Interview with Senior Secretary, Local Govt. Division, Govt. of Bangladesh
Mr. Mahbuboor Rahman Choudhury, ITN-BUET, Bangladesh interviewed Mr. Monzur Hossain, Senior Secretary, Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development & Cooperatives (LGRD&C), Bangladesh
Excerpts from the Interview:
- Rapid urbanization in different parts of Bangladesh has become a common trend over the past few decades. How would you categorize the urbanization trend in Bangladesh? What is your feeling regarding the development in urban sector of Bangladesh?
The rapid urbanization occurring throughout Bangladesh is a natural consequence of the economic development of the nation. Establishment of good roadway connectivity ensured better communication and business links in different parts of the country and expedited the urbanization trends beyond the limits of large cities. Although such urbanization occurred very spontaneously, in many instances it took place without adequate planning. As a result these newly developed urban centers are facing challenges in terms of extending their services to the dwellers. I feel it is of immense importance for us to undertake planned development approach from an early stage to ensure sustainable urban development in new areas. Bangladesh has a tremendous potential in terms of rapid industrial and business growth. Hence, more new urban centers will emerge in future throughout the country. Both the newly developed and old urban areas are increasing their capacity to deliver services through appropriate institutional capacity development. Thus the urban sector in Bangladesh will continue to improve its livability index throughout the country.
- According to you, which issues within the urban context need improvement in furthering development of the overall urban sector?
Although presently the urban areas in Bangladesh are being developed through appropriate planning processes, it is important that all development sectors follow a coherent, integrated approach to ensure sustainable urban growth. Sectors like water supply and sanitation, health, education, transportation, energy, social security etc must work hand in hand in an integrated manner leading towards cost-effective, sustainable urban development. For old developed urban areas, improvements of different urban facilities for ever increasing city dwellers are becoming a great challenge. The unplanned development of such old urban areas is resulting in lack of basic urban services to the increasing population. It is important that we plan for regeneration of these old urban areas and improve their livability index.
- A number of entities (from both government and non-government side) are working to ensure harmonious urban development in Bangladesh. Although some projects appear to be successful at achieving development after inception, the sustainability of most of these projects are not achieved over longer time duration. In your opinion, how an urban development project can achieve sustainability?
Sustainability of urban development projects depends on the overall acceptability to the public. Appropriateness of a development project varies from one area to another depending upon the perception and expectation of the local people. It is very important that a development project is formulated considering local participation. Otherwise the long-term sustainability of such project will be vulnerable. The development projects encompassing any urban area thus will have to cater to the local feeling, acceptance and will have to foster a sense of belonging to the local dwellers.
- K-Hub initiated as a regional initiative with partnering entities from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, with a common view of strengthening partnership and sharing knowledge related to urban development. How do you feel about this initiative of the South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub (K-Hub)?
I am very much delighted to learn about this initiative of the South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub (K-Hub). I hope K-Hub will be able to address key issues related to urban development in the South Asia region and contribute to the sustainable development of the region. The concept of bringing in multiple national level institutions under a common regional entity will definitely strengthen our capacity and knowledge regarding urban development planning. I am hopeful that both old and newly developed cities in Bangladesh will benefit from the activities of K-Hub.
- The regional conglomerate of K-Hub will bring together partnering countries under the same window to share their knowledge on a common urban topic. How do you see this regional aspect of K-Hub?
The regional aspect of K-Hub is an admirable concept. It will enable the national entities to acquire knowledge of successes and failures of different initiatives from the experience of other partnering countries. As a result all the partnering countries will help in the urban development of each other. In my opinion this regional aspect of K-Hub is a very novel approach.
- As a national center ITN-BUET will lead the K-Hub activities in Bangladesh. ITN-BUET will work to address challenging issues like fecal sludge management and integrated urban development to ensure an inclusive, sustainable urban growth. What is your expectation from ITN-BUET in addressing these critical issues in urban development?
I am really pleased to learn about the involvement of ITN-BUET as a national center representing Bangladesh in the regional K-Hub initiative. I am confident that ITN-BUET will conduct ground level evidence based study to identify the sustainable solution to these key issues and contribute to the urban development of Bangladesh.
- Where would you place ITN-BUET and its K-Hub initiatives in the overall urban development situation of Bangladesh?
In my view ITN-BUET, with its K-Hub initiative, will play a vital role in bringing in different GOs and NGOs under a common platform of understanding related to urban development. ITN-BUET may work to link different development partners related to urban growth. It may also work as a repository of resources for such partners to share knowledge on successes and failures of previous urban development projects in other parts of South Asia. In this way ITN-BUET will become a necessary partner in the urban development sector of Bangladesh.
- How would you envision the future urban development in Bangladesh?
With rapidly increasing economic activity and improved educational attainment in Bangladesh, rapid urbanization will be a natural consequence in the country. As a nation, Bangladesh is doing very good in improving different livability or social indices and also has performed well in achievements towards MGD goals. I am very much hopeful about the planned urban development in Bangladesh. I believe through combined efforts of different development partners the urban centers of Bangladesh will be able to provide sustainable and adequate services to its dwellers. The public-private partnership approach will develop a long-term sustainable relationship that will help in regeneration of old urban centers and develop new urban centers throughout the country.