Development in BangladeshMore than 3.3 million Bangladeshis live in extreme poverty. Poverty is an ongoing issue for the country, but Bangladesh has worked on improving education and health and reducing poverty. In addition, the U.S. has contributed billions of dollars to Bangladesh to support it in its development. U.S. assistance to Bangladesh involves helping “grow more food, build more roads, train more skilled teachers, health care providers and soldiers,” according to the U.S. State Department. Furthermore, the U.S. holds the role as the largest source of foreign direct investment in Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu Satellite

In May 2018, Bangladesh launched its own satellite, Bangabandhu-1 (BD-1) into space. Estimates from the World Bank show that Bangladesh must spend billions until 2020 to bring its “power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard needed to serve its growing population.” BD-1’s launch is a demonstration of infrastructure development and connectivity for the people of Bangladesh.

The Environment

Environmental challenges facing Bangladesh are largely due to pollution and environmental degradation. In addressing poverty, it is imperative to bear in mind that pollution affects poor communities severely. The government of Bangladesh has “embraced better planning by making environmental sustainability a cornerstone of its Seventh Five-year Plan through 2020.”

The Seventh Five-year Plan includes strategies to address the environmental and economic challenges facing Bangladesh today. In an effort to support its sustainable development agenda, the Government of Bangladesh has many institutions in place, such as The Department of Environment (DoE), Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Department of Fisheries (DoF) and Forest Department (FD). Bangladesh has The World Bank’s support in its development to ensure it is resilient to climate change.

Present and Future Development

The economic future of Bangladesh is hopeful, especially with the launch of BD-1. Economic and infrastructure development of Bangladesh must include addressing Bangladesh’s geographical location, thus its climate vulnerability. It is vital for Bangladesh to have plans set in motion to conserve its natural resources and to use its resources in a sustainable way.

A report by the World Bank indicates that development in Bangladesh is on a fast trajectory. The Brookings Institute suggests the biggest reason why there are fast-paced results and booming productivity in Bangladesh’s development is because of the empowerment of women. With the support of NGOs, Bangladesh’s government has “made significant strides toward educating girls and giving women a greater voice, both in the household and the public sphere” resulting positively in the improvement of children’s health and education.

Progress is happening in Bangladesh. If the current trajectory continues, then the rapid development in Bangladesh could result in Bangladesh being an Asian success story. As of March 2018, the world recognizes Bangladesh as a developing country. The announcement will become official in 2024, once the U.N. Economic and Social Council completes its assessment.

– Karina Bhakta
Photo: Unsplash

development in BangladeshIn 1971, shortly after Bangladesh had secured its independence from Pakistan following a brutal conflict, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger dismissed the newfound nation as an “international basket case” set up to fail. With their views obscured by the haze of its violent founding, Kissinger and many other onlookers failed to see the nation’s potential. Today, though, the success of development in Bangladesh demands that the country be characterized not as a basket case, but one worthy of emulation.

Struggle for Independence

The nation of Bangladesh experienced an especially tumultuous and traumatic founding. In 1971, present-day Bangladesh was still a province known as East Pakistan. Concerned that East Pakistan was threatening its power, the ruling military government of West Pakistan, then supported by its American ally, began a crackdown against eastern rebels in March 1971.

The attempt to quell the rebellion descended into genocide. Eventually, India intervened on East Pakistan’s behalf and helped secure Bangladesh’s independence. By its conclusion, an estimated 200,000 had perished, and close to 10 million people were forced to flee to neighboring India.

Set against this bloody backdrop, the new country’s prospects did not appear particularly promising.

Defying the Detractors

Despite this maelstrom, Bangladesh has managed to develop economically. In 2000, the poverty headcount, as measured by the percentage of residents making less than $2 a day, accounted for nearly half of the population. By 2017, that number had decreased to less than a quarter of Bangladeshis.

According to World Bank statistics, Bangladesh’s gross national income was around $170 in 1974; today, it has increased to nearly $2,000. This tenfold increase has been the result of growth rates consistently around 6 to 7 percent. Such growth, sustained since the early 1990s, has resulted in demonstrable improvements in conditions for the people of Bangladesh.

Perhaps as impressive as the substantive progress in Bangladesh has been its rather unorthodox path to get there. Most countries given the title of “development success” typically follow the rapid growth models of nations like South Korea or the “support-led pathways” of dramatically increased public spending on national welfare programs.

Development in Bangladesh has seemingly followed neither. Its growth rates have been steady, but not comparable to the hyper-growth rates seen in the Four Asian Tigers of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, all of which went from fledgling low-income countries to upper-income nations at a record pace. Bangladesh also spends just 2.2 and 3.5 percent of its GDP on education and healthcare, respectively, levels below average for low-income nations. How, then, has Bangladesh managed to make such significant development strides?

How Development in Bangladesh Became Possible

Many experts attribute successful development in Bangladesh to innovative programs like micro-financing that target women, as well as a burgeoning garment industry which has made Bangladesh somewhat of an export powerhouse. Both have empowered females in the country, increasing their wages and decreasing their fertility rates. As of 2014, the nation had reached gender parity in school enrollment.

The atrocities Bangladeshis endured in their fight for independence remain a sordid prologue in their history, as do the sweeping dismissals from much of the international community. In any case, Bangladesh has been able to turn the page to an encouraging chapter of growth and development.

– Brendan Wade

Photo: Wikimedia Commons