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The population of Bangladesh's capital is expected to hit 20 million by 2025.
“Let’s create opportunities outside of Dhaka,” said Sabina Faiz Rashid, an anthropologist and professor at BRAC University’s School of Public Health in Dhaka. “I mean, it’s not like everyone’s dying to come and live in a slum settlement. Of course, they want better lives. We all do. But they don’t have options.”
Many in Dhaka have begun to argue for satellite cities outside of the capital, linked by mass transit. Factories, universities, and other services could relocate, drawing new migrants to places where land is cheaper, and utilities more manageable.
“Some of us who have been activists on this issue have said, ‘Take the whole government out into a new city,’’’ said Atiq Rahman, a Dhaka climate and migration researcher who heads the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies.
Rahman said, if a place like Dhaka can rein in its chaos, slow down growth, and improve services to its poorest residents – it could serve as a model for developing world.
“Anything that we can make work in Dhaka,” he said, “we could make work in any other city.”
Editor's note: Join us on Sept. 24 at Noon (ET) for a live conference call with reporter Erik German. The third world's sprawling megacities are typically viewed as hopelessly blighted. But could they actually be good for the environment? What German found is surprising. To join the call, become a GlobalPost Member today by clicking here.