Poverty in Bangladesh
Between 2000 and 2016, Bangladesh lifted 8 million people out of poverty. According to a World Bank report, the rate of poverty in Bangladesh went from 44.2% to 13.8% between 1991 and 2017. Improvements include increased life expectancy and nutrition, easier access to electricity, safer water and sanitation and broad-based expansion in education that is accessible to more than 164 million people. The road to ending poverty in Bangladesh is a challenging one, but the country and several organizations are making efforts to accomplish this.

History of Poverty in Bangladesh

About 61% of the country is rural while 39% of the population is urban. The urban regions experienced their turnaround from poverty at a slower pace than the rural regions with the help of industrial services, which resulted in solving the problems quicker and better for those living in the urban regions. Despite the 1:4 ratio of people still suffering from poverty, the progress has been remarkable. In fact, Bangladesh’s rural areas experienced a 90% decrease in poverty.

With the improvements that the country has made toward ending poverty in Bangladesh, the nation’s finance minister Mustafa Kamal has announced that the nation should expect to be poverty-free by 2030. With plans to improve more vulnerable, urban areas, the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) have been key contributors in investing to rebuild the nation by creating 10 million jobs over the next decade. SEZs are areas in a country that is subject to economic regulations that differ from other regions in the same country. For instance, since the urban regions have a slower rebuilding process than the rural, that means that they may be more favorable towards the urban region which has not caught up to the rural region in terms of progress, despite the improvement regarding poverty. With job creation on its agenda, Bangladesh could earn $100 billion in remittance from now until the deadline to wipe out poverty, which equals $1 trillion.

Pizza Hut and KFC

To make matters better, corporate food chains Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken have formed a partnership to launch a campaign called the World Hunger Relief, which supports the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Founded in 2009, the WFP not only raises funds to provide vitamin and mineral fortified biscuits among other snacks to children in small rural areas, but it also promotes the importance of basic education to help others rise from poverty in the long run.

Yum Incorporated owns Pizza Hut and KFC and has been using its network to raise awareness in the hopes of making a difference on top of the improvements that Bangladesh has made independently. Its success rate has included reaching more than 4 million children and calling for customers of the respective food chains to make a contribution. This campaign will be a key asset to ending poverty in Bangladesh by the start of the next decade and preventing it from returning.

The Investment Component for Vulnerable Group Development (ICVGD) Program

The WFP has also partnered with the Bangladeshi government to help women break away from their gender roles through livelihood training and food assistance programs. The Investment Component for Vulnerable Group Development (ICVGD) program’s participants come from all 64 districts of the country, which tend to be remote areas where natural disasters are likely to occur. The implementation of this program received positive feedback after improving food security, income and diet variation in those districts.

The organization is now bringing focus to financial management, life skills and personal hygiene. There is a training period where the women will receive a grant of $180, as well as fortified rice as their rations. The ICVGD is part of the Vulnerable Group Development program that the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs runs, which boasts the largest safety net to aid poor women and children across the country.

Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr