Issues - Bangladesh

on Friday, 06 September 2013. Posted in Bangladesh, The Facts, HIV/AIDs & other diseases, War and Conflict, Extreme Poverty, Exploitation, Homelessness, Human Trafficking, Natural Disasters, Slave Labour & Exploitation

Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries, with its people crammed into a delta of rivers that empties into the Bay of Bengal.

Poverty is deep and widespread; almost half of the population live on less than one dollar a day. However, Bangladesh has reduced population growth and improved health and education.

171,000 children under five die in Bangladesh every year. Unclean water, contagious diseases, pneumonia and poor nutrition take their toll. In a country with 11% inflation and growing inequality, keeping children alive and healthy is a huge challenge.

The major employer is agriculture, but it is unable to meet the demand for jobs. So, many Bangladeshis - in common with citizens from other countries in the region - seek work abroad, sometimes illegally.

The low-lying country is vulnerable to flooding and cyclones and it stands to be badly affected by predicted rises in sea levels.

Many people live in remote areas that lack services such as education, health clinics, and adequate roads, particularly road links to markets. An estimated 36 percent of the population in rural areas lives below the poverty line. They suffer from persistent food insecurity, own no land and assets, are often uneducated, and may also suffer serious illnesses or disabilities. Another 29 percent of the rural population is considered moderately poor. Though they may own a small plot of land and some livestock and generally have enough to eat, their diets lack nutritional value. As a result of health problems or natural disasters, they are at risk of sliding deeper into poverty. Women are among the poorest of the rural poor, especially when they are the sole heads of their households. They suffer from discrimination and have few earning opportunities, and their nutritional intake is often inadequate.

An estimated 28 percent of the population in urban areas lives below the poverty line. People living in urban areas, like Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, and Rajshahi, enjoy a better standard of living, with electricity, gas, and clean water supplies. Even in the major cities, however, "a significant proportion of Bangladeshis live in squalor in dwellings that fall apart during the monsoon season and have no regular electricity. These Bangladeshis have limited access to health care and to clean drinking water.

Bangladesh retains a deep commitment to social solidarity and to a progressive development agenda. Many MDG successes, in areas ranging from poverty reduction to exceptional improvements in infant mortality, to greater gender equity have been secured. The Government has also shown itself, able to recognize delivery weaknesses and marshal resources accordingly. This is most clear in relation to maternal mortality, where a goal which was well–off track, secured a 30% reduction in deaths during child birth over a four to five year interval. This bodes well for future interventions to capitalize on MDG successes – such as social protection reforms, and improved access to healthcare and schooling.

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