Column
Setting standard for ending poverty

15 Oct 2016

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There is a lot for Bangladesh to celebrate in the latest World Bank research on global poverty and inequality. The new report, entitled “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality”, uses revised data to give a more accurate estimate of how many poor people live in Bangladesh. What the World Bank report shows is that 18.5 percent of Bangladesh’s population was poor in 2010 compared with 44.2 percent in 1991.

This is a major achievement that will receive global recognition when the World Bank group marks End Poverty Day with the people of Bangladesh at an event in Dhaka on October 17. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on that day which is observed as International Day on Poverty Alleviation. The World Bank chief will come to have a glimpse of Bangladesh’s success in poverty alleviation targets.

 

This achievement means that Bangladesh beat the deadline by an impressive five years in achieving Millennium Development Goal No 1, an internationally recognized target to cut extreme poverty rates by half by 2015.

 

The World Bank chief is amazed by Bangladesh’s success in achieving Millennium Development Goal and meeting poverty alleviation targets. Communication Officer of World Bank’s Dhaka office Mehrin Ahmed Mahbub said “Not only in South Asia, Bangladesh is now an example in the developing world for its success in human development index, especially in reducing child and maternal mortality rates. The World Bank chief will be visiting Bangladesh to see all these achievements”.
Approximately six crore thirty lakh people lived below poverty lines in Bangladesh in 2000, but this figure came down to four crore thirty lakh in 2010. The credit for this goes to the government’s untiring efforts at alleviating poverty. Despite increase in population during the period there has been 26% decline in the number of people living below poverty line.

 

The World Bank report has revealed that infant mortality rate has declined and literacy rate increased in Bangladesh during this time. 98% of the country’s girls have joined primary schools which is an all time record. This too can be attributed to the present government’s efforts to ensure gender parity and spread education in the country.

 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to pull out the remaining ultra-poor people of the country from their hardship through various welfare programmes within the next three years as her government’s main focus is to build a hunger and poverty free Bangladesh by 2018.

 

The World Bank chief is amazed by Bangladesh’s success in achieving Millennium Development Goal and meeting poverty alleviation targets. Communication Officer of World Bank’s Dhaka office Mehrin Ahmed Mahbub said “Not only in South Asia, Bangladesh is now an example in the developing world for its success in human development index, especially in reducing child and maternal mortality rates. The World Bank chief will be visiting Bangladesh to see all these achievements”.

 

ormer US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dubbed Bangladesh ‘a basket case’ in 1971 when Bangladesh emerged as the second poorest nation. Its population and economy were ravaged and its productive assets, which once provided the bulk of undivided Pakistan’s exports, were in shambles. Even as well-meaning experts sounded warnings that the fragile state would collapse, Bangladesh increasingly silenced the skeptics by proving resilient against the devastating famine of 1974 and a series of crippling cyclones. For the last couple of years the economy has been growing consistently at 6 percent annually in average. Development officials from other countries now visit Bangladesh to decipher the secrets of its successes.

Bangladesh still had 28 million poor in 2010, the latest year for which a household survey is available for the country. Based on the new estimate, Bangladesh is the 64th out of 154 poorest countries included in the World Bank’s global poverty database. Much more therefore needs to be done to end poverty in the country and to increase the prosperity of the bottom 40 percent of the population. These are the goals that the World Bank is pursuing with the government of Bangladesh.

 

Bangladesh has tackled its challenges in remarkable ways. It has overcome meager resources to make the most of its strong cultural and intellectual tradition and a national will to build a prosperous nation following the bloody liberation war.

 

Provisional GDP growth rate in the current fiscal year has reached 6.51% although the government was earlier hopeful of achieving 7%. GDP growth rate could have reached 7% had there been no loss during January to March 2015 due to violent politics, arson attacks and vandalism through blockade and hartal enforced by BNP and its allies. Per capita income in the current fiscal year rose to $ 1314 which was $ 1190 in the preceding fiscal year. Bangladesh is on the cusp of becoming a middle-income country as its per capita income rose to $ 1314 this fiscal year meeting the World Bank’s criteria. Bangladesh will become a middle-income nation if it achieves at least an average per capita income of $ 1,045 for three consecutive years.

 

Now Bangladesh is a lower middle income country with a bright future as a member of the ‘Next 11’, according to US Investment Banker Goldman Sachs, which had earlier identified ‘BRICS’. The image of Bangladesh as a country with endemic poverty could soon change as Bangladesh finds new pathways to sustainable and equitable growth and aims to achieve middle income country status by its 50th birth day in 2021.

 

Bangladesh gave the world a revolutionary new micro-financing model to monetize the productivity of the poor and showed that a predominantly Muslim country could unleash the potential of its women, making them a significant partner in progress. Its Female Stipends Programme, widely acclaimed as a model for achieving gender parity of enrolment, has been replicated successfully in several countries. Its vibrant garment sector is giving a whole generation of women jobs that open new opportunities.

 

Bangladesh still had 28 million poor in 2010, the latest year for which a household survey is available for the country. Based on the new estimate, Bangladesh is the 64th out of 154 poorest countries included in the World Bank’s global poverty database. Much more therefore needs to be done to end poverty in the country and to increase the prosperity of the bottom 40 percent of the population. These are the goals that the World Bank is pursuing with the government of Bangladesh.

 

As the government has rightly identified, Bangladesh will do well by addressing infrastructure, energy and regulatory bottlenecks to increase productivity, make exports more competitive and attract more domestic and foreign investment.

 

The World Bank group will work with the people of Bangladesh to overcome these challenges. The World Bank has invested more than $ 19 billion in support since 1972 to advance Bangladesh’s developmental priorities. Bangladesh is currently the biggest recipient of credits from International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries.

 

Much needs to be done to complete Bangladesh’s development journey. But as the latest World Bank report shows, Bangladesh is an inspiring example to the world on how to overcome poverty.




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