There is no denying of the fact that urbanization is the inevitable destiny of the human civilization. But, the way cities, both at home and abroad, are growing is not at all sustainable. Therefore it is imperative that governments across the globe should fundamentally rethink policies and approaches towards managing urbanization before it is too late. To be true, â€œwe have ten, maybe fifteen years, to get on to a new track. After that the slum problem, environmental damage and urban insecurity will become so entrenched that they will dominate international relations for the rest of the centuryâ€.
Here in Bangladesh, one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the developing countries, living in urban areas is not at all a different experience than it is anywhere else in the world. For instance, in the morning when parents drop their children at school on their way to work they do not find any public or private transport. After dropping their kids they have to travel to the other parts of the city as the transport and land uses are not integrated. Before they reach their workplace they have to overcome traffic jams, inhale polluted air and suffer deafening noise.
In the city, electricity and water supply is not ensured, quality is a far cry. The poor are the worst sufferers and they are further exposed to diseases due to poor sanitation. Yet they cannot replace the unhygienic latrines, if any, in their shanties. Open dustbins on roadsides overflow with garbage. Roads and drains go under knee-deep water not only in monsoon but also after a sudden shower.
The housing shortage is so acute that one third of the city's population lives in slums. Parks and open spaces are gradually disappearing. The influx of migrants from rural areas and deprived towns continues. The city authorities can neither respond to the problems nor coordinate their work.
Although the above is the picture of capital Dhaka, the other cities are not faring any better. The problems are particularly acute in coastal cities where the growing threats from rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions are not matched by growing capacity to plan and manage settlements in sustainable and equitable ways. Because the poor live in the most hazardous locations they are disproportionately vulnerable to the local impacts of climate change.