Information about Asia and the Pacific Asia y el Pacífico
Journal Issue
Share
Article

Bangladesh: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Published Date:
March 2013
Share
  • ShareShare
Information about Asia and the Pacific Asia y el Pacífico
Show Summary Details

Chapter 6: Poverty, Inclusion And Social Protection

The Poverty Reduction Challenge

Poverty Trends, Determinants and Profile

Bangladesh has been successful in achieving significant reduction in poverty since 1990. Figure 6.1 shows that significant decline in poverty occurred from 1991-92 to 2010. National poverty headcount declined from 58.8 percent in 1991-92 to 31.5 percent in 2010, while extreme poverty rate declined from 41 to 17.6 percent over the same period. Among the four interim periods, the highest reduction in poverty occurred during the period 2000-2005. Other measures of poverty, such as poverty gap and squared poverty gap show long-term trends similar to those for headcount rates.

Figure 6.1:Long-term Poverty Trends (Headcount Rates)

Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Various HIES

A notable feature of poverty reduction between 2005 and 2010 was a sizeable decline in the incidence of extreme poverty. The percentage of population under the lower poverty line, the threshold for extreme poverty, fell by 29.6 percent (or 7.4 percentage points) from 25 percent of the population in 2005 to 17.6 percent in 2010. A fall of 47 percent (or 7 percentage points) occurred in urban areas and that of 26 percent (7.5 percentage points) in rural areas. The percentage decline in extreme poverty rate was thus more than that in the poverty rate, consistent with the growth in per capita consumption for the bottom two deciles being higher than that for the third and fourth deciles.

Poverty reduction in Bangladesh can be attributed to the following combination of factors that add up to a story of significant social and economic transformation:

  • The economic transformation is closely related to rapid GDP growth and the urbanization process in recent times – manifested in rising returns to human and physical assets, rising labor productivity and wages, the shift from low return agricultural labor to non-farm employment and growth in export industries.
  • Increasing flow of remittances.
  • The growth of micro-finance
  • Equally important are some of the forces that have emerged from social transformations occurring over time. A fall in the number of dependents in a household, linked to past reductions in fertility, has been an important contributor in raising per capita incomes.
  • Increases in labor force participation and educational attainment, particularly among women, have contributed as well.

The fall in poverty headcount rates was significantly more than population growth during 2005-2010 leading to a decline in the number of poor people. The size of the population below the upper poverty and the lower poverty lines declined by nearly 8.58 million and 8.61 million respectively. The levels and distribution of consumption among the poor improved as well, as evident from reductions in poverty gap and squared poverty gap measures by 28 and 31 percent respectively. Growth in consumption, fueled by robust GDP growth, was the dominant force in reducing poverty. Real per capita consumption expenditure during 2005-2010 increased at an average annual rate of 16.9 percent, with a higher increase for rural than urban areas.

The Spatial Distribution of Poverty

There are sharp variations in the rate of poverty reduction across regions. The largest decline in poverty during 2005 and 2010 occurred for Rajshahi, Barisal and Khulna divisions, while Dhaka saw little change (Figure 6.2). All divisions with high consumption growth also saw substantial reductions in poverty and there was no apparent association between growth and distributional changes.

Figure 6.2:Headcount Poverty Trends for Divisions

Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, HIES 2000, 2005 and 2010

For all its progress, however, Bangladesh remains a poor country – with an estimated 47 million people in poverty in 2010 and disparities in incomes and human capabilities across income and occupational groups, gender, and regions. Underlying the national poverty story are significant differences between regions. Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions in the eastern part of the country experienced rapid poverty reduction between 2000 and 2005. In the West, the gains were much smaller for Rajshahi and nonexistent for Barisal and Khulna. This pattern was substantially reversed over 2005-2010. Khulna, Rajshahi and Barisal divisions all registered impressive reduction in rural poverty that allowed them to catch up considerably with their Eastern divisions. In contrast reduction in rural poverty reduction was much more modest in Chittagong and Sylhet while it remained stagnant in Dhaka. These results are partly explained by in-migration from the Western Divisions to the Eastern Divisions, especially to Dhaka, but also reflect gains from policy attention to agriculture and rural development as well as improved road transport linkages between the Western Divisions and the growth centers in Dhaka and Chittagong. However, the gap in urban poverty between Eastern and Western divisions remain large. Sustaining and improving the pace of poverty reduction and addressing the constraints faced by economically lagging regions and cushioning therefore remain enduring challenges.

In addition to the structural causes of poverty, recurring community-wide shocks have a significant accumulated impact. Some of these are seasonal, while others are more unpredictable, like the major floods and tropical cyclone that occurred in 2007. There is some evidence to suggest that severe and repeated community-wide shocks contribute to poverty traps in certain areas of the country. The coastal belt of Barisal is a case in point. It is no coincidence that Barisal has the highest incidence of both rural and urban poverty. The high incidence of natural disasters suffered by this Division calls for special efforts to design growth, employment and poverty strategies that seek to offset to the best possible way the adverse implications of these disasters. Economy wide, the rural and urban poor are also highly vulnerable to increases in food prices. The steep rise in food prices, especially of rice prices during 2007 and 2008, while benefiting a relatively small group of (larger) farmers, has had an especially severe impact on the poorest households. The frequency and severity of such large shocks calls for safety nets programs to play a critical role. By (at least partly) mitigating the impact of the shocks, a well-functioning safety net system would ensure that the considerable gains Bangladesh has achieved through rapid economic and social transformation are not eroded.

Income Distribution and Inequality

There is considerable concern in Bangladesh about the growing income inequality. Results show that the distribution of income is much more unequal than the distribution of consumption. Income inequality as measured by the gini coefficient for the distribution of income has risen substantially during the 1980s and the 1990s. More recent data shows a further increase in the income gini coefficient from 0.451 in 2000 to 0.458 in 2010 due to an increase in rural income inequality (Table 6.1). Thus, the rural income gini coefficient increased from 0.393 in 2000 to 0.431 in 2010. The urban income gini coefficient remained unchanged at 0.497 during 2000 and 2005 but declined to 0.452 in 2010.

Table 6.1:Gini Index of Per Capita Income
200020052010
National0.4510.4670.458
Urban0.4970.4970.452
Rural0.3930.4280.431
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Different HIES
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Different HIES

Some further evidence of what has been happening to income inequality can be gleaned from Table 6.2. The results suggest that from mid 1980s to the end of 1990s the annual average growth rates in the income share of the lowest 20 percent households were negative, whereas the corresponding growth rates for the top 20 percent household were positive (except during 1989-92). However, during 2000 and 2005 the annual average growth rate in the share of the lowest 20 percent households has been positive whereas that of the highest 20 percent has been close to zero.

