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Achievement in poverty reduction

10 Sep 2015

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Bangladesh is being tagged globally as the “land of impossible attainments”. The country has already achieved the targets set for hunger and poverty-free society under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The success in poverty reduction has been well acclaimed by the international community. Bangladesh will be projected as a focal country in a global initiative to end hunger by 2025 to be launched in the US in November.

 

Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, said “Against all odds, Bangladesh lifted 16 million people out of poverty in last 10 years and also reduced inequality that is a rare and remarkable achievement”.

 

The budget proposal for 2014-15 for Bangladesh contained various programmes worth Tk 1500 crore aimed at eradicating extreme poverty.
 Poverty is the single most important socio-economic policy challenge for Bangladesh which is home to a huge population of about 15 crore (BBS, 2010). Poverty alleviation has therefore been high on its development agenda as is evident in all plan documents. In recent years Bangladesh has made significant progress in poverty reduction. Success achieved in this regard is by and large attributable to the present government’s relentless engagement in poverty reduction interventions. By scrutinizing poverty reduction rate for the last five years it can be envisioned that by 2021 Bangladesh would become a country free from extreme poverty.

 

When the Awami League-led government took office in 2009, around five crore people of the country were poor, of which 2.88 crore were in the clutch of extreme poverty. During previous term of the present government, though population growth rate was 1.16 percent on an average, the number of poor and extreme poor came down to around 3.85 crore and 1.57 crore respectively. It is worth mentioning that forty five percent of extreme poor were pulled out of extreme poverty during the last five years.

 

The budget proposal for 2014-15 for Bangladesh contained various programmes worth Tk 1500 crore aimed at eradicating extreme poverty. The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) report 2010 reveals that 24.57 percent families of the country have been brought under the cover of Social Safety Net Programme.

 

Special emphasis has been laid to make social safety net programmes more target-oriented to accelerate poverty eradication. Bangladesh is now on the verge of finalizing the ‘National Social Protection Strategy’ (NSPS). Steps have been taken to prepare a list of hard-core poor and also a ‘National Population Register’ for proper identification of beneficiaries of social safety net programmes.

 

The Sheikh Hasina-led government is following four broad principles to formulate various social safety net programmes:

  • Enhancing capacity of the ultra-poor to face poverty by providing them with special allowances

  • Creating employment and self employment opportunities for the hard-core poor through micro-credit operations

  • Ensuring food security for the hard-core poor by providing food assistance free of cost or at a nominal cost

  • Creating capacity of the hard-core poor to deal with poverty by providing them with education, training and health-care services.

 

Social Safety Net Programmes address the basic needs of the people namely, food, shelter, education and health. The prime programmes covered under this head include Food For Work (FFW), Vulnerable Group Development (VGD), Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Old Age Allowances, Allowances for Retarded People, Allowances for Widow and Distressed Women and Grants for Orphanages.

 

Poverty incidence since 1990 has fallen from 60% to around 26% as a result of sincere efforts being made by the government. The government has set a target to bring down poverty to 13.5 percent by 2021.
 There are also micro-credit programmes, allowances for freedom fighters and so on. Distressed people particularly women, children and disabled persons have been given priority under Social Safety net. There are two categories of Social Safety Net: Social Protection and Social Empowerment. Social Protection encompasses cash transfer allowances, food security, new funds for programmes etc. Social Empowerment encompasses housing and rehabilitation, micro-credit, miscellaneous funds and developmental programmes.

 

The government maintains a variety of social safety net programmes designed to address mainly food insecurity. Some of the prominent safety net programmes include Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Open Market Sales (OMS), Cash for Work (CFW), Food for Work (FFW), Vulnerable Group Development (VGD), Gratuitous Relief (GR) and 100 Days Employment Guarantee scheme.

 

Poverty incidence since 1990 has fallen from 60% to around 26% as a result of sincere efforts being made by the government. The government has set a target to bring down poverty to 13.5 percent by 2021. Gender parity has been achieved in Primary and Secondary school enrollment. Infants and mortality rates have fallen by half since 1990 and life expectancy has risen by 10 years to 69, four years more than in India, in 2012. Bangladesh is few among the South Asian countries that is on target for achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals and is considerably ahead of target on some indicators.




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