Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers are prepared by member countries in broad consultation with stakeholders and development partners, including the staffs of the World Bank and the IMF. Updated with annual progress reports, they describe the countries macroeconomic, structural, and social policies in support of growth and poverty reduction, as well as associated external financing needs and major sources of financing. This country document for Bangladesh is being available on the IMF website by agreement of the member country as a service to users of the IMF website.

Abstract

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers are prepared by member countries in broad consultation with stakeholders and development partners, including the staffs of the World Bank and the IMF. Updated with annual progress reports, they describe the countries macroeconomic, structural, and social policies in support of growth and poverty reduction, as well as associated external financing needs and major sources of financing. This country document for Bangladesh is being available on the IMF website by agreement of the member country as a service to users of the IMF website.

Chapter 1 The Development Vision and Poverty Reduction Framework

1.1 The Development Vision

The present government has placed poverty reduction at the forefront of its development strategy. Elimination of poverty and inequity is central to the development vision laid out in the Election Manifesto of the government. The Manifesto has set specific poverty reduction targets to be attained during the current tenure of the government and identified faster agricultural growth, broad based rural development, targeted employment generation, and strengthening of social safety nets as some of the major strategies for attaining poverty reduction objectives.

A Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) titled “Unlocking the Potential: National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction (NSAPR I)” was prepared in 2005. The NSAPR I was put into implementation during FY2005-FY07 and subsequently it was extended up to June 2008. The second NSAPR (FY2009-FY11) was prepared by the immediate past caretaker government. Because of the unelected and interim nature of the caretaker government, the NSAPR II document prepared by it could not adequately reflect the genuine wishes of the people.

The current elected government has carried out a comprehensive evaluation of the NSAPR II document in accordance with its commitments in the Election Manifesto. While retaining policy continuity, the document has been recast in the light of the government’s development vision and the Election Manifesto. In line with the aspirations of the people, the thrust has now shifted to making Bangladesh a happy and prosperous nation supported by mutually reinforcing development in social, economic and political front. In accordance with the Election Manifesto, this will entail putting Bangladesh into a trajectory of high performing growth, stabilizing commodity prices, minimizing income and human poverty, securing health and education for all, enhancing creativity and building capacity, establishing social justice, reducing social disparity, achieving capacity to tackle the adverse effects of climate change, and firmly rooting participatory democracy in the political arena.

A critical element in bringing about the envisaged social and economic development will be the adoption of advanced and innovative technology. It is stipulated that developments in information and communication technology will take the country to new heights of excellence, giving a new identity branded as Digital Bangladesh.

The government’s commitment to bringing about the above mentioned developments in social, economic, political and technology fields constitute the Charter of Change as enunciated in the Election Manifesto.

The NSAPR II (revised) prepared in the light of the government’s development vision and the Election Manifesto also emphasizes the aspect of policy continuity. In this respect, due considerations have been paid to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) and the need for sustained efforts towards achieving these goals.

The government has also adopted a long term vision for the development of the country. For the purpose, the long term Perspective Plan (2010-2021), under preparation by the government, would provide goals for the future and chart out the course of action to achieve these goals by 2021, which will coincide with the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Bangladesh. For realizing the Vision, the government would start the implementation of the Sixth Five Year Plan (2010-2015) from July 2010. The plan document will project goals and targets and explore alternative strategies for reaching these goals and targets. This medium-term plan will contribute to the process of implementing the Perspective Plan and provide an indicative forecast for the nation reflecting the government’s development philosophy. The present NPAPR II shall remain in force until FY11 and its performance will be reviewed each year in normal course. Eventually, the three year medium term budget framework (MTBF) followed by the line ministries in developing their annual budgets will be converted into a five year MTBF.

In the light of the long term vision, the government has identified five priority areas for medium term action: (i) maintenance of macroeconomic stability and control over commodity price hike in the face of the present global economic crisis; (ii) effective action against corruption; (iii) power and energy; (iv) elimination of poverty and inequality; and (v) establishment of good governance.

In the pursuit of achieving the Vision, some important targets have been set for the macro-economy (Box 1). The NSAPR II incorporates these and other priority areas necessary for achieving the poverty reduction and other social goals. The NSAPR II also integrates the responses to the risks to the economy arising out of the current global economic recession.

Macroeconomic Targets based on Vision 2021

  • - Secure and sustain an annual level of GDP growth of 8 percent by 2013 and raise it to 10 percent from 2017;

  • - Bring down the percentage of disadvantaged people living below the poverty line to 15 percent by 2021;

  • - Ensure a minimum of 2,122 k. cal/person/day of food to all poor people and standard nutritional food to at least 85 percent of the population by 2021;

  • - Ensure 100 percent net enrolment at primary level by 2010, provide free tuition up to the degree level by 2013, attain full literacy by 2014, and ensure that Bangladesh is known as a country of educated people with skills in information technology;

  • - Achieve self sufficiency in food by 2012;

  • - Ensure living accommodation for the entire population by 2015, supply of pure drinking water for the entire population by 2011, and bring each house under hygienic sanitation by 2013;

  • - Eliminate all kinds of contagious diseases and increase life expectancy of citizens to 70 years by 2021;

  • - Reduce maternal mortality to 1.5 percent, raise the use of birth control methods to 80 percent, and bring down infant mortality to 15 per thousand live births by 2021;

  • - Change the sectoral composition of output with the shares of agriculture, industry, and services standing at 15 percent, 40 percent, and 45 percent respectively in 2021;

  • - Reduce underemployment rate to 15 percent along with changing employment shares of agriculture, industry, and services to 30 percent, 25 percent, and 45 percent respectively in 2021;

  • - Generate 7,000 megawatt of electricity by 2013, raise it to 8,000 megawatt in 2015, and make provision to the expected demand for power of 20,000 megawatt in 2021.

1.2 Attainment of MDGs

Bangladesh has made significant progress towards attaining the MDGs by 2015. In case of majority of the indicators, Bangladesh is on track with prospect for earlier attainment of targets for some indicators. Bangladesh has successfully achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education. The country is on track to achieve the targets of halving the proportion of people living below the poverty line and suffering from hunger, net enrolment ratio in primary education, and reduction of child mortality. However, several lagging areas are there like primary school completion rate, adult literacy rate, access to safe drinking water by the rural people, and maternal mortality ratio. Similarly, participation of women in wage employment, access to tenurial security and essential drugs is still low. Access to Personal Computers (PCs) and Internet services has also been quite limited. Bangladesh thus needs to put sustained efforts to attain the MDGs by 2015. There is also the critical need for complementary external resources for financing the progress towards these goals. Historically, the gap between commitment of financial support by development partners for meeting MDGs and the actual availability of such resources has been quite glaring.

1.3 Poverty Reduction Strategy Framework

The poverty reduction strategy framework of NSAPR II is based on the reality of multidimensionality of poverty and takes into account the dynamics of the socio-economic factors that reinforce and perpetuate poverty in the country. The strategy framework consists of five strategic blocks and five supporting strategies (Figure 1.1). The strategic blocks are: (i) macroeconomic environment for pro-poor growth; (ii) critical areas for pro-poor growth; (iii) essential infrastructure for pro-poor growth; (iv) social protection for the vulnerable; and (v) human development. The supporting strategies, on the other hand, comprise of: (i) ensuring participation, social inclusion, and empowerment; (ii) promoting good governance; (iii) ensuring efficient delivery of public services; (iv) caring for environment and tackling climate change; and (v) enhancing productivity and efficiency through science and technology. For poverty reduction, it would be critical to address all these areas in order to derive mutually supportive interactions.

Figure 1.1:
Figure 1.1:

Poverty Reduction Strategy Framework

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 293; 10.5089/9781475557053.002.A001

The critical concern of the strategy is to achieve higher growth and make the growth pro-poor such that the poorer sections get a proportionately greater share of the benefits of growth helping them move out of poverty. The reduction of inequality in income and opportunities is required for making growth more pro-poor apart from its value in creating a more egalitarian and stable society. In line with the pro-poor growth strategy of the present government, the NSAPR II addresses the issues of poverty reduction and equity simultaneously. In this context, major elements include: (i) bringing vibrancy in agriculture and rural life; (ii) expanding the social safety nets for the ultra poor; and (iii) targeted approach towards employment generation.

1.4 Key Issues in Generating Pro-Poor Growth

In the poverty reduction strategy, the role of the public sector in generating growth is important for several reasons. First, public investment in infrastructure like transport and communication, power and energy, ports, and human capital would be critical to enhance the efficiency of private investment. Second, the government needs to support the private sector through facilitating development-friendly institutions– property rights, rule of law, market-oriented incentives, sustainable public finances, sound monetary and trade policy, strong and efficient financial sector and good governance. Finally, public investment will determine the structure of growth by allocating resources to the social sectors like education, health, and rural infrastructure. The role of the public and the private sector would assume renewed importance through the explicit adoption of public private partnership (PPP) by the present government.

Sources of Growth

Since the 1990s, the growth of total factor productivity (TFP) has been low, growing at only 1.2 percent. For enhancing the growth of the economy during NSAPR II, the focus therefore would be on increasing TFP growth and the essential elements of this approach would be (i) pursuit of supportive macroeconomic policy, (ii) removal of infrastructural bottlenecks including electricity, gas, telecommunication, transport and port services, (iii) enhancing the supply of effective labour through investment in health, nutrition and education of all people especially people living in poverty, women, indigenous people, and persons with disabilities, (iv) generation, adaptation and diffusion of technology, through emphasis on R&D and inflow of FDI, (v) minimizing the negative productivity shocks of natural disaster through better management of such disaster, enhancement of the poor’s capacity to cope with the disaster and supporting the efforts of the entrepreneurs to overcome damages to production, plants and machinery, (vi) improving the quality of governance, (vii) lowering regulatory and administrative burden on business, (vii) promoting openness to trade and devising appropriate fiscal stimulus and policy responses to international shocks like global recession; (viii) improving the quality of financial sector intermediation, (ix) improving the performance of the tax system, and (x) bringing about institutional reforms to make them more market oriented and growth friendly.

Ensuring Regional Balance

The sharp regional difference in the incidence of poverty between the eastern and western regions of the country will be addressed through introducing regional dimension in allocation and utilization of resources. Special attention will be given to bring dynamism in the economy of the western region through provision of infrastructural facilities, credit and fiscal incentives, encouraging locational dispersion of industries and creating regional growth centres, providing training and upgrading skills, promoting rural non-farm activities and increasing the coverage of social safety nets.

Decentralizing Growth

Decentralized growth with participation in the most inclusive manner will have greater impact on poverty reduction. Rural towns or semi-urban areas growing outside the municipal areas have shown dynamism of non-farm activities. Growth of rural towns will be promoted through improved provision of public utilities, better connectivity, planned development of towns and land use planning.

The meso-economy, consisting of formal and informal activities in service, trade, construction and small industries provides scope for decentralized employment generation. These activities are often characterized by low asset base and limited scale and informal nature of operation. Hence, traditional policy interventions having a sectoral focus do not always serve well the growth requirements of these activities.

The meso-economy will be supported through appropriate credit facilities, skills training and technology upgradation to enable this vibrant component of the economy to integrate with the growing formal sector and contribute towards decentralized growth.

Gaining from Demographic Dividend

Bangladesh’s population is likely to increase to 233 million in 2051 from the current estimate of 144.2 million in 2009. In this context, population planning will take a number of initiatives to reduce the growth rate such as (i) creating awareness about the population problem and enlisting public support for population planning and development; (ii) implementing family planning and reproductive health programmes more efficiently; and (iii) strengthening inter-ministerial coordination. The demographic transition that the country has undergone resulting in a higher proportion of young and working age population and a lower dependency ratio would create virtuous cycles of growth. Macroeconomic and sectoral policies will be geared towards providing productive employment to the growing labour force to reap the demographic dividend.

Focusing Women’s Advancement and Rights

Women in Bangladesh have made important gains along with changes in social attitudes towards women’s economic participation. Further progress in women development will be achieved by including women’s advancement and rights issues in all mainstream activities. Although women and men share many of the burdens of poverty, women frequently experience poverty differently, have different poverty reduction priorities, and are affected differently by development interventions. The NSAPR II will address the gender dimensions of poverty and implement gender responsive interventions to enhance the likelihood of success of poverty reduction efforts.

Strengthening Safety Nets Programmes

An effective, extensive, and development oriented social protection and safety nets programme will form an integral part of the poverty reduction strategy. The existing programmes will be consolidated and strengthened in terms of targeting and coverage. Social safety nets will be extended for the ultra poor. Social safety nets will also be extended for the urban poor who are often not reached by existing measures. Some previous programmes such as one house one farm, rural housing, ideal village, and returning home will be revived, and the coverage of old age allowance and destitute women allowance programmes will be substantially increased. Moreover, the

Strengthening Financial Sector

An efficient financial sector plays a crucial role in accelerating economic growth process. Therefore, reform initiatives implemented in the financial sector so far would be carried forward during NSAPR–II period to propel Bangladesh’s economy on a higher trajectory. The government will carry out financial sector reforms to catalyse economic growth and will step up public expenditure to make a significant breakthrough in poverty eradication program.

The supervisory capacity of the Bangladesh Bank to oversee the commercial banks’ activities will be further strengthen, and the NCB’s privatization process will be expedited. Prudent credit policy will followed to avoid concentration of wealth to few group/companies. A cap on the credit limit of up to 35 percent of any bank’s paid up capital has been imposed. The overall activities of the Bangladesh Bank and the NCBs will be fully automated. Meanwhile power of the Boards of Directors of SCBs has been enhanced. A 5- year business strategic plan has been prepared and expected to be put in to operation with the NSAPR II period. This will infuse dynamism in banking operation.

The Bangladesh Shilpa Bank and Bangladesh Shilpa Rin Shangtha will be merged to create a wholly-owned public limited company to strengthen the operational efficiency of a unified investment bank. The Government has recapitalized Bangladesh Krishi Bank (BKB), Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) and Karmashanghstan Bank in order to expand agricultural loans program as well as micro-credit.

The Money Laundering Prevention Act 2009 has been enacted in order to effectively prevent money laundering activities. Through this Act, the banks, financial institutions, moneychangers and insurance companies have been brought under accountability regime of Bangladesh Bank.

Sovereign credit rating plays a supporting role in mobilizing capital from international capital market at a reduced cost and at favorable terms. Bangladesh Bank has taken steps to execute an agreement with two international rating agencies. This may expedite foreign investment and open up alternative ways of mobilizing capital.

Ensuring Environmental Protection

Operationally, poverty-environment linkages are evident at two levels - one is conservation of nature and natural resources for sustainable livelihood and the other is controlling/combating pollution for the maintenance of biodiversity and protection of human health. An integrated policy and plan will be formulated under the strategy to ensure environmental protection and protection from the adverse effects of global warming and climate change. Effective regional and international cooperation will be sought to ensure environmental protection and to cope with the effects of climate change.

1.5 Implementation Challenges

Ensuring efficient implementation of the NSAPR II is the key challenge. All ministries would be urged to undertake activities and actions to achieve the strategic objectives that are spelled out in the document, especially in the policy matrix. Accordingly, the line ministries and agencies will formulate and implement their activities and actions through allocations under the annual budgets.

In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public expenditure and ensure that the goals set out in NSAPR II are attained, the government has been implementing a move away from the traditional incremental budgeting towards a medium term budget framework (MTBF) process. The MTBF is intended to support the implementation of NSAPR II through ensuring that (i) the government’s fiscal management contributes to macroeconomic stability and supports an enabling environment for economic growth and poverty reduction; and (ii) adequate public resources are allocated through a more strategic and policy-led budget planning process directed towards priority programmes identified in the strategy and in supporting complementary sector level strategies.

Successful implementation of NSAPR II and achievements of the goals require a well-designed monitoring and evaluation process in place both at macro and micro levels. Monitoring the implementation progress will consist of continuous assessment of the flow of inputs/expenditure for the fulfilment of specific objectives and appropriate utilization of the inputs. This will be accompanied by periodic assessment of actual progress in various input, output, and outcome indicators at the macro, sectoral, programme and project levels. For the purpose, effective measures will be undertaken to create capacity of concerned Ministries / Agencies to generate data and information relevant to monitoring. This would require capacity building of the concerned Ministries and implementing Agencies in implementation monitoring and evalution.

1.6 Participatory Formulation Process

The General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission is the National Poverty Focal Point (NPFP) for coordination of activities leading to the preparation of NSAPR II. The National Steering Committee identified 18 thematic areas of the economy which would contribute to accelerated poverty reduction in the next three years. Accordingly, 18 thematic groups comprising the lead ministry and associate ministries/divisions/agencies were formed to prepare thematic reports which formed the basis of NSAPR II (Annex 1).

The GED undertook a process of intensive consultation with the stakeholders in the formulation of NSAPR II. National level consultation was held in Dhaka on draft thematic reports and a second consultation was held at Barisal with participation of academics, researchers, NGOs, CBOs, the media and government officials. The thematic reports were finalised reflecting the findings and recommendations of both consultations.

Several consultations were held on draft NSAPR II. First, a two-day national level consultation was held in Dhaka with NGOs, CBOs, representatives of CCIs, academics, researchers and thematic groups. A second consultation was held in Dhaka with the development partners. Two regional consultations were held – one at Rajshahi and the other at Rangamati, with participation of NGOs, CBOs, representatives of local government, representatives of chambers of commerce and industry, the media and government officials. In addition, useful written comments were provided by NGOs, development partners and various ministries. The draft NSAPR II was finalised giving due consideration to the comments received at different consultation meetings. A summary of the recommendations made in different consultation meetings is presented in Annex 2.

To ensure ownership of the poverty reduction strategy, the NSAPR II document has been prepared incorporating the aspirations of the people as reflected in the Election Manifesto of the government. The subsequent consultation process carried out with stakeholders and the Honourable Members of the Parliament has contributed towards further strengthening the ownership of the strategy document.

Chapter 2 Poverty Situation and the Medium Term Macroeconomic Framework

2.1 Achievements in Poverty Reduction

The incidence of poverty has been declining in Bangladesh (Table 2.1). The national head count index of poverty measured by the upper poverty line declined from 56.6 percent in 1991-92 to 40.0 percent in 2005.1 During the period, urban poverty reduced at a faster rate than rural poverty. On the other hand, headcount index measured by the lower poverty line declined from 41.0 percent in 1991-92 to 25.1 percent in 2005. The trend has been similar in both rural and urban areas. At the same time, all indicators of human poverty like life expectancy at birth, infant mortality rate, population having access to drinking water, and adult literacy rate have shown improvements over time. However, the absolute values of many of these indicators are still unacceptable and the challenge is to improve the situation rapidly.

Table 2.1:

Head Count Ratio of Poverty, 1991-92 to 2005

(Percent)

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Source: BBS, Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2005.

2.2 Trends in Income Inequality

Despite rises in household income, income distribution has become more unequal over time (Table 2.2). The bottom 5 percent of the population received 0.77 percent of the total income in 2005, down from 0.93 percent in 2000. The bottom 40 percent of the population which coincides with the share of the poor in total population received only 14.4 percent of the total income in 2005. On the other hand, the top 5 percent received nearly 27 percent of the total income in 2005.

Table 2.2:

Income Distribution, 2000 and 2005

(Percentage of total household income)

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Source: BBS, Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2005.

2.3 Women’s Poverty

One aspect of women’s poverty is that the total number of poor women is higher than that of poor men. Various micro studies indicate that the ‘hard-core’ poor are largely women. The number of ultra poor (measured by food intake of 1,600 k.cal/person/day) and extreme poor (food intake of 1,805 k.cal/person/day) is higher in female headed households than in male headed households. The HIES 2005 shows that about 29.6 percent of divorced/widowed women live below the lower poverty line against the national average of 25.1 percent.

Customary biases and intra-household inequalities lead to lower consumption by and fewer benefits for women and girls among low-income households. Intra-household inequalities exacerbate the vulnerability of women and girls. Skewed sex ratio showing a higher male population relative to female population (105 males for 100 females in 2008) suggests the presence of discrimination against women in health, nutrition and other aspects of well being originating within the households.

Women’s social subordination makes them more vulnerable to poverty. Women have few rights and choices in taking personal decisions regarding education, marriage, child bearing, family expenditure pattern, and participation in labour market and income generating activities. Discrimination against women at the social level is reflected in their movement limited within the homestead, lack of mobility in the public space, early marriage (average age at marriage for women is 20.2 years while that for men is 27.6 years) and the practice of dowry. Women have weak protection socially and legally in the event of break-up of marriages. They fall easily in the trap of trafficking.

2.4 Regional Differences in Poverty

Regional differences in the incidence of poverty need in-depth analysis so that the problem can be addressed adequately. The reasons for lower incidence of poverty in the country’s eastern region compared with the western region are important to consider in designing appropriate strategies to overcome the problem.

Regional poverty differences in the country persists due to many factors including location of the capital city and the major port, concentration of administrative powers, availability of power and gas, and easier access of people living in this part of the country to these cities. The impact of rapid growth of these cities is also spreading to the nearby rural areas. People in the country’s western region have limited access to the growth poles because of lesser connectivity. Faster poverty reduction in the western region needs greater investments in infrastructure, especially roads and bridges. The construction of the Padma bridge taken up by the present government would increase connectivity between the two regions and will help increase returns to household activities in the lagging regions. This needs to be supported by building better access to the Mongla port, and expansion of power and energy networks. The policy thrust also requires more investments in human capital and improvements in employment opportunities in the region. In addition, investment in infrastructure and services in urban areas in the western region will help improve diversified household activities and increase their returns.

2.5 Extreme and Chronic Poverty

The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2005 data show that about 27.0 million people, constituting 19.5 percent of the total population, live in extreme poverty in Bangladesh, while 31 percent of the rural population suffer from chronic poverty.2 Adverse changes in household structure (e.g. increase in the dependency ratio among the poor relative to the non-poor households), pursuit of traditional agriculture as a means of livelihood due to inability to adopt improved practices, decline in availability of natural and common property resources, limited access to financial and human resources, and incidence of multiple shocks including natural and health shocks, and similar other factors are responsible for the non-poor to slip into poverty and the poor into extreme and chronic poverty. Women of these households are also more vulnerable to violence. Helping these households to deal with such shocks more effectively through social protection schemes, better governance, and changing attitudes (e.g. health behaviour and dowry) could keep many households out of chronic poverty.

Further, maternal nutritional status is a strong predictor of child nutritional status (and thus development of child’s mental faculties and productivity). Women’s health and well-being are therefore important factors for breaking the transmission of poverty over generations. It is important to ensure the access of the extreme poor and the chronic poor households to education, health care, credit, and other support services and remove market barriers to help them move out of poverty.

The persistence of extreme poverty in some specific geographic locations has been a stark reality in Bangladesh. People living in remote char areas with few assets and limited employment opportunities especially during the lean seasons become the usual victims of persistent poverty. Besides, people living in remote areas of the hill tracts region and indigenous people are also victims of extreme poverty. Investments in infrastructure, creation of employment opportunities during the lean periods, and increased coverage of social safety nets programmes (SSNPs) will improve the poverty situation of these disadvantaged groups.

2.6 Poverty Scenario Beyond 2005

Since the household income and expenditure surveys--the only source of poverty data in the country--are conducted at intervals, official statistics on poverty are not available beyond 2005. Based on past economic growth and associated trends in poverty, some poverty estimates for recent years can be derived. Two scenarios have been drawn: one based on high poverty elasticity; and the other using low poverty elasticity of growth.3 Using the above methodology, the head count ratio in 2009 is estimated to have declined by 8.9 percentage points if the high value of poverty elasticity of growth is used while the decline is by 7.5 percentage points in the case of low poverty elasticity of growth. Thus, the headcount ratio of poverty could vary between 31.1 percent and 32.5 percent in 2009.

The gain in poverty reduction during the period may, however, have eroded to some extent because of the sharp increase in the prices of rice and other essential commodities especially during the early months of 2008. Given the relatively high weight of food in the consumption basket (nearly 61 percent in rural areas and 45 percent in urban areas), high food prices during 2008 may have made the poor poorer and pushed some above the poverty line into poverty. Although the impact of the present global economic crisis in Bangladesh is relatively low, the growth of the real economy has been adversely affected including exports. The sensitivity has been heightened by the export led growth strategy that Bangladesh follows thereby affecting export related production and investment as well as softening of domestic demand. The GDP growth rate has fallen in 2009 leading to increased fiscal stress, unemployment, poverty, and deprivations especially for the vulnerable groups.

2.7 Medium Term Macroeconomic Framework

The global economy experienced robust growth of 4.2 per cent during 2002-07 against an average growth of 3.0 percent during the 1990s. In 2007, the growth rate reached a peak of 5.2 percent. This higher growth of the world economy also helped Bangladesh to improve its growth performance during the period.

However, the debacle of the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States (US) triggered a downturn in the US economy in 2008 which quickly engulfed the world economy leading to a deep global recession. The global economy, which grew by 3.1 percent in 2008, is projected to shrink by 1.4 percent in 2009, before the growth rate modestly rises to 2.5 percent in 2010.

Despite the effects of global economic slowdown and adverse impacts of two consecutive floods and cyclone Sidr that hit Bangladesh in FY08, the economy remained mostly stable and growth in FY2009 is estimated at 5.9 percent showing high resilience of the economy. Nevertheless, the aftermath of the deepened global economic crisis and the apprehension that the crisis might linger for a while pose great challenge for the Bangladesh economy at least until FY 2010.

The medium term macroeconomic framework (MTMF) for NSAPR II has been drawn against this backdrop (Table 2.3). The framework reflects the election pledges of the government to tackle the impact of global recession, maintain macroeconomic stability, and steer the economy through to recovery and a trajectory of higher growth. The projections reflect a cautiously optimistic scenario that is consistent with recent trends and takes into account the commitment of the government to reduce poverty and inequality. Policies will be geared to preserve the desired macroeconomic environment which will be evaluated in terms of pre-specified indicators.

Table 2.3:

Medium Term Macroeconomic Framework

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Source: Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh Bank, and Planning Commission.

2.7.1 Growth and Investment

Annual GDP growth is projected to be 6.0 percent in FY2010 before it rises to 6.7 percent in FY2011. These growth targets are consistent with the Election Manifesto of the government, which sets GDP growth of 8 percent to be achieved by FY2013 and 10 percent by FY2017. The achievement of projected growth will be facilitated by several strategic thrusts to be adopted by the government. The main strategy will be to keep domestic demand buoyant along with exports and facilitate adequate investment so that the required supply response could be forthcoming to meet rising demands. Emphasis will be laid on agriculture and rural development, power and energy, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), human resource development, and social safety nets. The thrust will be on creating employment opportunities, expanding public expenditure, and increasing investment.

The depressed investment rate, which resulted mainly from the impact of global recession, is expected to reverse in FY11. Investment is estimated to account for 24.2 percent of GDP in FY2009 and projected to be 24.6 percent in FY2010 and 26.1 percent in FY2011. To take the economy to a higher trajectory of growth as envisaged by the government, qualitative changes in the investment strategy will be introduced. As a vehicle to attaining the projected growth, investment in infrastructure development, especially power and energy, ports, communication, and education and health will be given priority.

For mobilizing the required investments, complementary use of public and private capital with provision for public private partnership (PPP) in infrastructure, health and education and other sectors will be given emphasis. The government has allocated Tk. 2.5 billion in the FY10 budget to accelerate the process of investment through PPP. The allocation will be used for setting up an Infrastructure Investment Fund from which the government will provide equity or loan to private investors to ensure government’s participation. In addition, different financial incentives will be extended from the Fund to encourage investments. The aim is to set up an institution for preparation and implementation of the PPP budget through innovative ways, independent operation, and accountability of planning and budget process of the private sector. This will also provide incentives to PPP initiatives in different sectors and expedite project approval process.

2.7.2 Fiscal Policy

During the NSAPR II period, the fiscal policy would focus on maintaining macroeconomic stability and promoting pro-poor growth while safeguarding the economy from international shocks like the current global meltdown, ensuring food security, and encouraging social inclusion. The government aims to achieve this through raising revenue, reordering public expenditure to more productive and social sectors, and improving efficiency of public expenditure.

The revenue/GDP ratio is projected to grow from 10.4 percent in FY2009 to 11.4 percent in FY2010 and 11.9 percent in FY2011 and would rise at higher rates afterwards. Improvements in revenue collection will be achieved through expanding the tax base; curbing tax evasion; checking leakage in the tax collection system; enhancing transparency, accountability and efficiency in the revenue administration and tax collection system; simplifying tax rules to create a tax friendly environment and providing more client oriented services; reducing discretionary power in tax laws; and undertaking reforms and capacity building of revenue administration.

The achievement of the government’s long term commitment to reduce the incidence of poverty to 15 percent in FY21 requires a fast track poverty reduction strategy which in its turn requires continued increase in government expenditure. Total expenditure/GDP ratio is estimated to be 13.8 percent of GDP in FY2009. This will rise to 16.5 percent in FY2010 and 19.9 percent in FY2011 and would be higher thereafter. The size of ADP as share of GDP will rise from the estimated level of 3.2 percent in FY2009 to 4.5 percent in FY2010 and 5.0 percent in FY2011. The rising trend in public expenditure will be in accordance with the need to implement fiscal support measures to meet the adverse impact of the global economic crisis and the government’s emphasis on agriculture, support to sectors affected by world recession, infrastructure especially power and energy, regional parity, and social safety net programmes. Emphasis will be put on mobilizing grants and concessional foreign development assistance in support of public investment in social and infrastructural sectors and for programmes designed to counter the negative fallout of the global meltdown.

For improving ADP implementation, planning and budgeting have largely been decentralized under MTBF system. To ensure satisfactory working of the system, priority will be given to strengthening the budget and planning wings in the ministries along with more effective supervision and monitoring. Measures will be taken for more effective and efficient use of available budgetary resources.

Overall budget deficit is estimated to stand at 3.4 percent of GDP in FY2009 of which 2.8 percent will be financed from domestic sources and the rest from external sources. In FY2010, budget deficit is estimated at 5.1 percent of GDP of which 2.3 percent will be financed from external sources and 2.7 percent from domestic sources. In FY 2011, budget deficit is projected to be slightly lower at 5.0 percent.

2.7.3 Monetary Policy

Bangladesh Bank will continue to pursue a monetary policy that would contain inflation at low levels and promote higher growth through adequate flow of credit from the banks to productive activities and refinance support to income and employment generating priority sectors including agriculture and SMEs, keeping lending rate and interest rate spread low, and maintaining a competitive real exchange rate.

The growth of broad money is projected to decline in the NSAPR II period in support of the inflation objective. Similarly, growth of domestic credit is projected to decline. However, growth of credit to the private sector is expected to rise to facilitate private sector growth. The recent downward trend in inflation is likely to continue during the NSAPR II period. Annual inflation is estimated at 6.4 percent in FY2009 which will come down to 6.0 percent in FY2010 and 5.8 percent in FY2011.

2.7.4 External Sector

The external sector has started to show some impact of the global recession. Exports of raw jute, jute products, frozen food, leather goods, and pharmaceuticals have registered negative growth during the FY09 and the growth of RMG exports has decelerated. Export growth is estimated at 10.1 percent in FY2009. Export growth is likely to be 13.0 percent in FY2010 before it picks up to 14.5 percent in FY2011. The government has constituted a Task Force involving all concerned agencies to monitor developments in the global economy and make necessary policy recommendations. The government has also declared a stimulus package including additional export subsidies to the worst hit sectors, lowering interest rate on import credit for raw materials and capital machinery, and enhancing borrowing facilities from the Export Development Fund.

The growth of imports has declined sharply in FY09 because of lower food imports and fall in prices of petroleum and other commodities. Import growth is projected to increase in the remaining years of NSAPR II to support growth through higher imports of industrial raw materials, capital machinery, and intermediate goods.

