People’s migrations towards urban settlement in search of a better livelihood is increasing day by day. Every year more than 5 lakh people come to live in the Dhaka city from all over the country. While the population of the city is increasing every day, one in every three of its inhabitants live in the slums, deprived of basic facilities. In this context, proper housing for the people living in urban poverty has become a prerequisite to achieve sustainable development goal or SDG-11 (pertaining to shelter and settlement), and to ensure planned urbanisation and continued economic progress of the country.
Experts and public representatives expressed these views at a programme titled “National Convention on Housing Finance for People Living in Urban Poverty” held on October 15, 2017 at the city. The Urban Development Programme of BRAC, in partnership with the National Housing Authority (NHA), Urban Development Directorate (UDD), Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) organised the convention.
Chief Guest of the convention Engineer Mosharraf Hossain MP, Minister, Ministry of Housing and Public Works said, 81 per cent of houses of the country are in the rural areas and 80 per cent of these are of low quality. The country is losing 235 hectares of farmland every day, which is transformed for making residence. He told that the government has already formulated a law titled "Urban and Regional Planning Act, 2016" for a planned housing system not only in the urban areas but also in the rural areas. "Under the law, rural people will have to take permission from union parishad chairman or municipality mayor or upazila nirbahi officer for constructing house," he added.
Engr. Mosharraf also said the government has a plan to construct about 10,000 apartments for the slum people to ensure their basic needs. The minister also called for making a planned housing system in the both urban and rural areas to stop housing on arable lands. To solve the problem, he suggested that BRAC may collaborate with the government in this initiative.
Chaired by BRAC's Senior Director for Strategy, Communications and Empowerment Dr. Asif Saleh, the event was also attended by Secretary of the Housing and Public Works Ministry Md. Shahid Ullah Khandaker, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Mr. Sayeed Khokon, Rajshahi City Mayor Mr. Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, Barisal City Mayor Mr. Ahsan Habib Kamal, Bangladesh Institute of Planners General Secretary Prof. Dr. Md Akhtar Mahmud, BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, MAB President Mr. Alhaj Md. Abdul Baten, Urban Development Directorate Director Dr. Khurshid Jabin Hossain Toufiq, and National Housing Authority Chairman and Additional Secretary Mr. Khandakar Akhtaruzzaman.
The aim of the convention was to establish multi-level partnerships for pro-poor city planning and housing financing to achieve the targets of National Housing Policy and SDG-11. A key note and three evidence-based housing models: BRAC Jhenaidah community-led housing model, UNDP Sirajganj housing model and NHA low-income housing model were presented at the convention.
The speakers focused on stronger collaboration between the government and non-governmental agencies and involving mayors, other public representatives and relevant actors to promote urban planning facilitating the people living in urban poverty and providing them with housing loan services.
Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Head Urban, Climate Change and Environment (UCCE) cluster of BIGD also attended the event as a panel discussant on the plenary session titled Partnership and Collaboration on Housing Finance. Advocate Azmat Ullah Khan, Adviser, Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) presented the keynote paper, where Mohammad Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, Mayor, Rajshahi City Corporation chaired the session.
Around 75 mayors including five city mayors attended the event. The 300 guests included representatives and officials from UNDP, Policy makers, Government and Non-Government stakeholders.