Urban planning, public services not adapted to children: Experts

It is not possible to develop a city without considering the political economy because political leaders frequent the peddlers who occupy the roads and paths to do business

TBS Report

June 11, 2022, 9:10 PM

Last modification: June 11, 2022, 9:10 PM

Representative image. Photo: Collected

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Representative image. Photo: Collected

Urban experts and rights activists from one program said urban public facilities and services are not child-friendly and even the safety of children is not considered in infrastructure development.

They noted that the municipal corporation will never solve the problem of road digging works, because the income of low-level ruling party activists comes from these activities.

Their observations were made during a one-day training session on “Child-Friendly Urban Planning in Bangladesh – Reshaping Cities for Children and Youth” on Saturday at a hotel in the city jointly organized by the Institute. Bangladesh Planners (BIP) and Save the Children.

In his address, BAPA co-secretary, architect Iqbal Habib, said: “We are more and more inclined towards mega-projects without considering their usefulness for cities. We are more interested in undertaking projects than ‘to change the system’.

He observed that the ruling party’s operating fund comes from low-level leaders and road-digging activists. This is why municipalities will never solve these problems even though they know the solution.

“We attract danger by destroying our environment. We need to increase green space for our survival and build child-friendly cities,” he said.

Professor Adil Mohammad Khan, former general secretary of BIP, said there was no alternative to playgrounds for the mental development of children. Cities must be made livable by controlling pollution, he added.

“It is not possible to develop a city without considering the political economy because political leaders frequent the peddlers who occupy the roads and paths to run businesses. Whatever the plans on the side of the planner , the city will never become child friendly unless these wrongdoings are brought under control,” he added.

Ahsanul Kabir, Professor, Department of Discipline URP, University of Khulna, said that it is impossible to develop child-friendly cities without maintaining a healthy economy.

“We are all interested in the development of smart cities without knowing the components to build a smart city. The use of ICT is not enough to develop a smart city,” he said.

Urban planners and other stakeholders have suggested giving more importance to the needs and demands of children in urban planning to develop an ideal city.

In his presentation titled “Making Cities Liveable for Children”, Reefat Bin Sattar, Director, Program Development and Quality, Save the Children said, “We need to listen to children’s voices when planning cities and bring back greenery . For this, local representatives must play the role of front-line catalysts”.

He said that in 30 years at least half of the country’s population will live in cities.

In a city like Dhaka, children living in slums do not have access to decent housing, clean water, sanitation, health care and quality education. There is a lack of playgrounds in schools and communities and even worse, where people have access to existing playgrounds, they are not suitable and safe for children to play.

Urban public facilities and services are not child friendly and even child safety is not considered in infrastructure development. It is difficult for children to use public transport (especially in crowded urban areas), he added.

The training session was chaired by IPB President Fazle Reza Sumon and moderated by IPB Secretary General HM Mehedi Ahsan.

Richard F. Gandhi