The Urban Governance Conundrum: Meeting the Challenge of Poverty Reduction in Urban Areas

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Within this generation, Bangladesh’s poor population will become predominantly urban. Given the scale and severity of urban poverty, the country faces momentous governance challenges. Current systems of urban governance have paid inadequate attention to the urban poor, with obstacles at both the national and the municipal level creating barriers to greater recognition of the urban poor. At the national level, a number of political, social, and cultural factors underpin the neglect of urban poverty and the unwillingness of central government to decentralise power and resources to the municipal level. These reasons, including Bangladesh’s national identity and image and the political economy of urban poverty, prevent urban poverty from being accorded a higher priority at the national level. Until now, there remains no government agency, department or Ministry mandated with responsibility for urban poverty reduction. At the municipal level, improved urban governance for urban poverty reduction requires not only strengthened financial ability and effectiveness, it also requires changing the relationship between the state and low-income residents. A lack of representation and accountability to the urban poor in local governance structures has created a situation in which the sole access of most low-income residents is through politically-affiliated local leaders who provide access to services and other problem resolutions, but at a social and financial cost. The mobilisation of low-income urban communities through BOSC has led to significant advances in terms of political participation of the urban poor, but its impact has been limited by its scale of operations and an ongoing lack of national commitment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Place of PublicationDhaka
PublisherBRAC University Institute of Governance Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event40 years of Bangladesh: Retrospective and Future Prospects - Bangladesh Centre for Development Management
Duration: 28 Nov 201129 Nov 2011


Conference40 years of Bangladesh: Retrospective and Future Prospects
CityBangladesh Centre for Development Management


  • urban poverty, urban governance, Bangladesh

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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