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    The making of a megacity: how Dhaka transformed in 50 years of Bangladesh

    In the half century since independence, the capital has expanded – both remarkably and chaotically – from peaceful town to economic hub

    Global development

    The making of a megacity: how Dhaka transformed in 50 years of Bangladesh

    In the half century since independence, the capital has grown from peaceful town to economic hub. But does it live up to the dreams of those still flocking to work there?

    ‘Bangladesh has come a long way’: people of Dhaka on half a century of independence

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    About this content

    Kaamil Ahmed and Rafiqul Islam Montu in Dhaka

    Fri 26 Mar 2021 12.45 GMT

    On the banks of the Buriganga, Old Dhaka’s boatmen only ever rest a moment before making their return journey, endlessly ferrying passengers back and forth across the river.

    They pick them up at the Sadarghat docks, the historical trading hub that helped build the city, and row them towards the sprawling suburbs that have crept across what used to be open farmland two decades ago.

    Old Dhaka is no longer the economic and political heart of the city, but Sadarghat is still the defining image of its perpetual movement and growth, of commuters living and working across the Buriganga, and new migrants forever stepping off crowded ferries, arriving from the countryside.

    Dhaka reflects the trajectory of Bangladesh in the 50 years since independence, on 26 March 1971. At that time it was a small city of a million souls in a poor and underdeveloped nation, after decades of Pakistani neglect.

    Now Dhaka is a megacity, an economic hub that has grown chaotically – outwards and upwards – to absorb the 20 million people who live there, with 400,000 arriving each year. Many have migrated with dreams of economic opportunities they cannot find elsewhere.

    Aerial view of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Photograph: M Rahman/Alamy

    Asaduzzaman Asad preceded most in his migration to the capital, arriving from the western district of Jhenaidah in 1966, when Dhaka was still the capital of East Pakistan, with the idea of starting a business.

    “This town was very small. The number of three-storey buildings were few and you mostly just saw tin-roofed homes. There were ponds and canals and very few people. It was peaceful,” says Asad.

    This town was very small. There were ponds and canals and very few people. It was peaceful

    After independence in March 1971, Asad settled in Mohammadpur, an area still taking shape in the newly-settled north of the city. Dhaka was expanding quickly. In some areas the government allocated land for new arrivals to settle on, encouraging more migrants to head to the city. In other places, swathes of wetland and farmland were swallowed up by new neighbourhoods.

    Passenger ferries docked on the Buriganga during a Covid lockdown imposed by the government. Photograph: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy

    New roads made travel and trade easier and Asad reaped personal rewards, with more customers for his grocery shop.

    Bangladesh was infamously described as a “basket case” economy in 1971 by Henry Kissinger, who had opposed its creation. Half a century later, the country’s leaders often take pride in pointing out that they have proved him wrong.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted in October the country’s economic growth would still hit 4.4% in 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic halving the previous year’s growth.

    Most of that has been driven by Dhaka-based industries that have spawned a rapidly-growing class of super-rich, who live in leafy neighbourhoods, dine out on international cuisine and shop in gleaming malls or abroad. These industries feed on a constant flow of migrants fleeing deprivation or climate disasters, who move to places like the Kallyanpur and Korail slums, or the suburbs between Dhaka and satellite towns built for garment factories.

    A view of Korail slum beside the Banani Lake in Dhaka. Photograph: SK Hasan Ali/Alamy

    Korail is one of the largest slums in Dhaka, accommodating a constant flow of new migrants to the city. Photograph: Stinger/Alamy

    “There are problems here. There is also work here. As the crisis in our village increased, I came to Dhaka to find a living,” says Parveen Begum, 45, whose home in the coastal Bhola district was engulfed when the river flooded.

    स्रोत : www.theguardian.com

    An upper middle

    Dhaka accounts for one-third of the Bangladesh’s total population, one-fifth of national GDP and one-third of all jobs. It is imperative for the country to translate the economic density of Dhaka into prosperity for all of Bangladesh.

    An upper middle-income Bangladesh starts with a livable Dhaka


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    Dhaka accounts for one-third of the Bangladesh’s total population, one-fifth of national GDP and one-third of all jobs. Photo: Elena Karaban/World Bank

    In March 2019, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated the government’s objective of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2031, as outlined in its “Vision 2021.”

