Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Poverty reduction progs must get top priority

MORE than half of poor households will live in urban areas by 2030 while 8 in 10 poor currently live in the country's rural areas. The World Bank forecasted the future of poverty based on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey. The report showed that between 2010 and 2016 very little poverty reduction occurred in urban areas and the number of urban people living in extreme poverty remained the same. We see poverty reduction strategies and programmes in the years mainly concentrated in rural areas while growing urban poor remain largely absent.
About one in four Bangladeshis still live in poverty, while almost half of those living in extreme poverty and are unable to afford a basic food consumption basket. In Bangladesh 14.8 percent of the population live in poverty, bested only by India in the SAARC region. In India, some 21.2 percent of the population still lives under the international poverty line while only 0.8 percent of the population lives below in Sri Lanka and 3.9 percent in Pakistan.
Since 2000, the country has reduced poverty by half. In the last decade and a half, it lifted more than 25 million out of poverty. The reasons for the decline in urban poverty reductions include slow manufacturing job creation in the garment and textile sectors, reduced female labour force participation and increase in poverty among the self-employed in the service sector. The stagnation in poverty reduction in services is also concerning given that around 44 percent of the urban poor are part of households primarily engaged in the sector.
The urban poor may be better off than their rural counterparts in terms of income but worse off in key social indicators. On the flip side, rural Bangladesh spearheaded poverty reduction from 2010 to 2016. This reflects the slower growth in agriculture during this period but also the fact that agriculture growth was less poverty-reducing compared to the past and other sectors. In contrast, poverty has risen in Rangpur division since 2010 and stagnated in Rajshahi and Khulna. As the country is facing new and re-emerging frontiers of poverty reduction, specifically tackling urban poverty, it needs coordinated efforts to tackle the situation.