Unplanned urbanisation increases risks of urban disasters

We must strive to ensure a risk resilient urban infrastructure system

Published : 29 Sep 2023 07:13 PM

Rapid urbanisation and unplanned growth of cities are increasing risks of different urban disasters like fire, building collapse and urban flooding in the country. A new wave of unplanned urbanisation over the last decade has changed the landscape of Dhaka, leaving the city dwellers in risk. Dhaka is becoming more and more vulnerable to man-made hazards due to rapid urbanisation. Dire consequences of unplanned urbanisation are already evident in the poor living condition. Dhaka is characterised by the poor living standards, building construction without consideration of safety measures, lack of public awareness to hazards, and poorly enforced building code.

There are numerous characteristics of current urban planning and development that pose serious threats to the life and wealth of city dwellers. For example, the lack of enforcement of building code, planning permission and regulatory investment, often linked to corruption, allow the transfer of risk from construction companies to those who live and work in the buildings. 

Multi-hazard approaches

 need to be ensured 

in policies, regulations 

and plans to reduce urban 

risk that will make Dhaka 

safer in the long-run

Hence, strengthening urban governance has become very much necessary on the part of the government and city planners. Many buildings are rising without proper zoning concept and guidelines as the city authorities allow poorly constructed buildings and old buildings to live. These buildings are very much vulnerable to earthquake, fire hazards and other types of building collapse causing unnecessary deaths. Besides the mentioned vulnerabilities the urban habitants are living with increased risk of industrial hazards and health related risks. 

Increasing number of industrial complexes is taking place with rapid urbanisation and when a natural or man-made disaster occurs in an urban area, these industrial complexes and hazardous materials cause considerable disasters such as fire, explosions, radioactive radiation and so on. Proper implementation of land use plan and enforcement of building code are also important to make an urban area more resilient to disasters. Multi-hazard approaches need to be ensured in policies, regulations and plans to reduce urban risk that will make Dhaka safer in the long-run. In order to reduce disaster risks, it is of great concern to have good control over the entire practice of design and construction of structures. 

Relevant stakeholders, policymakers and experts should work together under one umbrella to ensure a risk resilient infrastructure system.