Remittance growth is estimated at 22.4 percent in FY2009 and projected to decline to 16.0 percent in FY2010 due to economic decline in labour importing countries and rise again to 16.5 percent in FY2011. The comfortable remittance inflow will help to keep the real effective exchange rate stable and thereby maintain Bangladesh’s export competitiveness.

The above macroeconomic outcomes will depend significantly on the speed of global recovery from the current economic slowdown. If the recovery falters and the recession prolongs, it may become difficult to sustain the export growth and remittance inflow may also weaken. Assuming the current positive pace of global recovery will continue the economy will start moving to higher growth reaching 6.7 percent in FY11 as projected in the MTMF.

Chapter 3 Roadmap for Pro-Poor Economic Growth: Strategic Blocks

Five strategic blocks provide the key components of the present strategy for accelerated poverty reduction:

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3.1 Strategic Block I: Macroeconomic Environment for Pro-Poor Economic Growth

The government is committed to maintaining stable macroeconomic environment. Macroeconomic stability will be maintained through managing the fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies, providing effective safeguards against adverse external or domestic shocks and creating an enabling environment for pro-poor private sector-led economic growth.

3.1.1 Recent Macroeconomic Performance

In the recent past, Bangladesh has maintained an average annual growth rate of around 6 percent. There has been a continuous robust growth of both exports and imports. These developments coupled with phenomenal growth in remittances resulted in a positive current account balance and comfortable foreign exchange reserves. The inflation rate has been moderate though it increased by more than 1 percentage point during the period FY04-FY07. The inflation rate peaked to 9.9 percent in FY08 fuelled mainly by domestic and international supply shocks causing the prices of food grains, fuel, fertilizer, and other essential commodities to soar.

The macroeconomic situation changed for the better in FY09. The inflation rate declined sharply with enhanced domestic production of food grains which has been facilitated by concerted government efforts at raising agricultural output. These developments in the domestic economy were complemented by improved international supply situation of food and other essential goods as well as declining commodity prices.

The deepening world recession exerted negative effect on growth rate through contraction of export demand for some goods. Although the external sector has maintained robust growth but it is lower than the previous year. The performance of export of individual products has varied and export growth is mainly propelled by garments.

The flow of remittance has remained buoyant though the outflow of migrant workers has declined and there is return flow of workers who have lost jobs in the foreign market.

In view of the changed developments, the government has already undertaken fiscal measures to mitigate any negative influence. The government has constituted a Task Force involving all concerned agencies as well as civil society representatives to monitor the development in the global economy and would continue to adopt measures to overcome the impact of recession on growth, employment and poverty.

3.1.2 Current Macroeconomic Challenges

The macroeconomy faces several risks and challenges in the coming two years. The major challenge is to reverse the slide in the growth rate. This will require the economy to increase the investment/GDP ratio which stagnated at around 24.4 percent over the last five years.

The ratio needs to increase to nearly 30 percent over the next few years in order to meet economic growth and other targets. Sustaining the momentum in revenue growth will be a challenging task in macroeconomic management. Export performance in the future faces uncertainties arising from prolonged recession in the global economy which has already affected the export of frozen fish, leather and jute. Similarly, the risk of declining remittance growth due to recession in developed countries looms on the macroeconomy. Providing productive employment to the growing labour force, especially the poor, will remain a major challenge. Finally, falling prices has provided relief to the consumers, particularly to the low income and the poor. However, the sharp fall in rice price may exert a dampening effect on farmers’ incentives to produce with negative effect on poverty reduction.

The government has taken steps to balance its policies to meet short term exigencies and long term development needs. A fiscal stimulus package was undertaken in April 2009 to support agriculture, export and power sectors and provide enhanced social security. The FY10 budget has adopted special measures and support package for minimizing the adverse impact of the global economic slowdown. The Bangladesh Bank has instructed the commercial banks to reduce their lending rate to 13 percent to support agriculture, large and medium enterprises, housing and trade finance. Export subsidy for three worst affected sectors has been increased by 2.5 percent. The government has also introduced austerity measures in other areas of public expenditure to free up resources for creation of jobs, increase in aggregate demand, and implementation of social safety nets and poverty reduction programmes. The government will continue to provide such support to mitigate the impact of recession in the short term.

3.1.3 Key Thrusts for Macroeconomic Policy

Growth Policy

For achieving higher economic growth, emphasis will be put on several areas: (i) increased accumulation of capital facilitated by reductions in the cost of borrowing and improvement in total factor productivity; (ii) promoting growth of sectors like agriculture, industry and services focusing on the more pro-poor segments of the sectors; and (iii) improved business and investment climate. Other aspects of the growth policy will include channelling an increasing share of government expenditure to social and infrastructural sectors and directly poverty reducing programmes/projects and fostering growth through complementary use of public and private capital with provision for public private partnership (PPP) in infrastructure, health and education. Successful application of PPP will open up new avenues for increased flow of investment from both local and foreign investors. To gain the confidence of private investors regarding the government’s commitment in the PPP initiative, an allocation of Tk. 2.5 billion has been made in FY10 budget for loan and equity, PPP viability gap funding as subsidy, and PPP technical assistance. The government is taking steps to set up an institution for preparation and implementation of PPP budget which will ensure innovative ways, independent operation, and accountability of planning and the budget process.

Attempts will be made to attract higher volume of FDI by addressing its bottlenecks related to policy discontinuity, bureaucratic red-tape, corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure, poor port management, and deficiencies of the legal system. The Government will establish special economic zones in different parts of the country. Further, efforts will be made to project Bangladesh as a viable, profitable and secure investment destination and come up with well-advertised business support services aimed at reducing the cost of doing business.

Fiscal Policy

The fiscal policy will focus on maintaining macroeconomic stability and promoting pro-poor economic growth while safeguarding the economy from international shocks like the current global melt down, ensuring food security, and encouraging social inclusion. This will be achieved through raising revenue, reordering public expenditure to more productive and social sectors, and improving efficiency of expenditure.

Improvements in revenue collection will be achieved through expanding the tax base, curbing tax evasion, checking leakage in the tax collection system, and ensuring more transparency, accountability and efficiency in the revenue administration and tax collection system. The tax base will be broadened by collecting VAT from items to which law applies as well as bringing new persons/businesses under tax net.

For financing the budget deficit, the government intends to keep domestic borrowing restrained within acceptable levels to avoid crowding out effect and probable inflationary pressure. In this context, the government puts emphasis on global development partnership that has been made an integral part of MDGs under the UN framework under which the government expects to receive more untied and concessional aid especially to support social and infrastructural sectors. The government, jointly with the development partners, is developing a Joint Cooperation Strategy (JCS) in the interest of enhancing aid effectiveness following the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA). The JCS will focus on, among other things, alignment of aid with national priorities, systems and procedures, increasing accountability, eliminating duplication of efforts and rationalizing donor activities, reforming and simplifying donor policies and procedures, and better monitoring of utilization of development aid.

Monetary Policy

The Bangladesh Bank will continue to pursue such monetary policy as would reduce inflation and promote higher growth through maintaining an adequate flow of credit from the banks to productive activities and providing refinance support for income and employment generating priority sectors including agriculture and SMEs. The efforts will also aim at keeping lending rate low, containing spread, and maintaining a competitive real exchange rate avoiding undesirable fluctuations.

Trade Related Policies

The external sector policy will be geared to sustain export growth, enhance remittance flows, and ensure increasing flow of imports required to attain the targeted growth rate of the economy and meet consumer demand. The government’s efforts will focus on reduction of the trade transaction cost and delivery time through effective trade facilitation measures, one-stop export facilities including the issue of export registration certificates at EPB, graduation to higher valued products, increased quality of the products, and initiatives for recognition from international accreditation bodies to increase exports. Focus will also be given on problems related to lack of production and trade policy to satisfy high quality and standard requirements in the developed countries, narrow supply base and its poor response to changing international demand, lack of investment funds, weak physical infrastructure including lack of connectivity with neighbouring countries, high port and transport costs, low technological and R&D level to address the problems of international competitiveness, and low entrepreneurship and management skills.

The government will continue to enhance its capacity to address the demand side issues. The pertinent issues include increased preferential market access, complex rules of origin and restrictive trade policies and non-tariff barriers, social movements inappropriate to the context which impede export, discriminatory market access granted to competitors e.g. under AGOA, and lack of adequate market information. The government will take further steps to reduce the anti-export bias through rationalization of tariffs and removal of non-tariff barriers to trade. Efforts will be made to avoid negative effective protection to industries and to provide a stable duty structure. The various incentive schemes for export promotion will be examined to make them more effective, results focused and transparent.

The flow of remittances will be enhanced by addressing issues relating to migration of workers and the flow of remittances through the formal channel. The government plans to start the Prabashi Kalyan Bank (Expatriate Welfare Bank) as a public sector bank with provisions to provide loans to labour migrants. Additional banks will also be allowed to float by the non-resident Bangladeshis. The inflow of remittance through formal channels will be encouraged by improving access to Bangladeshi banks and exchange houses in selected areas in the Middle East and new migrant destinations like Greece, Italy, Republic of Korea, and Spain, creating a legal framework that is conducive to using formal channels, increasing access to banks and post offices in remote areas with concentration of remittance receiving households, and imparting knowledge of remittance process and investment opportunities to migrant workers.

Bangladesh is a member of the WTO and a number of regional trading arrangements like SAFTA and BIMSTEC. Under the regional trading arrangements, Bangladesh will continue to seek duty free access for its exports to other developing country markets. Trading arrangements involve a shift from existing to changed pattern of trade, production, investment and employment leading to gains and losses for a particular country. Bangladesh can enhance its gains and minimize its losses if it negotiates skilfully. The need for an improved capacity for negotiation has been considered a critical aspect of trade agreements. Under the regional trading arrangements, Bangladesh will continue to seek duty free access for its exports to other developing country markets.

Bangladesh will negotiate, along with other LDCs, with EU for relaxing the rules of origin and take measures to fulfil the sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) provisions in developed country markets especially in EU. Along with seeking assistance for building infrastructure for export development, Bangladesh will seek liberalization of movement of natural persons under mode 4 under services trade liberalization.

3.2 Strategic Block II: Critical Areas for Pro-Poor Economic Growth

3.2.1 Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development

The SME sector will play a pivotal role in achieving the national goals of accelerated pro-poor growth, sustained poverty alleviation and faster rate of economic and social progress. The SMEs account for over 99 percent of private sector industrial establishments providing job opportunities to around 70 to 80 percent of the non-agricultural labour force. The SME share in manufacturing value added varies from 28 to 30 percent. Their contribution to national exports is also significant. The greater proportion of the SMEs (58 percent of establishments and 55 percent of jobs created by them in 2006) is in rural locations which offer better prospects for industrial dispersal. However, their location in certain administrative divisions/districts reflects regional concentration. There has been increased women’s involvement in SMEs, especially home-based micro enterprises engaged in the production of clothing and textiles (boutiques and handicrafts, weaving and spinning) livestock and dairy, and retail sales. Relatively small enterprises owned by women entrepreneurs are mostly of the sole proprietorship type which needs low investments.

Constraints and Challenges to SME Growth: The SME sector continues to suffer from lack of access to finance, infrastructural bottlenecks (especially unreliable power), low levels of technological competence, difficult market access and regulatory barriers. Other important challenges include sharp market competition both in existing and new markets. Sophisticated consumer preferences and market standards and various non-price factors such as quality, health and safety and ecological compatibility of products and processes which determine competitive advantage also pose significant challenges. In the changed market perspectives, introduction of new products and processes, more innovative design, shorter product cycles and smaller output batches, greater mass customization, and more just-in-time delivery etc. have become the critical determinants of survival and growth of the SMEs

Policies and Strategies for Future Development of SMEs: The government’s policy support to SMEs is to play the role of the facilitator to remove operational bottlenecks, neutralize market failures and provide necessary promotional support.

A comprehensive and inclusive credit policy will be formulated emphasizing increase in the flow of formal credit into the sector focusing on micro enterprises and women entrepreneurs through introduction of new and innovative credit schemes and financial instruments. In this context, collateral requirements for SME loans will be scaled down and a switch from immovable assets to movable assets for collaterals needs will be introduced. Bangladesh Bank will refinance credit facilities for SMEs. For enhancing entrepreneurial skills, suitable courses on entrepreneurial skill development can be introduced at school and college levels.

Strengthening of partnership between private entrepreneurs and R&D institutions, universities, and other stakeholders will be fostered by the government to facilitate supply of quality products through progressive assimilation of new and more sophisticated technologies. Inter-firm linkages and networking through subcontracting would be encouraged to enhance external competitiveness. In order to get integrated with the global and regional economies (ASEAN and SAARC in particular) through the international value chains of productions, special efforts would be taken. The development of horizontal production networking among firms of identical size would be another new initiative to achieve efficiency in mass production irrespective of the size of units.

The SMEF web portal would be made cost-effective and user-friendly to SME entrepreneurs. The SMEs would be encouraged to make the most use of the ICT and e-commerce facilities and services in production, marketing and networking. Measures to enhance international competitiveness of the agro-based food products would include making the producers aware of the international food safety standards, strengthening of the BSTI product certification system and establishment of one national Referral Centre for Certification and a Food Agro-Processing Park containing quality and standards certification facilities. Further, provision of incentives in both cash and kind (i.e. air cargo facilities, refrigerators and vans etc. for food products preservation and transportation) would be considered to facilitate entry into export market.

The SME policies and strategies would be made sensitive to needs of woman entrepreneurs in SMEs. The WEF in the SMEF would be used as a channel to safeguard women’s interests as equal partners in business development activities. Special incentives e.g. enterprises of weavers, blacksmiths and clay potters and silk, Jamdani and Benarasi villages would be considered for SMEs in economically depressed regions. Effective coordination at the national level will be fostered through dialogue among relevant stakeholders while formulating SME policies and implementation strategies.

3.2.2 Promoting Decent Employment

The labour market in Bangladesh is characterized by (i) high rate of labour force growth, (ii) low rate of unemployment but high under-employment rate, (iii) predominance of employment in agriculture followed by the services sector, (iv) smaller share of female employment, and (v) low wage rates. The number of people out of work in Bangladesh climbed to 2.1 million in 2005-06 from 1.7 million in 1999-2000, with an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent. The unemployment rate provides a partial picture of the labour market performance because unemployment rate does not take into account labour who are underemployed e.g. who work less than 35 hours a week. There are large variations in unemployment rate by region, age, sex, and education levels. The share of the informal sector (including agriculture) in total employment increased from 75.3 percent in 1999-2000 to 78.5 percent in 2005-06. The enhanced employment share reflects in part the fact that the informal sector is a refuge sector for those who fail to get absorbed in formal employment. The participation in the labour force even below the age of 15 years is quite high and this needs to be taken into account in promoting decent employment in the country.

Labour Force Projections: With the current labour force growth rate of 3.3 percent annually, the labour force is estimated to grow to 56.4 million in 2009-10, and 58.3 million in 2010-11, resulting in an incremental labour force of 5.4 million during 2009-11. Similarly, if the prevailing employment growth trend continues, total employment will increase to 53.97 million in 2009-10, and 55.75 million in 2010-11, with an incremental employment of 5.27 million during the same period (Table 3.1). It means that given the existing trends of labour force and employment growth, 7.32 million additional jobs (including a backlog of 1.88 million unemployed) will have to be created during 2009-11 requiring an employment growth rate of 4.7 percent. Besides, if the existing trend of underemployment continues, underemployed persons will amount to 26.58 million during 2009-11. To create productive employment for at least 75 percent of these underemployed people (19.94 million), 27.26 million additional productive employment will have to be created during 2009-11.

Table 3.1:

Employment Projections for the 2008-09 to 2010-11 Period

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Notes: (i) All values in 1995-96 million Taka; employment in thousands of workers; and incremental labour intensity in workers per million Taka; (ii) The following method is used for projecting increases in sectoral employment: ΔEi=(ηi)(λi)ΔYi, where, ΔEi is the incremental employment in the i-th sector, ηi is the elasticity of employment in the i-th sector, λi is the average labour intensity (employment per unit of value added) in the i-th sector and ΔYi is the change in value added in sector i over the period of projection.

The projected increase in employment will account for 96.9 percent of increase in the labour force, making a not-so-significant dent into the existing unemployment and underemployment in the economy. This indicates the challenge of employment generation is to absorb the labour force. Several approaches can be adopted to ease the unemployment problem: (i) introducing policies for making growth more employment-friendly; (ii) undertaking special schemes for job creation (especially through micro-credit), (iii) employment-based safety nets through public works programmes; and (iv) increasing overseas migration of workers.

Job Creation Programmes: The government undertakes job creation programmes for those who are by-passed by the normal growth process. Existing labour market policies and programmes underline the importance of a rights-based approach to employment and of guaranteeing employment promotion especially through micro-credit and employment-based social safety nets through public works programmes. The government has different programmes for creating employment for the larger labour force as estimated above. The coverage, funding and effectiveness of the existing employment generation programmes appear to be limited. The existing programmes cannot guarantee jobs and income security to the poor.

The government introduced the 100 days Employment Generation Programme in FY08 for the rural people. In view of the implementation experience, a changed programme entitled Employment Generation for the Hard Core Poor will be introduced in FY10 which will create 56 lakh man-months of employment.

Skill Development Programmes: Skill training is provided by various levels and types of institutions offering a variety of courses under Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labour and Employment. At the highest level, the engineering and technology universities offer undergraduate and graduate programmes and some specialized institutes offer undergraduate programmes like glass and ceramics, textile, leather and graphic arts. At the next lower level, skill training is being imparted through public sector polytechnic institutes and private sector polytechnics. Similarly, there are agricultural training institutes in both the public sector and the private sector.

Under the Ministry of Education, public sector technical schools and colleges (TSCs) offer courses to meet the requirements of the National Skill Standard Grade III (semi-skilled level), Grade II (skilled level) and Grade I (professional or highly skilled level). Besides, there are textile institutes, specialised textile vocational centres, technical training centres, and nurses training institutes. A number of private textile institutes are in place, but very few of the RMG workers are trained there.

Vocational training facilities for women have been expanded and diversified over the years. Part-time, short-term and ad hoc courses are also organised by these institutes to meet the needs of local industries. Some courses are also organised for the housewives and others in trades like the repair of common domestic appliances, hair and skin care, dressmaking etc.

Technical Training Centres (TTCs) under BMET offer regular 2-year vocational training courses and 6-month special courses whose demand is increasing. Besides, TTCs offer many other special short-term skill upgrading courses at the request of the employers. The Department of Youth Development (DYD) has imparted skill development training to youths in different trades.

The government will expand and diversify training facilities, especially for women and upgrade and reorient the quality and content of vocational training in general to cater to the emerging needs of the economy. TSCs that can train the school dropouts can be expanded from current 64 upazillas to other upazillas. Vocational training schools at upazila level will be established with some courses of six months’ duration.

To the extent that a sizeable proportion of employment would have to be self-employment in small units in various sectors, the training system would include entrepreneurship, management and marketing skills. Steps towards this end may include revision of courses, introduction of new courses like computer hardware, medical electronics, consumer electronics and industrial electronics, revising space norms for workshops and activating the NCSDT.

Foreign Employment: Annual flow of migrant workers has increased from 6,087 in 1976 to 1,407,705 in 2008 with an annual rate of growth of 18.5 percent. The sustained growth of migrant workers has been marked by few dips caused by external demand contraction. The current world recession has posed challenges for migrant workers which may persist in the future.

According to MoEWOE, the long-term strategies for expanding overseas employment include: (i) entering new markets for overseas employment, (ii) expanding representation in existing overseas labour markets, (iii) improving skill training for exporting skilled workers, (iv) undertaking special initiative for exporting workers from Monga and other ecologically vulnerable areas, (v) managing welfare programmes for migrant workers, (vi) controlling the recruiting agencies and bringing transparency in the migration process, (vii) increasing the inflow of remittances and ensuring their proper use, (viii) undertaking a special initiative for exporting women workers, and (ix) increasing the skill and role of Bangladesh missions abroad in exporting workers.

A substantial number of the expatriate wage earners are victims of unscrupulous manpower agents who extract substantial sums of money from job seekers for arranging employment abroad. In this context, innovative schemes for funding the prospective job seekers abroad are needed. The government is improving regulation of the recruitment process. More importantly, the government will set up Prabashi Kalyan Bank (Expatriate Welfare Bank) which will lend money to those who go abroad, which they will repay from their wages. The Bank will be owned by the expatriate workers. Some banks/financial institutions have initiated an expatriate lending project whereby the bank will advance money to the prospective job seekers who will repay the loan from their remittances. Similarly, PKSF has introduced a programme for migrant workers targeting people from monga areas. A Skill Development Fund will be created for retention and expansion of foreign labour market.

The government has taken a number of measures for the welfare of remittance earning workers. The Wage Earners’ Welfare Fund is being used for several important activities like repatriation of mortal remains of workers from host countries, burials, and financial assistance to the sick and distressed and to heirs of the deceased who are not getting any compensation from the employer. To recognize the contributions of middle and lower-middle class expatriates-wage-earners, a new policy for giving the remitters special citizens’ privileges has been formulated in 2008. The Expatriates Welfare Desk has been set up in districts with concentration of migrant workers. Ministry of Labour plans to set up technical training facilities in each upazila. Awareness creation programmes have been strengthened among potential workers willing to have overseas employment.

Employment Guidelines: A comprehensive employment guideline will be formulated with the following core components: (i) creating employment opportunities in rural economy, (ii) creating employment opportunities for wage labour in industries, (iii) providing credit and training for self-employment, (iv) promoting subcontracting arrangements between big and small and medium scale industries, and (v) providing special training arrangements for facilitating export of labour.

Mainstreaming Employment into Development Policies: Employment generation needs to be taken into account while formulating both macroeconomic and sectoral policies and programmes. Employment considerations can be factored into the works of different ministries through (i) sector-based analytical work for employment generation, (ii) selectively moving ahead with operational details, and (iii) building the analytical capacity of the MoLE, Ministry of Industries, Ministry of Agriculture and all other ministries for addressing issues on employment generation. Private sector employment will be promoted with supportive policies and programmes.

Sector Level Policies for Higher Employment, Productivity, and Real Wages: Agriculture is still the main employer in the economy. Accordingly, greater emphasis is needed on rural development, with a view to expanding market access, employment and productivity. Most of Bangladesh’s poor and underemployed live in the rural areas or work in urban informal sectors. The formidable challenge facing the government is to increase opportunities for these people to engage in productive employment and enable them to earn a decent wage. At the same time, employment in the formal sector must expand in manufacturing activities. To make this happen, issues relating to easy entry and expansion of private firms in the formal sector, providing financial and fiscal incentives, increasing productivity through activating the National Productivity Organization (NPO) and the Tripartite Productivity Committee (TPC) will be addressed.

The government will continue to pursue the creation of a conducive environment for enterprise development in both the rural and the urban areas through simplification of the process of registration of small businesses, enhanced access to micro finance, expanding social security systems, access to information on markets and new technology, and regulatory reforms. The major features of rural employment are high levels of underemployment, low productivity, and low wages. The rural employment policy will focus on investment and access to capital to increase productivity and earnings, reduction of the vulnerability of agricultural labourers, fostering access to markets and business development services for rural enterprises, creating institutions of the rural poor to ensure decent working conditions.

Labour Market Policies: The labour policy will be reviewed with a view to re-defining minimum wage based on current subsistence income, removal of discrepancy between male and female wages for same work and productivity, removal of child labour, and better protection of the rights of workers and trade unions.

Policies Relating to Labour Welfare: The programmes for labour welfare will lay emphasis on the promotion of harmonious industrial relations, social protection, improvement of occupational safety and health (OSH), elimination of child labour with emphasis on elimination of worst form of child labour (WFCL), enforcement of labour laws especially those relating to unorganised labour and women and child labour, and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers and returned migrant workers. Rationing system has been introduced for labourers including garment workers, ultra poor and rural landless farm labourers.

3.2.3 Improving the Environment for Private Sector Development (PSD)

Deregulation and liberalization of the economy have opened up significant opportunities for the private sector. A vibrant private sector is visible in manufacturing, especially export-oriented textiles and ready made garments, frozen fish and shrimp, leather, tea, plastic products, toy making, furniture, light engineering, agro-based products and more recently in pharmaceuticals, consumer durables, telecommunication, ICT, banking and insurance, ship building, transportation, tourism, and electricity.

Notwithstanding the continued efforts of the government to facilitate private sector development, some critical problems still persist. Infrastructure constraint in the form of shortage of electricity, inefficient port, lack of proper repair and maintenance of roads due to inadequate O & M allocation especially the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, underutilized railway system due to poor management and lack of investment, inadequate air cargo services, and a lack of high-speed Internet access is having a unfavourable impact on productivity and investment in the private sector. Other problems affecting private sector growth include shortage of skilled labour, high interest rates and high service charges in the financial sector; shallow equity market, governance issues involving corruption, dysfunctional bureaucracy and procedural complexity, lack of, or delay in, contract enforcement and dispute resolution, inadequate bankruptcy laws, legal impediments to corporate operations, complex procedure for determining ownership or registration of land transfer; and regulatory barriers.

Policies and Strategies for Private Sector Development

Systematic Dialogue between Public and Private Sectors: The Board of Investment (BOI) was set up as a high profile private sector friendly institution and to ensure effective public private dialogue. Since BOI could not serve its purpose adequately, the government established the Better Business Forum (BBF) for systematic, results-oriented dialogue between the public and private sectors. The consultation process, however, needed back up services of Regulatory Reform Commission (RRC) and a number of subcommittees co-chaired by the representatives of the private sector and government counterparts.

The present government gives high priority to the consultation process but it does not look favourably to the multiplicity of subcommittees. The government believes that special problems should be handled by subject specific task forces. In order to handle the impact of global recession, it promptly set up a Task Force which is active now. The government has taken stock of BBF recommendations and plans to use BBF as the mother platform for the consultation process. The government is considering restructuring and streamlining of the multiplicity of subordinate bodies. It is also considering establishing focal points for private investment in related public agencies through which regulatory reforms, streamlining of procedures, transparency of operations, and speedy provision of services can be ensured. The ultimate objective is reducing the cost of doing business and securing investment in the fastest possible time. Open and free consultation between the government on the one hand and stakeholders in any operation, related business associations, civil society, and public interest interlopers on the other is essential to resolve issues and expedite solutions.

The expected impacts are measurable improvements in the business environment, higher levels of foreign and local investment activity leading to improvement in peoples’ lives. In practical terms, these goals will be achieved through the establishment of government and private sector secretariats, as well as through thematic task forces. The task forces would prioritize the issues, perform necessary background research and analysis, and bring forward the issues with concrete recommendations for actions.

Continuing Sound Macro-economic Management: The government will continue to maintain macroeconomic stability in the face of domestic and external shocks. Fiscal stimulus package, appropriate monetary and credit policy and effective Social Safety Net Programmes (SSNPs) have been undertaken to overcome the impact of global recession.

Overcoming Infrastructure Constraints: Traffic congestion in Dhaka has reached nightmarish proportions. It is also becoming problematic in Chittagong. The main factor is the lack of public transport services. In Dhaka, transport planning needs high priority along with special attention to driving regulations. A combination of elevated expressway, underground railway, over-bridges, ring road, and circular railway needs to be planned for metropolitan Dhaka in the near future. This can be a project under PPP.

The specific measures to be undertaken for infrastructure development are to (a) ensure reliable supply of electricity, (b) adopt appropriate policy and project implementation in infrastructure, (c) construction of Padma and Karnaphuli bridge/tunnel, Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane express way, expansion and modernization of railway, (d) construction of deep sea ports and modernization of Chittagong and Mongla ports, (e) restructuring of Bangladesh Biman and construction of modern international airport: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport at Trishal, Mymensingh and expansion of Cox’s Bazar Airport, (f) reform in the telecommunications sector to extend services to villages. (f) modernize the railway transport system for industrial transportation through integrating it with other surface modes, and (g) expedite reform of the parastatal bodies of the infrastructure sector. Efforts will also be taken to improve traffic management in Dhaka city and construction of elevated expressway and tube-trains (underground metro) in the city.

To promote the private sector, the government had earlier prepared Bangladesh Private Sector Infrastructure Guidelines that spelt out necessary steps for private sector investment in infrastructure facilities in the economy. Presently BOI is looking after private sector investment but it is not functioning well. The government has introduced a PPP budget this year and is considering revamping the entire institutional arrangement for private investment. The interrelationships between BOI, a newly established PPP Cell, and a system of approval of private investments in public goods and services are presently being defined. Private investment with public support is not only being considered for infrastructure facilities such as power plants and energy resource development enterprises, wireless or other telecommunication projects, roads, expressways, railways, tunnels, or ports but also for programmes and projects in education, health, and social welfare. Recognizing the limited availability of public resources, the government is keen on generating private investment for public goods and services. The PPP budget process and processing of PPP programmes and activation of the BOI are likely to be put in place by September 2009.

Creating a More Efficient Financial Sector: The banks have reset their interest rates to maintain credit growth as the economy faces the impact of global recession. Further, interest rate spread has declined and various charges for banking services have also been reduced. The Bangladesh Bank will continue to undertake measures to ensure availability of bank credit to the private sector at reasonable interest rate along with prudent regulation and sound management.

Developing Capital Market: The government policies will focus on: (i) restoring investor confidence through greater transparency and accountability in the working of the Stock Exchanges and other supportive measures, (ii) more efficient operations of the Central Depository System, (iii) enhancing capacity and power of the SEC to monitor and enforce compliance of the rules, (iv) undertaking measures to enhance the supply of good shares in the market, (v) encouraging MNCs to be listed in Bangladesh, (vi) setting up Bangladesh Institute of Capital Market to train investors and intermediary agencies, and (vii) examining the possibilities of state owned good companies to go public share. Other measures will include encouraging institutional buyers to buy more shares from the market, introduction of derivative market, encouraging foreign investors to buy shares, proper and quick action against companies not complying with the rules and regulations of SEC.

Regulatory Transparency and Streamlining: The BOI in an effort to streamline sanctions, expedite processing of investment proposals, and reduce cost of business has been planning one stop service station for a while. The effort has not been very successful yet. The government set up BBF and various subcommittees under it virtually for the same purpose. In addition, it set up a Regulatory Reforms Commission (RRC) for simplification of procedures and ensuring transparency of operations in the public sector. The reform programme will focus on (i) streamlining and simplification of business regulations; (ii) establishment of effective screening mechanisms for new regulations; (iii) development of comprehensive e-registry of business related laws, regulations and rules in Bangladesh; and (iv) strengthening and development of institutional capacities to implement and sustain pro-competitive and investor friendly regulatory reform in Bangladesh. While the objectives are laudable, there are questions relating to the manner in which they can be best achieved. The issues are under review of the government within the overall context of promotion of investment and its institutional apparatus for the purpose.

Improving Access to Land for Private Enterprises: The paucity of land and the worsening land/man ratio makes it imperative that utmost economy be practised for industrial (and other non-agricultural) use of land. This calls for a greater emphasis on better land use planning and improvements in the land administration system in order to facilitate efficient land markets and development of a modern economic zones regime.

Special Economic Zones: The export processing zones (EPZs) as well as industrial estates have contributed a great deal to industrialization in Bangladesh. However, looking at the future it seems obvious that in a globalized world of free trade and uniform industrial incentives which is virtually knocking at the door, some different strategies are called for developing relatively backward economies like Bangladesh and more so for its backward areas. We are looking at experiences of other countries and notably China in developing special economic zones (SEZs) covering not simply enclaves of limited areas but really wider areas of upazilas. These areas will be selected based on prescribed criteria and would cover both developed and backward regions and arrangements will be made by harnessing the elements of strengths as well as mitigating the weaknesses of the selected areas to make them attractive to development enterprises.

