The World Bank approved $100.5 million to improve public spaces and urban services in four large neighborhoods under the Dhaka South City Corporation benefitting about a million residents.
The Dhaka City Neighborhood Upgrading Project will enhance livability of the selected neighborhoods by improving public open spaces such as parks, playgrounds, waterfronts; streets, sidewalks; and public buildings such as community centers with integrated public facilities. The project will specially cater to the needs of women, youths, elderly and disabled, who often refrain from using public amenities.
“Dhaka is the most important economic center of Bangladesh, accounting for one-fifth of its GDP, and almost half of its formal employment. Its population has grown from 3 million in 1980 to 18 million today. But, its infrastructure could not keep up with its population growth,” said Robert Saum, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “Global experience shows that good public urban spaces are fundamental to improving the quality of life. The project will pilot interventions to enable the residents better use and enjoy public urban spaces.”
Through a wide range of consultations with stakeholders, four localities have been selected, which are: Kamrangir Char, Lalbagh, Sutrapur-Nayabazar-Gulistan and Khilgaon-Mugda-Bashabo. The project will also pilot interventions for better traffic management and safe mobility. This will include developing plans for traffic management as well as improving intersection geometry and walkability for pedestrians.
“Well-designed public areas such as streets, sidewalks, parks, lighting, and multipurpose community centers can make a big difference to people’s lives. They can immensely improve the living standards by improving safety, health, mobility, recreation and economic vibrancy,” said Jon Kher Kaw, World Bank Team Leader for the Dhaka City Neighborhood Upgrading Project. “The project will appraise, design, and implement schemes to enhance public spaces and address challenges of unplanned urbanization in the four neighborhoods.”
The project will help increase green open spaces by enhancing selected parks, streets and waterfront areas, in both low-income neighborhoods and downtown areas. Multipurpose community centers will include a mix of new uses to serve neighborhoods and incorporate environment-friendly features and energy efficient design principles and materials.
The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period, and an interest rate of 1.25 percent with a service charge of 0.75 percent.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed more than $30 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country. Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA program totaling $12.6 billion.