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Public Policies on Urban and Housing in Bangladesh

- The Context Governance

Dr. Khondaker Shokat Hossain
Ministry of Housing and Public Works
Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka
A national policy on housing was prepared in 2!" #n $iew of this, # would like to %ention the
%a&or proble%s of go$ernance related to Public Policy on 'rban Planning and Housing of the
whole of Bangladesh with special reference to Dhaka" #n fact, the issues relating to go$ernance
$is()($is public policy on urbani*ation and housing are wide ranging and %ultifaceted" Howe$er,
# will discuss here to(day on the following aspects keeping the the%e of the lecture as were
gi$en to %e+
,b&ecti$es of the paper
-onceptual fra%eworks concerning go$ernance
'rbani*ation scenario in Bangladesh
'rban housing conditions in Bangladesh
.eed for public policies on urban planning and housing
#nitiati$es taken in preparing the policies on urban /including urban planning 0 and
housing $is()($is addressing the go$ernance related issues
1he way forward
2urther, # will refer the cases of Dhaka where needed as e3a%ples so as to understand the
related issues and proble%s"
"b#ectives o$ the Pa%er
1he %ain ob&ecti$e of the present paper is to highlight %a&or go$ernance issues in for%ulating
public policy on urbani*ation and housing in Bangladesh enco%passing the in$ol$ed institutions,
actors, linkages and instru%ents so as to i%ple%ent those policies"
Conce%tual &ra'eorks concerning Governance
Governance( Good Governance
4o$ernance is a highly conte3tual concept" And as such, the co%ple3ity of go$ernance is
difficult to capture in a si%ple definition" 4o$ernance is the process of decision(%aking which
conducts public life in a society and guarantees respect of citi*ens5 hu%an rights, e6uality in
resource distribution and safety" 4o$ernance is the act of go$erning" #t relates to decisions that
define e3pectations, grant power, and $erify perfor%ance" #t consists of either a separate
process or part of %anage%ent or leadership processes" 1hese processes and syste%s are
typically ad%inistered by a go$ern%ent"
,sborne and 4aebler /78890 define go$ernance as :the process by which we collecti$ely sol$e
our proble%s and %eet our society5s needs"5 ;4o$ern%ent is the instru%ent we use"<
'.DP=s definition on go$ernance is the e3ercise of political, econo%ic and ad%inistrati$e
authority in the %anage%ent of a country=s affairs at all le$els" #t co%prises of the %echanis%s,
processes and institutions through which citi*ens and groups articulate their interests, e3ercise
their legal rights, %eet their obligations and %ediate their differences"
1he World Bank defines go$ernance as the e3ercise of political authority and the use of
institutional resources to %anage society=s proble%s and affairs"
According to the World Bank, good go$ernance entails sound public sector %anage%ent
/efficiency, effecti$eness and econo%y0, accountability, e3change and free flow of infor%ation
/transparency0, and a legal fra%ework for de$elop%ent /&ustice, respect for hu%an rights and
Urban Governance( Good Urban Governance
'rban go$ernance is the su% of the %any ways of indi$iduals and institutions, public and
pri$ate, plan and %anage the co%%on affairs of the city" #t is a continuing process through
which conflicting or di$erse interests %ay be acco%%odated and cooperati$e action can be
taken" #t includes for%al institutions as well as infor%al arrange%ents and the social capital of
citi*ens of the urban areas"
'.(HAB#1A1 defines good urban go$ernance as the e3ercise of political, econo%ic, social and
ad%inistrati$e authority in the %anage%ent of an urban entity" #t is characteri*ed by transparent
decision %aking, sound financial %anage%ent, public accountability, decentrali*ed and
e6uitable resource allocation, and probity" 4ood urban go$ernance is ine3tricably linked to the