No further EPZs or industrial estates will be developed but the existing and the planned or committed ones will continue to operate under the existing laws and rules up to 2013.

The new SEZs will be established by developing infrastructure facilities there so that energy and power sources, transport and communication links, travel and banking facilities, and trained manpower supply can be easily found. The development of an area will take advantage of the comparative advantage of the location. If it is an area where large scale industries can be developed so will it be. If, on the other hand, it is good for agriculture, farming will be its main activity. If it is endowed for service industry, then that is the sector that will take hold there. If the area is good for some cottage industry such as quilt making, the efforts will be organize the activities in such a way that the area and its artisan can respond to large global demand.

The government will not acquire land to develop any particular estate or farm but would assist intending parties to get land for its business and other facilities to set up their individual enterprises. The investors will be ensured of a stable system of tax laws and fiscal measures for a well defined time horizon.

Development of Technology: Policies will focus on (i) monitoring technological developments in the world, acquire the best practice technologies and adapt them to local needs, (ii) resolving technological difficulties faced by local enterprises through appropriate research and process development, (iii) supporting main public institutions in Bangladesh dealing with technology-related matters such as BCSIR, BAEC, BITAC, and public universities including engineering and agriculture, (iv) private organizations for innovative research, and (v) digital Bangladesh as major initiative for modernization and upgrading/catching up of technology.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Strategies to be followed for promotion of CSR, among others, are (i) creating a common platform for understanding and practicing CSR in Bangladesh, (ii) strengthening the CSR dimension for economic empowerment of the poor, (iii) engaging the socially responsible private investors in development initiatives, (iv) dialogue and cooperation with multilateral organizations and NGOs working with codes of conduct and ethical issues related to business activities, (v) continue to develop sustainable partnerships with value driven private sector organizations under their CSR schemes to organize pilot projects addressing development issues, and (vi) favourable tax treatment of CSR expenditure.

Ensuring Competition: The government has decided to break cartels (business syndicates) which are responsible for hoarding and abnormal profit. Market developments will be closely monitored and barriers to competition will be removed. Promotion of competition will benefit the consumers.

3.2.4 Agriculture

The vision of this sector is to enhance growth through development and dissemination of sustainable technologies which are ecologically adaptable, economically profitable, and capable of generating productive employment, diversification of both crop and non-crop, development of agri-business services, and human resource development and ensure “food for all” by taking all possible measures and to make Bangladesh self-sufficient in food by 2013.

In this context, some of the important challenges are: (i) maximise production in the face of decreasing farm size, degradation of soil quality, loss of agricultural land and limited water resources; (ii) harness productivity gains by making a breakthrough in yield technology, (iii) efficiently use water in rice production and shift to water efficient food crops; (iv) creating a level playing field to compete with others and reap the benefits of a globalized world; (v) strike a balance between ensuring adequate incentives for the numerous small producers (rice, poultry, dairy, fish, nursery etc.) on the one hand, and keeping food prices low for the poor consumers on the other; (vi) ensure intra-household food entitlement between men and women (especially lactating women) and between adults and children; (vii) ensure increased production of fish, milk, meat and eggs for a balanced diet for the growing population; (viii) cope with climate change, maintain ecological balance and conserve biodiversity; (ix) to provide greater support to domestic agricultural research; and (x) address increasing volatility in international food market.

Future Agricultural Policies and Strategies Crop Production

Increasing yield: To increase yield, more investment will be made for the development of crop varieties, quality seed, soil health, pest management, and agronomic practices, development of local service providers (LSP), strengthening of the value chain, market development, improving agricultural research and mechanization, improving capacity of scientists and extension workers, and flood control, irrigation and water management.

Broad-based support to agriculture: The government will ensure access to reliable, affordable, adequate and timely supply of major inputs like fertilizers, fuel and irrigation through appropriate support measures especially subsidies and effective distribution system. Any distortion in market for fertilizers and pesticides with regard to dealership, quota and restricted movement of fertilizers will be addressed to ensure timely availability at fair prices.

Other broad-based support includes access to quality seeds (HYV, hybrid), output price support, credit for small farmers and sharecroppers, promoting commercial agriculture and genetic engineering, subsidizing the installation and maintenance of electricity connections to irrigation pumps, maintenance of rural roads enabling storage, processing and marketing of perishable high-value farm products in the private sector, and enhanced extension, and agricultural education with particular focus on quality improvement in all production environments. Public-private partnership will be encouraged in providing broad-based support to agriculture. The approach includes the promotion of private service providers, public-private coordination in research and development, seed production, and business development. For quality control and reliable supply of seeds, the existing regulatory framework needs improvement through better coordination among different agencies concerned. The amount of agricultural loan will be increased and the loan giving procedure simplified. Loan will be made available for the sharecroppers.

Diversification of high value crops: Emphasis will be given on increasing production of non-rice cereal crops, especially maize and oilseeds, and also of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental and medicinal plants. Infrastructure and marketing supports will be provided to develop integrated supply chains including processing, storage and transportation at the local and national levels. Several issues such as product standardisation, food safety, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures will be taken up. Various methods like relay cropping, mixed cropping, and zero tillage will be considered in different agro-ecological zones.

Agricultural research and technology generation: Agricultural research will remain largely in the public domain, but efforts will be made to develop programmes involving NGOs and the private sector. The capacity of the ten NARS institutions will be further strengthened through supporting quality research including biotechnology research, human resource development, strengthened MIS/ICT facilities, prioritizing farmers’ demand-led research and adequate incentive structures for the scientists. Increased attention will be given to R&D in the non-crop sector including livestock, poultry, fisheries and forestry. The National Institute of Biotechnology (NIB) will conduct research on crop varieties to serve farmers located in deeply flooded areas, char land, flash flood-prone areas, coastal tidal surge and salinity prone areas, and hilly areas.

Technology dissemination: There will be emphasis on participatory extension services involving wider rural communities i.e. farmers, landless households, different occupation groups and women. These will be implemented as per Plan of Action with necessary amendments and clarifications in response to changing demands of commercialization. Emphasis will be given on partnership of DAE, DLS, DoF and BRDB cooperatives with the private sector and NGOs, which have evolved many successful approaches to disseminating promising technologies. Under NATP, FIAC (Farmers’ Information and Advisory Centre) will play an important role at union level.

Revamping agricultural marketing system: The ongoing programme will continue to develop marketplaces and market outlets. Credit facilities will be provided to private initiatives for small and medium-scale agri-businesses in processing and packaging. Formation of farmers’ groups will be encouraged to ensure their direct participation in the marketing of agricultural produce. Fair price for agricultural crops and products will be ensured. Incentives will be provided for development of rural warehousing. The Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) will be strengthened to enable it to take modern marketing services for crops and high value agro-products and provide advice and information on prices, processing, handling, and storage and transportation services. DAM will promote an innovative marketing system such as contract growing integrated with a supply chain of high value agro-products. Emphasis will be given to improving marketing environment for agri-inputs and products as well as increasing storage and warehouse facilities. A price Commission will be established for forecasting prices of essential commodities, analysing changes in demand and supply, cost of production of agricultural products, analysing export-import trends and international prices of essential commodities. This Commission will help formulate and up-date regional production planning based on price trends.

Agro-processing activities: Agri-business and agro-processing will be given top priority as a thrust sector to promote value addition to crops, livestock, fish and horticultural products. The government will provide support to the agro-entrepreneurs through infrastructure development, and fiscal benefits including export incentives and tax concessions. The private sector will also get support for technical training, technology development, and improvement of standards of hygiene, handling and packaging of processed products. Food safety would be improved as a means of strengthening export outlet of agricultural products. Agro-economic zones will be established with appropriate support services, quality control laboratories and by developing communication and transportation facilities.

Climate change adaptive technology: Some efforts have been made to cope with climate change through development of salinity resistance, drought resistance, short duration, cold tolerant rice varieties. In future, more emphasis will be given to develop technologies which are environment friendly in coping with climatic change. The brick burning system will be modernized by 2011 for no smoke condition kiln; solar technology will be encouraged for household power supply; and rain water harvesting will be encouraged to develop in all public and private buildings/establishments.

Irrigation and flood protection: Deregulation and market liberalization have encouraged private sector participation in minor irrigation. The suggested interventions include facilitating tube well and surface water irrigation, and revival of rivers through dredging and the Ganges Barrage. Channels will be identified for drainage and also for water retention to be used during the dry season. Capital dredging will be conducted for maintaining navigability and maintaining water flows. Navigability and drainage will be tied up and water bodies will be established in townships and rural areas for surface water supply in dry seasons. The government has already adopted the National Water Policy (1999) for efficient management of water resources in the country. The government plans to increase irrigation coverage from 14.30 lakh hectares in 2007-08 to 14.80 lakh hectares in 2010-11 for additional food grain production. Flood protection and drainage has been planned to cover an area of 46.21 lakh hectares by 2010-11.

Fisheries

The overall strategy of fisheries sub-sector development envisages intensification of aquaculture by species and ecosystems, addition of export-oriented species, ensuring biodiversity and preserving natural breeding grounds, product diversification, value addition, and development of appropriate marketing infrastructure. For increasing fish production, emphasis will be given on (i) making people more conscious about conservation for augmenting natural fish stock and protecting fish habitats through publicizing Fish Conservation Act and new fisheries policies; (ii) protecting breeding and nursery grounds of major fishes through establishment of sanctuary and re-excavation of canals, beels and baors under different programmes; (iii) encouraging alternate income generating activities for fishermen; (iv) protecting beels and haors from the use of pesticides in contagious lands through more coordinated efforts with relevant ministries/agencies; (v) encouraging rice-cum-fish culture and aquaculture and intensifying poly culture; (vi) emphasizing management of aquaculture in floodplains involving local community; (vii) ensuring disease control and quality control of fry and fingerlings; and (viii) prioritizing research and development to meet new changes in the sector. The capacity of the Department of Fisheries (DoF) will be strengthened so that it can support inland aquaculture. Cooperation among the key actors such as NGOs, private sector entrepreneurs and community based fishing groups shall be promoted. Necessary steps will be undertaken for increasing productivity of all khas ponds and water bodies used for fish culture.

Livestock

The National Livestock Policy identifies ten critical policy areas: dairy development and meat production, poultry development, veterinary services and animal health, feeds and animal management, breed development, hides and skins, marketing of livestock products, international trade management, access to credit and insurance and institutional development for research and extension, for livestock and poultry development in the country.

The strategy is to harness the full potentials of the sub-sector through creating an enabling environment, opening up opportunities, and reducing risk and vulnerability. The private sector will remain the main actor, while the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) and Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) will play a supportive role. Capacity of DLS will be enhanced in terms of skill development through training and personnel. Increased provision of trained manpower will be linked to the expanded nationwide outfit of DLS. Necessary steps will be undertaken to increase the production of milk, meat, eggs, and chicken to meet growing domestic demand.

Husbandry of poultry and dairy: The private sector operated poultry and dairy farming are generally capital intensive, knowledge-based and risky, and therefore need technological, financial and marketing support. Some private sector entrepreneurs have ventured into the contract growing of poultry and milk products, supporting small farms with improved poultry and dairy breeds, quality input supplies, demand-led extension services and assured marketing facilities for poultry and milk products. Cattle development for meat production is also important. Strategies will also focus on cost-effective quality feed supply, human resource development to ensure exclusive monitoring and supervision and continuous technical support at village level, women’s employment in livestock, mitigation of disease incidence, export of livestock products and bio-security against highly pathogenic diseases such as Avian Influenza and FMD.

Forestry

The development and management of protected areas (PAs), eco-parks, botanical gardens and safari parks will be brought under a legal framework by amending existing wildlife laws. Necessary measures will be undertaken to ensure both in-situ and ex-situ conservation in the country. Policy intervention is already in place to adopt co-management in five out of 19 PAs in Bangladesh. More areas of natural forest and PAs will be brought under co-management. Due to limited scope for conserving the habitat for mega wildlife and the comparatively small areas left as shelter for small cats and other herbivores total wildlife protection is under threat. Therefore, wildlife protection would be a priority concern for conservation.

Public commons: Public commons including natural resources such as land, wetlands, forests, grasslands, grazing land, reed land, khas land, peat land, rivers, estuaries and the open seas may be one of the most important safety nets available to the poor particularly in the rural areas, provided these are managed in a sustainable manner. In order to increase access to natural resources for the rural poor, participatory social forestry for degraded and encroached forestland and co-management for PAs have been introduced by the Forest Department. It will continue to allow better access of the poor to the public commons.

National forest assessment: National forest assessment and periodic forest inventory will be conducted using MIS and GIS to generate quality and reliable data for future planning and better management. Technical support for developing GIS and training of remote sensing specialists in the Forest Department will be considered in future interventions.

Afforestation: Building forest resources through afforestation will be emphasised. Efforts will be made to establish climate change resilient afforestation in the denuded hill forests and coastal land by accretion.

Rural Development

Both the government and the NGOs are implementing various programmes for rural development covering microcredit, social security, development of rural infrastructure, women’s empowerment, education, health, family welfare, nutrition, and environmental conservation. The National Rural Development Policy 2001 provides a comprehensive framework for sustained improvements in rural life and accelerating the pace of rural poverty reduction.

The government will constitute the National Rural Development Council (NRDC), headed by the Prime Minister, to provide guidelines for implementing the rural development policy. Also a national steering committee will be formed to assist the NRDC and follow up policy implementations. Steps are underway to set up the Policy and Strategy Formulation Unit (PSFU) to implement the National Rural Development Policy 2001 for which a project has been undertaken covering 2009-2013.

3.2.5 Water Resources Development and Management

The vision for the water resources sector as indicated in the National Water Policy (1999) is to ensure continued progress towards achieving the national goals of development and MDGs through development of water resources, optimizing its various uses, managing resources for sustainable development including securing the lives and properties of people from water related disasters.

The challenge for the water sector is to discourage the use of groundwater and to increase surface water use until a threshold of groundwater storage is achieved for all hydrological regions. However, upstream abstraction or diversion of water from common rivers by India is apprehended to cast adverse impact on the flow of surface water in Bangladesh.

The job of managing water resources is problematic because of controversy over allocation rights and the difficulty of enforcing rules and regulations on conservation arising mainly from its public good nature. A balanced set of policies and institutional reforms are required that will harness market forces while at the same time strengthen the capacity of the government to carry out its essential roles. It is imperative for Bangladesh that it relies on the alternative system of administered control that allocates water resources and charges according to set social, environmental, and economic criteria. Water resource development during the lean season has been geared toward the expansion of irrigation to promote food-grain production. It gives rise to conflicts in the presence of its increasing competing uses due to population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. The government needs to shift the focus from water resource development to water resources management.

The combination of high rainfall during the monsoon and full-flowing rivers from our neighbouring country result in extensive inundation of floodplains (about 20-30 percent of the country). The flooding occurs over 6 million hectares to depths ranging from 30 cm to 2m. This situation creates both opportunities for highly productive farming and fishing systems and risks from deep flooding, riverbank erosion and drainage problems creating greater sufferings for poor households. Bangladesh desperately needs measures against these disasters in terms of developing resilience and adaptation.

Lack of adequate and regular allocation of funds has been a perennial problem in BWDB’s conducting of annual O&M activities. Failure to recover part of the capital and O&M cost accentuated the problem. Needs, priorities and implementability have to be judged for estimating O&M needs for projects with long-term benefits of water sector projects. Similarly, adequate environmental considerations in project preparation have been a consistent problem in water sector projects. The government’s capacity to assess the environmental impact of water sector projects will be enhanced as part of the overall strategy to respond to climate change including setting up of a central climate change unit and/or climate change cells in important ministries. The NWMP has divided the country into eight regions for which principal water-related issues have been identified. These issues constitute problems under short, medium and long term regarding hydrological resources as per natural endowments in respective regions. Distribution of poverty by hydrological region could display a striking feature that needs attention. Water projects need to take account of the poverty situation to prioritize projects in locations where poverty can be reduced most.

Strategies and Institutional Development

The strategies of water resources development and management are to (i) develop the main rivers of Bangladesh for the multipurpose use of water resources, managed for navigation and erosion control and developing hydropower; (ii) undertake flood protection and storm water drainage measures with the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing FCD and FCD/I systems in a participatory manner; (iii) include provisions of cyclone protection, an early warning and forecasting system, flood shelters, control of riverbank erosion, drought management and rationalization of groundwater in disaster management programmes; (iv) make adequate provision for water management for agriculture through public sector irrigation development, flood management and drainage; (v) ensure protection of the natural environment and aquatic resources with monitoring and controlling water pollution, water management for fisheries and ecologically sensitive areas, (vi) undertake dredging of rivers for flood control, navigation, drainage and irrigation, (vii) take initiatives to implement the Ganges barrage project to expand irrigation facilities, prevent salinity, and to solve the problem of scarcity of sweet water in the Sundarban region, (viii) seek regional and international cooperation for development of water resources, and (ix) raise awareness among all stakeholders about scarcity of water and the economic use of the resource.

Considering the economic importance of the river systems, the government has decided to implement river channel stabilization through capital dredging in the major rivers of the country. The BWDB is working on formulating a comprehensive plan for capital dredging, primarily covering 13 rivers with a cumulative length of 1,392 km. The pilot dredging of a reach of Jamuna River from upstream of Sirajganj Hard Point to downstream of Dhaleswari off take covering a length of about 20 km would be started soon and, in the light of the experience of this pilot capital dredging, a nationwide capital dredging programme would be finalized.

Institutional Development: The highest body for the formulation of national water policy is the National Water Resources Council. The government has set-up WARPO as a secretariat of the Executive Committee of the National Water Resources Council (ECNWRC). WARPO is responsible for three main assignments: prepare and update the National Water Management Plan, update and maintain a National Water Resource database and act as a clearing house for all water sector projects undertaken by any agency. The ECNWRC needs to be effective and regular monitoring of the three activities has to be ensured.

The Joint Rivers Commission has to continue its efforts to effectively establish the country’s water shares and negotiate accordingly. Specialized Institutions such as RRI, CEGIS and IWM and other relevant research institutions need to pursue professional and technological breakthroughs in view of the challenges in the water sector in future. The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) have continued to carry out major responsibilities of conducting activities concerning investment and operation & maintenance (O&M).

3.2.6 Land Use Policy and Management

The main goal of land use policy and management is to ensure best possible use of land resources and delivery of land related services to the people through modernized and efficient land administration for sustainable development with accelerated poverty reduction.

Because of diversion of agricultural land to multiple uses and river erosion the per capita availability of land is declining and the loss of agricultural land is going on at the rate of about 1 percent per year. The poor have very little access to government land like char land, khas land, water bodies etc. There are land laws and policies to allot such land to the poor and the landless, but the interest of the poor is rarely preserved. The vested interest groups in both rural and urban areas are in de facto and de jure possession with the help of money and muscle. The adivashi (the indigenous people) of the CHT and other areas are losing their common property rights in land. In the cities, the slum dwellers pay high rent for staying in the slums and they remain under threat of eviction.

Land is being degraded by soil salinity, soil contamination, deforestation, water pollution, falling water table and drainage congestion. Financial constraints, lack of awareness, reluctance to obey rules and enforce laws, piece-meal efforts to deal with these issues, implementation of contradictory and ineffective policies are the main reasons for such degradation. The government will address the problems, including higher allocation consistent with public expenditure programme and improving quality/efficiency of expenditure by government departments. Government agencies responsible for preventing land degradation do not get enough funds to tackle these problems.

The Ministry of Land formulated a National Land Use Policy in 2001 to prevent land degradation and to ensure its best utilization for all purposes. The policy also highlights the need, and the importance of carrying out National Land Zoning for integrated planning and management of the country’s land resources. However, the institutional structure for implementation is lacking. Illegal encroachment on rivers, canals and water bodies for housing, industries etc. is common in both rural and urban areas. This leads to obstruction of the flow of water, reduction in flood plain areas and increased flooding. The imperative for raising food production is so urgent that agricultural expansion often neglects the consequential loss of wetland water bodies and biodiversity.

The Ministry of Land is implementing a programme under which at least 20 landless families are being given khas land in each upazila. A total of 6,397 landless families in 436 upazilas have been given nearly 2,185 acres of khas land till July 2009. In addition, 71,032 landless families have been rehabilitated through providing khas land including houses under Ideal Village I and II projects. Similar rehabilitation programme has been targeted for 10,650 landless households under Climate Victims Rehabilitation Project within January 2009 to June 2012. In addition, rehabilitation of 9,500 households is in progress under Char Development and Settlement-3 Project.

Strategies to Overcome Land Related Policy and Management Problems

The lack of coordination between different departments responsible for preparation and maintenance of Record of Rights (ROR) often leads to confusion, conflicts and many instances of litigation causing suffering of the people especially the small and marginal farmers. The Ministry of Land has already undertaken projects to conduct digital surveys and introduce e-governance. Land records will be computerized/digitized and land mutation will be made automatic.

Necessary measures would be initiated to ensure sound coordination of the activities undertaken by department of registration, A.C. Land and DLRS. Through appropriate delineation of supervisory responsibility of settlement activities, better coordination of the two offices in dealing with the preparation and maintenance of land records at the upazila level will be achieved. The Directorate of Registration will be directed to remove inconsistency in land records management and also for immediate updating of land titles.

A database including all land resources, land zoning information and other resources in selected areas such as Char land and other ecologically endangered areas will be developed. The Ministry of Land is implementing a coastal land zoning project to ensure proper use of land and mitigate land degradation. There will be provision for a participatory and joint monitoring system with government employees and the local people for overseeing the activities of land classification, and land record modernization for effective land management. The participation of the poor in the whole process, from formulation to implementation of laws and policies will be instituted.

The land in CHT is administrated under the relevant Acts, Rules and Regulations of the Manual of 1900. The customary common property rights of the ethnic people are to be protected. Laws and policies would be framed for the proper management of the land in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The provisions of Rangamati/Khagrachhori/Bandarban Hill District Local Government Council Act 1989 have been amended according to the CHT Peace Accord. Laws and policies will also be introduced to avoid environmental degradation such as stopping hill-cutting, tree-felling while using available land for development of resources such as tea and rubber plantation.

The modification and simplification of all land-related laws are expected to remove many of the land related disputes. A special committee will be set up to come up with recommendations in this regard.

Land Use Management: Planned use of land according to Land Zoning Maps prepared on the basis of present and potential land uses will be ensured through enforcement of the provisions of relevant laws. The provisions of the Town Improvement Act of 1953 will also be more strictly enforced. The government will take up project for development of rural townships where specific areas are to be earmarked for housing, marketplaces, industries and infrastructure.

Land acquisition act and policy would be rationalized. Unused acquired land or acquired land not used for the declared purposes would be resumed by the Deputy Commissioner. Unused land of Bangladesh Railway may be given to Roads and Highways and Local Government Engineering Department for construction of roads if needed. In case of big public sector projects like the Padma Bridge (for which the government has already approved the resettlement plan) affected persons would be motivated to make their resettlement voluntary. They would be compensated for their land at the price suggested in the National Involuntary Resettlement Policy.

While building rural roads, highways, bridges and culverts, the government departments do not keep enough space for the natural flow of water. In the big cities, the land grabbers are filling up the water bodies, thus creating drainage problems. Provisions are to be made for free flow of water. The natural flow of rivers and canals is to be restored by removing the land grabbers. The water bodies and the flood plain areas in Dhaka and other big cities would be freed from illegal occupants.

The rivers, canals, haors, etc. would be leased out to poor and genuine fishermen. This will be ensured with the involvement of the MOFL, DOF and major stakeholders including NGOs. The Jalmahal Management Policy 2009 has already been finalized and gazetted in June 2009. Similarly, Balumahals and other Sairat Mahals would be managed in a way which will benefit the poor.

Inspections of industries would be conducted more frequently to strictly enforce the construction of ETPs and their due continuous operation. The relevant provisions of EBSATA would be strictly enforced to stop degradation of crop land by neighbouring industries. Projects would be taken to develop perennially inundated areas like Bhabadaha. The conflict between the growers of shrimp and crops would be resolved by involving the Union Parishads, DOE, DOF, DAE and stakeholders’ representative organizations including local NGOs.

The Ministry of Land would continue with its programme of housing for the urban poor. Khas land in urban areas (i.e. non-agricultural) would be utilized for housing the slum dwellers. Non-agricultural khas land would be provided to the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management and Ministry of Social Welfare for constructing (i) houses for women, marginalized people and endangered communities, and (ii) vagrant homes and night shelters in the cities for the uprooted population.

3.2.7 Urban Development

Bangladesh is experiencing rapid urbanization. In 2007, the estimated total population was 142.6 million of which 25.0 percent (35.7 million) was urban. Urbanization is characterized by over centralization in few cities like Dhaka and Chittagong resulting in overcrowding and a severe lack of basic facilities in almost all spheres of life. The major challenges of urbanization in Bangladesh are: (i) unplanned and unguided urbanization with mounting problems; (ii) absence of strong planning outfit centrally and in urban centres; (iii) lack of advance planning for utility services, shelter and infrastructure; (iv) absence of an integrated approach to urbanization embracing cluster development of adjacent towns or provision for satellite towns; (v) lack of comprehensive urbanization comprising all civic amenities like parks, lakes, and other recreation facilities; (vi) absence of a regulatory framework for utilization of urban public land and waterways to prevent their misuse; (vii) inadequate environmental concern for protection of urban waterways, disposal of solid wastes and industrial sludge; (viii) lack of concern for urban poor and slum dwellers; and (ix) absence of statistical database for urban planning. The high population density calls for a spatial pattern of urbanization composed of urban and peri urban areas. Planned urbanization will ensure growth and equity taking into consideration a futuristic scenario. The specific goals are to: (i) promote urban development for balanced growth across the country; ii) finalization of national urban development policy and (iii) promote sustainable urbanization for poverty reduction and development.

Strategies

The following strategies will be followed for urban development: (i) planning, guiding and promoting urban development with adequate services for all; (ii) creating strong planning outfit in relevant ministries and all city corporations; (iii) making advance planning for utility services, shelter and infrastructure in all urban centres; (iv) planning road infrastructure development and public transportation for a number of cities and towns in a cluster; (v) adopting an integrated approach to urbanization embracing cluster development of adjacent towns or provision for satellite towns; (vi) developing comprehensive urbanization comprising all civic amenities like parks, lakes and other recreation facilities; (vii) developing policy framework and creating a regulatory framework for utilization of urban public land and rivers for building parks, lakes and civic amenities; (viii) improving urban environment by protecting urban rivers, regulating disposal of solid wastes and industrial sludge; (ix) creating an enabling environment including social protection systems and safety nets for urban poor and slum dwellers by building appropriate institutions like cooperatives, micro credit organizations, easy access to credit, improved health facilities, etc; (x) building regulatory authority for citizens’ protection against exploitation by home developers and other private utility providers; (xi) creating strong mechanism for coordination of infrastructure development and provision of utilities in all urban centres; (xii) creating a framework for operation of private sector, NGOs, CBOs, PVOs etc. for building infrastructure, recreation facilities and utility services for urban inhabitants; (xiii) building institutions in collaboration with the BBS for creating statistical database for urban planning; and (xiv) build democratic institutions for effective urban governance with the participation of the civil society, NGOs, and CBOs. In developing the growth centres, areas will be earmarked for community housing including social forestry.

3.3 Strategic Block III: Essential Infrastructure for Pro-Poor Economic Growth

Infrastructure development contributes to growth in general and pro-poor growth in particular. Infrastructure includes electricity, gas, renewable energy, roads, railway, inland waterways, sea ports, land ports, airports, and post and telecommunication links.

3.3.1 Power and Energy

The government will adopt a comprehensive long term policy on electricity and energy to develop the power and energy sector, and promote energy efficiency and conservation. Sustainable energy will be promoted as a strategic priority for poverty reduction.

Power

The vision of the power sector is to provide access to affordable and reliable electricity to all citizens of Bangladesh by 2021. The supply of quality and reliable power at an affordable price will be ensured through system expansion with a prudent least cost plan, efficiency improvement through institutional and structural reform and establishment of commercial arrangement among the sector entities. Electricity generation will be raised to 7,000 MW by 2013, 8,000 MW by 2015 and 20,000 MW by 2021.

As power projects are highly capital intensive, developing adequate generation, transmission and distribution facilities to provide reliable and quality power supply to the population poses a formidable challenge for the government. Absence of clear organizational goals, adequate financial and commercial autonomy and lack of adequate incentives resulted in inefficiency in the utility management. High maintenance cost and overhauling time for the existing power plants in the public sector is a serious concern. Limited autonomy and financial power to the concerned authority, long approval procedures, and bureaucratic interference cause delay in the maintenance of power plants. In the distribution system, poor quality of power supply causes serious problem to the customers due to a low voltage profile and presence of harmonics as the system is overloaded, inadequate network capacity, lack of reactive power compensation, poor maintenance and absence of proper response from the operators.

Policies and Strategies: In order to meet the projected demand for electricity, necessary investments will be made in a timely manner. This will require careful planning and timely resource mobilization involving both public and private sectors. Balanced development of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity will be ensured. The entities shall enjoy operational autonomy along with responsibility for eliminating loss, wastage and theft, and for efficiency in operation. The possibility of trading power within the region will be explored, and the potential of coal will be fully utilized.

Electricity generation will focus on completion of under construction plants, installation of new plants, utilization of full capacity of existing plants through rehabilitation, scheduled maintenance and overhauling, and human resource development., review of Captive Power Policy to remove all barriers. Transmission infrastructure will be expanded by PGCB in conformity with the generation expansion. The government will adopt a three year crash programme for quick implementation of ongoing and under consideration power generation stations, ordering 500/1500 MW rental power plant on urgent basis, and initiatives for construction 800 MW Peaking Power Plant, IPP of 1250 MW on gas and duel fuel and 2000-2600 MW imported coal based power stations. A schedule for repair, maintenance and overhauling or salvaging of old power stations will be made to increase and stabilize power production. gas turbine projects on urgent basis, and reactivation of initiatives for construction of 10, 20 and 30 megawatt power stations. A schedule for repair, maintenance and overhauling or salvaging of old power stations will be made to increase and stabilise power production.

The performance of distribution utilities will be improved through reduction of system loss from current 18.5 percent to 14 percent in 2014, arrear reduction, ensuring reliability of electricity supplies, ensuring affordable price, use of pre-paid metering system, and bill payment system through mobile phone operators. For demand side management, the government has already adopted daylight saving time (effective from 19 June, 2009) and in addition will focus on adjusting shopping hours, holiday staggering for industries and creating awareness of CFL bulbs.

There is significant difference between per unit generation cost (BPDB’s own generation cost and purchase cost of power from IPPs and bulk supply cost). The BPDB’s bulk supply tariff for urban utilities and rich PBSs is Taka 0.30 less per unit than its supply cost. For poor PBSs, this difference is as high as Taka 0.64 per unit. As a result, BPDB is incurring a loss of more than Tk. 1,000 crore annually. This indicates the need for rationalization of tariff for the sustainability of the sector. The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) is responsible for regulation of the sector. The government issues policy directives on matters concerning the electricity sector including measures necessary for its overall planning and coordination. The process of unbundling and corporatization of sector entities is on-going.

Power Sector Vision and Policy Statement

  • Bring the entire country under electrification by year 2020

  • Make the power sector financially viable with ability to facilitate growth

  • Increase the sectors’ efficiency

  • Make the sector commercially oriented

  • Improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply

  • Use available domestic natural gas for power generation and also explore other alternatives like LNG for the same.

