Dhaka, Bangladesh
Target-progs needed to end poverty

Editorial

Target-progs needed to end poverty

The world marked the International Day for Eradication of Poverty on October 17. With the UN deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) only 11 years away, we think, it is high time we take stock of the poverty scenario in Bangladesh. As higher growth often speeds up process of poverty reduction, Bangladesh has fought poverty strongly and brought down the poverty level from 59 per cent in 1991 to 25 per cent in 2016, according to the data of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). Especially, since 1990s Bangladesh experienced a steady economic growth and riding on amazingly non-stop growth despite numerous roadblocks, extreme poverty dropped to 13 per cent from 43 per cent, which is undoubtedly an admirable achievement. But there lies a sorry state behind this cheery picture. Bangladesh is still home for about 40 million poor and 21 million extreme poor, according to BBS data. The success of Bangladesh in overall poverty reduction has earned global accolade, but there are certain pockets like northern districts, coastal belt and haor regions, where poverty still remain high. In districts like Kurigram, Dinajpur, Sherpur, Nilphamari as well as Hill Tracts region, poverty rate has increased in the last 10 years, according to data from the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016. In Kurigram and Dinajpur, the incidence of poverty is 71 per cent and 64 per cent respectively—both higher than in 2010. Inclusive growth will remain a pie in the sky if we do not give any special attention to lift the extreme poor in areas with higher poverty rate. As poverty is a multi-dimensional phenomenon any poverty reduction projects should be context-specific, need-based and demand- driven. And that is where the targeting comes in. Targeting is important for directing the benefits of the poverty elimination programme to the ones who need them most and the soonest. Then there is the issue of tomorrow’s poor. By the time, say, we lift one million poor out of poverty in the next five years; there will likely to be a new generation of poor struggling to keep the wolf from the door. To make any poverty elimination programme a success, policymakers, development partners and implementing organisations must devise appropriate plans for their income generation, developing and improving their capacity to cope with poverty. For sustainable poverty reduction, a one-size-fits-all strategy will not work. If we are to eliminate poverty by 2030 we will have to devise need-based holistic programmes and ensure focused targeting. We are to multiply our efforts to mobilse resources to eliminate indigence of the extreme poor.

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