BD to miss SDG target at present pace of housing

Experts for social housing to address the problem

FE Report | Published: October 07, 2018 11:19:08 | Updated: October 16, 2018 10:12:24

The overall housing situation of the country is poor compared to the pace of development with 6.0 million housing shortages, according to experts.

They spoke of the government's lack of interest to take realistic measures to formalise and augment the housing supply process.

The government's contribution is only 1.0 per cent of the total demand for housing, the experts observed.

Bangladesh will not be able to achieve the sustainable development goals' 11th target of housing for all by 2030 if the current trend continues, they said.

All the ad hoc basis initiatives have been failing due to corruption, lack of monitoring and coordination among ministries, the experts mentioned.

They suggested social housing either by public or private or by the both.

Their main objective will be to ensure housing for all through a master plan, not to make a profit.

They made the views at a seminar on 'Housing for All' hosted by the Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP) in the capital, marking World Habitat Day 2018.

Urban Development Directorate (UDD) director Khurshid Zabin Toufique was present as the chief guest.

Four presentations were made on various issues of housing at the seminar held in the BIP conference hall.

BIP general secretary Adil Muhammed Khan made a presentation on 'Social Housing Concept and Housing for Low-income People in Bangladesh'.

He said the SDG target 11 stresses access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums by 2030.

About housing deficit in Dhaka city, he spoke of an imbalance between the total number of households and the total housing stock.

The floor area per person is as small as 12 square metres, he mentioned.

Mr Khan identified the scarcity of land and high building cost as major constraints for housing development in Dhaka.

High land price also excludes poor from land and home ownership, he added.

Experts said there is neither cost recovery nor cross subsidisation approach here by which housing can be ensured as it is a basic right.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), there was a housing shortfall of 4.6 million units for 43.43 million people in 2010. The shortage is projected to reach 8.5 million units for 60 million urban people by 2021, it revealed.

In her presentation, Arc planner Salma A Shafi said the total urban population will reach 100 million by 2050.

The government even does not supply 1.0 per cent of the total housing demand, she added. A minimum of 0.1 million housing units should be supplied in the market every year, Ms Shafi said.

The government talks about only 10,000 units supplied by them, she noted.

Ms Shafi said the limited number of pilot projects will not be effective in solving housing crisis. Housing finance is a major part of the issue.

She suggested approval of an urban sector policy, an implementable housing policy and redevelopment of old areas like Shahjahanpur and the old town.

Meanwhile, Mr Toufique said the government has a gazette on social housing, but according to the housing policy 2016, it will not provide housing for all.

Rather it will work as a facilitator, he mentioned.

Only people from river erosion areas, destitute women left by husbands and the elderly will be eligible for housing, he added.

Housing has been recognised as an industry which means lots of incentives can be provided in the sector, said the noted planner.

About exorbitant land prices, he said the prices of land in Dhaka are close to that of New York or Tokyo which is a bubble.

If this cannot be controlled, Mr Toufique said, people will continue to grab rivers and other water bodies.

Speakers said urban financing cannot be ensured by the government only. It can be make a strategic alliance of public, private and community to solve housing problem.

Housing is a priority issue in all the countries as social instability will be there if housing problem is not resolved.

But housing has become a lucrative business for the realtors which provide housing for the better-off.

There is hardly any trend among developers for low-cost housing. It is the government which should engage the developers in doing so, they stated. Rajuk and other agencies undertake housing projects mostly for professional groups and other affluent sections, they observed.

The speakers said privatisation happens in the open economy, but there is no equilibrium in society now.

Housing is not a business opportunity rather it should be recognised as a right, the speakers went on.

For that, political will is the main issue, they said.

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