  • Increase private sector participation

  • Ensure reasonable and affordable price for electricity by pursuing least cost options and explore options for power trading

  • Promote competition among various entities

  • Promote regional and sub-regional cooperation

Rural Electricity Supply: The overall goal of REB programme is improvement of socio-economic conditions of the rural people by providing reliable and affordable electricity. The rural electricity network is the fastest growing and most efficiently operated entity within the Bangladesh electricity industry. But it is experiencing serious operational problems due to power shortage and loss of revenue due to non-availability of power and an increase in system losses due to customer backlash from frequent and prolonged load shedding. The REB is facing financial problems in its expansion programme.

The REB strategies for future development are: (a) augment power generation, (b) upgrade and rehabilitate old system for capacity building and reliable supply, (c) implement division-wise programmes and Chittagong Hill Tracts Rural Electrification Project to ensure regional balance, (d) disseminate renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, small hydro, bio-mass etc.), (e) ensure additional assistance for expansion of network, (f) hand over BPDB rural distribution systems to REB, (g) reduce system loss, (h) enhance performance, (i) rationalize tariffs and (j) replace incandescent lamp by compact fluorescent lamp (CFL).

Nuclear Power: In view of the need for diversifying energy sources for long-run energy security, a nuclear power plant will be installed at Rooppur as soon as possible, with generation capacity between 700 MW and 1,000 MW. In this respect, a MOU has been recently signed between Russia and Bangladesh.

Energy

The main goals of the non-renewable energy sector are: (a) assessment of non-renewable indigenous energy sources; (b) exploration and development of new oil/gas and coal fields; (c) appraisal and conversion of probable and possible reserve to proven reserve; (d) development of the fields considering their capacity and market demand; (e) strengthening institutional capacity of Petrobangla and its companies to make them more effective and financially viable; and (f) installation of adequate transmission and distribution network to cater to customers’ need.

The major challenges of the natural gas sector are to: (a) minimise gas demand and supply gap; (b) improve reliable estimation of gas reserves through extended exploration and development programmes; (c) optimize production from the existing gas fields; (d) conserve and make efficient use of gas; (e) make Petrobangla and its companies operationally and financially sound; and (f) reduce disparity of supply of gas to different areas of the country.

Serious considerations are being given for using coal along with gas for power generation. The government will set up coal-fired power plant using environment-friendly technology for extraction of coal. The major challenges are to: (a) explore and develop new coal fields and (b) conserve and make efficient use of coal.

Policies and Strategies: The existing National Energy Policy (NEP) is being updated to provide guidelines for achieving energy security for the country. An action plan will be worked out to improve the operational and financial performance of Petrobangla umbrella. The Gas Act will be enacted providing action-plans for proper accountability targeting to reduce un-accounted for Gas (UFG) and outstanding gas bill. Strengthening the Hydrocarbon Unit has already been undertaken to provide adequate and appropriate staff and expertise to assist in policy formulation. The policy for public-private partnership for operating companies of Petrobangla will be formulated so that both domestic and foreign entrepreneurs may participate. Gas marketing companies are going to introduce meters for domestic gas supply and will take measures for zonal isolation. Procurement and supply of domestic meters will also be opened to the private sector. To save trees and the environment, use of LPGs in rural households will also be encouraged for which provision of subsidy for buying of cylinder may be encouraged while the price of gas will be paid by the user.

Efforts to convert possible and probable reserve into proven reserve will involve IOCs especially in offshore exploration, supporting BAPEX with funds to strengthen its exploration and seismic survey activities and engage drilling crew through outsourcing, and exploration activities in both onshore and offshore under PSC.

The National Coal Policy is being formulated for concomitant development of coal to meet the growing energy demand. Special initiatives will be taken to ensure economic use of coal available so far and also to develop coal based power plants. Priorities will be given to the exploration and exploitation of new coal fields. Research and development has been strengthened to ensure economically viable extraction of coal at deeper layers.

The BPI as the Energy Research Institute will ensure continuous training and skill development of professionals working in the oil, gas and mineral sector. The capability of the existing training institute of the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has been strengthened to provide training to the downstream segments of oil refining and marketing.

With a view to meeting the demand of petroleum products, the specific strategies/policies to be pursued are: (a) expansion of the storage capacity of petroleum products, (b) improvement of the distribution system by putting in place a second oil installation, (c) enhancement of capability of handling large vessels to reduce losses in import operations, (d) increase of the LPG bottling capacity, and (e) increase of the refining capacity from the existing 1,400,000 MT to about 4,500,000 MT.

In view of the mismatch between supply and demand, leading to acute scarcity of gas not only to power plants, but also to other customers, thereby constraining future economic growth, EMRD has decided to explore alternative sources of gas supply. In that context Government has decided (a) to establish a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal to import initially about 500mmcfd, (b) also to explore the possibility of reviving the inter-regional gas pipeline.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy complements other forms of energy. The popular or relatively widely used sources include hydro power, biogas and solar photovoltaic. Other potential energy sources include wind energy, bio-diesel from jatropha plantations, gasohol from molasses, wave and tide power and geothermal power. However, the most promising source may be nuclear energy. All possible efforts would be made to tap renewable clean energies.

The main goal of the renewable energy sector is to develop, disseminate, promote and extend the renewable energy technology to the rural people to meet their energy needs for lighting and cooking purposes by using sustainable inexhaustible environment friendly renewable energy sources. The specific goals of the sector are to: (a) increase access to electricity among the people living in off-grid, isolated and inaccessible remote areas of Bangladesh by solar home systems (SHSs), (b) supply clean bio-gas to meet the energy needs for cooking purpose in rural areas by constructing bio-gas plants, (c) improve the standard of living and increase income by introducing solar power and bio-gas in rural areas, (d) use slurry of the bio-gas plant as bio-fertilizer to minimize use of chemical fertilizer and boost agricultural products as well as increase fish production, (e) explore the potential of other forms of renewable energy, such as wind energy, micro hydro, tidal energy, bio-mass and bio-diesel to meet the power and energy demand of the rural people and (f) explore the potential of municipal wastes to generate electricity as well as for safe disposal of the wastes.

The major challenges of the renewable energy sector are: (a) absence of a government institutional set-up to co-ordinate the renewable energy activities under government and NGOs, (b) absence of proper management in the government agencies to deal with the renewable energy projects/programmes, (c) financial and economic constraints to promote the renewable energy (RE) programmes, (d) lack of proper technical knowledge of the employees dealing with the RE programme, and (e) social barrier and information gap in promoting the RE programmes.

Policies and Strategies: The government agencies involved in RE programmes will provide institutional support including procurement of equipment and training to the employees participating in the RE programmes. The Renewable Energy Policy will be finalized by the government. All duties and taxes would be reconsidered for imported solar panels to encourage NGOs in their renewable energy programmes. The government will consider giving grants to NGOs for enhancing their programmes, particularly solar power and bio-gas plant programmes. The Bangladesh Bank will refinance loans provided by commercial banks to solar energy and biogas.

3.3.2 Transport

Road Transport

The goal of road transport is to achieve a well-maintained, cost effective and safe road network connecting all parts of the country and facilitating links with neighbouring countries.

The development of road and road transport faces a number of challenges: (i) road construction requires a raised earth embankment because of low-lying topography and construction of bridges and culverts at frequent intervals because of rivers and canals; (ii) torrential rains during the monsoon period wash away road surfaces, particularly the shoulders and earth embankments of the road network; (iii) road network is still broken at many places by a number of river gaps requiring ferry services for the movement of vehicular traffic; (iv) a large segment of the road network has narrow pavement width, lower axle-load design, detour alignment, horizontal curvature and unstable shoulders requiring correction and improvement; (v) the presence of mixed traffic on the road network creates a problem for economic and efficient operation of mechanised vehicles and is to a large extent responsible for traffic accidents on roads. This particular aspect needs special attention while planning and designing the construction of a road; (vi) the principal inadequacies in the system of building a suitable road network in Bangladesh relate largely to the poor quality of available construction materials and poor construction practices.

Policies and Strategies: The development of road sector emphasizes: (i) capacity expansion through construction of tunnel, (ii) four laning of existing important highways. (iii) construction of big bridges, (iv) development of road corridor and border roads to facilitate regional trade, and (v) regional balance in road development.

An Integrated Multi-Modal Transport Plan (IMTP) is being formulated emphasising the maintenance of existing assets and infrastructure and encouraging more investment in rail and inland water transport. Once finalised and implemented, this will help sustain an integrated communication network in the country. A legal and financial framework will be created to encourage private investment in road sector development. Asian Highway Routes will be completed according to international standards. The resourceful coastal areas will be brought under the road network system. Regional balance will be established in the road sector development programme. Construction of missing links particularly on the national and regional highway network will be expedited.

The planned construction of Padma Multipurpose Bridge will be completed by 2013. Steps have been taken to implement the construction of Padma Bridge project at Mawa and the construction of Karnaphuli Hanging Bridge project on a priority basis. Feasibility studies for construction of the four-lane Dhaka-Chittagong Expressway are underway.

The government has approved a Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for Dhaka. A feasibility study project for the construction of an elevated expressway, a tunnel between Tejgaon and the airport and a tunnel under river Karnaphuli is under consideration. Steps are being taken to construct the Dhaka eastern bypass. It is felt that the feasibility studies of the two will be taken up in an integrated manner, and that these should be built up in PPP modality.

Rural Road Connectivity

The main goal of LGED is development of road communication to link growth centres, union parishad headquarters, upazilla parishad headquarters, social service institutions like schools, and hospitals with the national road network. The problems in the development of roads by the LGED are: (a) lack of availability of land, (b) local conflict in prioritizing roads for development, (c) shortage of skilled manpower at union level, (d) inadequate flow of funds, (e) overloaded trucks causing early damage to the pavement, (f) number of gaps in road network increasing road development costs, (g) non-availability of good quality construction materials, and (h) frequent inundation by annual floods.

The strategies and policies for the development of the road system of LGED include finalization and adoption of a Road Master Plan, adoption of a maintenance plan and according higher priority to maintenance over new construction, exploring technological options to construct quality roads with available construction materials, introduction of measures to stop overloading, adoption of procedures to maximize generation of employment for the poor, ensuring quality of construction, more involvement of local government institutions (LGIs) and ensuring utilisation and maintenance of constructed facilities.

Railway Transport

The main goal of the Bangladesh Railway is to provide wider connectivity throughout the country including the capital city and mass transportation facilities at a comparatively cheap price.

The current problems of the Bangladesh Railway (BR) include lack of capacity building, lack of proper servicing facilities and delay in finalization of tenders. The current performance of BR is unsatisfactory owing to a number of reasons: lack of upward adjustment of passengers and freight fares since 1992 against about 400 percent increase in fuel and operation costs, lack of investment to re-orient the railway network towards the capital city, shorten the distance between Chittagong port and other cities and connect Mongla port or other areas where rail network does not exist, lack of matching expansion of the rail network in the face of increase in the competitive road network and lack of an adequate maintenance budget leading to deteriorating rail tracks & other infrastructures resulting in poor performance of BR.

A Master Plan for the development of BR is under preparation by the Planning Commission to overcome the problems and expand and modernize the railway. The measures include double tracking the Dhaka-Chittagong corridor, establishing rail link with neighbouring countries under the Asian Rail and Highways Scheme, undertaking a three-year maintenance rolling plan, and rehabilitation of railway. Feasibility studies will be undertaken to construct underground rail, circular rail, circular and elevated rail in Dhaka. In order to modernise railways, a reform project called Bangladesh Railway Sector Improvement is being implemented.

Water Transport

The main goal of BIWTA is to ensure smooth, fast and safe navigation for the movement of cargo and passenger vessels at low cost. The improvement of inland waterways will reduce time and transport cost (Tk. 1.50 per ton km against Tk. 2.70 for road and Tk. 1.70 for rail) which will help expand trade and commerce and related activities with favourable impacts on the overall economy. It will particularly benefit the people in the coastal areas where no alternative mode of transport is available. .

Due to reduction in stream flows and cross-boundary flows, siltation of rivers, and reduction of tidal volume, the navigability of inland waterways has been gradually deteriorating. As a result, the length of navigable inland waterways has declined in recent years, hindering the smooth plying of IWT vessels and creating obstructions to the drainage of flood water. The other problem is the lack of integration with other modes of transport.

In order to overcome current and emerging problems prevailing in inland water transport, an IWT sector strategy will develop an integrated plan for dredging for phased implementation. A comprehensive but affordable programme for dredging of the major rivers is needed to maintain their navigability round the year. IWT infrastructure will be constructed to handle the growing volume of traffic. The construction of an inland river container terminal at Pangaon on the river Buriganga near Dhaka, which will reduce the congestion of container traffic of maritime ports, is underway. The feasibility of constructing more river-based container terminals needs to be studied. Besides, the IWTA has to make provision for providing port facilities at different landing ports, landing facilities at coastal areas, and pontoons at way-side landings and introducing circular waterways in and around Dhaka city

Sea Ports: For Chittagong port, the main strategy to overcome the problems is to increase port capacity and port efficiency through construction of a container terminal at the New Mooring area, construction of back-up facilities, implementation of the Chittagong Port Trade Facilitation Project, capital dredging of Karnaphuli river, construction of container terminals and implementation of the Port Efficiency Improvement Plan. Plans for setting up a deep seaport at Sonadia are well in progress.

The Mongla port has enough potential to turn it into a fully utilized port but still lags behind due to infrastructural constraints of transportation by road and inadequate railway links with its hinterland, lack of silos and absence of oil bunkering facilities. Moreover, the decline of the jute industries of the south-western region of the country has caused a significant decline in the export of jute and jute-goods through this port. The main development goals of Mongla port are optimum utilization of existing infrastructure facilities, overcoming the bottlenecks of port operation, provision of quality and efficient services to the port users and the business community and developing the necessary back-up facilities. With a view to modernising the Mongla port, a plan has been taken up to construct a multi-purpose jetty with sophisticated facilities. The government plans to develop Mongla as a sea port for regional use.

Land Ports: The Government of Bangladesh formed the Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA) under Act 10 of 2001 and gave the responsibility for 13 land ports to the Authority. Later, the government decided to hand over the 12 land ports (except the Benapole Land Port) to private entrepreneurs to carry out the day to day operations of the ports under the Private Sector Investment Guidelines.

Air Transport: The physical work to upgrade Osmani International Airport for the operation of wide bodied aircraft has been completed. The physical work of extension, modernization and construction of passenger terminal buildings at Osmani International Airport is in progress. Besides, a plan has been taken up for upgradation of Zia International Airport. Bangladesh Biman will be restructured to enable it to operate on commercial and profitable basis. Aviation services in the private sector will be encouraged.

3.3.3 Post and Telecommunication

In order to realize the vision of building Digital Bangladesh, ICT facilities need to be extended to rural areas where the majority of people live. To this end, internet connectivity and opportunities for the best use of information and communication technology would have to be ensured. Over the years, the government implemented a number of projects to install digital exchanges, introduce pre-paid service, distribute one million T&T mobile telephones, install digital telephone lines, and establish an international telecommunication system through submarine cables. Providing telecommunication services and developing telecom and internet infrastructure will be the prime objectives of all the service providers in this sector. More emphasis will be given on ICT development.

The strategies for the development of BPO will focus on the introduction of an ICT-based postal network to keep it connected with customers, bringing qualitative changes in postal services, establishing e-centers in the post offices, continuous improvement of products, work process reengineering, creating a business development cell and providing quality services to the people.

3.3.4 Housing

“Housing for all by 2015” has been incorporated in Vision 2021 for developing housing and shelter in urban and rural areas of Bangladesh. The other goals of housing development are: (i) create an enabling environment for adequate and affordable housing for different income groups, especially low-income and extreme poor and vulnerable groups; (ii) provide housing for rural and urban homeless, landless and vulnerable groups; (iii) ensure maximum utilization of land in rural areas through developing “growth centre” centric housing in every union and upazila and housing with modern amenities in urban areas; and (iv) facilitate private sector house building, and house building by NGOs and CBOs as supplementary to private developers for certain category of housing development. In housing construction, use of aggregates will be promoted instead of bricks.

Assuming that the population will grow to about 25 crore in 2025, a system will have to be established whereby housing for 25 lakh families is made available annually. Further, the quality of housing and affordability and accessibility will have to be considered since data reveal that only one-third of dwellings are built of concrete and semi-concrete material. The main problem lies in land prices, which has become prohibitive in both rural and urban areas, especially for housing. Thus there arises a need to resort to strategies like ‘compact townships’ for the rural areas.

Policies and Strategies: The major policies and strategies are: (i) prepare a comprehensive data base that relates to an updated list of authentic landless, marginal, ethnic, vulnerable, disaster prone, food insecure communities, especially distressed women with children, and (ii) adopt a land management policy, in conjunction with the data base and existing Land Use Policy for delineating the land that could be allocated for housing, particularly for the poor. The Land Acquisition Act will be modified and rationalized to formulate a rational strategy under the auspices of the land acquisition policy. This policy will attempt to make available a minimum quantity of relatively less fertile and unusable land if non-agricultural khas land is not available. In the urban sphere, the provisions of the Town Improvement Act of 1953 and the Land Zoning Laws will be enforced while in the rural areas, necessary acts will be enforced.

The emerging concerns to prioritize are housing and infrastructure standards, housing finance, drainage, maintenance of conservancy services and alleviation of substandard urban living bereft of green belts and water bodies. The government will also integrate planning of linked activities; strengthen institutions concerned with urban management and development through local resource mobilization, delegation of authority and community involvement.

3.4 Strategic Block IV: Social Protection for the Vulnerable

Social security, empowerment, and employment generation are indispensable elements of poverty reduction programmes. Strong and expanded social safety nets will protect the poor from different social, economic, and natural shocks and poverty will certainly reduce through social empowerment. In achieving faster poverty reduction, attention needs to be given to activities that are directly targeted to benefit the extreme poor and disable, women in poverty, landless poor and other vulnerable groups like urban poor. To protect the poor from falling into deeper poverty, attention has to be given to at least five areas. These are: social safety net programmes; food security; disaster management; micro-credit and rural non-farm activities.

3.4.1 Social Safety Net Programmes

A strong and expanded social safety net programme (SSNP) is the main emphases of Vision 2021, which will protect the poor from all sorts of social, economic and natural shocks. The social safety net may be defined operationally to include all kinds of cash and kind transfers to the poor, all welfare activities, unemployment benefits for retrenched workers, subsidized health care, shelters for the homeless, and pension benefits, which prevent individuals from falling into poverty.

The major goals of SSNPs are: (i) safety net interventions will achieve the protection of all types of poor people and the prevention of chronic poverty as well as transient poverty. It will target the extreme poor first; (ii) the government will encourage NGOs, CBOs and the private sector to augment their role and contributions to expand the social safety net; and (iii) attempts will be made to increase coverage through increased budgetary allocation each year.

All the programmes undertaken under the social safety net at present will continue. The old age allowances, allowance for insolvent persons with disabilities, stipend programme for students with disabilities, allowance for widows and distressed women, maternity allowance for poor mothers, and small ethnic groups would be expanded. The present government gives more emphasis on SSNPs as a means to reduce poverty. Social safety nets will be extended for the ultra poor and the number of recipients of old age allowances and destitute women allowance would, at least, be doubled. Besides, other programmes such as one house one farm, rural housing, ideal village and returning homes will be taken up.

3.4.2 Food Security

Food security is a core issue in the struggle against poverty. Food security encompasses three broad aspects, namely, availability, access and utilization. The government has formulated several national policies highlighting various aspects of food security. The National Food and Nutrition Policy and the National Plan of Action for Nutrition are more comprehensive and these have served as starting points for the implementation of the policies. These policies focus on objectives such as: (i) ensure adequate and stable supply of safe and nutritious food; (ii) enhance the purchasing power of the people for increased access to food; and (iii) ensure adequate nutrition for all, especially women, children and persons with disabilities.

Despite significant progress in domestic food grains production, Bangladesh is still facing food insecurity. Nearly 40 percent of the population lacks the resources to acquire enough food. The government operates a number of programmes to ensure food security in the country. These include: (i) open market sales (OMS); (ii) FFW programme; (iii) VGD programme; (iv) VGF programme; (v) test relief (TR); (vi) gratuitous relief (GR); (vii) food aid to CHT area people; (viii) food subsidy; and (ix) employment in char areas.

Main problems of access to food relate to lack of purchasing power among poor people, which has seasonality and spatial dimension. Considerable intra-household disparity and discrimination persist in food consumption. Further, Increasing food availability and household access to food alone will not be adequate to satisfactorily address the malnutrition problem. Nutritional issues will need to be addressed more directly and comprehensively. Comprehensive programmes involving nutrition education, food fortification, improvement in water quality and public health will be undertaken. Further, awareness of nutrition will be created through mass communication. The government is committed to ensure quality and safe food to the people. To this end, in addition to enacting laws, the government has taken initiatives to strengthen the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI).

To ensure food security for the nation and particularly for the extreme poor, the government will (i) maintain an optimum level of food stock; (ii) ensure access to food at an affordable price for the hardcore poor, the disadvantaged groups and persons with disabilities; (iii) operate special food programme in the poverty/disaster prone areas; (iv) increase awareness about safe and nutritious food through the mass media and school education; (v) ensure food security by strengthening the public procurement system; (vi) distribute food under VGD cards area-wise in proportion to the population living below poverty line; (vii) ensure adequate coverage under VGD; (viii) strengthen OMS for increasing access to food for the urban poor; (ix) encourage domestic cereal production; (x) encourage building of cold storage plants, giving guidance to banks for assessing the scope of financing these; (xi) encourage supply of nutritious food including pulses and oil seeds through high quality seeds, technology and credit support to the farmers; (xii) encourage cooperative agricultural marketing to maintain stable prices of food; (xiii) introduce crop insurance; (xiv) increase storage capacity for food grains; (xv) provide incentives for construction of rural warehousing; and (xvi) improve food management and monitoring in the domestic and world markets to avert future crises.

3.4.3 Disaster Management

In November 2007, a devastating cyclone ‘Sidr’ hit the coastal belts of Bangladesh which was followed by another cyclone ‘Aila’ in May 2009. Although the cyclones devastated large areas, the death toll was relatively low (3,406 in 2007 and 190 in 2009) because of the improved early warning system and its ability to mobilize organizational and community actions in a timely manner and relief and early recovery systems.

The goal for disaster management (DM) is prevention and protection of lives and properties from any kind of hazards with priority given to disaster risk management along with mitigation. The government emphasises disaster risk management in a cost effective manner. The draft Disaster Management Act has identified a group of broad-based strategies, which focus on management of risk and consequences, community involvement in protecting lives and properties with greater involvement of local government bodies and emphasis on non-structural mitigation. The government has taken a number of steps for building up institutional capacity from national to union levels for effective and systematic disaster management.

DM will include (i) improving the cyclone signal system to make it clear to common people and improving flood forecasting to be able to make forecasts 6-7 days ahead instead of 3-4 days as currently made; (ii) strengthening coordination among the government agencies, NGOs and civil society institutions and coordination and management at grassroots level; (iii) creation of a disaster relief fund to support victims of natural disasters; (iv) developing insurance system to cover disaster-related losses of property; (v) avoiding overlap in relief distribution and rehabilitation initiatives, (vi) providing adequate health facilities for the disaster victims, quick transportation of the affected people and instant treatment of the injured people, and (vii) improving capacity for adequate and quick response to emerging and potential disaster like sea-level rise, bird flu, etc.

The strategies for DM will focus on: (i) collective action of public sector, NGOs and community organisations to reduce the risk of disasters in the country, (ii) increase the mitigation capacity of the community and NGOs, (iii) promoting optimum coordination and best utilization of resources along with ensuring community participation so that they are aware of what they can do for protecting their lives and property, and (iv) undertaking measures for dealing with disasters such as Tsunami and earthquake.

The DM needs to be continuously upgraded and strengthened. Various actions to be taken in this area are: (i) mainstreaming disaster management into national policies, planning, and institutional development; (ii) increasing community involvement in disaster management; (iii) ensuring protection of women, children, the aged, and people with disabilities giving due attention to their special needs; (iv) creating a coping capacity at global, regional, national, local, community, household and individual levels; (v) continuing risk assessment to address the new risks arising from the changing national, regional and global situations; (vi) strengthening attention to environmental management, land-use and urban planning, protection of critical facilities, application of science and technology, and partnership and networking in disaster risk reduction and mitigation; (vii) increasing capacity of disaster forecasting by introducing community radio throughout the coastal belt and adjoining districts; (viii) undertaking construction of multipurpose shelters in the cyclone prone coastal areas and flood prone areas; (ix) undertaking structural interventions such as construction of embankment, regulator, and flood control mechanism; (x) implementing a coastal disaster management policy; (xi) ensuring quick transportation of the victims from the affected areas; and (xii) introduction of property insurance to cover disaster- related damages.

3.4.4 Microcredit

Microcredit has helped address poverty by providing loan in small amounts without collateral and has helped in particular women who are the target borrowers of micro lending. Over the years, various challenges with regard to microcredit have emerged. These are: (i) prevalence of high interest rates which are being reduced, but further reduction of interest rate is necessary; (ii) vicious cycle of microcredit - the poor are borrowing from one microcredit organization to repay another; (iii) microcredit programmes have not been very successful in including the hardcore poor; (iv) rate of graduation to above the poverty line among the microcredit borrowers is low, indicating persistent dependency on microcredit; (v) most of the microcredit recipients being women, bear the burden of repayment; (vi) microcredit organizations compete with each other and often put pressure on the potential clients to borrow; (vii) profitability of micro enterprises is small and often is not sustainable on a long-term basis because of enterprise decapitalization, saturation of markets for products that are traditionally produced by microcredit borrowers, weak coordination among NGOs and MFIs and a weak financial system. Efforts will be made to upscale the technology base in utilizing micro credits and bring transparency in interest rate fixation and in offering micro credits.

Currently the emphasis is to increase the coverage of the programme to a larger number of deserving households; introduce a uniform approach of operation both by NGOs and the public sector; and introduce a regulatory framework for streamlining the activities of the microcredit programme in the country. The government would channel more resources for microcredit operations, increase effectiveness of microcredit for poverty alleviation, avoid overlapping and reduce seasonal vulnerability through microcredit. Local governments will be involved in microcredit delivery.

A Microfinance Regulatory Authority (MRA) has been established to provide appropriate regulatory framework. A national microcredit policy will be framed to provide guidelines about the operation of microcredit. It is also necessary to rationalize interest rates. Necessary mechanism will be devised to ensure that microcredit reaches the ultra poor and the hard to reach areas especially those located in regions with higher incidence of poverty.

Up-scaling Microcredit

Up-scaling microcredit is a natural consequence of microcredit programme as the progressive microcredit recipients demonstrate their entrepreneurial ability to handle larger size loans requiring expansion, deepening and diversification of loan products. Some of the microcredit organizations, notably some partner organizations with support of PKSF have increased their loan ceilings to Tk. 300,000 for microenterprise programme and to Tk. 30,000 for all other programmes. The microenterprise loan not only helps reduce poverty of the borrowing household but also creates employment opportunity for other poor people. It is expected that as more and more borrowers graduate out of the regular microcredit programme the demand for larger size loans will increase.

3.4.5 Rural Non-Farm Activities

The vision for rural non-farm activities (RNFA) is to foster such activities as an important and effective poverty reduction activity for women in particular. Therefore it is important to identify activities for RNFA and the roles of both public and private sectors and to encourage entrepreneurs to promote RNFA.

The following problems/challenges have been identified for RNFA: (i) since RNFA includes a diverse group of activities, it is difficult to define it as a sector and hence it lacks any baseline assessment; (ii) activities in RNFA are often financed by microcredit, which can only support very small-sized activities. There is a limitation in accessing finances for larger sized activities; (iii) people engaged in RNFA activities, particularly women, lack capacity and skill for producing quality products; have inadequate access to information in determining what to produce and often they lack skills in marketing their products; (iv) as institutional financing is mainly urban biased, problems arise since the NGOs are not very effective in providing business advice because they themselves are not well-equipped to provide such support; (v) management capacity of small enterprises operating in RNFA is rather poor; and (vi) RNFA suffers from inadequate infrastructural facilities particularly energy and communication;

Future strategies will focus on two broad areas: (i) improving the rural investment climate; and (ii) supporting institutional framework. Measures for improving investment climate will include ensuring more energy supply in the rural areas with emphasis on bio-fuel and solar energy use; emphasis on routine maintenance of the existing roads, development of waterways and railway communication; up-scaling and technology upgradation of small enterprises focusing on product development and quality improvement; provision of training for workers based on market demand and also for entrepreneurs in improved business method; promoting linkage with agriculture and greater value addition of farm products through a boost in agro-processing, arranging local-level fairs on routine basis to promote RNF products, skill development training and internship facilities, in-country and international tours through public-private financial participation.

In order to mainstream RNF issues in rural development, an institutional set-up will be formed with different stakeholders, including local government institutions, private entrepreneurs in RNF and providers of financing and other support services. These stakeholders shall identify the strategic policy and investment priorities. The government will consider instituting a monitoring unit to monitor implementation of the initiative and the results.

The RNFAs are undertaken mainly within the informal sector and it is desirable to keep them informal under the present settings. However, creation of an enabling environment for them and provision of some support services would make this sector more vibrant and will contribute substantially to poverty reduction. Some interventions that would be considered are: improving marketing capacity by providing sales centres in the GCM and other peri-urban markets where the government can provide supports and entrepreneurs can undertake a buy-back system; training and awareness building about hygienic agro-processing and food processing activities; strengthening SME Foundation to allow it to serve more effectively, providing women with basic skills about business management and steps linking them to markets, setting up of more vocational institutes in the rural and peri-urban areas, allocating more funds under microcredit and microfinance, improving the management of this sector through organising training, orientation, and workshops, disseminating market information and providing institutional and logistic support to entrepreneurs, taking initiatives by the government to create ICT villages in rural areas and taking initiatives by government and NGOs to bring diversification in products and upgrading product designs.

3.5 Strategic Block V: Human Resources Development

3.5.1 Improving Knowledge Base: Education, Training and Research

Education

Education is one of the key elements for building the knowledge base of the people. It is expected that the country’s education system comprising primary, secondary, tertiary, and non-formal education will establish a truly empowered knowledge-based society to meet the challenges of the 21st century. There is general agreement that the number of institutions and enrolments have grown at all levels, but the quality of education has deteriorated, especially in institutions where the children of the poor family go. The declining quality of education reduces the employability of the learners creating a disincentive for the poor people to send their children to school. The commitment of the government is to achieve 100 percent literacy by 2014.

Early childhood and pre-school education: The government recognizes the value of and demand for pre-schools and has been encouraging NGOs and communities to set up pre-schools within the premises of or near public primary schools. Children from poor families, especially the first generation learners, can benefit greatly from ECDP programmes. A large number of government and non-government agencies are running pre-primary schools. While government funding may not be available for large-scale provision of ECD services, government support can take the form of facilitation and encouragement of donor assistance. All pre-schools may be registered with the government.

Primary education: The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh directs the State “to adopt effective measures for establishing universal system of education and extending free and compulsory education to all children and removing illiteracy.” Accordingly, the government has taken multi-faceted actions in accelerating the pace of providing primary and mass education. The compulsory primary education programme now covers the whole country. The government has undertaken primary education development programmes to improve the quality of education through the introduction of primary school quality level standards, increased access, participation and completion of the primary education cycle and adoption of a child-centred approach in the classroom.

One of the important election pledges of the government is to enrol all children of 6-10 years age by 2011. The School Survey Report 2007 shows a net enrolment rate (NER) of 91.1 percent. Under the Primary Education Stipend Project (Phase II), 40 percent (4.8 million) students have been covered under stipend facilities and the need is to extend its coverage to increase the enrolment rate.

