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Dhaka Tribune

New initiative to free Bangladesh of beggary

According to Local Government Division sources, a multi-purpose activity will be launched to support beggars, so that they can save capital to achieve financial stability and self-dependence.

Update : 05 Jul 2018, 05:26 PM

The government has taken a new initiative to free Bangladesh of panhandlers and beggary. 

As part of the initiative, moves such as organizing grassroots level beggars; urging them to save more; and providing them with financial support and skills-training; will soon be introduced, reports the Bangla Tribune.

According to Local Government Division sources, a multi-purpose activity will be launched to support beggars, so that they can save capital to achieve financial stability and self-dependence.

An initiative is already underway to identify beggars and panhandlers across the country. 

Union Parishad chairmen will be tasked with creating a list of beggars. The list will be scrutinized and these panhandlers will be brought into a rehabilitation program. 

Listed beggars will be provided with loans—allowing them to launch small businesses, raise animals, and start farming vegetables.

To this end, one of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leading projects named “Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar” (One House, One Farm) will be expanded.

‘One House, One Farm’ expanded

Meanwhile, insiders from the Finance Ministry revealed that the “Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar” project is currently being implemented with an aim to make 6,000,000 families self-dependent. 

Funding for this project was increased this fiscal year to expand the social security net and increase the number of its beneficiaries.

The ministry sources added that the government wants to curb panhandling across the country— considering it an “insulting” prospect for a country that recently achieved developing-country status.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, sources from the Local Government Division said that beggars will be sorted into groups of 10-12 members, based on lists sourced from the grassroots level. 

These groups will be turned into associations, and then the associations will be brought under the government initiative. 

Responding to a query, “Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar” project Director Akbar Hossain said: “This project has made significant contributions to alleviating poverty in Bangladesh, and it will continue to do so in the future. 

“The project might be further expanded, as the government has multi-purpose initiatives regarding it.”

Addressing the issue, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told the correspondent: “No one in this country begs because of poverty—that level of paucity does not exist anymore in Bangladesh. Some people are begging for other reasons.

“These people are flooding the city of Dhaka and engaging in panhandling. If the government fails to stop them, its projects for alleviating poverty will be disrupted.”

He added that curbing begging is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

“In accordance to the promise made by the prime minister, no Bangladeshi will remain homeless. We will allocate more funds to the EktiBari, Ekti Khamar project, so that it can be expanded,” Muhith said.

According to sources for the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, this initiative has already been implemented as a pilot project in Kishoreganj Upazila of Nilphamari, and the region is presently beggary-free.

Gradually, regions suffering from river erosion, hill tract districts, and northern parts of Bangladesh will be brought under this project.

The Awami League-led government launched the “Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar” project in 1998. However, the BNP government halted the initiative in 2001. The project was re-launched by the Awami League government in 2009.

The project currently encompasses 40,527 wards under 4,503 unions of 485 upazilas in 64 districts. More than 2,500,000 poverty-stricken families are being supported by this initiative. 

As of 2018, around 3,558,000 families have achieved self-dependence under this project— which has been extended till the year 2020.

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