welfare of the citi*enry" 4ood urban go$ernance %ust enable wo%en and %en to access the
benefits of urban citi*enship" 4ood urban go$ernance affir%s that no %an, wo%an or child can
be denied access to the necessities of urban life, including ade6uate shelter, security of tenure,
safe water, sanitation, a clean en$iron%ent, health, education and nutrition, e%ploy%ent and
public safety and %obility"
!nvolved )ctors
1he in$ol$ed actors of go$ernance include the go$ern%ent, the pri$ate sector and ci$il society"
1hey are inter(related to each other in ensuring go$ernance in society"
Process o$ Governance
4o$ernance e%phasi*es process" #t recogni*es that decisions are %ade based on co%ple3
relationships between %any actors with different priorities" As a process, go$ernance %ay
operate in an organi*ation of any si*e+ fro% a single hu%an being to all of hu%anity" A
reasonable or rational purpose of go$ernance %ight ai% to assure, /so%eti%es on behalf of
others0 that an organi*ation produces a worthwhile pattern of good results while a$oiding an
undesirable pattern of bad circu%stances"
*le'ents o$ Governance
According to the '., good go$ernance has eight characteristics" 1hese are participatory,
consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsi$e, effecti$e and efficient, e6uitable and
inclusi$e and follow the rule of law"
ADB further clarifies its concept of go$ernance by identifying four ele%ents" 1hese are+
Accountability, Participation, Predictability and 1ransparency"
According to '.(Habitat, good urban go$ernance is characteri*ed by the principles of
sustainability, subsidiarity, e6uity, efficiency, transparency and accountability, ci$ic engage%ent
and citi*enship, and security, and these principles are interdependent and %utually reinforcing"
Urbani+ation Scenario in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is e3periencing rapid urbani*ation since late eighties" 1he current urban growth rate
is >(?@ per annu%" A prediction shows that %ore than >@ of Bangladesh population will be
li$ing in urban areas by the year 29" 1o cater to such e3plosi$e population increases, the
4o$ern%ent and urban de$elop%ent agencies %ust co%e up with appropriate policy options,
strategies, plans and progra%%es" ,therwise the urban sector of this country will si%ply
beco%e un%anageable" 1he le$el of urbani*ation of Bangladesh in last three decades was
influenced by rural to urban %igration, a$ailability of econo%ic and social opportunities in the
urban areas, territorial e3pansion of e3isting urban centres and natural growth of the population
in urban centres" So%e of the characteristics of urbani*ation in Bangladesh are as follows+
A $ery large urban population of the country is concentrated in only fi$e %a&or
%etropolitan cities of the country" Dhaka alone holds about A@ of the total urban
Bery rapid growth of %etropolitan cities, particularly of Dhaka the capital and largest
city" 1he population of Dhaka is now o$er 72" %illion
Cn$iron%ent and socio(econo%ic conditions in urban poor settle%ents in cities ha$e
not i%pro$ed as e3pected"
1here are gross ine6ualities in the socio(econo%ic opportunities and ser$ices within
urban areas"
Most of the poor people cannot %anage to %eet their %ini%u% basic needs i"e",
food, shelter, clothing, health and education with their personal inco%e"
#t is also a known fact that the urban poor are playing $ital role in urban econo%y and they are
the part and parcel of the large flourishing infor%al econo%y" 1aking Dhaka city as an e3a%ple,
al%ost A@ of the population is fro% the :low inco%e5 sector" Det, this population only has
access to about 2@ of the land in Dhaka" 1his highlights the unfa$orable cli%ate that e3ists
with regards to :land tenure5" Most of the low inco%e settle%ents do not ha$e ade6uate access
to legal water supply /only around >@ ha$e access05 and :electricity /only around 9@ ha$e
infor%al connections0" Sanitation and drainage is another %a&or proble% where only 9@ of