Table 6.2:Annual Average Growth Rate of Share in Income of Different Quintiles of Households
1984-861986-891989-921992-961996-002000-05
Highest 20%1.230.97−0.452.190.220.00
Second 20%−1.31−0.670.28−1.76−0.490.22
Third 20%−1.28−0.360.41−1.57−0.23−0.13
Fourth 20%−0.52−0.310.42−0.920.10−0.11
Lowest 20%0.96−1.38−0.26−1.30−0.180.19
Source: World Development Indicators (2008)
Source: World Development Indicators (2008)

Measures of expenditure inequality, which is a more reliable measure of inequality in view of the weakness of income data in HIES, shows a similar picture of rising inequality in the 1990s. Expenditure inequality rose considerably during 1990s, particularly in urban areas. The HES data suggest that inequality in the distribution of private per capita expenditures, as measured by the gini coefficient, increased from 0.259 in 1991-92 to 0.306 in 2000 (Table 6.3).

Table 6.3:Gini Index of Per Capita Expenditure
1991-921995-96200020052010
National0.260.310.310.330.32
Urban0.310.370.370.360.34
Rural0.250.270.270.280.28
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Different HIES
Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Different HIES

Unlike in the 1990s, the expenditure inequality for the country showed no change between 2000 and 2005. The urban expenditure gini fell somewhat while the rural expenditure gini increased slightly, offsetting the impact on the national expenditure gini. Overall, since 1995-96, the changes in national and urban/rural expenditure ginis for are too small to be statistically significant, which indicates that changes in the distribution of expenditure (relative to the mean of the distribution) has remained stable for the last decade in Bangladesh.

Nevertheless, the growing income inequality is of major concern to the Government. The SFYP will seek to address the income inequality problem through a range of measures including creating better access to high productivity, high income jobs; improving farm productivity and incomes; sharpening the focus on equity aspects of public spending on education, health, family planning; nutrition and water supply; reducing the regional disparity of growth; and improving the access of the poor to means of production (fertilizer, seeds, water, electricity and rural roads); and by improving the access of the poor to institutional finance.

Strategy for Poverty Reduction in the SFYP

The review of past progress with poverty reduction has a number of important implications for poverty reduction strategy in the SFYP.

First, poverty still remains at a very high level and the number of people living below poverty line remains almost the same as it was in 1991–92 (about 56 million). The most startling consequence of widespread poverty is that a quarter of the country’s population- 36 million people– cannot afford an adequate diet, according to the 2005 estimates of food poverty or extreme poverty20. Chronically underfed and highly vulnerable, they remain largely without assets (other than their own labour power) to cushion lean-season hunger or the crushing blows of illness, flooding, and other calamities.

Second, faster poverty reduction during the 1990s was also accompanied by rising inequality measured by income as well as expenditure distribution, which is a major concern for policy makers. Rising inequality has the potential to dampen the pace of economic growth and poverty reduction outcomes while also contributing to social instability and must be addressed comprehensively.

Third, there are significant regional variations in poverty. Poverty is more pronounced in some areas and regions of the country which suffer from flooding, river erosion, mono cropping and similar disadvantages. Poverty is highest in the western region of the country (Rajshahi Division) followed by Khulna and Chittagong. This lagging regions problem is a serious social challenge.

Finally, while these static point-in-time poverty estimates are useful for a snapshot of the poverty situation, they are not much useful to explain the gross movement of households in and out of poverty. Empirical evidence suggests that the gross movements in and out of poverty are much larger than the net aggregate poverty outcomes indicated by static estimates.

In light of the above lessons of experience, the main elements of the poverty reduction strategy in the SFYP will consist of policies and programs to:

  • promote growth by sustaining increases in labor productivity and job creation in manufacturing and services;
  • increase farm income through better productivity;
  • enhance the access of the poor to production inputs (fertilizer, seed, irrigation water, power, rural roads) and to institutional finance
  • expand employment opportunities in lagging regions by improving connectivity with growth poles through better infrastructure and by investing in human capital;
  • facilitate migration from poor areas given the poverty-reducing impact of remittances;
  • Undertake entrepreneurship development scheme/strategy/mechanism for the Returnee Migrant;
  • stimulate women’s participation in the labor force;
  • Promote overseas employment including women migration to the new destination and expand the existing overseas labour market;
  • sustain Bangladesh’s past successes in reducing fertility;
  • improve poor households access to and quality of education, health and nutrition services;
  • strengthen the coordination, targeting and coverage of social protection programs;
  • enhance the access to micro finance;
  • ensure stable food prices; and
  • to mitigate the adverse consequences of climate change

Based on the projected acceleration of real economic activity, the shift in employment to more productive sectors of the economy, and implementation of related measures to enhance the human and physical capital of the poor a significant reduction in poverty is expected throughout the Plan period (Table 6.4). The reduction in the head count poverty rate is projected to range between 8-10 percentage points depending on the elasticity of poverty reduction with respect to GDP growth and assuming unchanged income distribution (as implied by the virtually unchanged Gini coefficient in recent years).

Table 6.4:Head Count Poverty under Different Elasticity Assumptions
Income and Poverty2009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
Per Capita Income (Taka/Person)467325203458212652177329282482
Per Capita Income ($/Person)6747267858489201001
Growth in PCY (%)9.611.311.912.012.412.5
Per Capita Consumption (BDT/Person)391164285247301524635820864569
Growth in PCC (%)9.59.610.410.910.910.9
Real PCY (Taka/Person)242832558826992285783042032505
Growth Rates in Real PCY (%)2.85.45.55.96.46.9
Head Count Poverty (Poverty Elasticity = 0.76, between 2000 and 2010)31.530.128.827.425.924.5
Head Count Poverty (Poverty Elasticity = 0.89, between 2005 and 2010)31.529.727.926.124.322.5
Source: Sixth Plan Projections
Source: Sixth Plan Projections

The reduction in poverty will essentially be driven by the growth in the per capita income which is projected to grow on average at more than 6% per year with the growth in per capita income steadily accelerating to 6.9% in the terminal year of the Plan. The poverty elasticity of growth method is used to project the head-count poverty rates for the plan years. However, there are different estimates of Bangladesh’s poverty elasticity of growth. Using the long-term decline in poverty between 2000 and 2010, the value of the elasticity turns out to be 0.76. Based on this value, the head-count poverty rate in the terminal year of the Sixth Five Year Plan becomes 24.5 percent. However, using the more recent 2005-2010 poverty figures, the elasticity estimate becomes 0.89, which is significantly higher. Based on this higher elasticity value the head-count poverty rate in the terminal year becomes 22.5 percent. The Sixth Plan aims to achieve this lower poverty rate target.