A project is targeted to the children who are outside the formal stream with provisions for education allowances. The government started a school feeding programme under which a child is provided with 75 grams of fortified biscuits in eight poverty-stricken upazilas of three selected districts. Other government measures include completion of first round of the national assessment programme, providing supplementary reading materials and teaching-learning materials, imparting training to the teachers and the members of SMCs and PTAs, and introduction of terminal examination at grade five.

Future actions will focus on: (i) ensuring one primary school for every 1,500 population, (ii) developing and funding programmes to extend the coverage, in cooperation with NGOs, (iii) reorienting madrasha education to develop productive students for the real world of skills and knowledge, (iv) applying quality standards like physical facilities, learning aids, formation of the managing committee, student-teacher ratio, and involvement of the community in all primary institutions, (v) reviewing the teaching-learning model so that the foundation of literacy and numeracy skills and basic knowledge can be built at the primary level, (vi) continuing English language teaching from class one, (vii)ensuring a higher salary scale for teachers, and (viii) effective implementation of primary education development programme, and (ix) Capacity development of institutions like the National Curriculum and Textbook Board to ensure quality improvement in primary education.

Secondary Education: Secondary education (grade VI to XII) is provided through collaboration between the government and non-government providers within a regulatory framework. Poverty is a deterrent to secondary school access because, in addition to the tuition fees, there are high additional costs for transportation, uniforms, books and materials and private tutoring. Retention of the students in secondary education is one of the major challenges. A positive development has been the closing of the gender gap in secondary school enrolment with 52.3 percent share of girl students. Stipends and exemption of tuition fees for girls in rural areas have made a difference.

The quality of secondary education remains a major challenge. The curriculum does not relate to prospects of employment, entrepreneurship and practical skills. Examinations mostly test ability to recall information and do not test the ability to reason, or apply, analyse and synthesise information. Expansion in enrolment has not been matched by increase in physical capacity and human resources. Students both per class and per teacher are around 60. Almost half of the teachers do not have any professional training. Academic supervision of secondary schools is weak and almost non-functional.

Future actions will include: (i) making secondary education up to class X into one unified stream within five years with adequate focus on communication skills, science and mathematics for all students; (ii) undertaking a sub-sector development programme for the under-served groups; (iii) building more government schools in the capital, construction of government secondary schools at every upazilla headquarter and developing and expanding government secondary schools at every district headquarter in phases; (iv) ensuring that NCTB is restricted to only curriculum development and has permanent professional staff; (v) ensuring common minimum standards of inputs and performance in all types of schools; (vi) ensuring that the student-teacher ratio does not exceed 50, competent teachers are appointed, schools have libraries, laboratories, toilets, drinking water and other facilities, all teachers have periodic in-service professional upgrading; (vii) restricting/eliminating private tutoring by teachers and at the same time enhancing their salaries; (viii) making public examinations and internal assessment mutually complementary and more oriented towards the diagnosis of weaknesses of individual learners, institutions and the system for taking remedial measures rather than branding a large number of students as failures;(ix) providing stipend for both girls and boys from poor families; (x) increasing the stipend rate for both poor boys and girls; (xi) taking particular care of disadvantaged students; (xii) expand coverage of schools teaching ICT course in the secondary and higher secondary level, and (xiii) putting emphasis on science education.

The Government will take the initiative for assistance to secondary schools for introducing computer courses; introduction of computer training and internet facilities for rural secondary and higher secondary institutions; development of SSC (ICT) and HSC (ICT) curriculum in schools and colleges; introduction of Olympiads for primary, secondary and university levels in science and ICT; establishment of six IT training institutions, one in each divisional headquarters; and training of the teachers of schools and colleges in using computers and ICT.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET): The technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes offer courses of one to four years duration after the junior secondary level (class VIII). Vocational training institutes, polytechnics, commercial institutes, technical training centres and specialised institutes offer such courses.

Stated government policies and goals are to increase the proportion of participants in TVET to 20 percent of the students enrolled in the secondary stage by 2020 from the present proportion of around 3 percent. The objectives of TVET are to expand it for the poor, particularly for adolescents, young adults, adults, males and females and make provision for TVET after class VI, VII and equivalent grades. The expansion will be achieved through introducing double shifts in the technical institutions and a special stipend programme for women’s education in science and TVET, establishing more polytechnic institutions at divisional headquarters for girls, assessing the market demand for jobs, and providing skill training to the underprivileged and ultra poor for getting jobs and getting self-employment. The equity effect of this expansion depends on the proportion of the clientele of the programmes from disadvantaged and poor sections of the population; how effective the programmes are in marketable skills, and whether there is an expansion in employment opportunities. Emphasis will be given on high quality technical education for industrial growth.

It is essential that TVET courses are flexible in terms of duration, time-table and curriculum and should be flexible in terms of age structure and academic qualification of the students. TVET institutions should develop cooperation with micro-credit providers to support self-employment of trainees. Particular attention should be given to introducing computer (software and hardware) and ICT related courses. Standard computer training courses at the divisional headquarters have been introduced, and learning packages for students of different levels have been developed. It is important to give emphasis on medical technical training.

Tertiary Education: The main issues regarding access to tertiary education are two-fold: (a) equity of access to universities and prestigious institutions leading to potentially high private return from higher education, and (b) the balance of enrolment in different fields.

Gender disparity in higher education persists, despite progress at the primary and the secondary levels. In tertiary education, increase of enrolment of male and female students in professional degree education must be improved in accordance with the domestic needs and also according to the needs of the countries importing human resources. This sub-sector needs to achieve better balance in enrolment among humanities, applied and pure sciences, technology and commerce. In terms of performance, it is imperative to improve the examination performance of the general undergraduate and graduate students. Internal efficiency of public sector higher education must be improved and the knowledge generation role of the universities must be strengthened.

Actions to be taken for tertiary education are: (i) revise the Private University Act 1992 and establish an Accreditation Council to improve and maintain the quality of education; (ii) install effective governing boards in government and non-government colleges in accordance with the rules of the National University; (iii) institute a permanent pay commission and a separate service commission for teachers; (iv) appoint sufficient numbers of teachers for all subjects to maintain a reasonable teacher-student ratio; (v) assess physical facilities and human resources of colleges and apply its rules before authorizing opening of honours and masters courses in colleges; (vi) increase the effectiveness of National University in supervising the network of degree colleges, enforcing accreditation standards, assisting colleges to improve quality of education, and maintaining the integrity of public examinations through decentralizing its functions by establishing National University at division levels; (vii) consider regional disparity in establishing new universities and provide adequate resources to ensure quality higher education and research; (viii) introduce new practice of assessment where teachers and students will evaluate each other; (ix) arrange professional upgradation and pedagogic training programmes; (x) create job placement centres on every campus; (xi) ensure access to computer facilities with internet connections, library etc for the teachers and the students; (xii) remove terrorism and session backlogs from educational institutions; (xii) expand the scope of science education and research; (xiii) introduce free education up to bachelors level; (xiv) pay higher salary to teachers; and (xv) institute a permanent pay commission and a separate commission for teachers in due course in future.

Adequate resource for assuring quality is a central concern in the future development of higher education. The expansion of capacity will be contingent upon availability of required resources for ensuring acceptable quality, rather than more of the same “low cost low outcome” provisions. Public-private collaboration, cost-sharing and cost recovery will be considered as strategies for dealing with resource constraints, enhancing resources for quality improvement, and contributing to equality of opportunity in the education system and the higher education sub-system.

Non-formal Education (NFE): The Bureau of Non Formal Education (BNFE) under MoPME is responsible for non-formal education programmes which are implemented through NGOs. The basic goal of adult literacy programme is to provide them with literacy, life skills, and income generating skills which will help reduce rural poverty and empower the rural poor. It is necessary that an initiative be launched, involving the stakeholders in NFE, to develop a vision and policy framework.

The aim of NFE will be to build a nationwide network of community-based, community-managed and multi-purpose non-formal and adult learning centres, to meet the diverse learning demands. The role of NFE in offering a “second chance” primary education for adolescents who missed or dropped out from primary class and establishing link of the second chance programmes with skill development and formal education will be emphasized. Parental continuing education opportunities will be developed and made accessible through the network of community learning centres. It will be necessary to target marginal sections of the population to address their specific needs. Education and training need to be linked with credit and business advice.

Continuing Training: Skills and the knowledge base of people that are created through formal education can be maintained, reinforced, upgraded and strengthened through continuous training. In the already existing educational institutes, evening and night courses would be introduced for need-based skill retraining programmes. The duration of these courses can vary to meet the varied situations and needs of the clients.

Building Research Capacity: Research creates new knowledge and information, discovers hidden or forgotten knowledge, creates scope for better understanding of various issues, and helps in dispelling myths and prejudices. Supporting research activities, particularly of action and applied types, which will help the poor, women and disadvantaged groups would be encouraged. At the higher education institutes, the teachers will be encouraged to undertake research on subjects that will lead to better understanding of issues at national and local levels and provide solutions to problems. Involvement of large NGOs in financing such research activities will be encouraged. The government will constitute a knowledge council with adequate support.

3.5.2 Improving Health, Nutrition and Population Planning: Taking a Holistic Approach

Health, nutrition and population (HNP) are intimately related and complementary to other sectors of the economy. Improvements in health and nutrition would translate into higher incomes, higher economic growth and decline in poverty. Moreover, increase or decrease of population size and change in the age composition has direct bearing on socio-economic development. It is noteworthy that Bangladesh has made significant progress in the health outcomes and some of the major gains have been achieved through low-cost solutions.

Infant and child mortality rates have been markedly reduced (Table 3.2). Life expectancy has risen steadily. Reversing past trends, women now live longer than men. The total fertility rate has been more than halved. Maternal mortality and under-nutrition rates, though still high, are registering decline. The development of countrywide network of healthcare infrastructure in public sector is remarkable.

Table 3.2:

Performance of Health, Nutrition and Population Sector

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Source: MoHFW, Successive BDHSs

The HNP activities, however, face several challenges:

  • There are major differences in health conditions and health care consumption between different groups. Improvements in some areas are relatively more difficult to sustain while there are indications of stagnation in others.

  • Though maternal mortality is declining, it is still one of the highest in the world. So also the neonatal mortality. Bangladesh’s current challenge is to improve effective service delivery, health sector governance (especially in primary and maternal health services), and increase the number of trained birth attendants.

  • Further sharp reduction in fertility rate might demand new ways of interventions for which concerted inter and multi-sectoral efforts would be required.

  • The challenge of reducing child mortality is to address the district and regional variations. Though diarrhoea has been managed quite successfully, still it is a great killer.

  • Threats of HIV/AIDS, particularly from injectable drug users, pockets of malaria, kal-azar and filaria and multi-drug resistant TB are also emerging as challenges.

  • Emerging and changing pattern of threats include arsenic related diseases, avian flu, childhood disabilities, mental health problems, road-railway-river accidents and violence (particularly against women).

  • The challenge of reducing malnutrition essentially that of women needs coordinated multi-sectoral interventions on sustained basis.

  • Meeting the health needs of the fast growing urban poor including the slum dwellers will continue to pose major challenge.

  • Demographic and life-style changes give rise to emerging health threats: more youths, more females, more ageing population, and rise of non-communicable diseases. The inevitable effect of climate change over health poses additional challenges.

  • With increasing dominance of technologies in health care, the requirement of human resources in health in appropriate number and skill-mix will continue to remain another challenge.

  • The development of appropriate strategies to handle the large number of informal semi or un-qualified health care providers (village doctors, drug sellers, kobiraj, totka, herbalist, faith healers, untrained traditional birth attendants etc.) catering to the needs of majority of the population particularly of poor and women poses some challenge.

  • Centralized management system of the government health services and prevalent practices at the facility levels result in absenteeism of service providers. These are emerging as major obstacles to effective and efficient utilization of the countrywide health care infrastructure network.

The goal is sustainable improvement in health, nutrition and family welfare status of the people, particularly of the poor and vulnerable groups, including women, children and elderly with ultimate aim of their economic and social emancipation and physical and mental well being.

The government is committed to ensure quality health, nutrition and family welfare services, which are affordable, attainable and acceptable to its citizens. The government focuses on increasing health status, reducing health inequalities, expanding access to social safety network and encouraging affordable service delivery systems for everybody. For the poor and vulnerable, existing facilities will be further expanded and consolidated not only to ensure access of the poor to public health care services but also to raise their voices and establish ownership through community participation. In this context the health policy will be reevaluated and adjusted according to the demands of the time.

Child Health: Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) will be further strengthened and special activities will be undertaken for maintenance of zero polio status, measles catchup and neonatal tetanus campaigns, introduction of hepatitis B vaccine throughout the country, strengthened disease surveillance, etc. The control of acute respiratory infection and diarrhoeal diseases and school health programmes will be further strengthened. The integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI) programme will be further expanded. The new initiatives in child health area include (i) introduction of hepatitis B vaccine throughout the country; and (ii) expansion of community and facility based IMCI.

Maternal and Reproductive Health: The life-cycle approach will be undertaken to address the need of women for general and reproductive health and to ensure reproductive health in phases. The vast network of state facilities will be further strengthened for appropriate women, adolescents and reproductive health. The on-going national nutrition programme will continue to cater to the need of adolescents as its special target groups. Comprehensive emergency obstetrical care (EmOC) facilities will be expanded by establishing such facilities in more upazila health complexes. More community skilled birth attendants (SBA) will be trained. The demand of ante-natal care (ANC), institutional delivery or delivery by trained personnel, post-natal care (PNC) will be created through strengthened health promotion involving community and different stakeholders. Ongoing demand side financing through providing maternity health vouchers will be expanded based on lessons learnt.

Control of Communicable Diseases: The existing programmes will be further expanded and strengthened to intensify prevention and control of communicable diseases (CDs), such as, acute respiratory tract infection, diarrhoea, dengue, etc. Special measures will be initiated for combating tuberculosis, leprosy, malaria, filariasis and kal-azar, which are concentrated in specific pockets of the country.

Control of Non-communicable Diseases: The government will, in partnership with local government administration and private sector create greater awareness of, and provide services for the control of unhealthy diet and lifestyle related major NCDs like - cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, etc. It will also take steps to combat common NCDs, such as, hypertension, asthma, blindness, etc., which particularly afflict the poor. Existing preventive and curative measures with respect to all NCDs will further be expanded and strengthened to increase access of all to health care services.

Nutrition: The National Nutrition Programme (NNP) will be expanded to all upazillas in phases. The ongoing micro-nutrient programmes will be continuously reviewed for their refinement and expansion with particular emphasis on access of poor and vulnerable women and children. Nutrition activities will be reinforced by forging links with other activities in the health sector like community-centred immunization, community-based integrated management of childhood illness and hospital services for referral of severely malnourished. The multi-sectoral links of the MOHFW’s nutrition initiatives with programmes by other ministries for food fortification, income and food security would be further strengthened. The value of women status in reducing malnutrition and dissemination of knowledge about nutrition amongst the citizens will be promoted. Monitoring and surveillance systems will be strengthened to improve nutrition of the poorer and vulnerable sections of the society. Nutrition of children and mother’s welfare will be ensured. The target is to ensure the minimum daily intake of 2,122 k cal of food for all by the year 2021.

Food Quality: The problem of major health hazards stems from unsafe drinking water and consuming unhygienic and low quality food. Definitive food standards would be established to serve as benchmark for evaluating and maintaining standards. Initiatives will be undertaken for reviewing all existing food safety laws and upgrading laboratories with clear assignment of responsibilities for different entities within public and private sectors. The government will examine the need for an authority for food (independently or integrate with existing drug administration) to take necessary follow-up action with the aim of removing threat to health of the citizens from substandard and/or adulterated food. By removing food deficit, nutrition needs of 85 percent of the population will be ensured by the year 2012.

Population Planning: Recognizing the significance of the population problem, the government will bring appropriate changes in the population policy to reflect recent realities and ensure effective delivery of population control and reproductive health services. The community clinics will be reopened to address the challenges in the population sector. Target-oriented population planning programmes will be strengthened to achieve the goals. All issues related to population control and family planning (FP) will be guided by the national population policy which will be updated. Contraceptives along with FP services will continue to be made widely available and further expanded to the poor and the marginalized population in both rural and urban areas and different regions and to meet the un-met need. Efforts are underway to popularize the slogan of having one child per couple. The existing FP programme will be expanded and strengthened involving both men and women, and will be popularized through an intensive motivational campaign under the Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) programme. Clinical, long acting and permanent methods will be emphasized wherever possible in order to increase contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) and ensure further decline in total fertility rate (TFR).

Health Education and Promotion: A major strategy to ensure better health would be to promote public health through health education within MOHFW and channels outside it. The existing institutions of MOHFW will be strengthened for providing effective health messages. Coalition will be built with mass media for providing health education to the population on a continuing basis regarding methods of preventing communicable and non-communicable diseases, caring practices for children, adolescents and the old aged, and creating awareness on nutrition and proper sanitation. Steps will also be taken to reach basic health and reproductive health information through school curricula and utilize NGOs and different religious centers to influence health behaviour of the people.

Control of Emerging Threats: Existing counselling and treatment services for mental health, drug abuse, avian flu, STD and HIV/AIDS, arsenic diseases, injuries, trauma sufferers, women and child victims of violence, road-railway-river accidents, etc., would be improved and introduced where not available. Attention will also be paid to provide health services for other emerging and changing patterns of threats such as, childhood disabilities and geriatric care. Ongoing emergency preparedness and response programme will be further strengthened to manage the disasters like flood, cyclone, tornado, Sidr etc. By 2021, minimum daily intake of 2,122 k cal of food, elimination of contagious diseases, and primary health care and sanitation for all will be ensured. Average longevity will be raised to 70 years, and efforts will be made for reducing child and maternal mortality.

Urban Health Services: The existing practice of providing urban primary health care (UPHC) services through contracted NGOs for the city corporations and selected municipalities under the LG Division will continue to be pursued. In addition, MOHFW will continue to provide Primary Health Care (PHC) services in urban areas not covered by the UPHC project. The establishment of an ‘Urban Health Unit’ in each Division would be considered. Similarly, it will also continue to provide secondary and tertiary level health care in urban areas and try to improve both coverage and quality in response to demand. A priority objective for improving urban health services will be to facilitate access and effective use of available essential services packages (ESP) delivery by urban poor and slum dwellers. The LG Division will also be strengthened for urban disease surveillance and monitoring including management information system (MIS), capacity development and quality assurance. Moreover, MOHFW will strengthen its policy directive and stewardship roles in providing effective urban health care services.

Primary Health Care: The current commitment of spending at least 60 per cent of the total budgetary allocation of the HNP sector at upazila level and below will continue to be pursued to improve the quality of PHC and make it accessible and acceptable to the people, especially the poor and vulnerable. The provision of ESP delivery will be strengthened and popularized. Functioning of the Upazila Health Complexes (UHCs), Union Health & Family Welfare Centers (UHFWCs) and the Community Clinics (CCs) will be strengthened and further consolidated through providing adequate manpower, drugs and other medical aids. The Community Clinics will provide PHC services, maternal and child care, family planning services, nutrition and venereal disease related services to the rural people. There will be involvement of local government bodies and NGOs for greater participation of the community with a view to ensuring community driven PHC services.

Secondary and Tertiary Health Care: The services offered by secondary and tertiary hospitals will, depending on bed capacity, be standardized along with human resource needs and table of equipments (TOE) linked to the services. Appropriate manpower development and management structure will be developed for the existing hospitals. New branches of sub-specialization will be created in all medical college hospitals, so that patients do not need to rush to the capital city. Hospital autonomy will be introduced initially for the tertiary level specialized hospitals and gradually extended to medical college and district hospitals. Management Committees at hospitals will be strengthened for better monitoring and monitoring and vigilance team for hospitals will be further strengthened and its jurisdiction will be expanded. Government will establish new specialized hospitals under its private public partnership initiative. Death audit will be introduced for establishing accountability and quality of care.

Alternate Medical Care: Homeopathy, ayurvedic and unani are included in alternate medical care (AMC). Necessary actions will be taken for improvement of the standard of alternate medicine, increase the demand for quality care and thereby reduce unsound practices. Capacity building of the AMC providers and proper monitoring and evaluation of the AMC provided will be undertaken.

Affordable Health Care Services: Existing system of affordable health care services will be further expanded and consolidated ensuring proper safety net for the poor. Facilities providing health care outside the public sector (but receiving government fund) will ensure that at least 30 per cent of their all types of services are kept for free treatment for those who cannot pay. Necessary fund will be mobilized through user fees, government allotment, social organizations, private contributions, corporate social responsibility, community financing schemes, and social insurance. Fees for providing medical advice or diagnostic service will be reviewed and regulated as necessary. The government will also encourage establishment of network of evenly spread specialist and super-specialist services through private investment for patients who can pay.

Community Clinics: The government is committed to reactivate 10,723 community clinics (CCs) which were established during 1996-2001. The MOHFW will run at least 8,000 CCs under government management. The government plans to establish 18,000 CCs in phases to deliver maternal and child health care including family planning services and limited curative care.

Surveillance of Diseases: The existing disease surveillance system will be reviewed for its updating to incorporate NCDs along with CDs and keeping in view the international health regulation system. Disease information monitoring and management system will be strengthened not only to issue public alert and increase availability of adequate information concerning the incidence and prevalence of diseases at regional and national levels, but also to establish a network with the global disease information system. Maps of all major diseases, on the basis of their incidence and prevalence, will be constructed for each district.

Health Governance: Good governance in the health sector will be strengthened through skilled staff deployment, preventing malpractices, and creating a more customer friendly health service delivery system in the public facilities in partnership with all stakeholders. The stewardship capacity of public sector will be improved for monitoring quality of care and safety of patients in both public and private sectors. New initiatives in health governance include:

  • Consolidation of public-private partnership in management of health services;

  • Citizens charter for health service delivery;

  • Better regulation of the non-public health care providers;

  • Better monitoring in medical colleges and specialized hospitals for ensuring management efficiency and establishing increased attention to patients;

  • Decentralization of health administration; and

  • Formulation of national health policy.

Sector Reforms: The ongoing health sector reforms will be carried out under the HNPSP. The on-going reform measures would be closely monitored and reviewed for their successful implementation. Efforts will be taken to re-establish functioning of the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC). Laws relating to the regulatory bodies will be reviewed and strengthened. Both administrative and financial authority, as far as possible, will be decentralized with a view to increasing accountability and establishing quality health care services at all levels. A system of collection, retention and utilization of user fees and local resources at all public health facilities (ensuring adequate safety net for the poor) will be established for which a set of guidelines will be developed.

Gender Equality in Health: Efforts will focus on (i) ensuring rights of women for a better physical and mental health at all stages of their life cycle, (ii) strengthening PHC for women with emphasis on reducing maternal and infant mortality, (iii) strengthening reproductive rights and reproductive health of women at all stages of population planning and implementation, (iv) preventing women from HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) through awareness raising, and (v) creating women-friendly facilities at all pubic health complexes.

Stewardship Role of the Public Sector: The government has been emphasizing wider involvement of the private sector including non-state institutions for enhancing effective health service delivery. To this end, the stewardship role of the MOHFW will be strengthened. The following are some of the important areas where effective regulatory mechanism of the government will be established.

I. MOHFW will gradually assume strategic stewardship and governance roles for policy management in the following and related areas.

  • Setting up a coordinating system for synergistic, effective and efficient contribution from state and non-state including private sector and health related NGOs for extending and improving health services.

  • Necessary steps will be taken for formulation, implementation, review and periodic updating of comprehensive health and population strategies.

II. MOHFW will strengthen its regulatory and supervisory roles.

  • Regulatory bodies such as BMDC, State Medical Faculty (SMF), Bangladesh Nursing Council (BNC), and Bangladesh Pharmacy Council (BPC) will be made more effective and functional through revising their mandate, structure and capacity building for enforcement of standards.

  • The existing structure and capacity of DGHS, Directorate of Family Planning (DFP) and Department of Drug Administration (DDA) will be reviewed and strengthened for increasing supervisory performance.

  • Professional medical ethics and code of conduct will be established among the service providers through enforcement of regulatory framework in consultation with the professional associations.

  • The need for separate regulatory body for effective service delivery system for both the public and private sectors will be reviewed.

III. Public sector will increasingly focus on ensuring proper safety net for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.

  • Existing health delivery system in both public and private sectors will be further expanded and strengthened, ensuring proper safety net for the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.

  • Alternative health delivery systems will be explored leading to an eventually self managed system with community participation in managing the facilities on pilot basis and then scaled-up, based on lessons learnt.

IV. Proper information generation, collection and effective management feeding into policy formulation and planning.

  • Develop comprehensive plan including performance indicators for monitoring and evaluation of health interventions with sound demographic and socio-economic data including those on burden of disease, inequality and gender disparity.

  • Formulation of an improved planning and budget through pilot introduction of local level planning.

Human Resources for Health: The comprehensive long-term HR strategy under preparation by MOHFW would address the issues of shortages, maldistribution of personnel, skill-mix imbalance, negative work environment and weak knowledge base. MOHFW would also address some medium term actions like recruitment and training of nurses and medical technicians.

Drug Issues: All drug related issues will be guided by the actions incorporated into the National Drug Policy (NDP) which will be updated with the objective of ensuring easy access to essential drugs at fair prices, promoting competition among the local pharmaceutical industries and supporting and strengthening the existing regulatory measures to ensure quality drugs. Moreover, increased attention will be given to ‘rational use of drugs’ by educating both prescribers and +users. For all these to be materialized, the Department of Drug Administration (DDA) will be strengthened, expanded and modernized. Updating list of essential drugs will be completed.

Water and Sanitation: Access to safe and adequate water and hygienic sanitation with its proper use is fundamental for health. The government is committed to providing universal access to pure drinking water by 2011 and sanitation by 2013. Access of water would be ensured in urban areas particularly to slums and water scarce areas like arsenic affected areas, saline areas, char-haor-coastal belt, CHT, and barind tract areas. Emphasis would be provided for stopping open defecation along with installation of sanitary toilets at home and all public places. Proper management of waste water and solid waste would be given priority attention.

Telemedicine and E-Health: The government will make health services especially specialist services accessible to all people irrespective of their geographical location at low cost through provision of telemedicine and e-health services related to consultation and lab-services. E-health will also confer other benefits in the health sector. To achieve this goal, wireless internet connections will be provided to 800 points in the government health sector and mobile phones will be provided to upazilla health projects.

Chapter 4 Roadmap for Accelerated Poverty Reduction: Supporting Strategies

The supporting strategies are needed for accelerating economic growth and ensuring its long-term sustainability and inclusiveness. These strategies are mostly crosscutting in nature. Five supporting strategies would be adopted to complement the strategic blocks:

Strategy I: Ensuring Participation, Social Inclusion and Empowerment

Strategy II: Promoting Good Governance

Strategy III: Ensuring Efficient Delivery of Utility Services

Strategy VI: Caring for Environment and Tackling Climate Change

Strategy V: Enhancing Productivity and Efficiency through Science and Technology

4. 1 Strategy I: Ensuring Participation, Social Inclusion and Empowerment

The development framework of NSAPR II is centred on people which comprises of heterogeneous groups having different realities, obstacles, and opportunities. As such, the poverty reduction strategies need to take such differences into consideration. According to Article 27 of the Constitution, all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law. Article 28 states that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or region. With respect to women, Article 28 states that ‘women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of state and public life nothing shall prevent the State from making special provision in favour of women or for the advancement of any backward section of the population’.

4.1.1 Women’s Advancement and Rights

Women frequently experience poverty differently, have different poverty reduction priorities and are affected differently by development interventions. In addressing gender based discrimination, NSAPR II follows a two-pronged approach. Firstly, gender is integrated into all thematic policy matrices covering sectoral interventions. Secondly, there is a specific matrix dealing with gender equality commitments entitled ‘Women’s Advancement and Rights’.

Vision and Goals

The vision for women’s advancement and rights is to create a society where men and women will have equal opportunities and will enjoy all fundamental rights on an equal basis. To achieve this vision, the mission is to ensure women’s advancement and rights in activities of all sectors of the economy.

The Bangladesh Government adopted the ‘National Policy for Women’s Advancement’ (NPWA) 2008 that aims at eliminating all forms of discrimination against women by empowering them to become equal partners of development. The overall development goal for women’s empowerment covers: (i) promoting and protecting women’s rights; (ii) eradicating the persistent burden of poverty on women; (iii) eliminating discrimination against women; (iv) enhancing women’s participation in mainstream economic activities; (v) creating opportunities for education and marketable skills training to enable them to participate and be competitive in all economic activities; (vi) incorporating women’s needs and concerns in all sectoral plans and programmes; (vii) promoting an enabling environment at the work-place: setting up day care centres for the children of working mothers, career women hostels, safe accommodation for working women; (viii) providing safe custody for women and children victims of trafficking and desertion, and creating an enabling environment for their integration in the mainstream of society; (ix) ensuring women’s empowerment in the field of politics and decision making; (x) taking action to acknowledge women’s contribution in social and economic spheres; (xi) ensuring women’s social security against all vulnerability and risks in the state, society and family; (xii) eliminating all forms of violation and exploitation against women; (xiii) developing women’s capacity through health and nutrition care; (xiv) facilitating women’s participation in all national and international bodies; (xv) strengthening the existing institutional capacity for coordination and monitoring of women’s advancement; (xvi) taking action through advocacy and campaigns to depict positive images of women; (xvii) taking special measures for skills development of women workers engaged in the export-oriented sectors; (xviii) incorporating gender equality concerns in all trade-related negotiations and activities; and (xix) ensuring gender sensitive growth with regional balance; and (xx) protecting women from the adverse effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

Current Challenges

Bangladesh has made measurable progress in women’s advancement and rights in a number of areas including education, participation in labour force, health and nutrition, and participation in public services. In the area of women’s advancement and rights, the government has made strong commitments and undertaken various initiatives to reduce the gap between men and women. However, on the path towards achieving the desired goals of gender equality and gender mainstreaming, some challenges remain.

Female Faces of Poverty: The female-headed households usually earn less income since poor women have low earning capacity and their wages are lower than male wages. Women are more susceptible to becoming poor when they lose the male earning member of the family because of abandonment, divorce, or death.

Women’s Participation in Mainstream Economic Activities: Women’s economic participation is low but increasing. However, there is still a large difference between female and male participation. Labour force participation rate of males is 86.8 percent against 29.2 percent for females.

Violence against Women (VAW) and Exploitation: Violence against women is pervasive. Physical and sexual assaults, including acid throwing, are common. In addition, trafficking is also reported. Poverty, dowry, early marriage, superstition, social attitude etc. are the major causes of violence against women.

Early Marriage: The negative consequences of early marriage are multiple, including loss of education, employment opportunities, decision-making power, and leading to early childbirth. The rates of maternal and infant mortality are high among adolescent mothers.

Gender Dimension of Vulnerabilities and Risks: As gender discrimination in a long social process, women face constraints that result in vulnerability and risks in all spheres and stages of women’s lives (Table 4.1).

Table 4.1:

Women’s Risks and Vulnerabilities

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Coping Mechanism for Disaster and Climate Change: With higher incidence of droughts, floods, cyclones and other natural calamities due to looming threat of climate change, women are affected differently than men indicating the need to introduce gender sensitivity in coping mechanisms and strategies.

Budget, Programme and Project Formulation: Currently 16 ministries spending 60 percent of the total national budget are under the medium term budgetary framework (MTBF) which requires them to answer questions on how their spending would affect women and poverty in the budget call circular (BC1) of the Ministry of Finance. Thus the capacity strengthening issues of engendering programmes and project formulation and answering BC1 have now come to the forefront.

Sex Disaggregated Data: Strengthening the capacity of the national statistical system and the ministries in generating and reporting data, especially sex disaggregated data, in understandable forms remains a challenge for which concerted actions would be needed. There will be dialogues among stakeholders for identifying when and what types of sex disaggregated data should be collected by the statistical system.