these fa%ilies ha$e so%e sort of drainage and only 2@ to so%e for% of sanitary latrines" 1his
results in disease and other health ail%ents"
,n the other hand, this rapid urban growth has brought econo%ic and socio(cultural
i%pro$e%ents for so%e people and the o$erall urban en$iron%ent yet to i%pro$e to a desired
le$el" 1he i%plications of such urbani*ation are %anifested in po$erty, ine6uality, high
une%ploy%ent, undere%ploy%ent or %ise%ploy%ent, o$er(crowded housing and proliferation of
slu%s and s6uatters, deterioration in the en$iron%ental conditions, inade6uate supply of clean
water, incidence of diseases, o$er(crowding in schools and hospitals, and o$er(loading in public
transports and increase in traffic &a%s, road accidents, cri%es and social tensions" 1hese are
the characteristics of nearly all urban centers of Bangladesh, including the largest %etropolitan
cities, particularly Dhaka, where the rates of growth are the fastest e$en up to 7@ annually"
Urban Housing Conditions in Bangladesh
Housing not only pro$ides physical shelter but also has significant i%pact on the li$es of the
dwellers in ter%s of their skills enhance%ent, inco%e generation, increased security, health,
self(confidence and dignity" 1he poor econo%ic situation and inco%e ine6uality is reflected in
the 6uality of the housing stock" #t is esti%ated that close to half of all housing units is %ade of
te%porary %aterials and needed replace%ent within a one to fi$e(year period" Appro3i%ately
one third of all houses in urban areas were constructed outside of the for%al regulatory syste%,
%ostly on land to which the ho%eowner does not ha$e a for%al title" 1he higher and %iddle(
inco%e groups are housed in either low(rise single(fa%ily houses, or, increasingly, in %ulti(
fa%ily apart%ent buildings" 1he lower(inco%e households, appro3i%ately A@ of the urban
households, are housed in a $ariety of house types that can be described as follows+
Appro3i%ately half of the low(inco%e housing units are in bustees, infor%al
settle%ents areas that include both pri$ate rental and pri$ate ownership housing,
built on either pri$ately owned land or illegally occupied public land"
-on$entional tene%ent slu%s /rental and owner occupied0 take up another 6uarter
of the low(inco%e sector" ,$ercrowding in these buildings has increased o$er the
last years due to an influ3 of rural %igrants to work in the e3panding gar%ent
,ther categories of low(inco%e housing include+ go$ern%ent(pro$ided s6uatter
resettle%ent ca%ps, plots of land with basic ser$ices that are pro$ided on a
leasehold basisE e%ployee housing consisting %ostly of s%all apart%ents in high(rise
co%ple3es pro$ided by the go$ern%entE s6uatters who ha$e built %akeshift houses
on illegally occupied public or pri$ate landE and pa$e%ent dwellers"
#n a nutshell, the following is the housing deli$ery syste% in Bangladesh" Se$eral public
agencies are in$ol$ed in construction of housing and residential infrastructure pro&ects+ .ational
Housing Authority /.HA0, -ity De$elop%ent Authorities /FAG'H, -hittagong De$elop%ent
Authority, Hhulna De$elop%ent Authority0 and Public Works Depart%ent /PWD0 of the Ministry
of Housing and Public Works, etc" 1hese agencies are de$eloping residential subdi$isions for
lease to upper( and upper(%iddle inco%e households, and resettle%ent progra%%es and site(
and(ser$ices sche%es for lower( to %iddle(inco%e groups" #t has always been difficult to reach
lower(inco%e households with the site(and(ser$ices pro&ects and the si*e of the co%bined
public housing progra%%es has re%ained e3tre%ely s%all in relation to housing re6uire%ents
and new construction" Altogether, the public sector has only produced appro3i%ately 7I2@ of
total urban residential land and housing re6uire%ents /not %ore than ?, units per annu%0
o$er the past few years"
1he .4, sector has only been %arginally in$ol$ed in urban housing" 1he discrepancy between