It might be useful to compare the estimates of poverty elasticities for Bangladesh with some Asian countries, as shown in Table 6.5. Barring unforeseen internal and external shocks, the projected elasticities of poverty reduction to growth in Bangladesh do not appear too optimistic.

Table 6.5:Poverty Elasticities for Selected Developing Countries
CountryElasticityCountryElasticity
India−0.9Indonesia−1.4
Taipei, China−3.8Malaysia−2.1
Thailand−2.0Philippines−0.7
Bangladesh(-)0.8 to(-)0.9*
Source: P. Warr (2000), “Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth: The Asian Experience” in Asian Development Review, Vol. 18, No. 2, Asian Development Bank, 2000.

Derived from different estimates

Source: P. Warr (2000), “Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth: The Asian Experience” in Asian Development Review, Vol. 18, No. 2, Asian Development Bank, 2000.

Derived from different estimates

As highlighted in Chapter 1, high economic growth with sustainable productive employment and incomes for large number of people of Bangladesh is the major policy focus for rapid reduction in poverty in Bangladesh during the Sixth Plan. Chapter 2 provides a broad strategy for increasing growth, structural transformation of the economy and the creation of good jobs. It articulates the need for faster growth and job creation in manufacturing at all levels: large, medium and small. Many of the small enterprises are located in the rural areas. So a part of the growth strategy is to support productivity and employment opportunities in these small rural enterprises. Thus, a rapid expansion of productive non-farm activities, particularly in the rural areas, will accelerate the pace of labor absorption in relatively larger and wage-labor based enterprises. In view of the important contributions of the demand-driven non-tradable sectors, the future growth policies would simultaneously focus on accelerating the growth of both tradable and non-tradable sectors of the economy. This will require, along with exploring new sources of growth especially with linkages with the external markets and sustaining the growth of the present export-linked activities like readymade garments and remittances, prudent macroeconomic policies and adequate policies for sustained growth of agriculture to provide the required demand stimuli from both internal and external sources. The contribution of productivity growth to the overall growth of the economy is low. For higher growth, productivity improvements will be achieved through efforts to promote technological progress and enhance efficiency in resource use across all sectors of the economy.

To tackle the spatial dimension of poverty, emphasis will be put on eliminating the growth bottlenecks in the concerned regions in terms of targeted infrastructure programs (power, transport and irrigation). Furthermore, in view of the existing inequity in the distribution of physical, human and other assets, policy efforts will focus on pursuing spatially targeted “asset building” programs to create wider access for the poor to growth opportunities in the lagging regions. In particular, emphasis will be placed on developing human capital including health, education, nutrition and social, political and other non-economic assets that will enhance the capabilities of the poor in the lagging regions.

For Bangladesh as a whole, the SFYP underscores the need for human resource development as a key element of the overall poverty reduction strategy. Basic education is critical to ensure that everyone can participate in and benefit from growth. Government policies and budgetary allocations will focus on human development, and spending on primary education, child care, and pre-natal care.

The availability of safe water and good sanitation is essential for improving living standards of the poor. There is a need for increasing investment in water and sanitation. The increased investment will seek to achieve the following objectives:

  • increase the present coverage of safe drinking water in rural areas, ensure the installation of one sanitary latrine in each household in the rural areas;
  • improve public health standard through inculcating the habit of proper use of sanitary latrines;
  • make safe drinking water available to each household in the urban areas;
  • ensure sanitary latrine within easy access of every urban household through technology options ranging from pit latrines to water borne sewerage;
  • install public latrines in schools, bus stations and important public places and community latrines in densely populated poor communities;
  • ensure supply of quality water through observance of accepted quality standards;
  • remove arsenic from drinking water and supply of arsenic free water from alternate sources in arsenic affected areas;
  • take measures in urban areas for removal of solid and liquid waste and their use in various purposes;
  • bring about behavioural changes regarding use of water and sanitation in order to reduce incidence of water-borne diseases;
  • build capacity in local governments and communities to deal more effectively with problems relating to water supply and sanitation;
  • promote sustainable water and sanitation services, ensure proper storage, management and use of surface water and preventing its contamination, and take necessary measures for storage and use of rain water.

Climate change poses a significant threat to the goals of the fight against poverty in Bangladesh. Climate change and variability have already impacted on the life and livelihoods of the people in the coastal areas and in the arid and semi-arid regions of Bangladesh. Over 70 million people will be displaced in Bangladesh through climate-induced flooding, tropical cyclones and storm surges (UNDP Human Development Report 2007). Adaptation to climate change is a national priority. Bangladesh will negotiate, in different forums, with the countries that are responsible for climate change to reduce global environmental pollution and compensate Bangladesh to mitigate the impact of climate change. Also, the Government’s policy for proper handling of disasters would be coordinated with the efforts taken at different stages in the disaster management cycle, like disaster management practice, disaster mitigation, emergency preparedness, emergency response, disaster management mechanism, early recovery and immediate rehabilitation, space technology and disaster management, space technology in disaster prediction, warning, flood monitoring, mapping and use of internet facilities for disaster monitoring, prediction and information dissemination.

Participation, Social Inclusion and Empowerment

There are heterogeneous groups of people in the society with different identities and vulnerabilities. These groups face different realities, obstacles, and opportunities and have different needs and priorities. There is a need to take such differences into consideration to remove obstacles, address needs and expand opportunities for the people. The excluded, disempowered, and vulnerable members of society, in many cases are women, children, ethnic people, people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups. In accordance with the principles of Vision 2021, the SFYP would focus on establishing the overall rights of women, achieve gender equality and empower women, and include women in the mainstream of development activities.

Women’s Advancement and Rights

Women frequently experience poverty differently, have different poverty reduction priorities and are affected differently by development interventions. In addressing gender based discrimination, the SFYP will follow a two-pronged approach. Firstly, gender will be integrated into all sectoral interventions. Secondly, attention will be given to remove all policy and social biases against women with a view to ensuring gender equality as enshrined in the National Constitution.

Vision and Goals: The vision for women’s advancement and rights is to create a society where men and women will have equal opportunities and will enjoy all fundamental rights on an equal basis. To achieve this vision, the mission is to ensure women’s advancement and rights in activities of all sectors of the economy.

