Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Poverty alleviation needs renewed focus

Poverty alleviation needs renewed focus

Bangladesh has made considerable headway in poverty reduction, which is one of the reasons Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been awarded SDG progress award during the recent UN General Assembly. SDG-1 calls for eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and Bangladesh is apparently on road to achieving this target. Although the pandemic dealt a blow to our poverty eradication efforts, and there is debate over the number of new poor in the aftermath of the Covid-19, there is no denying that the quick rebound of the country’s economy eased the sufferings of the poor to a large extent.

However, a new study of BIDS calls for taking into account multi-dimensional aspects of extreme poverty, such as access to education and healthcare alongside income equality to address the problem in a sustainable manner. The rationale behind the call is that income of a family may fluctuate over time, but if we take into account the family’s resilience capacity rather than just the present income, we will get the true scenario of poverty.

The relative gain so far in poverty alleviation has mainly stemmed from the government’s relentless efforts to facilitate economic growth and development. Although budgetary allocation for social safety net is inadequate, the government is giving incentives to agriculture and small and medium enterprises so that people become economically active and can change their lot.

And thanks to success of the micro-credit campaign, poverty scenario has vastly improved. Although the NGOs have played a mixed role and no uncritical accolades are due to them, in the social sector some of them may be said to have performed admirably. Instead of engaging in trading and usury the NGOs should be encouraged to work in areas where they can truly contribute to social uplift.

However, ensuring a fair disbursement process of budgetary allocation meant for the have-nots remains a challenge. Too often it is reported in the media that welfare funds released by the government are not reaching the poor. The government must streamline the social welfare delivery process to ensure that the poor and the destitute are the real beneficiary of the fund. Overall, we hope the government will take a comprehensive action plan to alleviate extreme poverty.