Bangladesh, 07 Jun 2022

Improving quality of life in Bangladeshi towns

Most infrastructure improvements take 5 to 10 years – far too long for people who suffer from poor living conditions in their rapidly expanding towns. A new project aims to accelerate improvements in the Bangladeshi towns Keshobpur and Raozan by restoring and preserving public spaces, and addressing water storage, cleaning, cooling and maintenance of urban infrastructure. The results will be evaluated, and if successful, 100 other Bangladeshi towns will follow suit in the next three years.

In Raozan, a town of about 325,000 in south-eastern Bangladesh, the project will create a multi-functional park that offers recreation opportunities while also preserving ecosystems and providing water storage facilities as well as drought mitigation solutions. In Keshobpur, a town of about 250,000 in south-western Bangladesh, the focus is on reducing floods through landscaping of a waterfront, making use of nature-based solutions and simple, hydraulic structures.

Bangladesh’s Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services and the Bangladeshi engineering company Altec Consultants Ltd., together with IHE Delft, will coordinate the project, which was officially launched at the International Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 Conference, held in Dhaka last month. The Bangladeshi Minister of Local Government, Rural Development & Cooperatives, Md. Tazul Islam, the mayors Rafiqul Islam of Keshobpur and Jamir Uddin Parves of Raozan and Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh Anne van Leeuwen signed a Letter of Intent to support the rapid implementation the projects in 100 towns, called Urban Demonstrators. Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, M. Riaz Hamidullah, welcomed the project.

“Preservation and restoration of green public spaces is crucial for urban aesthetics, entertainment and safeguarding the liveability of pourashavas in Bangladesh. Competing land claims in towns and cities in Bangladesh is intensifying. We must act fast as combined urban concentrations may double in land area by 2030,” he said.

The project aims to spark peer-to-peer learning by local governments to accelerate improvements. In December, a meeting with leaders from 40 towns near the two pilot sites will gather to exchange knowledge and learn from the Raozan and Keshobpur projects.

The Dutch government is financing the two initial projects, with other funding organizations ready to support the expansion to 100 towns.

“Together with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, who already invest in many urban improvement projects, we aim to strengthen their development programmes as well,” said project coordinator Chris Zevenbergen, Professor of Flood Resilience and Urban Systems at IHE Delft.  

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