DHAKA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has approved 410 million U.S. dollars to improve municipal governance and basic urban services in district towns and municipalities in Bangladesh and benefit 3.4 million people in around 100 urban communities across the country.
According to a statement of the Washington-based lender received here Thursday, the Municipal Governance and Service Project will provide financial support to 26 urban government bodies with high economic growth and job creation potential, located along growth corridors leading from capital Dhaka towards four divisional cities -- southeastern Chittagong, northwestern Rangpur, northeastern Sylhet and northern Mymensingh.
Apart from this, it said the project would also cover three district towns in southern Bangladesh. "Bangladesh experienced some of the most rapid urbanization in South Asia. Yet, the cities offer inadequate infrastructure and low levels of urban services, particularly in district towns and municipalities," said World Bank Country Director for BangladeshJohannes Zutt.
The country's urban population rose from 15 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 2010, said the World Bank statement.
It said municipalities and towns play key roles in supporting economic growth, jobs creation and poverty reduction and are growing rapidly.
However, they face severe challenges such as weak municipal finances and governance systems, insufficient administrative capacity and inadequate basic urban services that constrain them from developing into competitive, innovative and livable places, it added.
Through a demand-driven approach, the project aims to build roads, water and sanitation systems, markets, bus terminals and municipal services centers in these communities, said the statement, adding it would build a culture of responsible operations and routine maintenance of infrastructure assets.
The institution's new commitments to Bangladesh in the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's arm for the world's poorest countries financing during the CAS period FY2011-2015, including the just approved Municipal Governance Support Project, stands at 4.5 billion U.S. dollars.
"Bangladesh represents a remarkable development story. It reduced the number of people living on less than 1.25 U.S. dollars a day from 58.6 percent in 2000 to 43.3 percent in 2010 -- a rate that was 60 percent faster than the rest of the developing world except China," said Johannes Zutt.
"For the World Bank, Bangladesh is an important partner in its global goal of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity by 2030. We are committed to supporting Bangladesh's goal of becoming a middle income country by its 50th Birthday."