Vol. 5 Num 557 Tue. December 20, 2005  

Implement PRSP to reduce urban poverty
Speakers urge govt at dialogue

Coordination among different government bodies, national and international NGOs, development organisations and donors are a must to reduce poverty in urban areas, said speakers at a dialogue yesterday.

They also called on the government to implement Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) that has clearly defined how poverty in urban areas can be reduced in a planned way.

The Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) and Bangladesh Urban Roundtable (BURT) have jointly organised the 'Dialogue with donors on urban poverty issues' at the LGED auditorium in the city.

Poverty in Dhaka and Chittagong is now a simmering problem and in its different dimensions has many implications for the future development of the country, said Christine Wallich, country director of the World Bank (WB).

Referring to the projection of urban experts that the population of Dhaka would be over 2.2 crore by 2020, she said the cities have been neglected for years. Poor people from other areas have converged on the cities for employment and better life, leading to the expansion of the city and densification of its core areas, she added.

The poor of the urban areas are particularly affected as they do not have the resources to find out alternatives for meeting their basic needs, but bulldozing slums will not pave the way for sustainable solution, Wallich said, adding that the issue of urban poverty has to be viewed in the context of overall growth and development of the country.

The WB will continue its assistance in addressing the issues of urban poverty, she said.

Hua Du, country director of Asian Development Bank (ADB), said the bank is working with the Bangladesh government and will continue its supports for the improvement of urban water supply and sanitation, solid waste management and income generation facilities for the poor.

"To mobilise local financial resources in order to meet the needs of the poor, we have to work closely with the stakeholders," she said.

Prof Nazrul Islam, chairman of the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), called on the NGOs to take initiative to build houses for the slum dwellers.

Presenting the 'position paper', Mostafa Quaium Khan, executive director of CUP, said 50 percent of the country's population will be living in urban areas by 2030. Taking the population boom into account, the state should take initiative right now to address the issue, he added.

Unicef Representative Louis-Georges Arsenault, Senior Poverty Advisor of UNDP Karen Dunn, Kelly Stevenson of Care-Bangladesh, Edward Thomas Espey of Plan Bangladesh, Zakir Hossain of Water Aid Bangladesh, ANM Emam Hasanath of CUP, Dr Rita Afsar, Dr KM Maniruzzaman of BUET, and Abdul Mannan of Boshtibasheer Adhikar Shurakha Committee also spoke.