We need a balanced rural-urban growth

20 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The significant progress that Bangladesh made in rural development has drawn the attention of the world community. The success in improving various rural development indicators as well as food and nutrition security has elevated the country’s position in South Asia and made it one of the leaders in the region. This has been possible due to sustained focus that the country has given on rural development over several decades. These achievements have made the country a global model in transforming the lives of millions of rural poor. This is how the International Food Policy Research Institute put its evaluation of the country in this year’s food policy report.

Though on average less than half of the world’s population lives in rural areas, it is the majority in case of Bangladesh; and obviously absolute majority of the extreme poor lives in our villages. So, even and uniform prosperity of the country as a whole will remain a chimera without simultaneous development of the rural areas and improvement in the lot of the rural people. That is why Bangladesh has adopted a policy of growing together and attaches much importance to rural development. This has been reflected in the country’s enhanced investment in road communication, power supply, improved healthcare facilities, nutrition and gender equality and women’s empowerment at political and social levels.

It is quite conspicuous that the present road communication network in rural Bangladesh is much better than any time in the past. In addition to bringing in relative economic vibrancy in the countryside, improved roads contributed to reducing poverty by a certain degree and boosting secondary school enrolment among both girls and boys. Increased access to healthcare services is another area of the country’s success stories.

However, these are some of the initial gains; a lot of others remain to be achieved for bridging the wide rural-urban development gaps. What are specially needed for overcoming the impediments to further improvement of rural life are generation of employment opportunities, achievement of gender equality, addressing environmental challenges, improved access to energy and greater investment in good governance, as the report suggested. Given the track records of successes so far, Bangladesh is sure and is really in a position to achieve even more successes in these areas.