Governance: The main problem with gender governance is the implementation of the existing laws, rules and regulations and stated policies. In addition, reforms of some laws, rules and regulations, policies and the institutional mechanism are needed to make governance gender sensitive.

Strategic Objectives

In order to overcome the challenges, eleven strategic objectives would be adopted: (i) putting a policy and legal framework in place to facilitate achieving equal rights for women, (ii) ensuring women’s full participation in mainstream economic activities, (iii) ensuring social protection for women against vulnerability and risk, (iv) enhancing women’s political empowerment and participation in decision making, (v) eliminating all forms of violence and exploitation against women, (vi) strengthening institutions for ensuring gender mainstreaming, (vii) capacity building in making available sex disaggregated data, (viii) integrating gender concern in all national policies/programmes/projects, (ix) building women’s capacity through health and nutrition services, (x) building women’s capacity through education and knowledge dissemination, and (xi) ensuring women’s participation in international forums.

Policy and Legal Framework: Taking the constitution as the basis, the government’s commitment to various international forums (CEDAW, Beijing Platform for Action etc.) would be taken into consideration in addressing women’s advancement and rights issues

Productive Employment: To create more jobs, action would be taken to improve women’s employment opportunities and wages outside the household and also ensure equal pay for equal work. An enabling environment would be created in the workplace by establishing day care centres. Provision would be made for life and disability insurance for workers, especially women workers. Steps would be taken to ensure secure jobs and decent working conditions for women in the formal and informal sectors.

Enabling Environment: Measures would be taken to develop advocacy for treating girl child and boy child equally and promote equal sharing of household and productive work. Necessary legal and administrative measures would be taken for ensuring a safe workplace, transportation facilities, and infrastructure like separate toilets, lunch rooms and lunchtime.

Social Protection: The existing programmes for social protection for disadvantaged women would be continued. Gender sensitive measures would be taken to protect women from economic vulnerability and risk due to natural disasters. The effect of the emerging problems of climate change on women would be assessed for designing coping strategies and mitigation measures. Banks and micro-credit providers would be encouraged to extend small and micro-credit to the poor and the vulnerable.

Political Empowerment and Participation: In this context, the main targets are to ensure participation of women in the National Parliament and the local political institutions, influence political decisions in favour of women, ensure direct election in the reserve seats in the National Parliament and ensure women’s representation in the local bodies with authority and responsibility. Initiatives would be taken to make women politically more conscious, encourage women to participate in politics and to build leadership among women at all levels.

Violence Against Women: The major targets for elimination of VAW are to ensure reporting of all VAW incidence, reduce reported VAW at least by half, consolidate the “One-Stop Crisis Centre” in medical college hospitals at divisional levels to provide medical treatment, legal and psycho-social counselling to women and children victims of violence, and providing shelter facilities and making efforts for their reintegration and rehabilitation in society. The police, the administration and the judiciary will be sensitized to apply CEDAW with provisions in cases of VAW and women’s rights.

Gender Mainstreaming: Laws, rules and regulations, institutional mechanisms, policies, projects and programmes which are not gender sensitive would be reformed. The intuitional mechanism for coordination and monitoring of gender equality issues would be strengthened.

Institutional Strengthening: The National Council for Women’s Development (NCWD) would oversee women’s advancement-related activities in NSAPR II through providing guidance and policy support. The Women’s Development Implementation and Evaluation Committee, MoWCA, will regularly review, evaluate and co-ordinate women’s development activities and assist NCWD by reporting on progress of implementation. The WID Focal Point Mechanism would be strengthened to play an effective role in leading the coordination and monitoring the implementation of women’s advancement and rights in policies, projects and programmes.

Integration of Women’s Advancement and Rights: For integration, capacity building of relevant government officials on gender responsive budgeting and planning will be undertaken. The poverty and gender impact assessment criteria and yardsticks will be adopted in line with NSAPR II policy agenda.

In order to improve women’s general health, the planned targets are to: improve women’s life expectancy from 66 in 2006 to 70 years by 2011, reduce women’s morbidity rate by 27 percent by 2011, reduce women’s mortality rate from 5.2 per thousand in 2006 to 4.5 per thousand in 2011, and reduce maternal mortality ratio from 3.37 per thousand live births in 2006 to 2.4 per thousand live births in 2011.

In the education sector, the targets are to have all girls complete a full course of primary schooling, and achieve gender balance in higher secondary and tertiary education. Steps will be taken to introduce special stipend programmes for women’s education at the higher secondary and university levels in science and technical and vocational education.

Measures would be taken for ensuring participation of women producers, women trade unions and women entrepreneurs in trade negotiations and in various committees of the Ministry of Commerce, ensuring coherence between the dominant international economic agenda and the international legal obligations, making arrangements for market access to goods where women are ‘behind the label’, planning for market access to women in the secret services under Mode 4, encouraging FDI in women labour intensive industries, and ensuring women’s voice in international forums.

Special programme for ethnic women including poor, destitute and elderly will be undertaken to address their needs. In order to increase productivity and diversification of activities, the ethnic women’s capacity would be enhanced through health, education and services.

The media will be sensitized to promote positive images of women. In order to make the media more gender friendly, effort will be taken to establish increased linkages between women’s groups and the broadcasting agencies.

Disability and Gender Issues: The issues of disability will be addressed in NSAPR II not only as humanitarian but also as a development issue. Measures will be taken for ensuring proper housing and accessibility to all physical facilities for them. In order to provide special support for women with severe disabilities, shelter homes will be built. Women with disabilities will be given preference under the safety net measures.

4.1.2 Children’s Advancement and Rights

Bangladesh has made significant progress in the area of child rights’ promotion, survival, and development. Nevertheless, the general situation of the children in Bangladesh needs to improve further since the survival and development of many Bangladeshi children is still threatened by malnutrition, disease, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, exploitation, and natural disaster.

The Vision

The vision regarding children’s advancement and rights is to create ‘a world fit for children’. The goals to be achieved are: (i) ensuring children’s rights and advancement through the implementation of government policies and legislations; (ii) providing health services the children need; (iii) ensuring access to food and nutrition they need; (iv) providing access to girls to education, training and development opportunities; (v) ensuring access to urban poor children to early childhood development, education, sports and cultural activities providing knowledge and life skill; (vi) protecting children from all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence; (vii) providing access to children particularly in urban and remote settings to clean water and sanitation, and a healthy environment; (viii) ensuring participation of children in defining their needs, developing programmes, implementing interventions, and evaluating their success; (ix) ensuring support of duty bearer, parents and other care givers on whom children have to depend; and (x) ensuring widespread public support for survival and development of children.

Proposed Actions

Intervention and actions for achieving the strategic objectives are indicated below:

Child Health and Nutrition: The programme areas include eradication of polio, elimination of measles and neonatal tetanus, improvement of nutrition and strengthening the school health programme. The actions will include maximizing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of health expenditure and improving governance. The specific activities will include sensitizing primary and secondary students about critical child health and reproductive health issues, healthy practices and worm infestation, and supplying iron and folic acid tablets for schoolgirls. Activities will be undertaken to develop an adolescent health strategy including counselling, building awareness for adolescents on hygienic practices, nutrition, puberty, RTI/STD and HIV/AIDS.

Food and Nutrition: To control vitamin A deficiency and contain the prevalence of night blindness, vitamin A supplements will be distributed to children with vitamin A deficiency, measles, persistent diarrhoea or severe malnutrition and to postpartum women within 6 weeks of delivery. Ongoing efforts to control iodine deficiency disorders through universal salt iodization will continue. To address the causes of anaemia, strategies will be used to control anaemia, including iron-foliate supplementation, anathematic treatment, fortification, and BCC to increase the consumption of iron-rich foods and promoters of iron absorption. A strategy will be developed to address the health care needs of children with physical and mental disabilities.

Child Education: The intervention for early childhood development will include an awareness raising programme for parents to make them aware of early childhood development’s benefits, promote community-based childcare centres for clusters of families where literate mothers are trained to become caregivers and design facilities for early learners. Efforts will be made to increase enrolment rate and decrease dropout rate, train primary teachers, increase the attendance rate, increase contact hours, and maintain gender parity in access and achievement. Non-formal education (NFE) will be provided to diverse types of children deprived of education, like un-enrolled or drop-out children and hard to reach children to enhance their employability and productivity through skill training.

Effectiveness of primary schools will be ensured by increasing community involvement; creation of a child-friendly teaching/learning environment; promoting access, competence, relevance, efficiency and equity in education and also by developing a strong life skills component including mental, cultural and physical development. Quality of primary education will be achieved by improving the quality of learning materials and instructions, strengthening capacity of teachers; developing infrastructure facilities and including sports and cultural activities in the curriculum. Opportunities for vocational training will be created in secondary schools for improving their income-generating capacity. The curricula of Madrasha education will be reviewed to improve quality of learning and increase market relevance of Madrasha education.

Access to Water and Sanitation: The specific objectives are to: mitigate arsenic problem in drinking water by providing alternative systems, increase rural and urban slum access to sanitary latrines, expand water and sanitation services to cover currently underserved pourashava areas, provide improved water supply to underserved, un-served and difficult to reach areas by 2011. The primary schools will be ensured access to sanitation and safe drinking water. Environmental hazards for children (sound, air, water pollution, etc) would be reduced and standards for sound, air and water pollution would be implemented.

Child Empowerment: Children would be empowered to have a voice in the socioeconomic decision-making process in the family, society and national levels. In this respect, it would be necessary to create a national platform for allowing children to express opinions on their needs and expectations and means of addressing them.

Child Protection: All children, particularly those who are vulnerable, would be ensured right to protection from abuse, exploitation and violence. The policies of existing NPA would be used against sexual abuse and exploitation of children and trafficking. Laws affecting children will be harmonized and enforced. Awareness amongst law enforcing officials and judicial officers and the development of a diversion scheme involving the courts, social workers and probation officers as an alternative to custodial sentences will be undertaken.

The Municipal Corporations and Pourashavas will be mobilized to register all births. Awareness raising programmes through union parishad members, and leaders of social opinion including Imams will be conducted to eliminate the practice of early marriage. A widespread social awareness campaign and community mobilization on protection issues will be undertaken to foster positive attitudes towards children, particularly girls, and bolster the positive attitude of parents and decision-makers on the need to protect children regardless of the socio-economic environment.

Effective measures will be taken to reduce child labour, and eliminate worst forms of child labour with a particular focus on child domestic workers, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups. In this context, a policy for children in the formal sector focusing on those caught up in the worst forms of child labour will be formulated. Street children will be assisted in accessing their rights and protecting them from all forms of abuse and exploitation. Working children such as waste collectors, leather workers, brick breakers, auto-workshop workers and tempo helpers will have access to learning opportunities in formal and non-formal facilities.

To recover and remove children from abusive and exploitative circumstances, the interventions will include developing community support for these children; providing livelihood alternatives, basic services and adoption, and implementing policies and legislation necessary for the prevention of abuse, discrimination, exploitation and violence.

Steps will be taken to increase efficiency to combat sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children through enhanced coordination and cooperation.

Management and Coordination: The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs will conduct public advocacy and coordinate interventions for children’s well-being and rights. An inter-ministerial coordination committee consisting of government ministries with children’s portfolios and organizations representing children’s mandate will be chaired by the Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and will coordinate the implementation of CRC, CEDAW, and the World Fit for Children Plan of Action.

4.1.3 Indigenous Communities

Bangladesh has around forty-five different small ethnic communities i.e. indigenous communities-- and 2 million indigenous people. Some of the ‘hardcore poor’ of Bangladesh are found among the indigenous communities.

The Vision

For the indigenous people, the vision is to ensure their social, political and economic rights; ensure security and fundamental human rights; and preserve their social and cultural identity. They will be ensured access to education, health care, food and nutrition, employment and protection of rights to land and other resources.

The crucial provisions of the CHT accord of 1997 have mostly been implemented. A separate Ministry of CHT Affairs has been created, a Land Commission Act passed by the Parliament, withdrawal of army camps has been started and the Land Commission constituted to resolve land disputes in the three hill districts. The District and Sessions Courts have started functioning in the three districts of CHT. The government programmes have also incorporated the needs and concerns of the indigenous people. The unimplemented provisions of the peace accord would be considered for implementation by the government. The Land Commission will be reconstituted and land survey carried out.

Areas of Future Action

The challenges with respect to addressing social and economic conditions of indigenous communities cover: (i) living in remote areas and far away from each other making it difficult to reach, mobilize and organize them, (ii) partial operationalization of the ‘Land Disputes Resolution Commission’ to prevent land grabbing and displacement of indigenous people, (iii) lack of specific objectives concerning needs and concerns of indigenous people in mainstream policies of respective ministries/divisions, (iv) absence of an alphabet and dearth of students hindering development of curriculum in indigenous languages at schools, (v) low food production resulting in food insecurity, (vi) inadequate institutional mechanism to establish linkage and coordination with NGOs and the private sector to address issues related to indigenous people in a comprehensive manner, (vii) lack of comprehensive understanding of the problems of the indigenous communities, and (viii) absence of detailed information on indigenous population with ethnic disaggregation.

Major areas of interventions would include:

UN Declaration: The government would consider implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 and ratify the ILO Convention 1969.

Rights on Land: An appropriate land policy will be formulated which can deal with land disputes involving indigenous peoples. A secure land tenure system will be introduced in CHT. Representatives of the indigenous people will be included in undertaking development projects in areas inhabited by indigenous communities.

Empowering Indigenous Community: The government will ensure participation of local governments in the management of natural resources and will recognize the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. The government will ensure community involvement in the adoption of technologies without competing with their traditional food production system.

Human Development Programmes: Existing human development programmes will address the special needs of indigenous people. Monitoring and supervision will be strengthened so that education, health and maternal child health services, and nutrition and housing facilities reach the indigenous people.

Language and Children’s Access to Education: A national language policy will be formulated to safeguard the languages of indigenous peoples. An action plan on mainstreaming the education of indigenous children will be implemented.

Electrification and Telecommunication: The national power grid and distribution system for electricity supply in different upazilas of hill districts will be expanded. The government will consider the feasibility of raising electricity generation capacity of the Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Station and setting up a grid substation in the hill districts to meet the demand for electricity

Safety Nets and Food Assistance Programmes: Assistance will be provided in hill districts to strengthen their capacities and increase employment opportunities to cope with any sudden decrease of their income due to damage to Jhum crops caused by floods and droughts.

Rural Development and Non-farm Economic Activities: In the hill districts, income generating activities through small and cottage industries, trading, and poultry and livestock rearing will be expanded. The income of poor people will be enhanced through social forestry in hilly areas and cultivation of fruits and medicinal plants. Measures will be taken to support EPB’s ‘one district one product’ initiative under which ‘Textiles for Rangamati’, ‘Pineapples for Khagrachari’ and ‘Rubber for Bandarban’ have been finalized.

Expansion of Micro Credit: Micro credit activities for the poor people will be expanded and vocational training will be provided to the poor. The development of rural roads, hats, and bazars for marketing of agricultural products will continue. Action will be taken to eliminate barriers so that agriculture and local products have easy access to national and international markets.

Development of Tourism: Private investment will be encouraged to develop sustainable tourist facilities in Rangamati, Bandarban, and Khagrachari.

4.1.4 Persons with Disabilities

The government envisions promoting and protecting rights of persons with disabilities and facilitate their full participation and inclusion in mainstream social, political and cultural lives. They will be enabled to lead productive and meaningful lives through access to education, health care, food and nutrition, employment and protection, and security in society.

The government is strongly committed to the advancement and rights of persons with disabilities by virtue of the Constitution which enshrines equal rights and status for every citizen and by signing the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Beijing Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality with Disability in Asia and the Pacific Region.

A National Disability Action Plan has been formulated involving all related ministries. The Ministry of Social Welfare has taken up programmes for enabling and integrating persons with disabilities with mainstream of society through various programmes including stipend programmes for students, subsistence allowance, skill training, and interest free micro credit. In addition to its own initiatives, the government provides funds to NGOs to provide education facilities to persons with mental disability.

Despite some progress, access to special education, training and rehabilitation, equal opportunities, creation of employment and income generating opportunities, social security, accessibility to physical facilities, fixation of quota, and prevention of disabilities are not yet fully ensured since different ministries are not legally responsible for addressing disability issues in their action plans. Proper supervision and monitoring of NGO activities is essential.

Proposed Actions

Along with expansion of integrated education programme for visually impaired children, existing institutions for hearing impaired and mentally retarded children will be expanded. New institutions will be established to provide access to more children with disabilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

A collaborative effort among the government, NGOs and the private sector will be encouraged to expedite the expansion of the existing institutions, establish new institutions, undertake teachers’ training and action researches on disability.

Action will be taken in the health sector to (i) strengthen early detection of symptoms of disability and provide primary medical rehabilitation; (ii) undertake a nutrition programme for pregnant women; (iii) appoint trainee doctors, nurses and other caregivers to deal with disability issues; and (iv) introduce support services of assistive devices and equipment at the health centres.

Measures will be taken so that persons with disabilities can have access to all physical facilities and information and communication. Inclusion of persons with disabilities in various national and community level decision making processes that affect their lives would be ensured. Services like early detection and timely medical intervention, fitment of artificial aids and appliances, educational services in special and integrated schools, vocational rehabilitation and micro credit will be provided to persons with disabilities through community based rehabilitation (CBR) programme in the rural areas.

The Bangladesh Disability Welfare Act would be amended to clarify definitions of disability and make it consistent with standards set out internationally on disability rights. The National Coordination Committee for persons with disabilities would be strengthened to monitor and coordinate activities of different ministries/divisions.

4.1.5 Disadvantaged and Extreme Poor Groups

There are some disadvantaged and stigmatized groups (such as dhopa, muchi, napit, and other traditional low caste people) who are subject to social injustice and are marginalized, and have little opportunities for overcoming their harsh realities. The vision for these disadvantaged and extreme poor groups is to include them into the mainstream of society by ensuring their participation in socioeconomic activities and to promote and protect their human rights, reduce their persistent poverty, and ensure education and skill training for income generating activities.

Several actions are already in progress for the development of the disadvantaged groups. Among the coastal fishing communities various activities such as savings/credit schemes, promotion of alternative income generating schemes for men and women, improving access to social services and building their capacity to face and survive natural disasters have been introduced. Development activities for the sweeper community have been undertaken by NGOs. The owners of tea gardens have entered into agreement with the trade union of tea garden workers to enhance their wages and provide subsidized food. Similarly, communities like kaibarta/namasudra, jalo (fishermen), dhopas, napits and other groups face decaying occupations. The Ministry of Social Welfare has implemented capacity and livelihood development programme for socially disadvantaged women with a view to creating employment/self-employment of sex-workers and their children in selected cities

Proposed Actions

Coordination and Monitoring: The cooperation and involvement of local bodies i.e. Upazila and Union Parishads and NGOs will help to locate/identify the disadvantaged people to enable them to participate in development activities. Government functionaries at upazila, district, divisional/national level will coordinate their activities.

Housing Facilities: The Ministry of Land would give priority to allotting khas land to people of the disadvantaged communities for settlement under the Asrayan project. For the tea garden workers, planters/owners would be encouraged to earmark land within the estates so that they can build their own dwellings.

4.2 Strategy II: Promoting Good Governance

Unless governance improves, poor people will continue to suffer from inadequate security, poor public services and lack of economic opportunities. A range of factors, including transparency, accountability, responsiveness, efficiency, organizational performance and technical capacity, have impact on good governance. Improving governance and reducing corruption are crucial to helping poor people escape poverty and achieving the MDGs.

The Vision

The vision is to ensure an effective parliamentary process, sound law and order, pro-people public services, improved legal and judicial system, strengthened local governance, and a corruption-free society with social justice.

A number of important steps have taken place in recent years to enhance transparency and accountability in all financial transactions. The government is trying to ensure transparency in the service delivery system of the state institutions. A number of crosscutting initiatives have also been taken:

  • (i) Streamlining and simplifying institutions (establishments, conventions and rules), eliminate administrative barriers, deregulate bureaucratic procedures, develop one-stop services, modernize administration through administrative and regulatory reform;

  • (ii) Providing support for legal drafting and advocacy for judicial sector reforms, improvement in court administration, investigation and prosecution, judicial ethics and legal clinics for victims of corruption;

  • (iii) Increasing transparency and accountability in the budget and procurement processes, government auditing and customs and tax administration, e.g. Public Finance Reform initiatives are on board;

  • (iv) Improving the quality and predictability of public service delivery, expand citizens’ participation in local government, promote open hearings, restructure permit and licensing procedures and ensure that local government is responsive to citizens’ needs;

  • (v) Working with the business community to implement codes of conduct and undertake deregulation and legal/procedural reforms;

  • (vi) Reducing corruption in health, education, environment and energy sectors;

  • (vii) Building coalition with the media and civil society and the private sector to strengthen their role as watchdog and also undertake public awareness campaigns and advocacy programmes;

  • (viii) Prevention of money laundering, action against international corruption, promoting anti-corruption legislation, and enhancing accounting and auditing standards for ensuring private sector accountability through signing the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC);

  • (ix) Introducing the ‘Citizen Charter’ by the ministries and agencies to ensure that their services reach the people;

  • (x) Opening BG Press website for uploading gazettes and laws for public use;

  • (xi) Amending the rules of business of the Secretariat to encourage the use of IT in administration through e-governance;

  • (xii) National ID card has been introduced as one of the basic identity for different public service delivery; and

  • (xiii) Birth registration has been initiated through municipalities, pourashava and union council.

The promotion of good governance requires attention to different issues connected to each other. The issues cover: (i) making parliamentary process effective; (ii) reforming and strengthening the public service system; (iii) reforming the legal and judicial system to ensure judicial help for the poor and women; (iv) changing roles of law enforcing agencies; (v) strengthening of local government; (vi) promoting e-governance; (vii) combating corruption; (viii) ensuring human rights; (ix) accessing information; (x) improving project implementation capacity; and (xi) improving sectoral governance.

4.2.1 Making Parliamentary Process Effective

The Parliament plays a key role in promoting accountability and good governance. The Parliament would hold the government accountable through legislative debates, articulating citizens’ feedback and strengthening democratic institutions including the media. The ninth Parliament has already brought several changes in rules and procedures in order to make the Parliament more effective. The representation of opposition bench members in Standing Committees has been raised along with chairmanship in several important committees. The Parliamentary Committees has been formed in the first session of the Parliament with some chairs given to the opposition. However, continued absence of the opposition on the issue of having more seats in the front row and failure to ratify the party charter within six months weaken the democratic and parliamentary systems. The law has now been amended extending the time for ratification to one year.

4.2.2 Strengthening Local Government

Local governance initiatives currently underway in the country hold much promise for developing effective systems of public participation as well as accountability that will ensure that government servants are responsible to elected officials, and elected officials are in turn responsible to their constituency. The government is taking steps to strengthen local government so that it can respond to the needs of the people and bring services to the doorsteps of the people. Strengthening of local government and decentralisation of power imply delegating powers of the central government with the aim to address major issues like poverty reduction, good governance, infrastructure development and disaster management. Efficient and dedicated local government bodies can deliver services and generate social and economic awareness to achieve the national goals. In this respect, the following actions are contemplated:

  • (i) Capacity building of the local government bodies and providing adequate fiscal authority and incentives for mobilization of resources at the local level;

  • (ii) introducing a clear mandate of authority and responsibility including job description of women members of the local government institutions;

  • (iii) sensitizing the members of the local government institutes about poverty, gender balance and citizens’ rights issues through leadership training;

  • (iv) introducing a system of reward and recognition for the members of the local government institutions for undertaking commendable work;

  • (v) creating a culture of developing partnership with local-level NGOs/CBOs and ensuring their accountability to the local people;

  • (vi) ensuring uniform application of rules and procedures;

  • (vii) gradually introducing ICT and e-governance at the local government level;

  • (viii) allowing flexibility and operational independence to local governments to suit the local needs;

  • (ix) ensuring full access to information on service delivery to the users;

  • (x) introducing a system of monitoring the performance of local government bodies and subject them to performance and financial auditing;

  • (xi) providing technical and consultancy support by nation building departments; and

  • (xii) introducing local-level planning and budgeting and ensuring budget implementation.

The upazila parishads would be gradually strengthened assigning more functions and responsibilities as they are able to act independently. The zila parishad system would be reviewed within 3-4 years to ensure a reformed and functional structure.

4.2.3 Reforming and Strengthening Public Services

In the case of public services, the goal is to raise the quality of public services delivered to citizens and enhance the capacity to carry out core government functions, which are essential for sustaining rapid development. The civil service must be able to attract high calibre entrants with high standard of integrity. The public service reform will be a defining priority, as governance cannot improve without a high-performing civil service. Several areas of intervention have been identified to bring efficiency, transparency and accountability in public service management:

  • (i) Improving the recruitment procedure.

  • (ii) Undertaking human resource development through training at the entry level and continuous on-the-job training and postings to ensure a match between competence and job requirements and improve public service delivery.

  • (iii) Defining civil service code of conduct to address issues of corruption and harassment.

  • (iv) Developing institutional mechanisms to eliminate, or at least reduce to the minimum, patronage, political pressure and nepotism.

  • (v) Bringing procedural change so that civil servants would work with clear terms of reference, job description, delegated authority, simplified procedures and a clear line of accountability. Proper audit and public reporting on the public service will be undertaken which could make accountability of public servants effective.

  • (vi) Creating a healthy and enabling work environment taking into consideration increases in pay-scale, relating them to skill and responsibilities; streamlining non-financial benefits, introducing performance-based promotion, and punishment.

  • (vii) Strengthening and reforming the role of the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is vital for promoting excellence in public administration and governance. The quota system will be reviewed.

  • (viii) Strengthening parliamentary and public oversight needs, with public dissemination of audit findings and scrutiny by a Parliamentary Audit Committee.

4.2.4 Reforming Legal and Judicial System

The judicial system needs strengthening particularly with respect to the poor, women and other vulnerable groups. In the civil justice system, the case management processes have been excruciatingly slow, costly and time consuming, which restricts access to justice for the poor and the disadvantaged groups of society.

The government has implemented the Legal and Judicial Capacity Building Project to improve the quality and pace of the civil justice delivery system; reduce backlog; make the system more accessible to the users, particularly to the disadvantaged, women and children; and institutionalize the resolution of disputes out of court. Other key reform programmes include the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism, legal aid services and training programmes for the judges and court support staff. There has also been an attempt to bring the legal community including the judges and the people of the legal profession under the canopy of the National Legal Aid Organization having the responsibility of offering pro-poor services to the impoverished and the vulnerable people.

The judiciary has been separated from the executive with effect from 1 November 2007. All courts have been placed under the Supreme Court. The government has started construction of courts for the judicial magistrates. While most judicial functions and executive functions are clearly demarcated, there is a grey area of functions which requires legal training.

Suggested reforms for improving the judicial system are:

  • (i) Appointing a court Ombudsman, according to Article 77 of the Constitution.

  • (ii) Introducing a recruitment and selection system that ensures that competent judges are chosen in a transparent, independent, fair and inclusive manner. The Judicial Service Commission and its Secretariat will be equipped to monitor the performance of all judges and undertake evaluation on the basis of objective criteria.

  • (iii) Improving the work environment in the courts with proper office equipment and required support staff.

  • (iv) Establishing a separate pay commission to formulate a separate salary structure for officials of judicial services reflecting the nature of their job and consistent with public sector compensation policy.

  • (v) Introducing a system where judges have to reveal assets and properties belonging to them and their family members at the time of entry, during the tenure intermittently and after leaving the office. It is also important that such disclosures of assets are verified and monitored on a regular basis by some independent and authorized functionary and made available for public knowledge.

  • (vi) Streamlining administrative procedure of the court so that they are easily understood, and arbitrary decision making by court staff is minimised.

  • (vii) Introducing a computerized court case recording and tracking system and make the information accessible to people through the website.

  • (viii) The NGOs will work to facilitate access to the judicial system by the poor, women and vulnerable people and in building awareness among them.

  • (ix) Alternative dispute settlement mechanisms will be strengthened by regulating them by formal and traditional laws. Formal alternative dispute resolution mechanisms could be attached to courts or to government agencies, such as land and labour boards.

4.2.5 Promoting E-governance

Despite some successes during the last few years in the ICT sector, the adoption of ICT in all sectors has so far been minimal. Recently, a national broadband policy has been framed, bandwidth price has been reduced and arrangements for an alternative fibre optic connection between Dhaka and Cox’s Bazaar have been made. Efforts are on to have a second submarine cable. The second submarine cable will act as an additional physical backup for its connectivity with the information superhighway. These will create an opportunity to extensively use e-governance. For the purpose, consideration would be given to several actions: (i) undertake a strategy to get information online; (ii) publicise policy issues online; (iii) create a user-friendly portal for allowing interactive transacts services; (iv) regularly update web pages for incorporating most recent information; (iv) compose a legal framework for e-governance requiring public notice and comment in legislative and regulatory processes; (v) set up office to monitor e-governance implementation in the government and update the e-governance policy; (vi) gradually introduce e-governance in local government bodies; and (vii) establish a nationwide third generation wireless broadband network to ensure high-speed down link packet access (HSDPA).

4.2.6 Combating Corruption

The government has heightened its focus on anti-corruption considering the beneficial impact of a corruption free administration on poverty reduction, development, and equity. In the short run, the government is focusing on enforcement and sanctions against corruption to directly address the culture of impunity and to build public trust in the ability of government institutions in reducing corruption. In the medium-term, the aim is to strengthen the core institutions of governance, including the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). At the same time, the government will initiate a sustained campaign to create public awareness and education in preventive measures, creating the right conditions for the public sector to enhance public service delivery. Eventually the policy will be managing development in a qualitatively better way and make governance compliant with the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which has been ratified by the government.

The government will carry out activities to enhance monitoring mechanisms to prevent wrongdoings and actively follow up to sanction the same. Anti-corruption institutions will be empowered with more investigative powers to detect and act on corrupt practices within the system as a whole. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been made operational, independent and effective. The ACC will develop a strategic plan through a consultation process on how to address the challenges of combating corruption in the short, medium and long terms while restructuring rule of law and the constitutional obligations.

The government will put in place some key reforms, such as introducing legislation and practices that will enhance the transparency of fiscal operations of the government. The Right to Information Act gives the citizens the right to obtain information from the government

4.2.7 Ensuring Human Rights

There are many laws and regulations, which specifically prohibit discrimination in any form. But due to lack of enforcement and oversight, the weaker sections of the society bear the brunt of the injustice. The state and its institutions are the guarantors of human rights for citizens and non-citizens. The role of the state remains central, both in undertaking reforms and ensuring compliance with protective legislation. Rights can be best protected through adequate legislation, independent judiciary, enactment and enforcement of individual safeguards and remedies, and the establishment of democratic institutions. The government has approved the National Human Rights Commission Ordinance 2007 and set up the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

4.2.8 Accessing Information

Access to information creates opportunities that generate resources and making information available to the poor people and people in remote areas is essential for poverty reduction. The NGOs and CBOs can play an important role in providing information on health, family planning, violence against women, child abuse, civic rights and responsibilities, various legal issues, market information, environment and other critical areas to the poor and women. Electronic media can deliver information in an effective manner. The government will consider employing a TV channel to disseminate information in an effective manner to a wide range of people on various issues which are particularly relevant to the poor and women. In this respect, ICT will serve as a powerful tool to give equal access to information to the poorest of the poor and women and thereby help to create sustainable human development.

The Right to Information Act 2009 has been passed and the Information Commission has been established. The government will take measures to adequately equip the mass media and provide training facilities to disseminate information at the grass roots level.

