There is no denying that the big cities of Bangladesh have a slum problem.
In a recent plan, the housing and public works minister has said that the slums in Dhaka will be replaced by high-rise buildings.
While the minister has gone on to say that the slum residents will also be provided accommodation in those buildings, we must make sure that this promise is not broken.
It also begs the question of where these slum-dwellers will reside during construction.
We have witnessed how, time and again, the poor have been left without a home, as we saw during the two fires in Korail slum last year.
Affordable housing for the poor is an essential part of any nation that wishes to reach middle-income status.
We are only as strong as the weakest amongst us, and we must ensure that they are taken care of.
By providing adequate shelter, they are given the opportunity to move out of inhumane conditions under which they were previously living.
There is no real development if the most marginisalised in our society continue to suffer.
At the end of the day, the city does need multi-storied housing — as opposed to the general one-storied slums — to accommodate the growing number of people currently living in slums in terrible conditions; it is simply far more efficient and cost effective.
We trust the government to not let this new initiative become an eyewash, with the poor once again getting the short end of the stick.
What we now need is to ensure that the government follows through on its plans to accommodate the poor, and provide them with sustainable, affordable housing.
Dhaka Tribune, January 10, 2018