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The Sylhet City Corporation

The Sylhet City Corporation was previously known as The Municipality of Sylhet. The new name has been in use since 28 July 2002.

The Sylhet City Corporation offices are located in the heart of Sylhet Town. The City Corporation covers 26.50sqkm and is divided into 13 wards. It is responsible for the delivery of services in road development, traffic, sewage, garbage collection, street lighting, health, sanitation, footpath, market, drainage, water supply, slum improvement, death and birth registration, tax assessment and realisation. Responsibility for the delivery of key services such as health and Social Services is done jointly with the Civil Surgeon and the Sylhet Medical College.

The Key decision making process in the Authority is down to 1 elected Chairman and 22 Commissioners. The Chairman has four key staff below him - The Chief Executive Officer, Secretary, Executive Engineer and Medical Officer who are in turn responsible for some 161 staff. The main priorities of the City Corporation tend to focus on developing infrastructure in relation to health, sanitation, water supply, cleaning, and street lighting. The areas identified in needing further development are utilities maintenance, funding, vehicles, skilled workforce and evaluation and planning techniques. Any large work e.g. capital projects are tendered out as per law.

Largely private landowners and the Government own Land. Businesses are supported through commercial banks, central banks, and Industrial banks. There are also agricultural banks that give business support. Sylhet Chamber of Commerce offers training and planning support to entrepreneurs. The existence of many agro based industries in Sylhet means that there are specialist agencies such the Government agriculture department, veterinary department and the hospital who have a specific remit to offer practical assistance. Furthermore, social entrepreneurs are encouraged by the Social Welfare development of the Government and Sylhet City Corporation.

Sylhet has an existing development plan for the Urban area, which was developed by external consultants and provides a framework which the partners can take forward. However, there is little consensus on how to translate the plan into a working tool for the modern urbanisation of Sylhet, no prioritisation of the actions necessary for it's implementation and limited appreciation of the financial, land use, sanitation and anti-poverty implications.

More positively, the City Corporation recognises it's current limitations and is committed to both developing the competencies of it's staff to manage the strategic planning process as well creating partnership structures and consensus on priorities, financial instruments, and the community development necessary to give the business and resident community ownership.

Sylhet, like many other developing secondary cities in South East Asia, faces huge problems in its organisational model and its approach to urban management often assuming a responsive as opposed to an interventionist model.

This is reflected in the short term and fragmented nature of initiatives, which themselves act as a break on sustainability and economic growth. Sylhet acknowledges the need to agree what is achievable in the short and mid term and to develop a realistic set of priorities to address, which require a wider ownership and involvement if these are to achieve fruition. There is a clear identified need to improving and strengthening the institutional framework. "The shortage of adequate administrative technical and professional capability is exacerbated by lack of co-ordination, an unwieldy bureaucracy and poor organisation" (source: Sylhet 5-Year Plan)

From the experience we have gained from technical visits to Sylhet, we have also found that the current structure is one that is heavily reliant on the Chairman and Chief Executive officer fulfilling a range of administrative functions, a number of which would best be delegated both within the organisation and to appropriate partnership structures. This dependency upon a small number of individuals has resulted on an inward looking and less responsive model than required for the new Millennium and also led to various other public and private sector agencies having proceeded with programmes/projects without consulting or co-ordinating their efforts with the City Corporation

The culture of Sylhet is one where the vast majority of assets and wealth is divided amongst private individuals and the government, with no clear consensus on the realistic financial instruments required by the City Corporation to achieve its strategic objectives. There is little evidence of private sector participation or community participation in the City Corporation's affairs and our intention is to strengthen and reposition the City Corporation as a driving force in Urban Renewal, whilst recognising that the achievement of its goals will largely be delivered by the harnessing of partnership resources and solutions.

With an increase in the urban population predicted the need to increase co-ordination and co-operation between the municipal and national government for finance, planning and other functions is central to good urban resource management. This can only successfully be achieved through capacity building in terms of training relevant staff in urban management skills e.g. project management, community consultation processes and health.

Sylhet belongs to a group of medium urban centres that have grown rapidly in recent years and has steadily improved their ranks in the urban hierarchy. However, with the introduction of the new districts and the redistribution of administrative functions among Sunamgonj, Maulivbazar and Habiganj (greater Sylhet), the administrative dominance of Sylhet has somewhat been curtailed.

Sylhet City Corporation covers an area of 26.50sqkm and a population on 500,000 this is against a background of extremely high and rising density of population. In 1981 Bangladesh had a population of 90 million, it currently exceeds 100 million and is expected to reach between 140 and 150 million by the year 2000. The increase in population density to around 2800 people per square mile will bring even greater difficulties in achieving levels of food self-sufficiency as adequate nutritional levels. The health of the citizens of Sylhet City Corporation is clearly affected by the poor urban housing, air quality and lack of education & infrastructure in hygiene and waste management.

Given the importance on urban management - urbanisation in Sylhet cannot be seen negatively but rather as an opportunity to generate sustainable employment and a healthy financial base to underpin it's continued economic development. This will be evidenced by the project outcomes stated in chapter three and the creation of a sustainable arms length regeneration company capable of winning the confidence and financial support for a continued longer term portfolio of projects, to be sponsored by donor agencies, private sector investors and development banks with whom productive discussions have already been held.

As identified in the earlier draft bid, our programme will have 3 major demonstration projects:

Health & Poverty
Urban Management
SME assisted

The latter of which, within a community economic development framework, is expected to engage local citizens in productive employment and enterprise.

The process in which these demonstration projects will be developed is:
Partnership Board to agree on specific requirements for demonstration proje
cts. This will include gathering baseline information and conducting a needs analysis of Sylhet with regard to the three areas above. This will be conducted during phase 1 of the project i.e. months 1-6

Towards the end of phase 1 i.e. months 5-6, a delivery plan for each project will be produced. This will give a detailed description of the work programme, specific budget, methodology used, expected results (i.e. outputs & outcomes) and delivery mechanisms for the project outputs. This document will be sent to the Commission with the first evaluation report.

Partnership Board Project officer works with other agencies, in the field, to develop the three demonstration projects. This will be done through ways including seminars and workshops, which will take place during year 1 of project life. This will develop the concept for these projects, which will go live during the following 18 months main project.

To date the development of Sylhet has been hampered by a lack of adequate funding and an inability to target resources and maximise funding has made it difficult for Sylhet to realise some of their key targets e.g.:

Upgrading of 2000 service latrines into twin pits
Design of a comprehensive drainage scheme
Site acquisition for future low-income housing.

Other problems faced by the Sylhet City Corporation are:

Overburdening bureaucracy
Inappropriate structures to address strategic priorities
Lack of suitably skilled staff
Absence of community involvement and participation strategy

Lack of clarity about the respective roles and co-ordination between the various service providers.
Infrastructure investment and operation, specifically in areas such as land planning, transportation and traffic management systems, water and waste management, and critically the maintenance and preservation of infrastructural projects already implemented with a resulting break on investment in the economy and serious health and poverty considerations for the urban communities.

This project has been identified as a direct response to address Sylhet's current difficulty in strengthening the infrastructure to support overall development of the town - efficient urban management being key to this. The City Corporation then undertook a detailed feasibility study funded by the Urban Development Directorate, Ministry of Works, UN Centre for Human Settlements and UN Development Programme to assess the social and economic situation of Sylhet and recommendations for implementing the "Sylhet Structure Plan".

The Sylhet Partnership Project will take a new approach whereby local governments and their partners are encouraged to tackle urban problems by investigating new ways to solve them, taking advantage of unused resources and opportunities

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