A regional exchange workshop was organized today at the very end of the Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction (UPPR) learning and good practices documentation process. It aimed to establish a dialogue among the community members, a selection of national and international experts, the consultant team leading the documentation, and UNDP.
The two-day long workshop was organized at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre (BICC), Dhaka. The workshop featured the findings from the ‘Documentation of UPPR Learning and Good Practices’ – the country’s single largest urban poverty reduction project which was implemented during 2008-2015.
UNDP hosted the two days long regional exchange workshop to validate multiple lessons learned so far prioritizing the need to expose the good practices to national and international high level specialists, receiving feedback and consolidating the findings through an intense exchange among the actors.
In her welcome address, Ms. Pauline Tamesis, Country Director of UNDP noted that there is no one-stop complete recipe to urban poverty reduction and development. Every settlement has its particular characteristics and that is why it is imperative for all of us to learn from good practices and models that have been successful in UPPR.
She also said “If we can get urban development right, we can create positive economic opportunities, improve social inclusion, protect local eco-systems, and build overall resilience of the people.”
Mr Abdul Malek, Secretary, Local Government Division (LGD), MoLGRD&C chaired the opening session with the distinguished guests – Ms Somsook Boonyabancha, Secretary General, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), Bangkok, Thailand, Mr. R Parthasarathy, Director, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, India and Urban Knowledge Network of Asia, UKNAand Professor Nazrul Islam, Honorary Chairman, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), Dhaka.
Mr. Abdul Malek, Secretary, Local Government Division said, “A partnership between the Government of Bangladesh, UNDP and UK Aid, UPPR has reduced urban poverty on a scale never before witnessed in Bangladesh. The results have been significant, ranging from improved infrastructure, women’s empowerment and community-led development planning.”
Ms Somsook Boonyabancha emphasized on recognising poverty as a structural issue and that change should be in the hands of the people. Furthermore, she noted that importance of housing development and land security for poor people and celebrated the successes of UPPR’s Community Housing Development Fund (CHDF) for its innovative work in communities.
Presenting the UPPR Learning, Best Practices and Processes, Professor Yves Cabannes, Professor Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London noted that UPPR has been hugely and broadly innovative. He also stressed the importance for building long term relationship between communities and LGIs and urban poverty reduction programmes need to shift from neighbourhood/slum scale to city-wide scale.
He also added, “The new Agenda SDG 2030 reflects the strong role of our urban centres. Not only is SDG 11 dedicated to our cities and towns; but in no less than five other goals and forty targets, urban areas are part of the solution.”
The Planning Minister A. H. M. Mustafa Kamal was the Chief Guest on the second day of the workshop. He said, “UPPR has placed women as agents of change in the development process. The programme’s focus on women’s leadership has been the other critical point of success, and one that UNDP is very proud of. Women in Bangladesh face many challenges, just because they are women.
UPPR has supported women to take a central leadership role in their communities and households, and the project has measured the impact of this using the Women’s Empowerment Index developed by the women community members themselves.”
He also mentioned, “Participation, partnerships and empowerment – combined for some truly impactful work in urban Bangladesh. Inclusive urban development is needed for the ultimate growth of the nation.
We have to reduce dependency on donors, rather we have work for our own nation.”
Among other distinguished guests, Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy, Mayor Narayanganj City Corporation, Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Executive Chairman, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) were present.
The regional exchange will engage community people, high profile national and international experts to validate the lessons learnt and good practices from the UPPR project implemented in 23 cities/towns across Bangladesh.