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Dhaka urged to look to China for urban solutions

Cities with urban woes on a grand scale like Dhaka, Bangladesh, might look to Beijing as a model, according to the United Nations Development Programme. (EPA/ABIR ABDULLAH)

Where should Dhaka and other Bangladeshi cities turn for solutions to their myriad urban challenges? West to New York or London? East to Tokyo or Seoul? The United Nations Development Programme suggests a different path — north to China.

Sarah Reed, Yan Zhang, Ashekur Rahman and Taimur Khilji, urban development specialists in Asia with the UNDP, argue that Beijing is the preferred template for a congested, impoverished place like Dhaka. “Here is a city that is familiar with addressing urban bottlenecks at massive scale,” the authors write of China’s capital.

Beijing created a “service station” that residents visit for health tests, sports activities, vocational training, elderly programs and other needs. The “one-stop shopping” model might work for Dhaka, where resource-thin municipal workers say they’re overwhelmed with the volume of requests.

This sort of unconventional approach is an example of Design Thinking, which encourages fresh approaches to problem solving, the essay explains. 


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