We commend and endorse the “Clean Dhaka 2016” campaign launched by the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation who has pledged to set up multiple waste transfer stations, public toilets, remove illegal billboards, repair hundreds of roads of Old Dhaka, and free roads and pavements from illegal occupation, among other things.
It's a grand vision but the mission is complex and multidimensional. Will the city corporation be allowed to coordinate the function of the 50 plus departments that are responsible for the planning, development and management of Dhaka's roads and streets? Can it mobilise enough resources to carry out the ambitious project? Does it have a well-trained staff on board? Can they free roads and pavements from vendors without providing them with an alternative livelihood? How to handle the influx of people to the capital everyday? How can a sense of ownership be instilled in the residents so that everyone works together to make this city livable again?
It's not enough to know what needs to be done. Who will do what should be clearly defined so that there is no administrative overlap and the changes are sustainable. Making Dhaka clean is a Himalayan task. But it has to be done. The city corporation alone cannot do it. It needs participation from all.
But most importantly, such campaigns must have adequate and proper mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation in the absence of which lofty ideas such as this, often presented with much noise and fanfare, offer minimal benefits to society.