Poverty in the urban areas

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At present we all, irrespective of government and non-government organisations, development partners and UN bodies working together to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. We have many programmes from rural to semi-urbans to urban areas to eradicate poverty and to make a prosperous country.

Rapid human migration from the rural areas to the cities due to push and pull factors of the economy has already made overcrowded urban areas. 

Problems that have already turned into mega problems are:

1) Housing problem along with associated services to accommodate large numbers of poor/ultra-poor, even lower middle-class people;

2) Climate threat to infrastructure & threat to cultural heritage;

3) Depletion of natural resources;

4) Lack of proper waste management; 

5) Traffic management failure; and

6) Urban management and financing.

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There are many more problems, but housing problem and associated services are the most vital among all. Many projects from different partners are being implemented in the cities to tackle these challenges. UNDP is partnering with many Government ministries both in urban and rural areas to improve the socio-economic conditions of Bangladesh for many years. Among its projects, Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities (LIUPCP) - a project worth BDT 826 crore, under UNDP’s National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme (NUPRP) is the biggest one. This project is jointly-funded by the Government of Bangladesh, DFID and UNDP is being implemented in 12 City Corporations and 8 Municipalities with a target to cover total 36 locations. 

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The project aims to cover 4 million poor unserved and under-served people in the urban areas in 5 outputs: 

1) Low cost housing and associated services to the poor covering: tenure security, house construction, renovation, and housing loan.

2) Skills and employment for the poor women by imparting training, business start-up grant, apprentice grant, grants to girls to check dropouts and early marriage, nutrition grants for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

3) Organisation for the poor by creating primary groups, Community Development Committee (CDC), Federation among the poor and imparting different boost-up training to increase their capacity to make their voice heard and stand against poverty. They will be trained to manage savings & credit activities to make their organisation sustainable.

4) Climate resilient municipal infrastructure. 

5) Capacity building of City Government in respect of management and administration.

The project activities are huge and many partners are collaborating in different implementing stages. Credit goes to the DFID for their substantial supports to the project as well as to UNDP for overall technical supports. Innovation, use of technology and inclusive approach is at the heart of the project dynamics. 

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My recent visit to few cities with colleagues have helped me to understand the depth of underlying urban problems and how LIUPCP officials with the help and support of city bodies are working. It is encouraging that city the Mayors have accepted the project as their own.
We want to create an enabling situation that poor people will not live on charity, rather they will stand on their own foot.

Md Abdul Mannan is a Joint Secretary of the Government of Bangladesh and National Project Director of the Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project (LIUPCP).