    As global experience has shown, no country in the world has moved up within the middle-income status without developing its cities.  Most countries that achieved middle-income status, did so when the majority of their citizens were living in cities - high-income status is mostly accompanied with 70 to 80 percent of people living in cities.

    Bangladesh is currently 38 percent urban. As its economy grows and more people move to urban centers, the country will need to ensure that fast-growing cities are livable and productive, and that the gains of urbanization are shared by all.  Greater resilience and sustainability are key to achieving this goal.

    However, Bangladesh faces challenges in the journey ahead. According to the World Bank’s recent poverty assessment, progress in national poverty reduction has been slowing down in spite of economic growth. The trend is especially alarming in cities like Dhaka and Chittagong. In these urban areas, manufacturing has the biggest impact on poverty reduction, but job growth has slowed down. Bangladesh’s biggest cities, which we expect would be driving national growth and prosperity, may, in fact, be slowing it down today.

    Bangladesh’s path to upper-middle-income status will hinge particularly on leveraging Dhaka, its economic and political center.  Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, is a “primate” city.  Not only is it the country’s largest city, but it is also disproportionately larger than other Bangladeshi cities

    Bangladesh’s path to upper-middle-income status will hinge particularly on leveraging Dhaka, its economic and political center.

    In fact, Dhaka’s population is more than four times greater than that of Chittagong’s, Bangladesh’s second largest city. Dhaka accounts for one-third of the country’s total population, one-fifth of national GDP and one-third of all jobs.

    It is imperative for the country overall to translate the economic density of Dhaka into prosperity for all of Bangladesh.

    Dhaka’s experience as a primate city is not uncommon. For most developing countries, urban concentration follows an inverted U-pattern: at first, as national incomes rise, the largest cities’ share of the urban population increases. Over time it starts to decline in favor of more equal spatial development. The tipping point is usually when national GDP per capita reaches the global average. Such trends tend to occur hand-in-hand with structural transformation, as the economy shifts away from agriculture and toward industry. Global empirical evidence shows that higher urban primacy can foster economic growth at earlier stages of development.

    On the other hand, there is little evidence supporting the idea of cities being “too large”, or that there may be an “optimal” city size. The key is for cities to be well planned and managed, such that they can efficiently and sustainably provide services and economic opportunities for their residents – regardless of their size.

    Bangladesh can achieve its economic growth goals by transforming Dhaka into a well-functioning, livable megacity. Photo: Elena Karaban/World Bank

    As experience in China and other countries has shown, restricting people from moving to the biggest cities is counterproductive – strong barriers to labor mobility constrain urban growth and may result in large income losses. In short, for a city like Dhaka, it is more costly to be too small than too large.

    Dhaka’s experience as a primate city is notable, not for its urban concentration per se, but for its unrealized economic potential. While it has one of the highest population densities in the world, the economic density in Dhaka is in fact lower than other similar metropolitan areas. The concentration of GDP is $55 million per square kilometer, lower than other major primate cities in Asia such as Bangkok ($88 million) and Singapore ($269 million).

    Moreover, the economic density in Dhaka’s core declined between 1996 and 2010, based on nighttime light intensity and economic census data.

    Should Bangladesh look to secondary cities outside Dhaka to drive national economic growth and lift the country to upper-middle-income status? In other countries facing congestion and poor livability in their biggest cities, building new towns and relocating population often emerge as tempting policy options. The growth and prosperity of secondary cities should be supported, and efforts should be made to promote the development of a diverse and complementary system of cities.

    Well-planned, compact, connected, and resilient cities can increase economic efficiency and boost competitiveness while improving livability and protecting the natural environment.  

    However, global experience shows that top-down policies to induce urban growth disconnected from economic and livability incentives have faced challenges in providing the right drivers to residents and firms to relocate.

    स्रोत : blogs.worldbank.org



    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    This article is about the capital city. For the division, see Dhaka division. For the district, see Dhaka district. For other uses, see Dhaka (disambiguation).

    Not to be confused with Senegal’s capital city Dakar.

