With economic progress Bangladesh is witnessing the most rapid rate of urbanisation in decades. Much of this transformation is the result of internal rural-urban migration. The impetus comes from people in rural areas searching for a better life in the urban centres. This trend seems unstoppable. The emerging economic and social challenges are enormous and warrant priority policy attention.
Since independence, Bangladesh has experienced remarkable momentum in urbanisation. Between 1971 and 2011, the country's urban population increased from 7.9 million to about 31.2 million, registering a growth of nearly 400 per cent, according to World Bank.
Internal migration, of course, has been the most dominant component of this rapid growth. Relocation of the rural poor, particularly to large metropolitan areas have pushed the urban-rural growth differential to a sizeable 4.5 per cent in the last 37 years.
If this continues then the proportion of urban population may even increase to almost 60 per cent of the total population by 2050 and would still be growing. This suggests that over time the natural increase of rural population will be offset by net rural-urban migration leading Bangladesh towards urbanisation at a remarkable pace.