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  • Last Update : 10:24 am

World Cities Day 2020: Bangladesh losing 1% agricultural land annually

  • Published at 04:45 pm October 31st, 2020
Syed Zakir Hosain/Dhaka Tribune

Unplanned development leading to this loss, say experts

Small towns in the country’s districts and upazilas are expanding, resulting in the disappearance of 1% of agricultural land every year, speakers have noted at a program.

They stated that this was taking place due to the unplanned system of development in Bangladesh.

Such views were expressed at a webinar yesterday to mark “World Cities Day 2020,” organized by the Center of Excellence for Urban Development (CEUD) Foundation and focusing on this year’s theme, “Valuing our Communities and Cities.”

CEUD Foundation is a consortium platform of Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB), Institute of Engineers Bangladesh (IEB), Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) and Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), aimed at promoting sustainable urban development practices in Bangladesh.

Panelists at the webinar discussed promoting the importance of sustainable urban development agenda among the CEUD’s community of practitioners, with a focus on emerging challenges of rapid urbanization and forging ways to encourage cooperation among countries for ensuring sustainable development by addressing urban opportunities and challenges.

BIP President Dr Akter Mahmud said: “In 2015-16, I worked on a project and noticed that our municipality mayors had weaknesses in planning and implementation, revenue sources and technical experience.”

“In this case, if we focus on capacity development, then we can move towards sustainable development. Currently, small towns are expanding more than big cities. As a result, 1% of agricultural land is being wasted every year because of urbanization,” he said.

MAB Secretary General Md Rafiqul Islam said, “Our biggest obstacle to building modern cities is the lack of a master plan. According to the plan, if we do urbanization, we will not face the problem of environmental damage and climate change.”

“By engaging with the community, professional bodies and government organizations, we can make a cell where we work together,” added Rafique, who is also mayor of Shariatpur municipality.

IAB President architect Jalal Ahmed said: “According to an international survey, urbanization is increasing more in developing countries than in developed ones. The growth rate is higher in small towns. If this urbanization is done on the basis of per kilometer population and their per capita income, then sustainable development can be achieved.”

Urban local governments in Bangladesh are characterized by limited capacities to plan, finance and deliver adequate urban infrastructure services to a rapidly growing population, he said.

Speakers at the event discussed ways to bring together key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to respond to emerging challenges and foster cooperation to complement national efforts in ensuring sustainable urban development.

Professor Dr Munaz Ahmed Noor, vice chancellor (VC), civil engineering department of Engineer's Institution, Bangladesh (IEB) said: “Our prime minister said ‘each village will be a city.’ With this aim, we need to develop rural infrastructure in a planned way. The purpose is to provide all the facilities available in cities within the villages.”

Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Md Tajul Islam said: “There are three major problems to building the master plan – communication, accommodation, and waste management. And a challenge is to instill building capacity in our public representatives. In the meantime we need to set up a model with which we can produce energy from waste. With that, we have moved Dhaka North City Corporation and intend to move Dhaka South in that direction soon.”

In his response to the issue of disappearing agricultural land, he said any kind of development in the village had to be done with the approval of the union parishad. “If there is an exception, the union parishad will be held accountable.”

“There is no organization in Bangladesh that has created a spatial database across the country. As a result, it takes time for us to start any development.”

The CEUD Foundation was established with a vision of advancing the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by helping urban local governments improve their capacity and performance in urban management through the provision of just-in-time advice and capacity- building support for urban local governments.

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