    Dhaka ঢাকা Dacca Capital city

    From top: Skyline of Motijheel, Sangsad Bhaban in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Ahsan Manzil in Old Dhaka, National Martyrs' Memorial, Curzon Hall of the University of Dhaka, aerial view of Hatirjheel lakefront

    Seal Nickname(s):

    City of magic[1][2] City of Mosques


    Location of Dhaka in Dhaka Division, Bangladesh

    Coordinates: 23°45′50″N 90°23′20″E / 23.76389°N 90.38889°E

    Coordinates: 23°45′50″N 90°23′20″E / 23.76389°N 90.38889°E

    Country Bangladesh

    Division Dhaka Division

    District Dhaka District

    Establishment 1608 CE

    Granted city status 1947


    • Type Mayor - Council

    • Body DNCC and DSCC

    • North City Mayor Atiqul Islam[3]

    • South City Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh[3]

    • Police Commissioner Shafiqul Islam BPM

    Area [5][6] • Urban 706 km2 (273 sq mi) • Metro

    2,161.17[4] km2 (834.432[4] sq mi)

    Elevation [7] 4 m (13.12 ft) Population

    (2011 census / 2021 estimate)[8][9]

    • Rank 1st

    • Density 20,105/km2 (52,070/sq mi)

    • Urban 8,906,039 • Metro 21,741,090 Demonym(s) Dhakaiya

    Time zone UTC+6 (BST)

    Postal code

    1000, 1100, 12xx, 13xx

    HDI (2019) 0.711[10]


    Calling code 02 [For Dhaka city only]

    Police Dhaka Metropolitan Police

    International airport Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport

    ISO 3166-2 BD-13

    Website Dhaka North City Corporation

    Dhaka South City Corporation

    Dhaka (/ˈdhɑːkə/ or /ˈdhækə/ ; Bengali: ঢাকা, romanized: , Bengali pronunciation: [ˈɖʱaka]), formerly known as Dacca,[13] is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, as well as the world's largest Bengali-speaking city. It is the eighth-largest city in the world with a population of 8.9 million residents as of 2011, and a population of over 21.7 million residents in the Greater Dhaka Area.[14] According to a Demographia survey, Dhaka has the most densely populated built-up urban area in the world, and is popularly described as such in the news media.[15][16] Dhaka is one of the major cities of South Asia and a major global Muslim-majority city. As part of the Bengal delta, the city is bounded by the Buriganga River, Turag River, Dhaleshwari River and Shitalakshya River.

    The area of Dhaka has been inhabited since the first millennium. An early modern city developed from the 17th century as a provincial capital and commercial centre of the Mughal Empire. Dhaka was the capital of a proto-industrialised Mughal Bengal for 75 years (1608–39 and 1660–1704). It was the hub of the muslin trade in Bengal and one of the most prosperous cities in the world. The Mughal city was named Jahangirnagar () in honour of the erstwhile ruling emperor Jahangir.[17][18][19] It hosted the seat of the Mughal Subahdar, Naib Nazims, Dhaka Nawabs, and Dewans. The pre-colonial city's glory peaked in the 17th and 18th centuries when it was home to merchants from across Eurasia. The Port of Dhaka was a major trading post for both riverine and seaborne trade. The Mughals decorated the city with well-laid gardens, tombs, mosques, palaces and forts. The city was once called the .[20] Under British rule, the city saw the introduction of electricity, railways, cinemas, Western-style universities and colleges and a modern water supply. It became an important administrative and educational centre in the British Raj, as the capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam province after 1905.[21] In 1947, after the end of British rule, the city became the administrative capital of East Pakistan. It was declared the legislative capital of Pakistan in 1962. In 1971, after the Liberation War, it became the capital of independent Bangladesh.

    A beta-global city,[22] Dhaka is the center of political, economic and culture life in Bangladesh. It is the seat of the Government of Bangladesh, many Bangladeshi companies and leading Bangladeshi educational, scientific, research and cultural organizations. Since its establishment as a modern capital city; the population, area and social and economic diversity of Dhaka have grown tremendously. The city is now one of the most densely industrialized regions in the country. The city accounts for 35% of Bangladesh's economy.[23] The Dhaka Stock Exchange has over 750 listed companies. Dhaka hosts over 50 diplomatic missions and the headquarters of BIMSTEC. The city's culture is known for its rickshaws, cuisine, art festivals and religious diversity. The old city is home to around 2000 buildings from the Mughal and British periods.

    स्रोत : en.wikipedia.org

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