The Government adopted the ‘National Policy for Women’s Advancement’ (NPWA) 2011 that aims at eliminating all forms of discrimination against women by empowering them to become equal partners of development. The overall development goal for women’s empowerment covers: (i) promoting and protecting women’s rights; (ii) eradicating the persistent burden of poverty on women; (iii) eliminating discrimination against women; (iv) enhancing women’s participation in mainstream economic activities; (v) creating opportunities for education and marketable skills training to enable them to participate and be competitive in all economic activities; (vi) incorporating women’s needs and concerns in all sectoral plans and programs; (vii) promoting an enabling environment at the work-place: setting up day care centers for the children of working mothers, career women hostels, safe accommodation for working women; (viii) providing safe custody for women and children victims of trafficking and desertion, and creating an enabling environment for their integration in the mainstream of society;(ix) ensuring women’s empowerment in the field of politics and decision making; (x) taking action to acknowledge women’s contribution in social and economic spheres; (xi) ensuring women’s social security against all vulnerability and risks in the state, society and family; (xii) eliminating all forms of violation and exploitation against women; (xiii) developing women’s capacity through health and nutrition care; (xiv) facilitating women’s participation in all national and international bodies; (xv) strengthening the existing institutional capacity for coordination and monitoring of women’s advancement; (xvi) taking action through advocacy and campaigns to depict positive images of women; (xvii) taking special measures for skills development of women workers engaged in the export-oriented sectors; (xviii) incorporating gender equality concerns in all trade-related negotiations and activities; and (xix) ensuring gender sensitive growth with regional balance; and (xx) protecting women from the adverse effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

Current Challenges: Bangladesh has made measurable progress in women’s advancement and rights in a number of areas including education, participation in labor force, health and nutrition, and participation in public services. In the area of women’s advancement and rights, the government has made strong commitments and undertaken various initiatives to reduce the gap between men and women. However, on the path towards achieving the desired goals of gender equality and gender mainstreaming, some challenges remain. These include:

  • The female-headed households usually earn less income since poor women have low earning capacity and their wages are lower than male wages.
  • Women are more susceptible to becoming poor when they lose the male earning member of the family because of abandonment, divorce, or death.
  • Women’s economic participation is low although increasing.
  • Violence against women is pervasive. Physical and sexual assaults, including acid throwing, are common. In addition, trafficking is also reported. Poverty, dowry, early marriage, superstition, social attitude etc. are the major causes of violence against women.
  • Women face social pressure for early marriage leading to loss of education, employment opportunities, decision-making power, and leading to early childbirth. The rates of maternal and infant mortality are high among adolescent mothers.
  • With higher incidence of droughts, floods, cyclones and other natural calamities due to looming threat of climate change, women are affected differently than men indicating the need to introduce gender sensitivity in coping mechanisms and strategies.
  • The main problem with gender governance is the implementation of the existing laws, rules and regulations and stated policies. In addition, reforms of some laws, rules and regulations, policies and the institutional mechanism are needed to make governance gender sensitive.

SFYP Strategy to Address Gender Issues

The main strategy and policy initiatives to improve the economic political and social inclusion and empowerment of women include:

  • Policy and legal framework: Taking the constitution as the basis, the government’s commitment to various international forums (CEDAW, Beijing Platform for Action etc.) would be taken into consideration in addressing women’s advancement and rights issues
  • Productive employment: To create more jobs, action would be taken to improve women’s employment opportunities and wages outside the household and also ensure equal pay for equal work. An enabling environment would be created in the workplace by establishing day care centers. Provision would be made for life and disability insurance for workers, especially women workers. Steps would be taken to ensure secure jobs and decent working conditions for women in the formal and informal sectors.
  • Enabling environment: Measures would be taken to develop advocacy for treating girl child and boy child equally and promote equal sharing of household and productive work. Necessary legal and administrative measures would be taken for ensuring a safe workplace, transportation facilities, and infrastructure like separate toilets, lunch rooms and lunchtime.
  • Eliminating female health and education disparities: The Sixth Plan will continue past efforts to remove all disparities in health and education indicators. Related sectoral targets and programs will build this objective as a major plan focus.
  • Priority to women in social protection programs: The existing programs for social protection for disadvantaged women would be continued. Gender sensitive measures would be taken to protect women from economic vulnerability and risk due to natural disasters. The effect of the emerging problems of climate change on women would be assessed for designing coping strategies and mitigation measures. Banks and micro-credit providers would be encouraged to extend small and micro-credit to the poor and the vulnerable.
  • Political empowerment and participation: In this context, the main targets are to ensure participation of women in the National Parliament and the local political institutions, influence political decisions in favor of women, ensure direct election in the reserve seats in the National Parliament and ensure women’s representation in the local bodies with authority and responsibility. Initiatives would be taken to make women politically more conscious, encourage women to participate in politics and to build leadership among women at all levels.
  • Addressing violence against women (VAW): The major targets for elimination of VAW are to ensure reporting of all VAW incidence, reduce reported VAW at least by half, consolidate the “One-Stop Crisis Centre” in medical college hospitals at divisional levels to provide medical treatment, legal and psycho-social counseling to women and children victims of violence, and providing shelter facilities and making efforts for their reintegration and rehabilitation in society. The police, the administration and the judiciary will be sensitized to apply CEDAW with provisions in cases of VAW and women’s rights.
  • Gender mainstreaming: Laws, rules and regulations, institutional mechanisms, policies, projects and programs which are not gender sensitive would be reformed. The intuitional mechanism for coordination and monitoring of gender equality issues would be strengthened.
  • Institutional strengthening: The National Council for Women’s Development (NCWD) would oversee women’s advancement-related activities by providing guidance and policy support. The Women’s Development Implementation and Evaluation Committee (MoWCA) will regularly review, evaluate and co-ordinate women’s development activities and assist NCWD by reporting on progress of implementation. The Women in Development (WID) focal point mechanism would be strengthened to play an effective role in leading the coordination, monitoring the implementation of women’s advancement and rights in policies, projects and programs.
  • Integrating gender issues in planning and budgetary processes: For integration, capacity building of relevant government officials on gender responsive budgeting and planning will be undertaken. The poverty and gender impact assessment criteria and yardsticks will be adopted in line with the policy agenda.
  • Strengthening female participation in economic decision making: Measures would be taken for ensuring participation of women producers, women trade unions and women entrepreneurs in trade negotiations and in various committees of the Ministry of Commerce, ensuring coherence between the dominant international economic agenda and the international legal obligations, making arrangements for market access to goods where women are ‘behind the label’, planning for market access to women in the secret services under Mode 4, encouraging FDI in women labor intensive industries, and ensuring women’s voice in international forums.
  • Addressing ethnic dimension of women: Special program for ethnic women including poor, destitute and elderly will be undertaken to address their needs. In order to increase productivity and diversification of activities, the ethnic women’s capacity would be enhanced through health, education and services.
  • Promoting public image of women: The media will be sensitized to promote positive images of women. In order to make the media more gender friendly, effort will be taken to establish increased linkages between women’s groups and the broadcasting agencies.
  • Disability and gender issues: Women with disabilities will be given preference under the safety net measures.

