WB to recognise Dhaka’s success in poverty reduction
The World Bank (WB) will recognise Bangladesh’s overwhelming success in cutting poverty as its president Jim Young Kim reached Dhaka on Sunday to see firsthand the progress Bangladesh has made in tackling poverty and transition to growing prosperity.
The country, now on a path of becoming a middle-income economy, has lifted 20 million people out of poverty in last two decades, although it started from ashes as the world’s second poorest nation since the liberation war in 1971.
Women participation in economic activity has doubled while the birth rate has dropped remarkably in the country. Bangladesh has also made progress with respect to human development. The industry also grew here as local apparel industry is now the second position after China.
Bangladesh has been able to cut the poverty rate from 44.2 percent in 1991 to 18.5 percent in 2010.
But the World Bank latest estimate shows that extreme poverty might have fallen even lower to 12.9 percent in FY16 after witnessing a constant fall from 17.4 percent in FY11.
The Washington-based lender argued that purchasing power of Bangladeshi taka increased by two times between 2005 and 2011 although international poverty bar has been raised to $1.90 per day per capita income from $1.25.
In its latest update published early this month, the WB also predicted that extreme poverty rate is likely to slip to 12.1 percent in FY17 and fall further to 11.4 percent next year.
In terms of sharing prosperity, the poorest 40 percent population of Bangladesh saw not only positive per capita consumption growth, but this was 0.43 percentage points higher than that of the total population in the said period, it said.
On this indicator, Bangladesh outperformed neighbouring India, Pakistan and Bhutan, although it fell behind the East Asia.
The number of women in the workforce has doubled while the birth rate has tumbled from 6.2 births per woman in 1990 to just 2.2 now.
About 40 percent fewer women died in childbirth in 2015 than in 2001. The number of children dying before their fifth birthday dropped by two-thirds between 1990 and 2013.
This progress did not seem possible when the South Asian nation started as a war-ravaged country after its liberation from Pakistan nearly half a century ago.
The liberation war claimed 3 million lives, destroyed two-thirds of the economy, and left 70 percent of the new country’s population in poverty.
Following the war, a sense of social equality, national programmes in education, health and social security, expansion of microfinance and flow of inward contributed to cutting poverty drastically in Bangladesh, according to analysts.
In such a context, the WB has selected Bangladesh this year to celebrate End Poverty Day in Bangladesh today. Last year, the lender celebrated the day in Ghana.
Following the end of a tug-of-war between the lender and Bangladesh government over Padma bridge financing, the visit of WB president after nine years is also seen very significant as Bangladesh needs funds from WB to help implement the 7th five-year plan which requires a lot of foreign funds.
World Bank Group has provided nearly $24 billion to date for initiatives to reduce poverty in Bangladesh as the country has grown and developed over the years.
The Bank has supported critical programs in health, education, disaster risk reduction, agriculture, and climate resilience over the years.