Dhaka like most cities of the developing world is a poorly managed city, which leads to the deterioration of urban living conditions. Urban poverty results because in many countries, national and local governments cannot plan for the population increases, and fail to provide the required infrastructure, services and jobs.Government efforts through all these years to provide housing to government servants, to the general public and to the urban poor have not so far been able to make any significant dent in the urban housing scene.
The government is the single largest provider of built up housing in Bangladesh mainly in the form of accommodation for its employees. Although the number of units provided is far less than the number of employees, government housing continues to be a strong influence on urban housing in general. The trends established by government housing are followed by other semi-government agencies and to a large extent by private developers. The formal planned developments also influence the unplanned settlements. Government housing can therefore be said to be representational of urban housing in general.
The Uttara satellite town was created to solve the housing problem of middle class in the 70s. The project failed to serve the middle class as a whole. Almost 75 per cent of the plots were not inhabited by 80s. Presently more than 50 per cent plots of the newly developed sectors on west of township are still lying vacant. The main cause is the affordability of the middleclass group. The buyers were from the higher middle class group who do not own a land in haka or the businessmen of different income.
Some owners are still holding to get advantage of higher land value. Thus in the end the land owners here are predominantly from the high income group.
The basic concept of house in our country is to own a structure in a plot. This notion of housing needs to be modified to take advantage of different form of housing. There is need to introduce innovative solutions. Introducing row houses, multi storied houses; clusters etc. may be needed to add to the variety of housing.
Urban population growth rates in Bangladesh are the highest among the South and South-East Asian countries. For example, average annual urban population growth rates in India and Thailand in the late 1960s were 4.0 per cent, and 4.8 per cent respectively against 6% in Bangladesh at the same period. Urban areas started to grow steadily particularly in the post British period when the British left the Indian sub-continent.
However the rate became more significant after the country achieved independence in 1971. The main reason for this population increase besides the natural growth can be enumerated as following:
1. Change in the status of towns in different levels accompanied with offices, industries, and academic institutions attracting people of various professions.
2. Attraction of socio-cultural, educational and health and others facilities in the city. The concentration of different institution also led to high growth of the educated middle class.
3. Large scale migration following natural disasters (flood, tornado) in different years or man-made calamities like war, famine etc.
4. Deteriorating economic condition in the rural areas, increasing poverty and landlessness pushing the rural poor towards the cities. This resulted in growth of people working in the informal sector within low in come range.
Housing situation in Dhaka faces the formidable problem of providing minimum shelter of acceptable standard to everybody. The scene is depicted by the volume of slums and squatters, number of families per house-hold, trend in house-hold formation, etc.
Urbanization introduced major changes in the system of education and occupation.
The middle income-group combined represents approx.28 percent of the city population but cover nearly 65 percent of the residential land. Density in these areas may range from 50-400 persons/acre. This wide range is reflection of the significant variation within the group. There is also a high disparity of income between different income levels of the Middle class. Urban middle class became a dominant power towards the end of colonial period. It gave leadership to all socio-cultural and political activities. After the independence this dominance lead to the planning of housing that only catered only to their need.
The growth of the city is obstructed by the river Buriganga to the south and wide tracts of low-lying areas to the east and west, which is, flooded to 10inches deep each monsoon.
One of the positive aspects is that it generated the growth of Dhaka towards the north. The problems that resulted may be broadly classified as of planning stage and implementation stage. A portion of the township of about 950 acres were detailed out covering only that portion which was enmarked ashousing for high income group in the original plan and in all 4,302 housing plots of different sizes were available. There was a shift from the initial planning of plots.
Creation of self-sustaining finance systems to meet for affordable finance of the people when purchasing, building or improving their dwelling units should be important component of national and national policies for the achievement of the goal of shelter for all. Housing that meets the affordability of all of middle class must be explored.
In Dhaka city we have individual ownership of units in the high-rise dwellings constructed by private entrepreneurs. As government strategies will have to integrate housing policies and physical planning programmes into economic and social development planning, political will must above all be exercised with imagination.