4.2.9 Improving Project Implementation Capacity

The government will take necessary steps to improve the capacity of project implementation. Following actions are being considered: (i) improving project quality; (ii) shifting from the existing project approach to a programme approach linked with national and/or sectoral development policies and strategies; (iii) delegating needed authority to project directors for accelerating ADP implementation; (iv) simplifying and further streamlining the procedure of aid disbursement; (v) timely procurement of goods and services; (vi) strengthening the capacity of the officials from ministry/division on procurement and implementation of projects; and (vii) introducing a management information system (MIS) for monitoring the implementation status every three months so that authorities can hold implementing agencies accountable.

4.2.10 Improving Sectoral Governance

At the sectoral level, poor governance is typically manifested in different forms of corruption. The design of sectoral level anti-corruption strategies would consider where risks are highest along the goods and service flow and how they might be minimized. The nature, degree, causes and implications of misgovernance and corruption for people would be analysed within each sector’s perspective as these will vary across sectors.

4.3 Strategy III: Ensuring Efficient Delivery of Public Services

Bangladesh still needs to go a long way in delivering utilities to people and in meeting their demand efficiently, especially in terms of safe water supply and sanitation, effective mass transportation system, reasonable energy supply and widely diffused telecom facilities for the people. Poor infrastructural facilities are causing market rigidities, increasing cost, affecting labour mobility and hurting the poor most.

The government has initiated reforms in key areas like transport, energy and telecommunications, paving the way for private sector operations to make the delivery system more effective and efficient. In transport, the government has endorsed the National Land Transport Policy, Integrated Multimodal Transport Policy and National Shipping Policy. It has liberalized the domestic civil aviation market to allow private competition. In telecommunications, improved sector outcomes resulted from important initiatives by the BTRC and other sectoral reforms.

Strengthening the planning outfits of the Local Government Division and city corporations is needed to move ahead with reform initiatives for creating urban facilities to cater to the needs of a rapidly growing urban population. Some key principles would be followed to ensure the welfare of the service recipients such as (i) quality or standard of the services must be maintained; (ii) delivery of services have to be designed to reduce inequality; and (iii) the private sector would be encouraged to increase their involvement in service delivery, which will help to create a fiscal space by relieving pressure on the government budget and subsequent redirecting of government resources to social spending.

Scope of Public-Private Partnership: The government has put emphasis on public-private partnership (PPP) to ensure expeditious development of infrastructure and utility services by attracting local and foreign investment and improving the expertise and technology. Through a well-laid out policy mechanism, private initiative would be encouraged to promote quality service delivery in the area of essential economic infrastructure. The government is keen to encourage private investments in energy and power, roads, waterways, railways, ports, water and sanitation, telecommunications/ICT, housing and tourism.

The government will consider expanding the scope of PPP further in different areas, such as the private sector can work closely with state enterprises to improve the management of government assets such as idle land and other assets of railway stations, bus terminals and postal centres close to market places. The expansion of provisions of PPP in augmenting services of essential economic infrastructure will enhance the quality of services to the people and relieve some of the strain on the government budget.

Bangladesh has demonstrated significant success in augmenting private investment and fostering public-private partnership to render efficient delivery of utility services. The private sector has its presence in road and waterways to cater to the need of transportation of passengers and cargo. Power generation and petroleum exploration have been opened to private operation since the 1990s. Almost one-third of power generation comes from the IPPs. The PSC companies together supply one-third of gas to the national gas grid. The energy sector will be further liberalized for improving its service delivery to consumers. In the telecommunications sector, 12 PSTN and six mobile phone companies were given licenses for extending telephone connections. Private operators are encouraged to extend fibre optic lines across the country for the development of speedy internet facilities nationwide on BOO-BOT basis. The VOIP licensing is also under process for development of cheap internet telephony across the country. Certain functions of rail transportation are already privatized. Closed branch lines will be offered to the private sector for resumption of services in those sections. The government is considering allowing profit-operations of providers of water and sanitation services in pourashavas and urban slums.

Government-NGO Cooperation: The government-NGO cooperation is fruitful in areas where expectation of profit is not high to attract profit-making private operators. More importantly, government-NGO cooperation can improve efficiency in the management of service delivery of some essential utilities. The NGOs are involved in the delivery of several basic services such as education, health, water supply and sanitation. These experiences in the social sectors can be utilized to forge wider cooperation in other areas, such as providing water in pourashavas and slums, cleaning and waste disposal in cities, rural energy supply programmes, creation of service facilities in the urban cities, development of recreational facilities around urban river banks, and building shelter houses for the poor.

The NGO-PVO cooperation has been made successful in activities like cleaning city roads and disposal of waste under the Clean Dhaka initiative. Some NGOs are processing city wastes for making composts for farming. Several government organizations (REB, BPDB, LGED and IDCOL) and NGOs (Grameen Shakti) have been engaged in popularizing and prorating renewable energy projects/programmes in the rural areas. Cities and pourashavas can undertake joint venture with NGOs for development of urban service facilities like sanitary toilets, auditoriums and libraries. River banks adjacent to cities and towns could be leased out through open solicitation to NGOs and private operators for plantation and development of park and recreational facilities.

4.3.1 Priorities in Urban/Rural Service Delivery

In spite of improvement in utility services delivered by public and private sectors and NGOs, significant social inequality still exists which cuts across all key social targets. The rich-poor divide is striking, but more worrying is the gap between the poorest and the rest of society in terms of receiving utility services. This is more pronounced in discrepancy between utility services in rural and urban areas. This obviously calls for greater priority to development of utility services in rural areas through effective policy intervention, regulation and direction. With a view to reducing inequalities of access and opportunity, a balanced development strategy would be undertaken to improve utility services in rural and urban areas. The urban localities have some advantages because of their high population density which help reduce cost. But most of the people live in rural areas where the provision of utility services is inadequate and costly.

4.3.2 Safety, Security and Protection of Life, Liberty and Wealth

The main goal of providing services for the safety, security and protection of life, liberty and wealth is to create a safe habitable human environment ensuring peace and security for all. There remains widespread concern about law and order, access to justice and public safety at different levels of society. The Police Reform Programme (PRP) aims at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Bangladesh Police by supporting key areas such as (a) access to justice including crime prevention, (b) investigation, police operation and prosecution, (c) human resource management and training, (d) strategic capacity and oversight, and (e) communication and action against trafficking of human beings.

The Fire Service and Civil Defence Directorate is the major first responder in disasters like fire hazards, road accidents, shipwreck, drowning, collapsed structure, landslide etc. In order to increase fire safety, rescue and ambulance facilities across the country, fire stations will be set up in all pourasavas, upazilas and important industrial and commercial centres. Efforts will be made to raise a strong volunteer cadre comprising of local civil societies, NGOs, students, and educational institutions to supplement government initiatives.

4.3.3 Safe Water and Sanitation

The government intends to achieve the targets of safe water by 2011 and sanitation for all by 2010. Currently 97 percent of the population have access to pathogen free water. But arsenic contamination presents a new challenge which has reduced safe water availability to 80 percent in urban and 70 percent in rural areas. On the other hand, sanitation coverage is 84-97 percent in urban areas and 86 percent in rural areas.

Rural Water Supply: It is estimated that the total number of different types of tube wells in the country is about 7.0 million. The government and private initiatives account for most tube wells (some 96 percent) and NGOs played a supplementary role (4 percent). However, leaving out the arsenic contaminated and other non-functional ones, the number of usable tube wells is 5.7 million. There has not been much progress in mitigating the arsenic problem. Some hydro-geological factors (e.g. arsenic, salinity and low groundwater levels), and deep-rooted poverty prevent market forces from reaching all users. Preventative measures like water safety plans are needed in both rural and urban areas to deliver good quality water. Programmes will undertaken to encourage rain water harvest and identify low lying areas for making water reservoirs which can be used during the dry season.

Rural Sanitation: The government initiated a national sanitation campaign together with DPHE, LGED, local governments, the government’s administrative units in upazilas and districts and the NGOs. Since the initiation of the coordinated community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach in 2003, rural sanitation coverage has increased to nearly 86 percent (as of June 2007). If the current progress is maintained, the country is likely to reach its desired sanitation coverage to all by 2010.

Urban Water Supply: The present urban water supply coverage is about 71 percent of which the coverage by piped water supply is 39 percent and the remaining 32 percent is by hand pump tube wells. The National Water Management Plan estimates that in the next 30 years the urban population will outnumber the rural population. The future urban water supply has to rely on the piped system as the presently used hand pump tube wells are suspected to be contaminated from leaching from pit latrines and septic tanks. Moreover they will no longer be appropriate for the densely populated areas.

Urban Sanitation: Conventional sewerage systems are absent in all urban areas except Dhaka city. Only 20 percent of the population of Dhaka city is served by a highly expensive sewerage network, the rest use septic tanks, pit latrines, unhygienic latrines or none at all. The sanitary conditions of urban slum dwellers are deplorable having no other option than drains, open fields, roadsides or riverbanks. Providing the urban households with sanitation by the conventional sewerage system is very expensive as compared with other off-site sanitation options such as modified sewerage and settled sewerage, which are particularly suitable for small to medium size townships. The option would be to go for multiple technologies adapted to local conditions and affordability.

Solid Waste Management: At present daily waste generation in Dhaka city amounts to around 3,200MT/day which is expected to rise to 4,624MT/day by 2015. The present solid waste collection rate is 44 percent.

For addressing the water, sanitation and waste management issues, the government’s strategies and actions would focus on: (a) multi-agency involvement, (b) comprehensive monitoring and quality control of water sources throughout the country, (c) development of new water sources including use of surface water, (d) GO-NGO partnership particularly for waste disposal and water for slum dwellers, (e) development and replication of hygienic waste disposal, (f) promoting waste composting including where possible by NGOs/PVOs, and (h) protecting rivers.

4.3.4 Power and Energy

The main goal is to ensure adequate and reliable power and energy supply at an affordable cost for development and livelihood. Despite its importance, only 43 percent of the population has access to electricity in the country, the coverage in the rural areas is much below the national average. Gas is the prime supplier of energy but its availability in the western zone is limited. Most importantly, the country is facing serious supply constraints in providing gas to power plants, fertilizer and other industries. The priority in energy and power would be given to (a) augmenting electricity generation, (b) providing un-interrupted power, (c) improving coverage, (d) addressing urban concerns, (e) ensuring power for agriculture, (f) improving customer service, and (f) augmenting the gas supply.

Policies and Strategies: A number of policies and strategies would be taken up to improve energy and power supply and ensure their service quality. The strategies for developing services in the fields of power and energy are (a) implement the ongoing three-year road map with a time-bound action plan to achieve electricity for all by 2020, (b) develop and improve the transmission and distribution network, (c) enforce a well-designed load management plan to maximize customer satisfaction by the optimal use of the existing supply, (d) consider developing service standards for power and gas and introducing service contract, (e) efficient usages of gas both in power generation and other uses including gas based industries, machine, tools and appliances, (f) consider introducing cooperative management of power supply in slums, (g) introduce a functional one-stop service in power and gas utilities, (h) expand the gas network to the western, north-western and south western zones, (i) develop renewable energy for un-served and remote areas through partnership with NGOs and PVOs, (j) improve billing and collection and minimise systems loss; (k) popularize and expand CNG use by promoting establishment of CNG pumps on highways adjacent to district towns depending on the gas grid, (l) promote R & D in power and gas by strengthening the power cell, the hydro-carbon unit and the Bangladesh Petroleum Institute, and (m) make the Energy Regulatory Commission fully functional.

4.3.5 Transportation

The main goal of providing public support in the transport sector is to ensure a cost effective, affordable and efficient transportation system for all. Bangladesh has witnessed rapid expansion in the transport network resulting in rapid growth of transportation services. The commendable achievement in building an extensive rural network of roads had a significant impact on ensuring affordable transport services in the rural sector and improving the living conditions of the rural poor. However, problems arising out of congestion, inefficient management practices, cumbersome procedures, and labour union pressure need to be addressed to realize the full benefit of the road network and develop many of the vital utilities in the transport sector. The benefits of recent initiatives in the privatization of certain services and streamlining of procedures shall be evaluated with a view to considering their extension.

Policies and Strategies: The government would follow strategies and policies to promote an efficient, adequate, effective and reliable transportation system to facilitate movement of passengers and goods through all modes of transport without neglecting any to promote others. Free and fair competition would be ensured among competing modes for their healthy development. The role of the government will be to promote, regulate and provide facilities, particularly to those areas where the required services are not forthcoming. Strategies for the improvement of service delivery in the transport sector include (a) develop a comprehensive master plan for the transportation of passengers and goods by different modes of transports; (b) develop an efficient road network connecting major cities with secondary towns by the upgrade of roads; (c) develop viable public transportation in districts and cities connecting surrounding growth centres; (d) expand and intensify railway operations connecting ports and towns; (e) develop railway time-tables taking into account public requirement; (f) develop and maintain roads, railways and waterways on a routine basis; (g) promote commercialization of all public transportation; (h) build and strengthen public-private partnership in rail transportation; (i) expand affordable air links with other towns; (j) take regulatory and monitoring measures to reduce road accidents; (k) make roads, railways and water transportation accessible and safe for women and persons with disabilities.

4.3.6 ICT, Post and Telecommunication

The main goal of the sector is to improve access to ICT, telecom and postal services. Bangladesh has a tele-density of nearly 32 percent. Till July 2008, there were about 1.3 million telephone connections and 44.8 million mobile phones under 12 PSTN and 6 mobile phone operators in the country. Fixed internet connectivity started in 1996 but its growth suffered because of high cost. With subsequent reduction of costs, the use of internet services grew faster. There are 72 ISPs and internet connections rose to around 450 thousand users by 2007 from a mere 1,000 in 2000. With the operation of BTRC and the liberalization of the sector, tele-density including mobile telephones has risen. Recent VOIP licensing will have further impetus for augmenting services in the sector. The postal department would be reorganized and reoriented to support the rural economy and act as a centre of information in rural Bangladesh to benefit farmers and small vendors.

4.3.7 Development of Tourism

The main goal of the tourism sector is to develop tourism for providing accessible, comfortable and safe tourism services to people, both local and foreign.

A well-conceived strategy for the development of tourism includes an integrated approach for the creation and development of tourist sites, a tourist attraction-centred infrastructure (transportation and accommodation) and a robust promotional campaign. Specific strategies are (i) upgrading the tourism policy, (ii) preparing a tourism master plan to identify focused areas, (iii) creating tourism facilities at important natural and historical sites including hill tracts districts, (iv) promoting private sector involvement in tourism in a coordinated way, (v) designing an incentive mechanism to promote and direct investment into desired tourism areas, especially those in the western region of the country, (vi) developing low-cost, affordable tourism in collaboration with local and foreign airlines, and (vii) developing a regulatory framework to protect tourist interests and to provide an enabling environment for the tourism industry.

4.4 Strategy IV: Caring for Environment and Tackling Climate Change

The challenges to attaining environmental sustainability are in the forms of water and air pollution, land degradation, extreme degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, unsustainable agricultural practices and unplanned urban growth. There is the further challenge of overcoming weak environmental governance. Climate change has compounded problems of environmental degradation and has led to serious deterioration of ecosystems, adding yet another dimension to poverty.

In this area, the vision is to achieve poverty-free environmental sustainability in Bangladesh, that is, to meet the needs of current and future generations by ensuring environmental friendly development to enable common peoples’ access to public lands and resources and tackling pollution of various kinds that harms mainly the poor, particularly poor women and children.

The government has adopted the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009 which is built on six pillars: (i) food security, social protection and health; (ii) comprehensive disaster management; (iii) infrastructure to ensure that existing assets are well maintained and fit-for-purpose and that urgently needed infrastructure is put in place to deal with likely impacts of climate change; (iv) research and knowledge management; (v) mitigation and low carbon development; and (vi) capacity building and institutional strengthening. The Climate Change Action Plan comprises immediate, short, medium, and long term programmes with priority given to the needs of the poor and vulnerable, including women and children, in all activities implemented under the Action Plan.

4.4.1 Recent Progress

Major achievements in the area of environment are summarized in Table 4.2. The following initiatives have either been implemented or are being implemented:

  • (i) National Environmental Management Action Plan (NEMAP): The National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP), developed in 1996, has prioritized 57 actions on the environmental front and the government is in the process of creating a second-order priority list for immediate implementation.

  • (ii) Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP): The Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP) consisted of 26 projects (components) executed by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and was implemented by 22 government/non-government agencies. The 26 components fell into five categories: (a) policy and institutions; (b) participatory eco-system management; (c) community-based environmental sanitation; (d) advocacy and awareness; and (e) training and education. The SEMP was successful in mainstreaming environmental issues in the national policy discourse, and ensuring grassroots participation in policy making.

  • (iii) Bangladesh National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA): The NAPA intends to identify the urgent and immediate needs of the country to adapt to present threats from climate change. Addressing these needs would expand the current coping range and enhance resilience in a way that would promote the capacity to adapt to current climate variability and extremes, and consequently to future climate change as well.

  • (iv) Bangladesh National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA) for Global Environmental Management: The overall goal of NCSA is to provide Bangladesh with the opportunity to identify priority capacity needs in order to effectively address crosscutting global environmental issues and the development of the corresponding strategy and action plan for capacity building in the environmental sector in the context of the three Conventions relevant for NCSA: the Convention on Biological Diversity; the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change and United Nations Conventions for Combating Desertification.

Table 4.2:

Targets and Achievements of NSAPR Policy Agenda

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4.4.2 Current Challenges to Environment

With expanding population, the demand for food would increase while food production will be adversely affected by natural calamities. The linkage between poverty and conservation of natural resources is a mutually reinforcing process. For the purpose, it is important to address issues related to several interlinking factors, such as common property rights; crop, fisheries, forestry, and livestock sustainability; conservation of protected and ecologically critical areas (Table 4.3); ecosystem and biodiversity loss; land degradation and river erosion; coastal zone management; drought and floods; and ground water depletion. There are also issues like illegal and unauthorized hill cutting in greater Chittagong, especially in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari.

Table 4.3:

Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs) in Bangladesh

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4.4.3 Types of Pollution-Institutional Arrangements

Pollution has a strong negative impact on health, is a major cause of erosion of human productivity and even death, particularly among the poor and marginalized communities. Bangladesh faces environmental pollution such as water, air, soil, and noise, along with the contamination of food.

Air pollution: In dealing with air pollution, the strategy is to address both outdoor and indoor sources of pollution. The air pollution level has reduced especially in the cities because of the introduction of lead-free gasoline in Bangladesh. However, in recent times the emission of lead has increased due to suspended particulate matters (SPM) due to rise in vehicular traffic and increase in population density in the cities. The most vulnerable groups subjected to air pollution are the children and women of urban and rural areas, especially from indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution is mainly caused by cooking fuels. Brickfields and recently developed shallow engine-based vehicles are important sources of air pollution in the rural areas.

Water pollution: Water pollution can be in terms of surface water and groundwater pollution. Flowing water is mainly polluted because of the disposal of untreated wastes into the river system from industries and also from cities, whereas the non-flowing water pollution is caused by excessive use of pesticides and soil erosion. The ship building industry contributes significantly to marine oil pollution, though in a few areas of concentration of the industry. The other sources of oil pollution are the ships and mechanized boats all over the country.

Noise pollution: The noise pollution level in the major urban centres exceeds the legal and safe standards. This is mainly an urban phenomenon caused by vehicular congestion and affects the poor who work outdoors. Another aspect of noise pollution is occupational exposure to industrial noise, which affects poor workers.

Soil pollution: Polluted soil builds up persistent toxic compounds, chemicals, salts, radioactive materials, or disease-causing agents in soils that have adverse effects on plant growth and animal health. Use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides in agriculture and industrial effluents from tannery, textile, fertilizer, sugar, paper and pulp and other relevant industries are causing the problem. Also litter/leachate from solid wastes/landfill and salinity intrusion in coastal belts are the causes of soil pollution.

Radioactive pollution: Industrial wastes, both solid and liquid, having radioactive elements and other toxic materials are dumped into the water bodies in and around the big cities. The radiation from medical X-rays, colour TV, luminous dials of clocks and watches, X-ray fluoroscopes also contribute to the risks

Solid Waste/Sludge Management: There is a lack of sufficient sanitary landfills for the disposal of all solid waste and the waste products from energy and bio-fertilizer plants. The disposal of hazardous and medical wastes in urban areas is a major cause of concern for urban life, particularly for the poor who are engaged in scavenging activities.

Urbanization: Unplanned high-rise buildings, inadequate drainage and sewage infrastructure, growth of slums, poor transport network, improperly planned land development, lack of urban land use control and unplanned industrial activities in residential areas, construction of roads without appropriate environmental mitigation measures and poor solid-waste management are the main factors responsible for unsustainable urban growth.

Contamination

Contamination causes both degradation of environment-based resources and adds to pollution. Some of the contamination issues are:

Sustainable Waste Management: Waste management is a major problem because these wastes are dumped in open sites. From the solid waste ‘leachate’ is produced and mixes with surface and ground water and poses a threat to the environment. In waste management, there are various stakeholders who are involved in waste-to-resource recovery systems without any health safety. In addition, hospital/medical waste is a serious threat to public health.

Bio-safety and Quarantine Management: Bangladesh has adopted bio-safety protocol to maintain the environmentally friendly genetically modified organisms (GMOs)/living modified organisms (LMOs) and safe application of modern biotechnology in medicine, agriculture, fisheries and livestock.

Exotic Aquatic Organisms: There are at least 32 fish species that have been introduced in the country. The impact of alien species on indigenous species has not been studied. Among the exotics, tilapia of two species, Oreochromis mosambicus and niloticus introduced in the 1950s and 1960s have caused concerns because these species have invaded all available habitats.

Exotic Plants and Trees: Many tree and plant species have invaded Bangladesh, and some are a threat to native varieties. Eupatorium odoratum (Ayapan) and Mikania cordata (Assam lata) are two invaders that overtop the canopy of shrubs and young tree saplings. Croton bonplandianum (Bon khira) and Lantana camara (Nak phul) grow along the edges of forest and wastelands and invade local vegetation.

Vector Epidemic: Various flue viruses have attacked Bangladesh over centuries. The recent attack of bird flu is not new but of a different dimension. There is a strong possibility of the virus mutating so that it can be transferred from bird to human and then human to human.

Environmental Governance: Bangladesh is committed to the cause of global environmental sustainability and has signed and ratified various international conventions, treaties and protocols (ICTPs). Such ICTPs include: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Cartagena Protocol on Bio Safety, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Basel Convention on the Control of Trans Boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, Stockholm Convention on POPs, and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD). The Rules have been updated and, accordingly, responsibilities assigned to appropriate agencies and departments. The policies, plans, acts and rules supporting environmental activities are: The Environment Policy 1992 and Implementation Programme; The National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP) 1995; The Environment Conservation Act 1995 and its subsequent amendments; The Environment Conservation Rules 1997 and its subsequent amendments; The Environment Court Act 2000 and its subsequent amendments; Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP); Bangladesh National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA); Bangladesh National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA) for Global Environmental Management.

Institutional Arrangements: The MOEF is the focal point for several environment-related ICTPs. As the technical arm of the ministry on environment-related affairs, the Department of Environment (DOE) has been taking necessary steps toward ensuring compliance to these ICTPs. Some of the important tools used for environmental protection with emphasis on poverty reduction are the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)/Environmental Management Plan (EMP)/Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) to be applied to all policies, programmes and projects. The government’s capacity for assessing professional impact and enforcement needs augmentation.

Policies and Strategies

The policies and strategies to be adopted cover four broad headings:

(i) Policy: Integrate principles of sustainable development in national and sectoral plans, policies and programmes and the regulatory framework.

• Ensure sustainable livelihood of the poor, especially women and disadvantaged groups. Develop the regulatory frameworks that recognize the user rights of people on CPRs.

• Establish user rights through licensing/leasing/participatory systems to CPRs in NRM of water bodies and forests.

• Finalize the Wetlands Policy, upgrade Forestry Sector Master Plan and Bangladesh Wild Life Amendment Act 1974 with provision for access of the local poor and women.

• Undertake new projects and programmes to preserve rights of the poor and women on CPRs

• Organize meetings with relevant ministries to resolve conflicts among those involved in shrimp, salt, paddy production, afforestation etc. in the coastal districts.

• Develop demonstration projects for sustainable resources management.

Integration of environmental issues into policies and plans

• Continue dialogue among and between the sectoral ministries/agencies on integration of environmental issues.

• Arrange coordination meetings among and between the sectoral ministries/agencies/departments/organizations.

• Undertake local, regional and national training workshops.

• Establish a policy support unit within MoEF.

Improve living environment in the slums

• Set up a strategy for a participatory slum improvement centre in all municipality and urban areas.

• Extend the solid waste collection service, water points and sanitary latrines in slums.

• Continue the awareness programmes in slum areas for water supply and sanitation facilities.

• Recover the slum areas that are illegal encroachment on wetlands, riverbank/river, canals, etc by land-grabber/encroacher and establish the natural flow of water/drainage system.

(ii) Planning: Ensure good governance in environment and natural resources management.

• Improve technical and managerial compliance by improving professional competence.

• Develop a well-defined organogram.

• Develop accountability and transparency in all sectoral issues.

• Develop a participatory and co-management approach in all CPRs.

• Develop networking with different stakeholders.

Strengthen the process of environmental analysis such as EIA in project design and implementation.

• Recruit professional staff in DoE.

• Continue awareness programmes among scientific, technical and managerial personnel

• Expand the DoE activities focusing on environmentally hazardous areas.

• Develop a website for environmental clearance certificate (ECC) and EMP procedures.

• Establish public consultation process in all EIA, EMP, ETP and other relevant activities.

Sustainable land management

• Continue the community-based earth excavation work under the food-for-work programme for more integration of poor people.

• Increase the extension activities to produce improved seeds of local plant species.

• Establish monitoring and evaluation systems with the help of concerned authorities.

(iii) Regulations: Enforcement and regulation of pollution, contamination and invasion of harmful organisms.

Control of industrial pollution

• Continue to enforce all environmental policies, rules and regulations with the polluting industries.

• Introduce mandatory environment friendly solid and other waste management systems.

• Develop sector specific EIA guidelines.

• Amend Environment Conservation Rules 1997 providing for public participation in EIA wherever possible and necessary.

• Enforce Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in all private sector-run industrial parks.

• Develop the Environmental Management Programme in consultation with relevant environmental management experts (EMP and ETP experts).

• Set up a strong networking system among all relevant industries to establish a database.

Control of air pollution in major metropolitan cities and rural settings

• Implement the procedures of Air Quality Standard (AQS) in the vehicles of urban centres and all polluting industries.

• Ensure the mandatory use of four-stroke engines in all cities of the country.

• Arrange campaigns for owners, drivers of vehicles and managers of polluting industries for utilizing clean energy.

• Establish vehicle inspection and maintenance programmes in all metropolitan cities.

• Identify industries including brick kilns which are responsible for air pollution and set a permissible limit for polluted air emissions.

• Continue tree plantation and development of green belt around industries.

• Develop an appropriate dust control system in each major city.

• Ensure adequate CNG stations to rise to 70 percent of total vehicular fuel stations, as well as conversion facilities consistent with availability of gas.

• Establish refinery stations for lead and sulphur free vehicular fuel oil.

• Establish the compulsory annual tests of vehicle emission levels.

• Set up pollution emission tax.

• Introduce energy efficient cooking stoves in rural areas.

Control of radioactive pollution

• Develop and implement a search committee for the assessment of existing radioactive pollution. Develop a monitoring and evaluation system in the major metropolitan cities.

• Develop guidelines of the training programmes for the safe use of radioactive matters at least once a year in major metropolitan cities.

Control of noise pollution

• Complete all procedures to implement the Noise Level Standard (NLS) in metropolitan cities, vehicles and industries.

• Continue awareness and motivational activities through campaign and training programmes for maintaining the NLS for vehicles and industries.

• Ban the use of hydraulic horns in all types of vehicles and apply full restrictions on the use of horns in some selected areas like those around academic and religious institutions and completely ban the use of horns in residential areas.

• Develop a nationalized noise inventory and database along with a strong networking system.

• Consider fiscal measures to discourage use of machines that pose health risk.

Improvement of solid waste management system

• Develop and implement awareness and motivational programmes in each urban and semi-urban area for efficient and effective solid waste collection, resource recovery and recycling along with safe disposal of solid waste through CBO-based participatory co-management system approach.

• Develop pilot project for integrated waste-to-energy, biogas and bio-fertilizer production system in major metropolitan cities.

• Develop regulations and guidelines for segregation at source and safe disposal of hazardous wastes.

• Develop the public-private partnership for environmentally friendly SWM system in all metropolitan cities.

• Complete the formulation of SWM master plan for all metropolitan and urban cities.

• Introduce a framework for building up capacity for handling trans boundary hazardous waste management under the Basel Convention.

• Develop a national database of SWM system along with a strong networking set-up among all relevant organizations with coordination of relevant information.

Control of water pollution and contamination

• Reduce the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide along with the phase-out of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

• Introduce less water polluting substances and improvement technologies in industrial processes.

• Establish monitoring and evaluation activities by concerned authorities and organizations to reduce effluent discharges (e.g. discharges from mechanized vessels) and strict implementation of ECA 1997 along with other regulations in all water pollution and land degradation activities.

• Promote the use of organic compost.

• Set up polluter-to-pay approach to reclaim, clean up and rehabilitate the damaged ecosystem.

• Enforce the mandatory installation of effluent treatment plants for industries.

Control of river erosion and hill cutting

• Continue the community-based earth excavation work under the food-for-work programme for more integration of poor people in river-bed excavation programmes.

• Establish monitoring and evaluation systems with the help of concerned authorities.

(iv) Capacity Building: Enhance environmental education, awareness and motivational programmes

Enhance education and awareness activities for sustainable development

• Complete process for all regulatory procedures for enhancing professionalism in environmental management including new recruitment.

• Arrange environmental management training, seminar and symposium in districts.

• Advertise the environmental awareness and motivational activities through roadside posters and electronic and print media.

• Develop a national network of environmental management curriculum, modules and books.

Improve research and development activities

• Develop collaborative research programmes involving academic and research organizations and MoEF.

• Publish and distribute the research-based periodicals and journals on a regular basis.

• Organize training on research methodology on innovative poverty reduction tools on SWM and air quality development.

4.4.4 Tackling Climate Change for Poverty Reduction

Climate change and its variability have already impacted on the life and livelihoods of the people in the coastal areas and in the arid and semi-arid region of Bangladesh. Climate change will exacerbate many of the current problems and natural hazards the country faces. It is expected to result in increasingly frequent and severe tropical cyclones; heavier and more erratic rainfall resulting in higher river flows, river bank erosion, and increased sedimentation; rising sea level leading to submergence of low lying coastal areas and saline water intrusion up coastal rivers and into ground water aquifers; and other problems.

Climate Change Impact on Bangladesh

The coastline of Bangladesh is about 710 km long and the coastal zone covers about 23 percent of the country and is home to 30 million people. Such a low-lying country with a funnel-shaped coast exposing the land to cyclones, storm surges, seasonal flooding and drought, salinity intrusion, widespread poverty, a large population base and poor governance have made Bangladesh most vulnerable to climate change.

The anticipated climate change impact in Bangladesh will be manifested in two ways in contrasting regions, such as, (i) in the Southern part towards the sea there will be drainage congestion due to higher water and river-bed levels, salinization of the soil and water resources due to lower river flows, sea-level rise and more intense disasters including cyclones and storm surges with higher risks because of the higher water level; and (ii) the other part of the country in the North-Western region will be subject to scarcity of water leading to drought condition and aridity with less rainfall and higher temperature.

