Dhaka, Oct. 5 (NsNewsWire) — Bangladesh has experienced some of the most rapid urbanization in South Asia, yet the cities offer inadequate infrastructure and low levels of urban services, particularly in district towns and municipalities. A new Center of Excellence for Urban Development will support cities and its local agencies to collaborate to improve the lives of citizens.
Today, the World Bank signed a memorandum of understanding with four professional institutions – the Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), the Institute of Architects of Bangladesh (IAB), the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB), and the Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) – to set up a Center of Excellence for Urban Development (CEUD). These institutions have assisted city corporations and municipalities to prepare and implement multi-year capital investment plans (CIPs). To date, some 31 urban local governments have prepared their CIPs under the project.
“Unplanned and rapid urbanization has affected livability in the cities,” said Rajashree Paralkar, Acting World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. “In response to urban governance challenges, this framework will help the urban local bodies become strong, responsive and inclusive local government institutions, which are able to provide better urban services.”
The World Bank will provide technical support to the CEUD to improve the performance of the urban local government bodies. In turn, the CEUD will bring together key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to improve the urban management capacity of urban Local Government Institutions by collaborating, sharing knowledge and providing trainings. It will also initiate a Young Professional Internship Program in the urban local governments.
The World Bank is providing technical assistance to implement the CEUD. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has provided a $3.76 million grant to support World Bank’s technical assistance for the CEUD as well as to support the objectives of the ongoing Municipal Governance and Services Project (MGSP) and the Third Local Government Support Project (LGSP III). For MGSP, the World Bank has committed $410 million to improve municipal governance and basic urban services in district towns and municipalities. For the LGSP III, the World Bank has committed $300 million to empower the Union Parishads, the lowest tier local governments with discretionary funds that would enable communities decide and implement local development priorities.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh after independence. Since then, the World Bank has committed over $26 billion grants and interest-free credits to the country. In recent years, Bangladesh has been one of the largest recipients of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.