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Dhaka Tribune

Poverty: A persisting challenge

Update : 16 Apr 2014, 07:45 PM

Over 50 million people are poor while around 28 million are extremely poor in Bangladesh, with poverty being one of the biggest challenges for the country.

The statistics have been taken from an excerpt from the book “Social Protection in Bangladesh: Building Effective Social Safety Nets and Ladders Out of Poverty,” which was launched yesterday in a ceremony organised by the UNDP, University Press Limited, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Brooks World Poverty Institute in the capital’s Bangabandhu International Conference Center.

Edited by Hossain Zillur Rahman, David Hulme, Mathilde Maitrot and Luigi Peter Ragno, the book reveals that the estimated number of working children aged 5-17 years in Bangladesh is 7.42 million. While other South Asian countries have been able to reduce child labour, Bangladesh has yet to succeed.

Neal Walker, resident representative of UN in Bangladesh, said: “There are lots of work to be done in order to reduce poverty as the country faces the emerging challenges of migration. Making middle-income people rich is not social protection while we have to improve the financial status of the extreme poor.”

He stressed on the critical importance of leadership, urgent response of the government to this issue, adequate resources and equal distribution of resources to face the challenges.

Professor David Hulme of University of Manchester said: “More than 40% children are poorly nourished and 60 to 80% of the population are vulnerable to shocks that would make them poor.”

The speakers said social protection had a development role and was meant to contribute to poverty reduction in two ways: preventing people from falling into poverty and supporting people and households which are already impoverished. In this case, policies set by the government to reduce poverty should be implemented soon.

Dr Mahabub Hossain, adviser to executive director, Brac, said: “Child and maternal nutrition issue should be addressed first.”

Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, chairman of PPRC, said: “The government should implement a time-bound action plan, otherwise it will become a paperbound document only. We need innovative ideas and should think out of the box to reduce poverty in this country.”     

He pointed out malnutrition, urban poverty and climate change to be major challenges, adding that Bangladesh could easily achieve the Millenium Development Goals in 2015 if these problems were solved. 

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