An overview of the steps to eradicate poverty

Golam Mostakim


Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries of the world in terms of material resources. Since independence in 1971, we have so far been able to explore natural gas and use it mainly for domestic purposes. Industrial use of the natural gas is very negligible.The area of the country is 1,17,570 sq km and the population is 134 million. It is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Our per capita income is only $260 whereas it is $6350 in South Korea. The reason for comparing these two countries is that both of them were of the same economic level in the early sixties. South Korea has become one of the emerging economic tigers, but Bangladesh has lagged behind. There are many reasons behind this.Government Programmes for Poverty Alleviation: The government isvery aware of poverty in our country. We gained independence in 1971 through a fierce War of Liberation to stop economic exploitation by the neo-colonists of Pakistan. But it is very unfortunate to note that though 29 years have already passed no positive change has taken place to the fate of our poor.Reasons of Poverty: To alleviate poverty we most, first, find out the reasons behind poverty. The following reasons are identified to be causing poverty in our country.(i) Lack of Education: Japan has only three things: education, machines and production. Education is such a thing that guides us in finding correct and purposeful ways towards fulfilment and prosperity. We are poor because our literacy rate is one of the lowest compared to the neighbouring countries and because of poor literacy rate we are poor. This is a vicious ciycle from within which our poorest people cannot pull them up.(ii) Fatalism: It is a belief that keeps the poor people stagnant. They think that their creator gives poverty and it is their fate to be poor and remain poor. Poorest people in our country curse their fate.(iii) Corruption: Corruption is one of the prime causes of poverty in our country. Bangladesh government officers are very poorly remunerated. As many of them cannot meet the both ends meet they go for misappropriating whatever money or wealth they can get. Whatever foreign aids we get from abroad, it is alleged, do not unfortunately reach the poor. This is the situation we are living in and it should be changed.(iv) Dependence on Nature: The agriculture sector in our country is heavily dependent on the whims of nature. This creates problems for producing more and sufficient food for our country. So, we are to import food from abroad spending hard-earned foreign currency.(v) Misuse of Wealth: We do not and cannot use wealth properly and it aggravates our poverty situation.(vi) Technology: We cannot use appropriate technology in our agriculture and industrial sectors. It hampers our production.(vii) Land Reforms: In absence of updated land reforms we cannot use our land in the most cost effective way for our agricultural and industrial purposes. Our agricultural and industrial products cannot compete with the products of the same nature of our neighbouring countries, not to mention the products of the developed countries.(viii) Industrialisation: One of the major reasons of poverty in our country is that our country is not an industrial one.(ix) Population Boom: Due to our population hike our government cannot succeed is its development schemes.(X) Political Instability: Because of political instability and call of strikes and strages by the opposition political parties the development process is hampered and the country fails to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).(xi) Labour Problems: Labour problems in our country play a very negative role in the production-oriented enterprises. The labour leaders of the country pretend to be engaged in protecting the interests of the workers. But, in fact, some of them are after their personal interests causing disturbances to different mills, factories etc. Moreover, these so-called labour leaders do not work themselves and hampers the work environment.(xii) Position of Women in our society: The women of our country are subject to torture both physical and mental by the males and other forms of repression. Almost all kinds of women in our country suffer from a sense of insecurity. The poor women if they are deserted by their husbands in their young age and by sons and daughters in old age, simply become destitutes. Moreover, the women have no access to all types of employment due to prevailing cultural restriction and social conditions and taboos.Poverty Alleviation Programmes:The government as already mentioned is aware of the acute poverty in the country. But the Government of a poor country is also poor. Still government have already taken some programmes to eradicate poverty. These are:Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives.Programmes of Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB):(i) Integrated Rural Development Projects;(ii) South-West Rural Development Projects;(iii) Rural Development-2 Projects;(iv) Rural Development-5 Projects;(v) Rural Development-6 Projects; (vi) North-West Rural Development Projects; (vii) Noakhali Rural Development Projects.Ministry of Social Welfare:(i) Rural Social Services;Ministry of Children and Women's Affairs: (i) Programmes for the Women;Ministry of Youth and Sports:Directorate of Youth:(i) Training programmes for the unemployed youth;(ii) Self-employment and employment projects for unemployed youth;(iii) Human resources development and employment projects at thana level.Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief:(i) Rural Works Programme; (ii) Food for Works Programme;Besides, Ministry of Land and Ministry of Finance have their own programmes for poverty alleviation out of which Grameen Bank is doing a remarkable job is poverty alleviation, especially among the poor women in the rural Bangladesh.The Government in the Fifth Five-Year Plan has taken the following Pro-Poor Plan for Alleviation of Rural Poverty:Pro-Poor Plan for Alleviation of Rural Poverty:Objectives: The factors that facilitate poverty alleviation are by this time widely known. At the same time the efficacy of various institutional frameworks, their limitations and the extent of complementarity are also becoming common knowledge. The aim of a pro-poor plan is to improve the economic conditions of the poor and ensure human resources development. Given the magnitude of the problem the pro-poor plan envisages that the pace of poverty eradication will be accelerated and there will be significant reduction in poverty during the plan period. The objectives of the pro-poor plan will be to:a. develop democratically elected local government bodies with appropriate representation of women;b. develop human resources with adequate provisions to expand and strengthen education, health, population planning and family welfare facilities, measures and services;c. link the rural poor with basic social services/institutions in the fields of education, health, population planning, family welfare, drinking water supply, sanitation, etc;d. increase gainful income generating activities and employment opportunities on a sustained basis for the rural poor;e. strengthen small-scale and informal sector production; f. promote social mobilisation defined ill terms of building organisations of the poor at grass-root level to enable them identify their problems themselves, make their own development decisions, particularly in areas which concern them most, and articulate these with the relevant government agencies for necessary economic, technical, administrative, financial and other supports in form of projects;g. improve technology and skill as significant elements of human resources development for productive activities of the rural poor;h. upgrade technical skill to enable workers to adopt to rapidly changing international conditions;i. provide the rural poor with better access to resources, especially to micro-credit which is critically important and has high poverty reduction potential;j. raise savings/capital formation by the poor to a greater volume so as to stimulate and enhance growth from the bottom;k. give particular attention to the development of hard-core rural poor and poverty-depressed rural areas;L. promote participation and development of the poor and disadvantaged women and female-headed households along with males;m. empower the poor through affirmative activities and participation in the local government institutions;n. maximise impact of the pro-poor plan through an efficient delivery system minimising administrative and organisational expenditure; and o. review policies and regulations that affect the poor and reform the same, if necessary, based on the review (Fifth Five Year Plan, p. 154).Programmes of the NGOs:We should note that government cannot manage the poverty alleviation in Bangladesh alone. So some of the NGOs are doing very good job in supplementing the governmental activities in poverty alleviation. The NGOs are Proshikha, ASA, BRAC, CARE, CARITAS, CCDB, FPAB, BAVs, Swanirvar Bangladesh etc.Poverty is the problem from which the poorest of the poor have been suffering from time immemorial. Efforts are being made to alleviate poverty for the uniform development of the country. But it still appears to be a long way to go.

The writer is a Director, BPATC, Savar, Dhaka.

Source: The Daily Independent, Dhaka, July 23, 2000

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