Children’s Advancement and Rights

Bangladesh has made significant progress in the area of child rights’ promotion, survival, and development. Nevertheless, the general situation of the children in Bangladesh needs to improve further since the survival and development of many Bangladeshi children is still threatened by malnutrition, disease, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, exploitation, and natural disaster.

The Vision: The vision regarding children’s advancement and rights is to create ‘a world fit for children’. The goals to be achieved are: (i) ensuring children’s rights and advancement through the implementation of government policies and legislations; (ii) providing health services the children need; (iii) ensuring access to food and nutrition they need; (iv) providing access to girls to education, training and development opportunities; (v) ensuring access to urban poor children to early childhood development, education, sports and cultural activities providing knowledge and life skill; (vi) protecting children from all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence; (vii) providing access to children particularly in urban and remote settings to clean water and sanitation, and a healthy environment; (viii) ensuring participation of children in defining their needs, developing programs, implementing interventions, and evaluating their success; (ix) ensuring support of duty bearer, parents and other care givers on whom children have to depend; and (x) ensuring widespread public support for survival and development of children.

Proposed Actions in the Sixth Plan

Intervention and actions for achieving the strategic objectives are indicated below:

  • Child health: The program areas include eradication of polio, elimination of measles and neonatal tetanus, improvement of nutrition and strengthening the school health program. The actions will include maximizing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of health expenditure and improving governance. The specific activities will include sensitizing primary and secondary students about critical child health and reproductive health issues, healthy practices and worm infestation, and supplying iron and folic acid tablets for schoolgirls. Activities will be undertaken to develop an adolescent health strategy including counseling, building awareness for adolescents on hygienic practices, nutrition, puberty, RTI/STD and HIV/AIDS.
  • Food and nutrition: To control vitamin A deficiency and contain the prevalence of night blindness, vitamin A supplements will be distributed to children with vitamin A deficiency, measles, persistent diarrhea or severe malnutrition and to postpartum women within 6 weeks of delivery. Ongoing efforts to control iodine deficiency disorders through universal salt iodization will continue. To address the causes of anemia, strategies will be used to control anemia, including iron-foliate supplementation, anathematic treatment, fortification, and BCC to increase the consumption of iron-rich foods and promoters of iron absorption. A strategy will be developed to address the health care needs of children with physical and mental disabilities.
  • Child education: The intervention for early childhood development will include an awareness raising program for parents to make them aware of early childhood development’s benefits, promote community-based childcare centers for clusters of families where literate mothers are trained to become caregivers and design facilities for early learners. Efforts will be made to increase enrolment rate and decrease dropout rate, train primary teachers, increase the attendance rate, increase contact hours, and maintain gender parity in access and achievement. Non-formal education (NFE) will be provided to diverse types of children deprived of education, like un-enrolled or drop-out children and hard to reach children to enhance their employability and productivity through skill training.
  • Access to water and sanitation: The specific objectives are to: mitigate arsenic problem in drinking water by providing alternative systems, increase rural and urban slum access to sanitary latrines, expand water and sanitation services to cover currently underserved Pourashava areas, provide improved water supply to underserved, un-served and difficult to reach areas by 2011. The primary schools will be ensured access to sanitation and safe drinking water. Environmental hazards for children (sound, air, water pollution, etc) would be reduced and standards for sound, air and water pollution would be implemented.
  • Child empowerment: Children would be empowered to have a voice in the socio- economic decision-making process in the family, society and national levels. In this respect, it would be necessary to create a national platform for allowing children to express opinions on their needs and expectations and means of addressing them.
  • Child protection: All children, particularly those who are vulnerable, would be ensured right to protection from abuse, exploitation and violence. The policies of existing NPA would be used against sexual abuse and exploitation of children and trafficking. Laws affecting children will be harmonized and enforced. Awareness amongst law enforcing officials and judicial officers and the development of a diversion scheme involving the courts, social workers and probation officers as an alternative to custodial sentences will be undertaken.
  • Birth registration: The Municipal Corporations and Pourashavas will be mobilized to register all births. Awareness raising programs through union Parishad members, and leaders of social opinion including Imams will be conducted to eliminate the practice of early marriage. A widespread social awareness campaign and community mobilization on protection issues will be undertaken to foster positive attitudes towards children, particularly girls, and bolster the positive attitude of parents and decision-makers on the need to protect children regardless of the socio-economic environment.
  • Child labor: The Government of Bangladesh considers the elimination of child labour as one of its most important priorities for the prosperity of the country and the improvement of living standards of its people. Effective measures should be taken to eliminate child labor, especially its worst and hazardous forms, through the formulation and implementation of the National Plan of Action for Implementation the National Child Labour Elimination Policy, 2010. Based on the priority areas set in the National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010, the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) will take the coordinating and leading roles in the National Plan of Action formulation process. The plan should determine specific strategic measures, indicators, timeframe, and monitoring mechanism, and it will be implemented through concerted efforts, sectoral programs and project, and resources of concerned ministries and institutions, employers’ and workers’ organization, media, and UN and international agencies and civil society. The National Child Labour Welfare Council will be established at national level to oversee and monitor the child labour situation and to mobilize financial resources for implementing the plan.
  • Child abuse: To recover and remove children from abusive and exploitative circumstances, the interventions will include developing community support for these children; providing livelihood alternatives, basic services and adoption, and implementing policies and legislation necessary for the prevention of abuse, discrimination, exploitation and violence Steps will be taken to increase efficiency to combat sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children through enhanced coordination and cooperation.
  • Management and coordination: The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs will conduct public advocacy and coordinate interventions for children’s well-being and rights. An inter-ministerial coordination committee consisting of government ministries with children’s portfolios and organizations representing children’s mandate will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and will coordinate the implementation of CRC, CEDAW, and the World Fit for Children Plan of Action.

Ethnic Communities

Bangladesh has around forty-five different small ethnic communities comprising of 2 million people. Some of the ‘hardcore poor’ of Bangladesh are found among these communities.

The Vision: For the ethnic people, the vision is to ensure their social, political and economic rights; ensure security and fundamental human rights; and preserve their social and cultural identity. They will be ensured access to education, health care, food and nutrition, employment and protection of rights to land and other resources.

The crucial provisions of the CHT accord of 1997 have mostly been implemented. A separate Ministry of CHT Affairs has been created, a Land Commission Act passed by the Parliament, withdrawal of army camps has been started and the Land Commission constituted to resolve land disputes in the three hill districts. The District and Sessions Courts have started functioning in the three districts of CHT. The government programs have also incorporated the needs and concerns of the CHT inhabitants. The unimplemented provisions of the peace accord would be considered for implementation by the government. The Land Commission will be reconstituted and land survey carried out.

