Tackle urban poverty with well-designed safety nets
A WORLD Bank report stated that most of the urban poor are deprived of the government's social protection benefits. There is a large gap in allocation under social safety net, though the pace of poverty reduction has slowed and the ratio of extreme poverty edged up in urban areas after 2010. Only 17.84 percent of the poor people living in towns and cities receive support from social safety schemes, whereas 35.77 percent of the rural poor people get the benefits.
The report came up on the eve of observing International Day for the Eradication of Poverty stated that poverty is urbanising rapidly that requires new solutions. Urban poverty rate declined to 19.3 percent in 2016 from 21.3 percent in 2010, marking only 2 percentage points cut. Extreme poverty rate rose to 8 percent in 2016 from 7.7 percent in 2010. On the other hand, the rate of rural poverty fell 8.5 percentage points to 26.7 percent in 2016 from 2010. Given the country's rapid urbanisation there are now more people living in extreme poverty in urban Bangladesh than in 2010. According to the WB, 35.01 percent of Bangladesh's population lives in urban areas. At current trends of urbanisation and poverty reduction, more than half of Bangladesh's poor households will live in urban areas by 2030.
A third of the poor households have access to social protection programme, compared to 18 percent of non-poor households. This suggests there is room to increase coverage and improve the quality of target groups. Coverage in urban areas is particularly low and safety nets for families with young children and elderly members could have a strong impact on reducing urban poverty. There is a natural life cycle to poverty, and well-designed safety nets can target support to households when they need it most. The government should come up with new programmes addressing the urban poor to extend quality education, adequate healthcare and sanitation in the slums.