Correct demographic data on slums and their dwellers, proper financing mechanisms and strong political will to back poor-friendly housing policies are needed to solve the housing problem of the urban poor, speakers observed at a policy seminar yesterday.
“Housing Solutions for the Urban Poor - Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward” was hosted jointly by the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Real Estate and Housing Association Bangladesh (REHAB) and Bangladesh Urban Forum (BUF) Secretariat at Brac Inn in the capital's Mohakhali.
Presenting the keynote paper, Prof Shahidul Ameen, Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, pointed out the controversy about the number of slums and their dwellers.
He mentioned a 2005 slum census by the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), National Institute of Population Research and Training (Niport) and MEASURE Evaluation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which showed Dhaka's slum population to be 3.4 million.
In 2014, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) came up with a census showing it to be 1.06 million.
Noting a Central Intelligence Agency estimation that each year around 6 lakh people migrate to Dhaka, Ameen asked, “So where did all these people who migrated to the city go?”
UNDP Country Director Pauline Tamesis recommended ensuring security of land tenure (rights on the land) and improving housing finance mechanism to solve the housing problem of the urban poor.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain urged the urban rich to create accommodation for their employees, including drivers and domestic helps, inside the apartment complexes they live in.
“If you had kept space on the ground floor of your luxury apartments for your drivers and domestic helps, the slums in Gulshan would not have sprung up,” he said.
CUS General Secretary Prof Nurul Islam Nazem pointed out that economic opportunities alone would not prevent migration from rural to urban areas.
He referred to a study of 2001 which showed that out of 30 top officials, including government employees of Khulna, only the mayor lived in the city while the rest in Dhaka because of better facilities such as reputed schools and hospitals.
Referring to a comment of the minister proposing an IT park in Korail slum by relocating the slum dwellers elsewhere, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon
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