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BRIEF December 12, 2019

Transforming Metro Dhaka


Dhaka cityscape. Photo: World Bank

Why Dhaka Matters

With a population of over 10 million, Bangladesh’s burgeoning capital is set to become one of the world’s four largest cities within 10 years. Dhaka is also among the world’s most densely populated cities, more so than Mumbai, Karachi, and Hong Kong, and is home to 36 percent of Bangladesh’s urban population.

Dhaka is the country’s economic and political center, and accounts for a fifth of its GDP as well as nearly half of its formal employment. Realizing Bangladesh’s vision of upper middle-income status by 2031 will largely depend on Dhaka’s transformation as a modern and productive city. It is therefore critical for Bangladesh to plan, coordinate, and invest to achieve Dhaka’s full potential.

A More Livable Dhaka

But Dhaka is also one of the world’s least livable cities. Some if its most significant challenges include traffic congestion, pollution, waterlogging, housing affordability, solid waste management, and basic service delivery.

Transforming Metro Dhaka into a vibrant and resilient megacity calls for a new approach to managing urban growth: one that is spatially targeted, integrated across sectors, closely coordinated across institutions, and financed in a sustainable way. The Metro Dhaka Transformation Platform (MDTP) will act as a strategic tool to guide investment programs and policy support for the city. It will also support the government’s vision of leveraging Dhaka’s economic potential and its contribution to Bangladesh’s goal of reaching upper middle-income status.

Our new blog series highlights the MDTP’s work and how it links to ongoing engagements – job creation, plastic pollution management, land-based financing - showcasing how Dhaka can drive Bangladesh’s growth through sustainable urbanization, poverty reduction, and shared prosperity.


Planning a more livable Dhaka, by David Mason  

Metro Dhaka: Jobs and growth potential within and beyond the city center, by Annie Gapihan

An upper middle-income Bangladesh starts with a livable Dhaka, by John Roome, Annie Gapihan and Hyunji Lee

Toward Great Dhaka: Seize the golden opportunity, by Qimiao Fan, Martin Rama, Yue Li and Joe Qian

Toward a livable Dhaka, by Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez and David Mason


We need both traditional and new solutions to fight poverty, by Mercy Tembon and Carolina Sánchez-Páramo (The Daily Star)


Mercy Tembon

Vice President and Corporate Secretary