Areas of Future Action: The challenges with respect to addressing social and economic conditions of ethnic communities cover: (i) living in remote areas and far away from each other making it difficult to reach, mobilize and organize them, (ii) partial operationalization of the ‘Land Disputes Resolution Commission’ to prevent land grabbing and displacement of ethnic people, (iii) lack of specific objectives concerning needs and concerns of ethnic people in mainstream policies of respective ministries/divisions, (iv) absence of an alphabet and dearth of students hindering development of curriculum in languages of ethnic communities at schools, (v) low food production resulting in food insecurity, (vi) inadequate institutional mechanism to establish linkage and coordination with NGOs and the private sector to address issues related to ethnic people in a comprehensive manner, (vii) lack of comprehensive understanding of the problems of the ethnic communities, and (viii) absence of detailed information on population with ethnic disaggregation.

Major areas of interventions would include:

  • UN Declaration: The Government would consider implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 and ratify the ILO Convention 1969.
  • Rights on land: An appropriate land policy will be formulated which can deal with land disputes involving ethnic peoples. A secure land tenure system will be introduced in Chittagong Hill Tract. Representatives of the ethnic people will be included in undertaking development projects in their areas.
  • Empowering ethnic communities: The government will ensure participation of local governments in the management of natural resources and will recognize the traditional knowledge of ethnic peoples. The government will ensure community involvement in the adoption of technologies without competing with their traditional food production system.
  • Human development programs: Existing human development programs will address the special needs of ethnic people. Monitoring and supervision will be strengthened so that education, health and maternal child health services, and nutrition and housing facilities reach them.
  • Language and access to education: A national language policy will be formulated to safeguard the languages of ethnic peoples. An action plan on mainstreaming the education of their children will be implemented.
  • Electrification and telecommunication: The national power grid and distribution system for electricity supply in different Upazilas of hill districts will be expanded. The government will consider the feasibility of raising electricity generation capacity of the Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Station and setting up a grid substation in the hill districts to meet the demand for electricity
  • Preferential access to social protection programs: Social protection assistance will be provided in hill districts to strengthen their capacities to cope with any sudden decrease of their income due to damage to Jhum crops caused by floods and droughts.
  • Rural development and non-farm economic activities: In the hill districts, income generating activities through small and cottage industries, trading, and poultry and livestock rearing will be expanded. The income of poor people will be enhanced through social forestry in hilly areas and cultivation of fruits and medicinal plants. Measures will be taken to support EPB’s ‘one district one product’ initiative under which ‘Textiles for Rangamati’, ‘Pineapples for Khagrachari’ and ‘Rubber for Bandarban’ have been finalized.
  • Expansion of micro credit: Micro credit activities for the poor people will be expanded and vocational training will be provided to the poor. The development of rural roads, hats, and bazaars for marketing of agricultural products will continue. Action will be taken to eliminate barriers so that agriculture and local products have easy access to national and international markets.
  • Development of tourism: Private investment will be encouraged to develop sustainable tourist facilities in Rangamati, Bandarban, Khagrachari, Cox’s Bazar, Sylhet and Kuakata (Patuakhali)

Persons with Disabilities

The Government envisions promoting and protecting rights of persons with disabilities and facilitate their full participation and inclusion in mainstream social, political and cultural lives. They will be enabled to lead productive and meaningful lives through access to education, health care, food and nutrition, employment and protection, and security in society. The Government is strongly committed to the advancement and rights of persons with disabilities by virtue of the Constitution which enshrines equal rights and status for every citizen and by signing the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Beijing Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality with Disability in Asia and the Pacific Region.

A National Disability Action Plan has been formulated involving all related ministries. The Ministry of Social Welfare has taken up programs for enabling and integrating persons with disabilities with mainstream of society through various programs including stipend programs for students, subsistence allowance, skill training, and interest free micro credit. In addition to its own initiatives, the government provides funds to NGOs to provide education facilities to persons with mental disability.

Despite some progress, access to special education, training and rehabilitation, equal opportunities, creation of employment and income generating opportunities, social security, accessibility to physical facilities, fixation of quota, and prevention of disabilities are not yet fully ensured since different ministries are not legally responsible for addressing disability issues in their action plans. Proper supervision and monitoring of NGO activities is essential.

Proposed actions: Along with expansion of integrated education program for visually impaired children, existing institutions for hearing impaired and mentally retarded children will be expanded. New institutions will be established to provide access to more children with disabilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. A collaborative effort among the government, NGOs and the private sector will be encouraged to expedite the expansion of the existing institutions, establish new institutions, and undertake teachers’ training and action researches on disability.

The Government is strongly committed to the advancement and rights of persons with disabilities by virtue of the Constitution which enshrines equal rights and status for every citizen and by signing the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Beijing Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality with Disability in Asia and the Pacific Region.

A National Disability Action Plan has been formulated involving all related ministries. The Ministry of Social Welfare has taken up programs for enabling and integrating persons with disabilities with mainstream of society through various programs including stipend programs for students, subsistence allowance, skill training, and interest free micro credit. In addition to its own initiatives, the government provides funds to NGOs to provide education facilities to persons with mental disability.

Despite some progress, access to special education, training and rehabilitation, equal opportunities, creation of employment and income generating opportunities, social security, accessibility to physical facilities, fixation of quota, and prevention of disabilities are not yet fully ensured since different ministries are not legally responsible for addressing disability issues in their action plans. Proper supervision and monitoring of NGO activities is essential.

Proposed actions: Along with expansion of integrated education program for visually impaired children, existing institutions for hearing impaired and mentally retarded children will be expanded. New institutions will be established to provide access to more children with disabilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. A collaborative effort among the government, NGOs and the private sector will be encouraged to expedite the expansion of the existing institutions, establish new institutions, and undertake teachers’ training and action researches on disability.

Action will be taken in the health sector to (i) strengthen early detection of symptoms of disability and provide primary medical rehabilitation; (ii) undertake a nutrition program for pregnant women; (iii) appoint trainee doctors, nurses and other caregivers to deal with disability issues; and (iv) introduce support services of assistive devices and equipment at the health centers.

Measures will be taken so that persons with disabilities can have access to all physical facilities and information and communication. Inclusion of persons with disabilities in various national and community level decision making processes that affect their lives would be ensured. Services like early detection and timely medical intervention, fitment of artificial aids and appliances, educational services in special and integrated schools, vocational rehabilitation and micro credit will be provided to persons with disabilities through community based rehabilitation (CBR) program in the rural areas.

The requirements of the poor and vulnerable, including women and children, will be prioritized in all activities implemented under the action plan. The Climate Change Action Plan comprises immediate, short, medium and long-term programs.