urban land and house prices, and inco%es of the below %ediu% inco%e groups has %ade
sustainable housing solutions difficult to concei$e for this inco%e group" Fecently, the larger
%icrofinance institutions ha$e shown interest in entering the %ultifa%ily residential %arket for
%oderate and lower(inco%e households" Proshika and BFA- ha$e plans to in$est in large(
scale low(and %oderate(inco%e housing de$elop%ents 9 to J k% outside Dhaka"
Pri$ate de$elopers are increasingly i%portant players in the urban land and housing %arkets,
particularly in the %arket for apart%ent buildings" 1hey operate as indi$iduals or as businesses
under the -o%panies Act" #nterestingly, pri$ate de$elopers feel that the higher(inco%e
apart%ent %arket is beco%ing saturated and they atte%pt to %o$e down(%arket" 1he %ost
serious constraint in doing so is the lack of %ortgage financing" 2inding accessible and
affordable land for %iddle(inco%e housing construction is another challenge, particularly in
1he for%al or se%i(for%al indi$idual ho%eowner construction sector is by far the largest
housing supply syste% in all the %ain %etropolitan areas" Households ac6uire land, %ostly on a
freehold basis, and gradually construct their houses with or without official appro$al of plans"
Again, landowners in urban areas construct high(density, low(rise housing units for rental,
without ade6uate ser$ices, either for indi$idual households or for group li$ing /%ess housing0"
1he poor people are building %akeshift houses on public or pri$ate land, or s6uat in buildings"
1he urban residential housing sector of Bangladesh is characteri*ed by a three(tier %arket" 1he
first tier are those households with the highest disposable inco%e /less than 9@ of the housing
%arket0, who are able to afford high(6uality housing in fully ser$iced neighbourhoods, and able
to utili*e bank financing or speciali*ed housing finance institutions" 1he second tier is the
relati$ely narrow stratu% of %iddle(inco%e households /representing 72 to 7> @ of the housing
%arket0, who are the %ain users of speciali*ed housing financial institutions such as
Bangladesh House Building 2inance -orporation /BHB2-0" 1he third and largest tier is low(
inco%e households, for which housing is pro$ided largely by the pri$ate sector, often under
illegal and unsatisfactory site conditions"
,eed $or Public Policies on Urban -Urbani+ation. and Housing
) ,ote on Public Polic/0"%erational De$initions o$ Public Polic/

A policy is a broad guideline of actions designed to achie$e certain ob&ecti$e/s0 or goal/s0" A
policy can be di$ided into se$eral progra%s or pro&ects in order to reali*e the broader ob&ecti$es
as en$isaged in the policy" A policy beco%es :public5 when it is concerned with public interest
and for%ulated by legal go$ern%ent %achineries" Public Policy is a co%ple3 pheno%enon
consisting of nu%erous decisions %ade by nu%erous indi$iduals and organi*ations" A policy is
the identification of what needs to be doneE or a description of what usually is done, along with
design of institutions and authority to do it" Policies can be e3plicit /written down or otherwise
directly adopted0 or i%plicit /understood fro% the way institutions beha$e0" 1hese are for%ulated
in %any ways, and it is a ti%e consu%ing %atter which needs public consensus on what the
policy should be" #t is often shaped by earlier policies and is fre6uently linked closely with other
decisions" 1he public policies result fro% decisions %ade by the go$ern%ents to do so%ething
or refrain fro% doing anything"
Willia% Genkins defines :public policy5 as a :set of interrelated decisions taken by a political actor
or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the %eans of achie$ing the% within a
specified situation where those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those to
achie$e" #n fact, Genkins $iews public policy as a process" Another definition of public policy
holds that, :broadly defined5, it is :the relationship of a go$ern%ent unit to its en$iron%ent5" Such
