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Habibulla Masum
Bangladesh will have to focus on rural people getting all their basic needs in their respective areas to discourage them to become city-bound.
Otherwise, experts say, it will be a very tough task to deal with these groups of people once they become desperate to move to urban areas, experts warned.
They said nearly 10.10 crore people are expected to live in the country’s urban areas by 2035.
They also said the country’s urban population will continue to expand rapidly over the medium term, and is predicted to grow from 53 million people in 2014 to 79.5 million in 2028, an increase of 50 per cent in 14 years.
“If the growing trend of urban-bound people continues, it will be a big blow for the metropolitan cities including capital Dhaka and district towns,” said Abu Sumon, a climate change expert on inclusive budgeting and financing for climate resilience, at the UNDP.
He said, the country needs to incentivize citizens to migrate to nearby urban cities instead of migrating to major cities. It is projected that around 13 million people within Bangladesh are likely to be displaced by 2050, eventually migrating to Dhaka and other big cities, where climate migrants are expected to outnumber the internal migrants.
Abu Sumon said due to flash flood, monsoon flood, landslide, cyclone, drought, salinity intrusion and river bank erosion, Bangladesh ranks sixth among the countries most affected by climate change. The country lost Tk 23,500 crore due to the cyclone and flood in 2007.
He urged the concerned authorities to increase allocation for climate disasters.
The climate experts said cities and urban centres are economic and innovation hubs, as a result, such areas will be a major force assisting countries to achieve the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), goals 11 and 13. And building resilient cities and urban areas creates the potential for a resilient Bangladesh.
They said, more than 60 percent of Bangladesh’s urban population is considered in four major cities; Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna and Rajshahi. Secondary cities and towns adjacent to economic hubs, seaports, river ports, and export processing zones can provide unique opportunities regarding geographic location and spacing of urban centres.
They also said due to lack of knowledge and ability to connect socio-economic and infrastructural issues with local government, by the political leaders, municipal councilors and mayor, officials, communities and non-government actors- the progress of sustainable and climate resilient development is hindered. All these factors are also applicable for local level adaptation to climate change initiatives and resilient urban development.
Hasina Murshrofa, programme head of BRAC urban development programme said climate change creates extra pressure on urban housing, drainage, and other different services. Local level adaptation can help reduce burdens on larger cities.
She said rapid urbanisation drives densely-populated informal settlements in hazard-prone areas. And unplanned cities are more vulnerable to shocks as they often have to cope with pre-existing stress.
SM Mehedi Ahsan, urban climate resilience specialist of KFW said the financial health of Barishal City Corporation will have improved, 50 percent through own-source revenue, in 2018-2019 compared to 2014-2015.