Social Safety Net programme becomes blessing for many elderly widows

DHAKA, August 20, 2018 (BSS) – Poverty has been part and parcel of lives of Farida Yeasmin, 50, and her mother Aklima Begum, 70, since lost their husbands in tender age.

Farida has been habituated to face difficulties since her childhood with demise of her father when she was just four. She at her age of 40 later fell in woe when her husband died in 2008 with a family of five members including three sons and her mother.

It has also been very difficult to manage properly all expenses of their family, as her family is now running by income of Farida’s younger son, who is a bachelor level student and doing a low paid job at a company in Gopalganj district town.

“Despite mother of three sons, my two sons got married and they are living separately. Moreover, my mother is living with us since she has no son. Both I and my mother have been suffering lots of diseases for long,” said Farida Yeasmin.

She said actually her horrified life started from 2000 when her husband suffered from stroke. “My husband worked in Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). He had little property. Moreover, a lot of money had been spent for his treatment, unfortunately yielding no result,” Farida described with crying face.

Thanking the Social Safety Net (SSN) programme, Farida said SSN programme is a good initiative of the government since it is very much helpful for the poor women.

“The amount of Taka 500 is not much, but we can use it for purchasing medicine and other essential commodities,” she added.

Like Aklima and Farida, many old and widow women across the country are welcoming the government for this pro-poor initiative. They also urged the government to increase the amount of the programme.

In 2018-19 fiscal, the government allocated Taka 64,177 crore for the SSN programme. This allocation is 13.81 percent of the total budget.

In fiscal 2017-18, the government allocated Taka 48,524 crore for this programme, which was 13.06 percent of the total budget.

The number of recipients of old-age allowance has been increased to 40 lakh from 35 lakh and beneficiaries of widow and oppressed women allowances to 14 lakh from 12.65 lakh.

According to the Social Services Department, the government allocated Taka 840 crore in 2018-19 fiscal for widow and oppressed women allowance which was Taka 759 crore in 2017-18 fiscal.

The government also allocated Taka 2,400 crore for old age allowance in the current fiscal which was Taka 2,100 crore in the previous fiscal.

Talking to BSS, Deputy Director of the Social Services Department Farid Ahmed Mollah said the government has recently launched the “MIS integrated G2P (Government to Person) ” payment system for disbursement of the allowances of SSN programmes.

Under the system, he said, initially 1.15 lakh beneficiaries of the 11 upazillas are directly drawing the money every month from banks after getting message of allowance through mobile apps and biometric verification.