The serious consequences of climate change, including especially the consequences for Bangladesh, lead naturally to the question of what should be our response. Two types of response need to be considered. The first relates to adaptation, i.e., measures that have to be taken given the very high likelihood that climate change will occur and will have adverse effects. The second relates to mitigation, i.e. steps to be taken that might reduce the extent of climate change.

The Bangladesh Disability Welfare Act would be amended to clarify definitions of disability and make it consistent with standards set out internationally on disability rights. The National Coordination Committee for persons with disabilities would be strengthened to monitor and coordinate activities of different ministries/divisions.

Disadvantaged and Extreme Poor Groups

There are some disadvantaged and stigmatized groups (such as dhopa, muchi, napit, and other traditional low caste people) who are subject to social injustice and are marginalized, and have little opportunities for overcoming their harsh realities. The vision for these disadvantaged and extreme poor groups is to include them into the mainstream of society by ensuring their participation in socioeconomic activities and to promote and protect their human rights, reduce their persistent poverty, and ensure education and skill training for income generating activities.

Several actions are already in progress for the development of the disadvantaged groups. Among the coastal fishing communities various activities such as savings/credit schemes, promotion of alternative income generating schemes for men and women, improving access to social services and building their capacity to face and survive natural disasters have been introduced. Development activities for the sweeper community have been undertaken by NGOs. The owners of tea gardens have entered into agreement with the trade union of tea garden workers to enhance their wages and provide subsidized food. Similarly, communities like kaibarta/namasudra, jalo (fishermen), dhopas, napits and other groups face decaying occupations. The Ministry of Social Welfare has implemented capacity and livelihood development program for socially disadvantaged women with a view to creating employment/self-employment of sex-workers and their children in selected cities.

Proposed actions: The cooperation and involvement of local bodies i.e. Upazila and Union Parishads and NGOs will help to locate/ identify the disadvantaged people to enable them to participate in development activities. Government functionaries at upazila, district, and divisional/national level will coordinate their activities. The Ministry of Land would give priority to allotting khas land to people of the disadvantaged communities for settlement under the Asrayan project. For the tea garden workers, planters/owners would be encouraged to earmark land within the estates so that they can build their own dwelling.

Social Protection Programs for the Poor and Vulnerable

The Importance of Social Protection

The diverse underlying causes of poverty in Bangladesh include vulnerability, social exclusion, and lack of assets and productive employment; although the main symptom is often hunger. The extreme vulnerable poor can potentially lift themselves out of poverty with appropriate short to medium-term support. The extreme dependent poor, who are old, disabled or chronically sick, will depend on long-term social protection to survive. The children of the extreme poor, who are stunted or malnourished, are vulnerable to harassment, and have limited, or no access to education. A sharp rise in inequality would not only undermine the impact of growth, but may also threaten social cohesion and breed instability and discontent. Both poor and non-poor families are vulnerable to shocks (e.g. natural disasters, health problems) that can return them quickly into extreme poverty.

There are four major concerns that the current rate of progress in reducing extreme poverty may not be maintained: (1) slowdown in the global economy together with domestic factors; (2) growing population density is likely to force more of the poorest people to live in the most vulnerable areas; (3) climate change will exacerbate the vulnerability of poor people to environmental shocks, with the predicted increase in extreme climate events; and (4) demographic and social changes may further increase vulnerability and social exclusion.

Risks and vulnerability are mainstream problems in the lives of the average Bangladeshi and are recognized as such by governments, individuals and communities. Safety Net Programs to address risk and vulnerability have been an integral part of the anti-poverty strategy of this and previous governments. However, with informal safety nets eroding, newer risks emerging from rapid processes of urbanization and global economic integration, and, stronger assertion of mitigation demands from a democratizing polity, a holistic re-thinking on the direction, scope and design of safety net policies in particular and social protection policy in general has become necessary. Social protection includes safety nets, various forms of social insurance, labor market policies as well as processes of self-help existing or emerging within society. Risk reduction and social protection are important not only in themselves but also because an unaddressed risk atmosphere carry negative psychological consequences for the livelihood initiatives of the poor and for community efforts at social cohesion.

Effective policy initiative based on a holistic approach to social protection will require a sharper profiling of risks, old and new. These include disasters, anticipated risks such as monga and seasonal poverty, public health risks associated with the urbanization process, social ills such as dowry, erosion of family-based safety nets and emergence of new vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the disabled, and, the uneven globalization process which may give rise to new categories of poor whether in terms of worker displacement, livelihood losses or victims of environmental disasters. An important corollary of moving towards a comprehensive approach to social protection programs is the need to streamline the institutional strategy for implementation. The potential of local government bodies, particularly the Union Parishad, to coordinate a streamlined institutional strategy needs to be actively explored.

The Government’s Social Protection Programs

The Social Protection Programs address basic needs of the poor and vulnerable people, namely food, shelter, education and health. Among the primary government programs are: Food for Works (FFW), Vulnerable Group Development (VGD), Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Open Market Sales (OMS), Cash for Work (CFW), Gratuitous Relief (GR), 100 days employment guarantee scheme, old-age allowances, and allowances for retarded people, allowances for widow and distressed women, and grants for orphanages. There are also micro-credit programs, allowances for freedom fighters, programs for the physically challenged, and so on. Distressed people particularly women, children and disabled persons have been given priority. Programs are implemented through both non-development budget and development budget.

The Government views poverty from two broad perspectives – income poverty and human poverty. It identifies direct and indirect social protection programs to address these two types of poverty, where the direct measures (income/ employment generating programs) are considered as those that are targeted towards the poor, and indirect measures (human development program) are growth oriented and hence expected to leave indirect effects on poverty reduction. Examples of indirect or growth oriented measures cover mostly infrastructural development and rehabilitation programmes. However there are also safety net programs that merge the two concepts of direct and indirect measures. For example, a direct measure like Food for Work program that is targeted towards the poor is also used to construct infrastructural services, falling in the category of indirect measure. Table 6.6 presents the names and examples of major types of social protection programs in Bangladesh.

Table 6.6:The Main Types of Social Protection Programs in Bangladesh
TypeProgram Examples
Cash transfersOld Age Allowance

Widowed and Distressed Women Allowance

Disabled Allowance
Conditional cash transfersPrimary Education Stipend Program (PESP)

Stipends for Female Secondary Students
Public works or training based cash or in kind transferRural Maintenance Program; Food-for-Work Vulnerable Group Development (VGD)

Employment Generation Programme (EGP)
Emergency or Seasonal ReliefVulnerable Group Feeding (VGF)

Gratuitous Relief (GR);

Test Relief (TR)

Open Market Sale (OMS)
Source: Ministry of Finance
Source: Ministry of Finance

Apart from their poverty focus, a part of the social protection programs is aimed at addressing the special needs of target groups within the poor and underprivileged group: physically challenged children, disabled persons, socially excluded population in tribal areas. Another part is transitory in nature that comes into play during natural disasters.

