State of Cities 2017: Housing in Dhaka

One of the many drawbacks of rapid urbanisation in Dhaka is the subsequent pressure on housing. In our sixth annual flagship report of its kind, the “State of Cites 2017: Housing in Dhaka,” we examined the housing sector, especially the formal housing sector of Dhaka. Analysing the existing governance structure of this sector, we have found that by successfully addressing a number of barriers, it is possible to ensure equitable and affordable access to housing for the inhabitants of Dhaka.

Researchers: Syeda Salina Aziz; Nazneen Ahmed; Gazi Arafatuzzaman Markony; Kaneta Zillur; Mahbub Hasan; Mohammad Sirajul Islam; Md Mahan Ul Hoque; Dr Md. Shanawez Hossain; Iffat Zahan; Raihan Ahamed; Sumaiya Kabir Talukder

Partners: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Timeline: 2016-2017

Status: Completed

Contact: Mohammad Sirajul Islam


Report: State of Cities 2017: Housing in Dhaka


The right to housing and shelter is one of the fundamental human rights. But in a rapidly growing metropolis like Dhaka, ensuring this right remains a challenge. Despite the existence of a dynamic real estate market in Dhaka, there is a large gap between housing demand and supply. Most of the debates and discussions about Dhaka’s housing largely centre around the urban poor, with a strong focus on the slum-dwelling households. Though it is true that the housing crisis has the most severe consequences for the poor, it is also necessary to understand the housing situation from the perspective of the emerging middle class, i.e. the formal housing in Dhaka.


Our objective in this study was to evaluate the housing sector in Dhaka based on its adequacy, affordability, quality of services, and tenure security.


Combining qualitative investigation with quantitative survey techniques, we adopted mixed-methods for this study. To collect our primary data, we surveyed 400 households from four areas of Dhaka: Badda, Mirpur, Rampura, and Old Dhaka. In this survey, we included only the housing units that have a holding number and excluded slums and squat settlements. In addition, we used data from secondary sources, including the United Nations (UN), the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), and various relevant non-government organisations (NGOs).

Findings and Recommendations

Analysing the different aspects of formal housing in Dhaka, we have found that acts and policies related to the housing sector are well structured and largely sufficient. But the enforcement of such acts and policies is severely weak. The public sector plays a passive role in delivering housing and little effort is visible towards land management. Moreover, the presence of a dualistic development pattern undermines housing quality. We have found that the main constraint in availing decent housing is its affordability. Moreover, an underdeveloped financial market cripples the housing market in Dhaka. On average, housing space may be adequate but the distribution is unequal.

As the first step towards improving the housing condition in Dhaka, the enforcement of existing housing rules and policies should be strengthened. A separate department within the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) can be established to monitor the application of building codes. The formalisation of tenancy agreements is another crucial aspect of enforcement. While the enforcement of existing policies is important in maintaining the quality of buildings and ensuring tenants’ security, substantial effort is also needed to escalate the physical provision of housing at an affordable rate. Through different financial incentives, the government can encourage large real estate companies to invest in less developed parts of the city, consequently providing housing to a greater number of citizens.