Speakers on Wednesday at a dialogue underscored the need for affordable housing facilities and ensuring utility services including safe water for the country's ever growing urban population.
'Around 40 million people of the country live in urban areas and out of which 14 per cent live below the poverty line. More than half of the urban population lives in the four largest cities of the country, resulting in immense burden on the cities in terms of ensuring available basic utilities, standard living condition and proper education for the next generation'.
They made the observations at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day '4th Urban Dialogue 2016: Towards Healthy and Resilient Cities' held at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University (DU). Urban NGO Forum, Bangladesh and Department of Disaster Science and Management of DU jointly organised the programme.
Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain attended the programme as the chief guest. Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Annisul Huq attended it as the special guest.
President of Centre for Urban Studies (CUS) Professor Nazrul Islam was the keynote speaker.
The programme was also attended, among others, by National Director of World Vision Bangladesh Fred Witteveen, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh John Armstrong and Professor Dr. Nasreen Ahmad, pro-vice chancellor of DU.
Speaking on the occasion Engineer Mosharraf Hossain said the government is working to ensure affordable housing for the urban citizens. The ministry of housing and public works has some distinct plans to improve the overall condition of urban areas but lack of fund is one of the important obstacles.
"Recently we undertook a plan to make around one lakh apartments where 70 per cent money will be financed by a private bank with 8.5 per cent interest," he added.
The minister also said in 70 Upazilas of the country work on planned residential areas is going on where maximum focus is also given to ensure housing at affordable prices especially for limited income communities.
Annisul Huq said the city corporation is relentlessly working to overcome various problems to make Dhaka a livable city.
"Our secondary transport system (STS) and waste management system have already brought some revolutionary changes and hopefully within two-three years we will present the city as totally different one though most of our works are challenging" he added.
"Now we are working for a green city. We will plant five to seven lakh trees in every street of the city very soon," the DNCC mayor added.