For all programs the institutional arrangements are as important as their financing. Evidence suggests that the scope for improving the design of programs, their targeting and associated institutions is substantial. With limited resources, the emphasis on these aspects will be critical.

In addition to these programs, other social protection programs managed by various ministries are the following:

  • Programs under Livestock Sector to alleviate poverty
  • Grihayan Fund (Fund for Housing the Homeless)
  • Ghore Fera (Rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers)
  • Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar
  • Rehabilitation and Creation of Alternative Employment for People Engaged in Begging
  • Program for Generating Employment for the Unemployed Youth by the Karmashanghstan Bank
  • Asrayan Project (Poverty Alleviation through Rehabilitation and Income Generation)
  • National Service (Skill Development for Employment of Unemployed Youths)
  • Fund for Mitigating Risks due to Natural Disasters
  • Program for Mitigating Economic Shocks
  • Programs for Reducing Poverty and Generating Employment under the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs

A range of specialized institutions manage the various social protection programs:

  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Poverty Alleviation
  • Rural Infrastructure Development Program
  • Palli Daridrya Bimochan Foundation (PDBF)
  • Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD)
  • Comilla Rural Development Academy (Bogra)
  • Department of Social Services
  • Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF)
  • Ministry of Food and Disaster Management

Public Spending for Social Protection

Expenditure on social protection programs is increasing over time. Fig 6.3 shows the trends in transfers as percentage of total expenditure and as percentage of GDP.

Figure 6.3:Trend in Transfers

Source: Ministry of Finance

Monthly allowances along with allocation in the programs also increased. Table 6.7 shows the trends in old age allowance program.

Table 6.7:Trends in Old Age Allowance Program
Fiscal YearFund

(million BDT)
Monthly Allocation

per person (BDT)
No. of Beneficiaries

(in millions)
1997-19981251000.4
1998-19994851000.4
1999-20005001000.4
2000-20015001000.4
2001-20025001000.4
2002-20037501250.5
2003-200418001501.0
2004-200526041651.3
2005-200632401801.5
2006-200738402001.6
2007-200844852201.7
2008-200960002502.0
2009-201081003002.2
Source: Ministry of Social Welfare
Source: Ministry of Social Welfare

The key challenges of implementing SSNPs are coverage issues, targeting beneficiaries, leakages, and disparity in regional distribution. These are discussed below.

While coverage is relatively low, a significant number of households gain access to multiple programs. Data from a study of transfer programs shows that about a quarter of households were receiving transfers from more than one safety net program. Analysis of the HIES also showed that over 11% of households were participating in at least two of the three programs – VGD, FFE and FFW. Coverage in urban areas remains low.

Data indicate that 27% of VGD beneficiaries are not poor. 11% of participants of the PESP meet none of the eligibility criteria for program participation while almost none of the beneficiaries meet at least three criteria. Almost 47% of beneficiaries of the PESP are non-poor and incorrectly included in the program. All households within less-poor Upazila are denied assistance, including those with very high food insecurity.

Leakages in the FFW program have been estimated to be 26%. Leakage in the female stipend programs is in the 10-12% range. A PERC report (2003) shows that about 20-40% of the budgetary allocations for the female secondary stipend program does not reach the beneficiaries. Leakages from programs show a strong correlation with the number of intermediaries in the transfer process.

HIES 2005 showed that there was regional disparity in distribution of households receiving social protection benefits. Barisal and Rajshahi divisions, with the highest incidence of poverty, did not have the correspondingly higher number of social protection beneficiaries. In contrast, Sylhet Division, with the second lowest poverty incidence had the highest proportion of social protection recipients. However, the 2010 HIES data suggest that this anomaly was corrected. Khulna, Barisal and Rajshahi divisions have experienced considerable rise in the coverage of SSNP (Figure 6.4). This partly explains the larger reduction in poverty in these three divisions in 2010.

Figure 6.4:Poverty Incidence and SSNP Recipient by Divisions, 2010

Source: HIES 2010, Rajshahi Division includes Rangpur Division

Social Protection Strategy in the SFYP

The main challenges of implementing social protection programs are coverage issues, targeting beneficiaries, leakages, and disparity in regional distribution. The SFYP will address these problems with the aim of using resources effectively for poverty eradication. Given the large demand for social protection support and the present low coverage, public expenditures on social protection programs will be increased from 2 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3 percent by the end of the SFYP. At the same time, efforts will be made to make the existing and new programs much better focused on reaching the intended beneficiaries and serving the needs of long term poverty reduction strategy.

Over the years, social protection programs in Bangladesh have been substantially expanded. While the Government will continue to give priority to core social protection programs, efforts will also be made to find ways to move to contributory social protection programs as in advanced countries. This is important to ensure the sustainability of an expanding social protection program. Also, the possibility of introducing a National Pension Plan will be explored. These schemes and possible options will draw on good international practices.

A coherent and integrated national social protection strategy based on a comprehensive mapping of existing and emerging vulnerabilities will be developed. This strategy will also draw on good international practices. The strategy will decide the variety of social assistance and the social insurance programs to be undertaken during the plan period. The coverage of existing programs which have proven track records will be expanded. The labor laws of the country that already have provisions for several types of social insurance related to employment will be reviewed, further strengthened as needed, and implemented. A rigorous evaluation of current programs will be done to identify weaknesses and improve their effectiveness. Programs which address emerging vulnerabilities such as urban poverty, livelihood loss due to economic integration and policy reforms, and disadvantaged groups not covered by existing programs will be developed. At the same time, holistic strategy will be developed to provide long-term solutions to entrenched problems such as seasonal poverty in northern districts and other affected areas. Targeted programs in health and nutrition aimed at reducing maternal mortality and improving child nutrition will be given priority. An example of this is the setting up of a viable school meal program. The strategy will also facilitate the growth of insurance programs targeted to the poor and vulnerable groups as viable alternatives for their social protection needs. In addressing all of the above, gender concerns will be accommodated as a matter of priority.

Consideration would be given to (i) establishing a clearing and designing house for keeping track and coordinating optimal utilization of scarce resources by avoiding duplication and dovetailing programs so that the needs of the special groups may be catered to; (ii) minimizing the number and improving the accountability of intermediaries who are involved in administering social protection programs; (iii) establishing a standing arrangement for monitoring and overseeing the development and implementation of policies and programs; (iv) coordinating the views and activities of the government and non-government organizations involved in this area; (v) assigning greater responsibility for implementing programs to the local government level; (vi) introducing periodic evaluation of programs to throw light on what is working and what is not; and (vii) allowing for reform and consolidation of programs where needed.

20Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics 2006.

Other Resources Citing This Publication