a definition is so broad as to lea$e %ost of us uncertain of its %eaningE it could enco%pass
al%ost anything" 2inally, it can be defined as :K" a proposed course of action of a person, or
go$ern%ent within a gi$en en$iron%ent pro$iding obstacles and opportunities which the policy
was proposed to utili*e an ob&ecti$e or a purpose" Based on the abo$e discussion, it would be
well to spell out the i%plications of public policies" Public policy is a series of decisions %ade by
public institutions to act in order to address social proble%s on behalf of citi*en5s interests or
refrain fro% acting" #t is purposi$e and goal(oriented action rather than rando% or chance
beha$ior" #t in$ol$es a nu%ber of actors both institutions and indi$iduals who coordinate actions
through for%al %echanis%s or through infor%al networks" Policy in$ol$es not only the decision
to enact, e"g" a law on so%e issue but also subse6uent decisions relating to its i%ple%entation
and enforce%ent" ,nce enacted, a policy is authoritati$e and legiti%ate to abide by the citi*ens"
Urban Polic/ and Housing Condition
1he urban de$elop%ent policies ha$e so far been largely designed to create housing for
all" #t is $itally needed that with growth of population and increase in the housing needs and
de%and, the stock of new housing, replace%ent or repair of dilapidated stocks should be able to
%eet the re6uire%ents of housing" #nstitutional arrange%ent is re6uired for proper %aintenance
of the statistical infor%ation and for de$eloping and appropriate syste% of co(ordination of
housing needs and de%ands, sources of production, etc" #n Bangladesh, the e3isting syste% of
the housing sector is functioning with institutional arrange%ent through a nu%ber of
go$ern%ental organi*ations, .4,s and pri$ate de$elopersE and, public in$est%ent policies and
progra%%es through the national fi$e year plans, other national de$elop%ent plans and annual
de$elop%ent progra%%ers /ADP0" #t re6uires %aintenance of necessary infor%ation, proper
planning and coordination of production, supply and %aintenance of housing, their e6uitable
distribution, e$aluation and %onitoring fro% the national down to the local le$els" Appropriate
policy %easures are needed to bring about o$erall i%pro$e%ent of housing situation in ter%s of
6uality and 6uantity of housing stocksLunits housing tenure, financial %echanis%, and so on"
1herefore, there is a critical need to for%ulate national housing so as to pro$ide a clear
fra%ework for addressing housing issues in an efficient and effecti$e %anner" 1he Policy will
ensure that all public and pri$ate sector housing efforts are i%ple%ented according to a set of
clear ob&ecti$es and cohesi$e approaches" Cssentially, the proposed policy will intend to
facilitate effecti$e and efficient utili*ation of li%ited resources so as de$elop housing facilities in
the country in a co%prehensi$e way" 1his process of policy for%ulation is already undertaken by
the Ministry of Housing and Public Works"
!nitiatives Taken in Pre%aring the Policies on Urban and Housing vis-1-vis
)ddressing the Governance 2elated !ssues
1hough the for%al co%prehensi$e policy on urbani*ation is in the process of for%ulation,
howe$er go$ern%ent has already taken so%e progra%%es which either for% part of a possible
national policy or pro$ide guidelines or indications for such a national policy" #n Bangladesh, the
first .ational De$elop%ent Plan was prepared in 78A9 and had co%prehensi$e co$erage of
urban sector" 1he %ost i%portant e3ercises of such nature are the four 2i$e Dear Plans, the
.ational Habitat Feport on Hu%an Settle%ents prepared for the Bancou$er -onference in
78A?, the .ational Housing Policy, 7889 and the .ational Habitat ## Feport on Hu%an
Settle%ents prepared in 788? for the #stanbul -onference" A draft of .ational 'rban Policy was
concluded in Septe%ber 2?" And, the national housing has been for%ulated in 2!"