Bangladesh has adopted the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) 2009 which will be the basis to combat climate change impacts. The Climate Change Action Plan is built on six pillars: (i) food security, social protection and health; (ii) comprehensive disaster management; (iii) infrastructure; (iv) research and knowledge management; (v) migration and low carbon development; and (vi) capacity building and institutional strengthening. The BCCAP 2009 is based on the four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan—adaptation to climate change, mitigation, technology transfer, and adequate and timely flow of funds for investment within an inviolate framework of food, energy, water, livelihoods and health security. The strategy is to integrate climate change constraints and opportunities into the overall plan and programmes involving all sectors and processes for economic and social development.

Climate Change Trust Fund

Over the last three decades, the Government has invested over $ 10 billion to make the country more climate resilient and less vulnerable to natural disaster. Presently the Government of Bangladesh has established a National Climate Change Fund of 700 crore Taka with its own revenue. The principle of the operation of the fund shall be based to finance activities under the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009.

Adapting to Climate Change to Reduce Poverty

Agro-ecological zones have been delineated for select agro-climatic appropriate crops and soil conservation has been promoted for the enhancement of agricultural productivity. A GIS based national data bank has been created to assist in planning appropriate cropping patterns. Moreover, programmes of the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) on risk reduction in drought prone areas have commenced implementation, the National Watershed Development under the MACH programme and the Flood Action Plan has commenced, the gazetting of the forest Conservation Act, Wild Life Act, Protected Areas and other policies which lead to forest and biodiversity conservation and reduction of forest fragmentation have been implemented. Bangladesh has extensive experience in involving local communities in forest protection and regeneration as well as the creation of long-term interests in maintaining forestry resources through, for example, a Social Forestry Programme that promotes a unique benefit-sharing arrangement. Finally, the Coastal Islands (char) Development and Settlement Programme (CDSP) is under implementation.

Strengthening Climate Adaptation

Sectoral Measures relate to specific adaptation options existing for each of the sectors that could be affected by climate change.

• Mainstreaming adaptation to climate change into policies and programmes in different sectors (focusing on disaster management, water, agriculture, health and industry).

• Enhancing resilience of urban infrastructure and industries to impacts of climate change.

• Development of eco-specific adaptive knowledge (including indigenous knowledge) on adaptation to climate variability to enhance adaptive capacity for future climate change.

• Promoting adaptation to coastal crop agriculture to combat increased salinity.

• Adaptation to agriculture systems in areas prone to enhanced flash flooding in the North-Eastern and Central regions.

• Adaptation to fisheries in areas prone to enhanced flooding in the North-Eastern and Central regions through adaptive and diversified fish culture practices.

• Promoting adaptation to coastal fisheries through the culture of salt tolerant fish especially in the coastal areas of Bangladesh.

Multi-sectoral Measures relate in particular to the management of natural resources that span several sectors:

• Reduction of climate change hazards through coastal afforestation with community participation.

• Providing drinking water to coastal communities to combat enhanced salinity due to sea- level rise.

• Capacity building for integrating climate change in planning, designing of infrastructure, conflict management and land-water zoning for water management institutions.

• Construction of flood shelter, and information and assistance centres to cope with enhanced recurrent floods in major floodplains.

Coastal zone management is also considered as the appropriate framework to consider technical adaptation measures like dike building, beach nourishment, etc. The ecosystem approach to adaptation to climate change is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promote their conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way.

Cross-sectoral Measures apply to different sectors, such as:

• Education and training: introduction of climate change issues at different levels of the educational system is an ongoing process that will ensure a continuity of the process, the development of research activities, and greater awareness of the citizens. Training will address different stakeholders involved in the management of resources sensitive to climate change (soils, water, etc.) who will need to understand the nature of climate change as well as potential adaptation options.

• Public awareness campaigns: Raising awareness and information dissemination in order to have the stakeholders involved and concerned. These campaigns would also give the opportunity to understand what the perception and views of the public on climate change and adaptation are. Finally, user’s networks would be established to ensure the follow-up and exchange of experiences between different stakeholders.

• Insurance development: An insurance system for coastal flooding and other natural disasters consequent on climate change would contribute to the involvement of the private sector in adaptation strategies.

• Changes in institutional, administrative and organizational arrangements would be necessary to enhance the effectiveness of political decisions. This would be preceded by an examination of the existing bodies in charge of climate change issues: national climate change committees, their degree of representativeness and their power and functions. Links between these committees and those, for example, in charge of sustainable development would be considered; and better coordination/integration of the different sectoral departments would be encouraged.

• Strengthening the legal system: Since many environmental problems are partly due to non-enforcement of existing laws, the legal system would be strengthened.

• Strengthening fiscal measures: The introduction of public policies to encourage and support adaptation of individuals and the private sector, particularly through the establishment of fiscal incentives or subsidies, would be used as an option.

• Risk/disaster management measures include the development of early warning systems, in particular for extreme events like cyclones, and for climate variability like droughts and floods. Emergency plans, extreme events relief and recovery measures also belong to this type of measures. The success of these measures depends upon good communication systems and a certain level of trust from users.

• Science, research and development (R&D) and technological innovations are particularly needed for climate change processes in general, for economic valuation of adaptation options, for technological adaptation options (development of drought or salt-resistant crop varieties), or for investigations of new sources of groundwater resources and better resource management.

• Monitoring, observation and communication systems would be strengthened, created or improved, not only for climate-related parameters but also for other indicators of climate change and impacts. This monitoring would allow policymakers to adjust the adaptation strategy based on confirmed changes in the climate.

4.4.5 Forestry

Bangladesh is a densely populated country having 14.757 million hectares of land where forest area is 2.52 million hectares representing 17% surface area of the country. The forest is an integral part of our environment that maintains the ecological balance by controlling soil erosion, water and air quality. It also contributes to our national economy by providing timber, fuel wood, food like honey, wax, medicine, fodder, industrial raw materials etc. Poverty reduction through social forestry is now a success story within forestry sector of Bangladesh. About 0.335 million rural poor are now engaged as participants of the social forestry programme. This sector is contributing 4% of the nations’s GDP. Under the social forestry programme about Tk. 1206.05 million so far distributed among 81402 participants as part of their benefit share. This programme is marked as a milestone in the national economy for poverty reduction in Bangladesh.

4.5 Strategy V: Enhancing Productivity and Efficiency through Science and Technology

Bangladesh with insignificant natural resources, small land area, and large population, cannot accelerate its growth rate unless the benefits of technology in every conceivable area are harvested and productivity and efficiency are increased by using technology.

4.5.1 Vision and Strategic Goals

Bangladesh will be made a poverty-free prosperous digital country through the application of science and technology. The quality of life of the disadvantaged people will be improved through enhancing the quality of education and health care by the innovative application of ICT, enhancing productivity in the agricultural sector through the application of biotechnology and inspiring the creation of jobs through technological growth supported by more reliable availability of power through promotion and application of atomic energy.

To achieve the vision of a poverty-free prosperous Bangladesh, several strategic goals will be achieved:

  • a. Make quality education accessible to disadvantaged sections of the population by innovative application of ICT;

  • b. Create a stimulating environment for educational excellence by introducing Olympiads at all levels of education;

  • c. Use advanced data mining techniques to extract useful information from past public examinations and use this feedback to improve upon educational policies and create a healthy environment of competition conducive to achieving excellence;

  • d. Create opportunities in disadvantaged areas of the country for acquiring technical skill;

  • e. Create scope of employment through making ICT literacy available particularly to young men and women of disadvantaged areas;

  • f. Enhance quality of healthcare of the rural poor through the development of computer-based medical consultation systems;

  • g. Introduce and strengthen biotechnological research for increasing crop and drug production;

  • h. Increase electricity generation substantially by use of nuclear energy and inspire industrial growth;

  • i. Inspire increased transparency, reduced scope for corruption, more efficient governance and save illiterate and disadvantaged sections of the population from harassment by the application of e-governance;

  • j. Establish a centre of excellence in science and technological research that will formulate solutions to our technological problems and reduce dependence on foreign experts;

  • k. Improve tele-density to bring a greater proportion of the population into the streams of ICT activities;

  • l. Introduce community e-centres and other e-facilities;

  • m. Start vigorous research on devising structures that will be least affected by Sidr-like cyclones and tidal waves;

  • n. Reformulate import and export policies that encourage technological development in the country and generate jobs;

  • o. Keeping poverty reduction as the goal, reformulate science and technology policy in the light of recent developments in ICT and bio-technology; and

  • p. Establish Bangladesh as a BPO outsourcing destination.

4.5.2 Assessment of Recent Progress

Several policies and actions have been taken to adapt science and technology for sustainable development:

  • a. National Policy on Science and Technology (S&T) has been formulated.

  • b. National Policy on ICT has been adopted.

  • c. National Task Force on ICT has been formed.

  • d. Coordinating Committee for the implementation of World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action has been formed.

  • e. Copyright Act has been amended.

  • f. Several measures, like exemption of VAT and taxes on ICT related equipment, tax holidays, creation of equity funds, ICT incubator centre, opening of shared office in the Silicon Valley, have been taken to inspire growth of the sector.

  • g. E-governance strategy is being formulated.

  • h. Measures have been taken to establish a High-Tech Park.

  • i. Actions have been taken to connect Bangladesh with the Information Superhighway through submarine fibre-optic cable.

  • j. ICT Business Promotion Council has been established to oversee the development of IT industries in Bangladesh.

  • k. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has been opened up to the private sector.

4.5.3 Current Challenges

Inadequate Educational Facilities: Bangladesh is yet to develop an education system that inspires creativity among young people. Lack of quality teachers and laboratory facilities hampers science education especially in rural schools. High rate of illiteracy is a major constraint on use of the education system to develop computer skills.

Shortage of Manpower: There exists acute shortage of skilled manpower required to propel the country through harvesting the benefits of science and technology.

Insufficient ICT Infrastructure: Communication infrastructure in the country is poor especially in the rural areas.

Lack of Job Opportunities: There do not exist enough job opportunities in science and technical areas. Unless considerable number of industrial enterprises are established, education in science and technology will not appear lucrative to the population.

Inadequate Research Initiatives/Financial Support in Science: The expenditure on R&D in Bangladesh does not constitute more than 0.3 percent of its GNP. The National Science and Technology Policy recommends that special efforts be given to ensure 1 percent of GNP for R&D activities. Bangladesh is yet to build an institution for ICT education and research.

4.5.4 Future Policies and Strategies

In order to overcome the challenges, some immediate steps would be taken to build a strong base for education, health and technology including ICT and biotechnology. Sufficient trained manpower has also to be produced to maintain the scientific infrastructure and use it effectively so that people from all sectors can benefit from the application of science and technology. Scientists with proven track record and visionary approaches would be put at the helm to run science and technology institutes.

Strengthening Education through ICT: As the establishment of an adequate number of schools staffed with qualified teachers will take time, ICT would be used to provide quality education especially in the rural areas. The introduction of computer aided learning packages would not only reduce the gap between demand and supply of teachers but also allow rural young people acquire scientific knowledge and technical skill more efficiently, and contribute to nation building.

Computer Rooms in Educational Institution: The BCC has taken up plans to provide computers and establish ICT training centres especially in schools/colleges in remote areas. The process will continue especially in terms of establishing computer laboratories in educational institutes.

Computer Assisted Health Care System: An effective health care system especially for the rural poor needs to be ICT driven. The development of a computerized medical expert system would be complemented and strengthened with internet connectivity.

Expanding Internet Facilities: For effective application of ICT technologies, availability of internet connectivity to disadvantaged areas with higher incidence of poverty would be given priority especially for effective e-learning, e-health and e-governance.

Biotechnology for National Development

In order to give impetus to the development of modern biology and biotechnology, setting up of a separate Biotechnology Cell under the Ministry of Science, Communication and Information Technology would be considered. When established, this Cell will be responsible for up-scaling proven technologies and demonstrating the same at the field level. It will be instrumental in technology transfer to industries and maintaining close interactions.

Bioinformatics is an emerging and enabling technology for several fields of biomedical and agricultural research. The scientists of Bangladesh will be able to significantly contribute to the progress of this field since the capital investment needed for bioinformatics research is much smaller than for experimental biological sciences. The newly established National Institute of Biotechnology needs visionary leadership to play its due role. The cutting edge technologies such as bioinformatics, proteomics, computational chemistry and synthetic chemistry (for design and synthesis of new drugs) would be given priority. Efforts will be given to create crops of high yield and capable of withstanding drought, salinity and floods.

Promoting Science Education: To meet the demand for quality human resources, measures would be taken to popularize science and technical education by introducing stimulating events like science clubs, and creating science and technology based jobs and introducing science competitions.

Promoting SME and Indigenous Technology: The SMEs would be expanded through adopting appropriate technologies and encouraging productive indigenous technologies. Material research, testing and quality control for SME products will be institutionalized along with creating opportunities for experienced workers, formalizing their knowledge and enabling them to produce products of international standards. Technology Transfer Centres for SMEs and SME incubation centres would be introduced. The SME sector will also be enriched with ICT technologies to improve their quality and productivity.

Introducing Olympiads: Olympiads would be initiated throughout the country to challenge the merit and creativity of our students at all levels. The Bangladesh Computer Council may be given the responsibility of administering Olympiads for different classes and subjects, in particular science subjects, in close coordination with the Ministry of Education.

Technology for Community Housing in Coastal Areas: The development of appropriate technologies for community housing in coastal areas is a priority under which structures would be constructed that could be used for community purposes, like schooling in normal times and shelter homes at times of tornadoes or upsurge of sea water.

Effectiveness of ICT Usage: In order to harness the power of ICT and generate awareness among all concerned persons, a massive campaign in clearly comprehensible term would be undertaken in collaboration with the print and electronic media, both locally and nationally, in order to build momentum and support for telecommunication initiatives especially in rural areas and develop awareness and engagement of all stakeholders.

Chapter 5 Indicative Costs of Achieving Goals and Targets

The revised NSAPR II (FY2009 – FY2011) provides the medium term operational strategy to achieve the goal of accelerated poverty reduction and the MDGs. It is also the stepping stone towards achieving the vision, as articulated by the government, of turning Bangladesh into a middle income country by 2021 characterized by drastically reduced poverty, high rate of growth, and fulfilment of basic needs by every citizen. The goals and targets in the thematic policy matrices are set out in a way that is consistent with the priorities adopted by the government in respective thematic areas. The prioritization reflects the collective efforts of the policy makers, thematic committees, and consultation with stakeholders including officials of various ministries and agencies.

The costing of goals and targets covers all thematic areas. The adjustment of NSAPR II, prepared during the caretaker government, to reflect the vision and commitments of the newly elected government necessitates new assessment of resources required to achieve the revised set of goals and targets. The development vision and commitment of the present government lay heavy emphasis on certain sectors and identifies specific strategies and policies to achieve the goals and targets within stipulated time. The estimated costs of the additional activities to be undertaken to achieve these goals and targets have been determined following the adopted methodology used in preparing NSAPR II earlier. Accordingly, the estimated total resource requirement includes the original estimated resource requirement plus the estimated additional resource requirement arising from the commitment of the present government.

5.1 Methodology for Calculating Resource Needs for revised NSAPR-II

In estimating the resource requirement for implementing revised NSAPR II, the cost of completing all the activities to achieve the desired goals and targets in each thematic area was taken into consideration. These costs are indicative and were identified in consultation with relevant stakeholders in the ministries and agencies. Due to the crosscutting nature of some thematic areas, there are some overlaps of goals and activities. For example, ICT is a stand alone issue in itself but at the same time various sectors or activities such as education, health, and governance also include ICT components. Thus the cost of enhancing efficiency through ICT does not give the full picture of the resource need in the ICT thematic area. Similarly, water resource management is addressed as a separate sector and is also included under “environment”. However, efforts have been made to avoid these overlaps and double/multiple counting as far as possible. Efforts have also been made not to overestimate the implementation needs.

The estimated costs basically represent four components:

  • (i) costs of activities of ongoing projects and programmes that have spilled over from NSAPR I (FY2005-FY08);

  • (ii) costs of activities that have to be undertaken during the period of implementation of NSAPR II to achieve the goals and targets of thematic areas;

  • (iii) additional recurring costs over and above the normal increase of existing items that have to be incurred for running the activities to achieve the goals and targets of revised NSAPR II; and

  • (iv) maintenance costs necessary for newly completed projects and programmes during the period of NSAPR II.

It is important to recognize that the cost estimates of activities and strategies of NSAPR II are incremental costs of projects and programmes over and above the existing budget allocations of the government, i.e. allocation to existing projects and programmes in the ADP and Revenue Budget. The activities to be undertaken to achieve the goals and targets of NSAPR II through ongoing and new projects and programmes are in the process of identification. The unit costs of these activities are already available with the concerned ministries and agencies. It may be mentioned that cost estimates of activities to be implemented through new projects and programmes are based on average unit costs of similar activities available in the ministries and agencies. All activities covered by themes and strategic goals have been brought under the umbrella of costing. By and large, the costs represent estimates of total input costs required for completing the activities within the strategic goals of a theme.

Revision of Cost Estimates

The additional costs of implementing the commitment of the present government have been determined at three stages: First, the commitment of the government which is target and outcome specific in terms of medium term and long term scenario has been identified. Second, the ministries and concerned agencies were requested to provide information on activities, projects and programmes needed to achieve the goals and targets during the NSAPR II period along with their estimated costs. Third, the concerned thematic committees arrived at the final estimates of costs for three years. The estimated costs of activities have been deflated to arrive at costs at base year prices of FY2008 and have been aggregated.

The estimated cost of achieving the strategic goals and targets set out in NSAPR II is Tk. 2814.81 billion (Table 5.1).

Table 5.1:

Indicative Cost of Achieving revised NSAPR II Goals and Targets

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The resource requirement reflects the government’s commitment to the people in addressing the priority issues to overcome the problems that the country faces including the present crisis of the global economy. The resource needs are quite large in certain areas such as education including ICT, infrastructure including energy and power, agriculture, governance including action against corruption, health, and social protection.

5.2 Estimated Resource Gap

The estimated total domestic resources gap is Tk. 874.84 billion or US $ 12.5 billion (Table 5.2). The gap has been calculated using the following approach:

Table 5.2:

Estimate of Domestic Resource Gap for NSAPR II (revised) Implementation

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First, resource requirements for achieving different thematic goals through providing inputs and outputs and undertaking reforms envisaged in all thematic areas have been estimated. This amount comes out to be Tk. 2814.81 billion at FY08 prices.

Secondly, non-discretionary expenditure is calculated by adding interest payment obligations (both domestic and foreign interest payments) of the public sector and national defence expenditure needs which amounted to Tk. 642.59 billion at FY08 prices. The total public expenditure in the NSAPR II period thus comes to Tk. 3457.40 billion.

Thirdly, the maximum amount of domestic resources that can be mobilised during the NSAPR II implementation period was identified. The total domestic resource comes both from revenue collection and domestic borrowing possibilities as indicated in the Medium-Term Macroeconomic Framework (MTMF). For FY09, FY10 and FY11 projected revenue and domestic borrowing were deflated to measure them in terms of FY08 prices. The total domestic resource that can be mobilised is in the amount of Tk. 2,582.56 billion at FY08 prices.

Finally, the resource gap is identified as a difference between domestic resources available and the total expenditure during the period. This amount has to be mobilized from external sources.

In recent years Bangladesh could mobilize nearly US $ 2.0 billion per year as ODA from the development partners. Therefore, of the total domestic resources gap of US $ 12.5 billion nearly half would be mobilised from external sources as ODA and another half would be mobilised through innovative measures like Public–Private Partnership (PPP) and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).

Chapter 6 Strengthening Implementation, and Monitoring and Evaluation

Implementation arrangements of NSAPR II (revised) and its monitoring and evaluation system need to be clearly articulated to ensure effective implementation. This chapter provides an outline of the implementation arrangements, and the roles and responsibilities of different actors. It also provides an outline of the monitoring and evaluation mechanism and the roles and responsibilities of different agencies.

6.1 Implementation Arrangements

The major implementation responsibility of NSAPR II (revised) lies with the concerned lead ministries and their agencies as well as other associate ministries and their agencies. Ministries/Divisions who will be responsible for preparing their respective detailed prioritized action plans/road maps based on NSAPR II (revised) policy agenda for the implementation of the strategies to achieve sectoral and crosscutting targets for the FY 2009-11 period. The lead ministries will be responsible for supervision, coordination, implementation and monitoring activities envisaged in NSAPR II (revised) in their sectors and crosscutting issues. Other actors that will play an active role in the implementation include the private sector, civil society organizations (CSOs), NGOs, and different regulatory commissions. The development partners will play a supportive role in the implementation of NSAPR II (revised).

The National Steering Committee will provide general guidance and coordinate the implementation of NSAPR II (revised). The Programming Committee of the Planning Commission with recommendation of the concerned sector divisions of the Planning Commission will ensure selection of programmes/projects by the ministries, which are consistent with NSAPR II (revised). The GED/NPFP will check the consistency of the programmes/projects with NSAPR II (revised) in terms of criteria developed by GED/NPFP in consultation with concerned sector division of the Planning Commission and ministries. The Ministry of Finance will ensure that MTBF reflects the priorities in NSAPR II (revised) and the overall expenditure framework contributes to the achievement of the goals of NSAPR II (revised).

The private sector has an important role in achieving the poverty reduction outcomes by virtue of its central role as an engine of growth in the economy. While the private sector will be driven by its own compulsions, it will create employment opportunities and an avenue for using the savings of the people. The government will undertake measures to remove the factors hindering active private sector participation in the economy and facilitate socially responsible behaviour by the private sector.

The CSOs and NGOs will continue to play an important role independently as well as in partnership with the government in the implementation of NSAPR II (revised) through various programmes related to areas like micro-credit, literacy, health and sanitation, and empowerment. The development partners will use the agreed national systems and processes to provide adequate funding and other support in the implementation of NSAPR II (revised). They will also facilitate capacity building initiatives within the framework of NSAPR II (revised). In view of the slow progress in the implementation of the ADP in recent years, an important area will be capacity building in different phases of the project cycle.

For successful implementation of NSAPR II (revised) the government will take the following measures: (i) awareness building and PRS orientation for the members of the Parliament, government officials of the line ministries/divisions, and departments/directorates; (ii) communication between the National Poverty Focal Point and all line ministries/divisions emphasising that activities undertaken by the ministries/divisions have to be consistent with NSAPR II (revised); (iii) wide dissemination of the NSAPR II (revised) document to the officials of all ministries/divisions, and departments/directorates. The awareness building and skill acquisition will be provided through appropriate mechanisms like workshops and training programmes.

Joint Cooperation Strategy for Aid Effectiveness: The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and fifteen donors signed a Statement of Intent to Develop a Joint Cooperation Strategy (JCS) in support of the national poverty strategy (Revised NSAPR II) in August 2008. The overall goal of a JCS is to make aid in Bangladesh more effective by creating common platforms for national and sector dialogues and a national owned change process for improving delivery of aid. Specifically it aims at:

  • Reducing aid fragmentation and high transaction costs for all partners due to weak lead and coordination, including streamlining project approval processes;

  • Improving national capacity for ownership of cooperation activities through improved human resource management;

  • Strengthening donor alignment to national systems, which are felt by many partners to be lacking the necessary solidity to move towards more aid-effective modalities, such as budget support

  • Improving accountability for development results and enhancing predictability of aid flows

  • Agreeing on a common framework for expected development outcomes at national and sector levels for the coming years.

In order to make aided projects/programme effectively implemented, Bangladesh would take the lead to make real structural and behavioural changes on aid policies and implementation. The GoB led JCS Working Group has started various JCS related consultations and recently drafted a JCS outline and a detailed JCS Action Plan. There would be regular dialogues with development partners based on mutually agreed JCS with clear aid effectiveness outcomes in support of a prioritised and operational national poverty strategy.

6.2 Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation is an important component of NSAPR II (revised) because it helps the government to measure the quantity, quality and targeting of the outputs (goods and services) that it aims to provide and to measure the outcomes and impacts resulting from these outputs. The mechanism allows the government to measure its performance and understand the causes of good or poor performance. Performance will be measured through a set of monitoring and evaluation indicators such as inputs, outputs, outcomes and impact indicators. Performance indicators serve multiple purposes:

  • They are used for informed decision making, for re-setting priorities and revision of the targets, if necessary.

  • Public knowledge of performance indicators helps improve transparency and accountability of the government.

  • They provide a better understanding of the linkages between the processes of implementation of NSAPR II (revised) and the outcomes in terms of achievements of the poverty reduction target.

  • They facilitate checking the consistency of programme/project choices with NSAPR II (revised).

  • Choice of a set of M & E indicators for poverty reduction leads to conceptual clarity and puts in place a data generation system which can help other related research and policy adoption.

  • They provide a vehicle for monitoring the performance of the government by other stakeholders including the civil society who can put pressure to improve performance.

6.2.1 Evolution of Monitoring and Evaluation

The National Poverty Focal Point (NPFP) of GED took initiatives to monitor the first NSAPR implementation at two levels. First, the National Steering Committee constituted the Independent Monitoring Committee comprising civil society representatives to provide a balanced and impartial assessment of the progress towards targets and causes of lack of progress with appropriate guidance for performance improvement. Secondly, GED/NPFP initiated the institutionalization of the government monitoring system focusing on the formation of working groups at the ministry/division level for all the thematic areas and their common terms of reference. The Independent Monitoring Committee interacted with GED/NPFP whenever it was felt necessary.

The ministries/divisions formed working groups and initiated the monitoring process but the work did not proceed very far. Two obvious reasons for such an outcome have been identified: (i) lack of persuasion for information on the performance indicators by GED/NPFP, the working groups did not feel the urge to pursue the monitoring task. Lack of interest of the working groups in carrying out the task is derived to some extent from the lack of capacity of the planning wing/units in the thematic ministries in the form of lack of adequate institutional strength and skilled manpower. (ii) up-to-date data, which is at the heart of monitoring, was not available. The NSAPR contained a host of indicators with the expectation that the demand for data would lead to an appropriate response from the BBS in generating outcome and impact indicators. It was also expected that the research organisations including the private research bodies and NGOs would seize this opportunity of data generation with support from the donors. Institutional weakness and lack of funding inhibited the demand led process. Future attempts at monitoring will have to address these issues.

During the preparation of NSAPR II, the GED/NPFP collected information on the indicators from different ministries and the BBS to evaluate the progress of first NSAPR. Data gaps in terms of lack of data and up-to-date data were identified, which constrained thorough assessment of the implementation progress.

6.2.2 Monitoring and Evaluation of NSAPR-II (revised)

The process of monitoring and evaluation of NSAPR II (revised) will be a continuous one, involving a number of overlapping sets of activities. As mentioned in Section 6.1, working groups at the ministry/division level will be activated/formed shortly and they will prepare their action plans/road maps to implement the policy matrix relevant to them. Side by side with the action plan for implementation, they will also formulate an action plan for monitoring and evaluation based on the terms of reference provided by the GED/NPFP. Major steps of the monitoring and evaluation process will include the following:

  • Development of conceptually sound and empirically feasible performance indicators;

  • Establishing benchmarks on indicators to facilitate evaluation of progress toward target achievement;

  • Institutionalizing a flexible and effective monitoring strategy based on clarity of the monitoring tasks;

  • Progress monitoring on the action agenda spelled out in the policy matrices;

  • Data generation for target achievements: census, surveys, qualitative studies and participatory poverty assessments. BBS, relevant agencies, academic and research institutions will have the responsibility and opportunity to generate relevant data;

  • Evaluation of the achievement of targets of poverty reduction and MDGs; and

  • Dissemination of results and interaction with the civil society, business community, media and other groups.

The M & E system for NSAPR II (revised) is shown in Figure 6.1.

Figure 6.1:
Figure 6.1:

Monitoring and Evaluation System of NSAPR II

(revised)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 293; 10.5089/9781475557053.002.A001

6.2.3 Data Generation for M & E

Data on M&E indicators of revised NSAPR II (Annex-3) and attainment of MDGs will come from both government and non-government sources. Data on inputs and outputs will come primarily from concerned ministries/divisions. While some data on outcome/impact indicators may come from different ministries/divisions, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) will be mainly responsible for generating data on these indicators.

The BBS is the major source of national sample surveys; it conducts HES/HIES, which is the major source of poverty statistics. There are also some MDG-related surveys, namely, DHS, VRS, and CLS. Data quality and the details of the definitions and methodology used in the major surveys conducted by the BBS should receive appropriate attention. There is a need for a review of all data sources that can be used for monitoring NSAPR II (revised) and MDGs. Need for special surveys and studies will have to be identified by the GED/NPFP, and BBS will need to align its data generation schedules with the requirements of GED/NPFP.

New rounds of surveys cannot be conducted simultaneously with HIES, because it will overburden BBS with consequent decline of quality. However, separate modules for NSAPR II (revised) and MDGs may be included in future HIES. In addition to the usual surveys, an effective monitoring system will require data from other appropriately designed special surveys. Some new surveys and specially designed evaluation studies may be conducted by research organizations like BIDS and other public and private research organizations.

Clear identification of indicators followed by streamlining of the mechanisms for generating reliable data is necessary, but not sufficient for poverty assessment and the monitoring of NSAPR II (revised) programme implementation. Proper utilization of such data and analysis of the linkages between policies, programmes and resulting outcome and impact are essential for understanding the poverty reduction process. To achieve this, capacity building within the appropriate government institutions is an urgent need.

6.2.4 Institutional Strategy of M & E System

Monitoring implementation of NSAPR II (revised) and evaluation of actual poverty reduction will require a well-designed institutional mechanism. Such a mechanism has been outlined in Table 6.1. This includes, on the one hand, the primary role of the government, with the GED/NPFP having a central role, and, on the other hand, an independent and supplementary role for academic/research organizations and civil society groups. The GED/NPFP will have the primary responsibility for developing the detailed strategies for NSAPR II (revised) monitoring. Responsibilities will include:

  • a) collating official data on PRS monitoring,

  • b) coordinating monitoring efforts within and outside the government,

  • c) facilitating effective resolution of debates on indicators and methodologies and developing new indicators where necessary,

  • d) undertaking relevant research and studies in collaboration with independent academic/research institutions and civil society groups, and

  • e) facilitating feed back of outcome monitoring into policy making.

Working groups at the ministry/division level will undertake measures for generating performance indicators relevant to the group. Progress towards attainment of targets will be assessed and the report will be sent to the GED/NPFP for coordination at the national level.

Table 6.1:

Institutional Process of revised NSAPR II Monitoring and Evaluation

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6.2.5 M & E Indicators

A list of indicators for M&E of revised NSAPR II and attainment of MDGs has been appended at Annex 3. The list is suggestive and will be refined by the working groups in consultation with NPFP/GED in the actual process of monitoring. Information on all indicators may not be available at the desired level of disaggregation. On certain dimensions of poverty reduction policies, indicators may be drawn from a number of sources. Therefore, some degree of overlap in the characteristics of indicators may be inevitable. This is especially true for ‘pro-poor growth’ strategies, ‘women’s advancement and rights’ and ‘children’s advancement and rights’.

6.2.6 Capacity Building for M & E

Capacity building is necessary at all levels and in all institutions involved in the monitoring and evaluation task. The highlights of capacity building are:

  • Capacity of BBS will be strengthened to enable it to conduct surveys, census and special surveys to produce quality data. The timing of these activities will match that of monitoring and evaluation of NSAPR II (revised) as well as preparation of future NSAPR;

  • Suitable capacity-building of GED/NPFP will be achieved to enable it to guide the working groups and coordinate their activities and carry out the analytical work;

  • The planning wings/units in the ministries/divisions will be strengthened with adequate manpower having appropriate skills; and

  • A general awareness of preparation and monitoring and evaluation of NSAPR II (revised) will be created among the public officials through workshops and training programmes.

Bangladesh: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Author: International Monetary Fund. African Dept.