Urbanization has become a powerful force in developing countries, having recently taken place in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The world shift in population from rural to urban areas, a re-evaluation of the economic importance of cities, and a reaffirmation of the significance of local institution building for development have all become significant factors for consideration in light of this mammoth shift in the context of current development literature. In this backdrop of rapid urbanization, urban governance has become an important approach to evaluating cities’ growth, development and performance.
Dhaka is one of the fastest growing megacities of the world (UN-Habitat 2009) with an existing population of 13 million that is annually growing 4.4% constitutes 40% of the country’s total urban population. But the physical expansion and population growth is not reflected in city development which is mainly featured with slow and highly unequal growth, rising poverty, fragmented and inefficient service delivery.
In this backdrop, the State of Cities report aims to provide a diagnostic of the country’s urban governance. Being the first of its kind, the report will analyze Dhaka city’s urban governance on the bases of three principles of governance namely fluidity, informal vs. formal governance and governance as a life experience. The report consists of five chapters. The first chapter provides introduction and conceptual framework of the report. The second chapter deals with governance history of Dhaka city by taking a chronological view on Dhaka’s journey from a provincial capital of a vast empire to a chaotic megacity of today. Chapter three focuses on Dhaka’s politics by looking into both formal and informal political management through analyzing institutions and policies and thereby discusses how citizens are being marginalized through the informal governance arrangements. Chapter four covers economic governance of Dhaka city with a focus on stakeholders and institutional arrangements for the city’s transport sector. Chapter five discusses governance of urban public services that present a comparative analysis of public service delivery from the users end based on their socio-economic profile.