46 percent children suffer from multidimensional poverty

DHAKA, June 6, 2020 (BSS) – Currently 46 percent children are living with multidimensional poverty in the country. The poor children get less scope of health and education as they have to do low wage work after entering the labour market at an early age.

That’s why they cannot come out of the vicious circle of poverty. On the other hand, children of the solvent families face different types of poverty. They suffer from mental poverty despite having a scope of basic rights like education and health.

Concerned people said while framing a policy to face multidimensional poverty of the children it is needed to take into consideration the different types of poverty of the higher and middle- income families.

In this connection, they opined that one-way policy cannot remove the multidimensional poverty of the children.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Director and Principal Researcher Fahmida Khatun said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) prepared a report on human development in 2017 by taking 103 countries into consideration and holding the multidimensional poverty index.

The report mentioned that 26.5 percent people of these countries are poor and the rate was 48 percent in South Asian countries. And among them, nearly 50 percent are children.

The poverty rate in Bangladesh came down to 20.5 per cent in the fiscal 2018-19. The figure was 21.8 at the end of 2017-18 fiscal year.

“Extreme poverty rate also dropped to 10.5 per cent in 2018-19, which was 11.3 per cent in 2017-18,” Planning Minister MA Mannan recently said quoting the data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).

Fahmida Khatun, however, said there is a huge number of children in Bangladesh who are living with multidimensional poverty.

“So, we’ve to take steps for achieving proper capability in removing this type of poverty of the children,” she observed.

The CPD director said it is not possible to analyse the issues of education, health, nutrition and growing up naturally through only income and poverty. To analyse the poverty situation, taking various dimensions of poverty into consideration is needed.

The poverty could be measured by keeping ahead education, health and living standard through multidimensional poverty analysis method.

In the field of education, there are two important issues — one is presence at school and another is completion of study meaning not to be dropped out from the school. On the other hand, fuel of cooking, sanitation, safe drinking, electricity, housing and resources are considerable issues in measuring the living standard.

Deputy Chief of Planning Commission’s General Economic Division Md Monirul Islam said the poor children suffer from malnutrition as well as they are deprived of education and getting rights to live properly.

“At one stage, they are engaged in child labour and fall into the trap of less productivity and low wage. So, to solve these issues, a coordinated policy is required,” he said.

UNICEF’s Social Policy Expert Hasina Begum said children consist a large portion of Bangladesh’s poor population. Poverty is measured in Bangladesh on the basis of per capita income.

The yardstick of poverty is made by fixing ability of purchasing 2,221 calories of food daily as a basic demand, she said, terming measurement of poverty through income as a partial outlook.

Though children of some families live over the poverty line, they may suffer from illness, lack better housing and could be deprived of education.

So many countries have taken the issue of considering poverty multidimensionally. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put emphasis on assessment of multidimensional poverty.

The number of poor people in Bangladesh could be raised further if the poverty is measured through multidimensional poverty index.

Multidimensional poverty measurement is the proper method for eliminating poverty. The same method is too applicable for the children.

Planning Commission General Economic Division’s Senior Secretary Shamsul Alam said the government has taken a social safety strategy paper in 2015 incorporating the issue of life cycle-based social safety of the people.

The paper clearly mentioned the matter of protection of the children from pregnancy period to till 18 years and bringing all of them under safety programme.

It gave importance to strengthen immunisation, child health and sanitation programmes. In the SDGs, the issue of ensuring nutrition for all children by 2025 and their primary and secondary education by 2030 has been included.

In the seventh five-year plan, Alam said, the issues of removing child labour, protecting the children from the violence and providing pre-primary education to the children aged between three and five have been categorically mentioned.

“The government in principle has some structures and I think their proper implementation is very important to this end,” he noted.