1he following plans and progra%%es ha$e been undertaken by the go$ern%ent wherein public
and other stakeholders were consulted so as to ensure go$ernance issues+
Preparation of Detailed Area Plans /DAPs0 by FAG'H, Ministry of Housing and
Public Works
Preparation of Structure Plan, Master Plan and Detailed Area Plans of Hhulna by
Hhulna De$elop%ent Authority /HDA0, Ministry of Housing and Public Works
Preparation of Structure Plan, Master Plan and Detailed Area Plans of Barisal by
'rban De$elop%ent Directorate /'DD0 , Ministry of Housing and Public Works
Preparation of De$elop%ent Plans of -o35s Ba*ar, Moheskhali, 1eknaf and St"
Martin by 'rban De$elop%ent Directorate /'DD0 , Ministry of Housing and Public
'rban 4o$ernance and #nfrastructure #%pro$e%ent Pro&ect /'4##P0, Phase # by
Mocal 4o$ern%ent Cngineering Depart%ent /M4CD0, Ministry of Mocal 4o$ern%ent,
Fural De$elop%ent and -o(operati$es
The 3a/ &orard
Present go$ern%ent is co%%itted to sol$e the issues relating to urbani*ation of the country"
Fele$ant policies and their i%ple%entation options are undertaken through go$ern%ent
agencies" ,nce these policies are for%ulated and put into i%ple%entation, regular %onitoring
will be re6uired to follow up of the acti$ities undertaken by the different public and pri$ate
organi*ations in the areas of urbani*ation"
#ndeed, $arious stakeholders can play a catalyst role at both societal as well as go$ern%ent
le$els to %ake %atters %ore understandable, acceptable and operational" 1heir participation
and acti$e support in this area is also desirable" 1he e3isting $iolation of FAG'H5s rules in
constructing buildings by the public is to be noted and the public are to be oriented towards
abiding by the rules of the go$ern%ent"
1he recently drafted national urban policy has co$ered wide ranging issues related to urban
growth and o$erall de$elop%ent of Bangladesh" #t is ai%ed at towards a decentrali*ed and
participatory process of urban de$elop%ent in which the central go$ern%ent, the local
go$ern%ent, the pri$ate sector and other stakeholders ha$e their interacti$e roles to play"
Concluding "bservations
'rbani*ation is ine$itable in Bangladesh but the e3isting process of urbani*ation fro% its
historical background is not properly planned" #n this regard, present go$ern%ent is totally
co%%itted to conducti$e en$iron%ent in planning and %anage%ent of %odern urbani*ation and
%aking affordable housing for all re%o$ing all barriers through re$iewing situation e$ol$ed in
i%ple%enting housing policy" #n $iew of these all concerted efforts are to be %ade to ensure
go$ernance in this process of for%ulating public policies on urban and housing sectors so that
the concerns of all the stakeholders are included and addressed especially of the poorer section
of the people" #n addition to go$ern%ent5s pro(acti$e role in de$eloping urban and housing
sector, it will also act as facilitator through ensuring ade6uate ser$ices re6uired for rapid
urbani*ation" Met all actors be in$ol$ed there and let there be de$elop%ent of sense of
ownership and e$entually benefits of all initiati$es directed towards urban planning and housing
will be en&oyed by all concerned people"
-o%%ittee on 'rban Mocal 4o$ern%ents, Ministry of Mocal 4o$ern%ent, Fural De$elop%ent
and -ooperati$es, Mocal 4o$ern%ent Di$ision, 4o$ern%ent of Bangladesh and Asian
De$elop%ent Bank /April 2>0, Supporting 'rban 4o$ernance Fefor%, 2inal Feport"
Cyestone, F" /78?90, The Threads of Public Policy: A Study in Policy Leadership /#ndiananpolis+
Bobbs(Merrill0, in 2riedrich, -arl G /Cd0, Man and His Government, .ew Dork+ Mc4raw(
2riedrich, -" G" /78?90, Man and His 4o$ern%ent, .ew Dork+ Mc4raw(Hill"
Howlett, M" and Fa%esh, M" /788>0, Studying Public Policy+ Policy -ycles and Policy
Subsyste%, ,3ford 'ni$ersity Press"
Genkins, W" #" /78A!0 Policy Analysis+ A Political and ,rgani*ational Perspecti$e, Mondon+ Martin
Murta*a, M" 4" /220, 'rban 4o$ernance in Bangladesh, A"H"Sultana Murta*a, Hhulna,
.a*rul #sla% and .urul #sla% .a*e%, ;'rbani*ation and 'rban 4rowth Policy<, .a*rul #sla%,
ed" 1he 'rban Poor in Bangladesh, Dhaka+ -entre for 'rban Studies"
,sborne, D" and 4aebler, 1" /78890 Fein$enting 4o$ern%ent+ How the Cntrepreneurial Spirit is
1ransfor%ing the Public Sector Plu%e, 'SA"
www"adb"orgLgo$ernance Lgo$N ele%ents "asp