefits, it is rarely used as a social space. On the other hand, grabbing urban public land through informal channels is also an issue.

To address these challenges and enhance good urban governance, NCC needs to start negotiating with the central government at an early stage so that it can extend the boundary of its functions and take control of various services. Moreover, NCC needs to involve different stakeholders such as ordinary taxpayers, local NGOs, CSOs, business communities, etc. in preparing fiscal decisions. It can also seek help from these entities to create pressure on the central government so that functional autonomy is provided. And finally, NCC should interact more often with its citizens to get a sense of their needs and problems.