Thesis on development in the context of poverty alleviation of Bangladesh

Study on two main agents of development in the context of poverty alleviation of Bangladesh: A Comparative Study on the government and non-government organization in the context of poverty alleviation of Bangladesh

Bangladesh is endowed with NGOs. A huge number of NGOs have been working in the country for improvement of socioeconomic conditions of the community vis-à-vis Bangladesh. Most of the NGOs run activities out of their own fund and contributions from the people. Some of the NGOs get funding from foreign donors. In the course of time NGOs have been playing vital role as development partner to the Government. The success history of NGOs in the field of education, health, disaster management, women empowerment, poverty reduction and especially in the field of microcredit brought the fame of ‘Model Country’ for the NGOs. ‘Microcredit’ program of Bangladesh as a strategy for income generation and thus poverty reduction has been acknowledged as ‘paradigm shift’ by the world leaders. Dr. Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank are the two names that are attached closely in the arena.

Local NGOs are registered with the Directorate of Social Services. There are 55,238 NGOs registered with the Directorate of Social Services, 15,325 NGOs are registered with the Directorate of Women Affairs followed by 9,031 with the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, 402 with the Microcredit Regulatory Authority (as of 31st December 2008) and 7,616 with the Office of the Registrar of the Cooperatives. It needs to mention that many of the organizations/entities are registered with more than one authority Iftekhar (2009). 

Non Government Organisations (NGOs) have emerged as institutional base to addressing needs of the grassroots people and combating poverty. NGOs, in order to support socioeconomic development and empowering disadvantaged group i.e. poor, women and children have vastly widened their activities in almost all sectors. These organisations mostly follow the target strategy under which the poor with similar socioeconomic interests are organised into groups to achieve their objectives.

NGOs have been working almost in all sectors except a few and geographically covered the whole of the country. Around 93% of all NGOs provide public awareness & advocacy for sanitation, health and social issues and 92% provide micro credit service. However, the major sectors where the NGOs has the highest contribution are Health, Nutrition & Population (HNP) (65%) followed by WATSAN (52%) and Primary & Mass Education (45%) (Ref: World Bank 2006 report). The major areas are as follows: 

NGDO’s Programs : 

According to Clark (1991) eradication of poverty and its underlying causes should be the prime objective of development in which is more pronounced in Bangladesh. It is argued that one must look at poverty to understand how and why NGDOs have involved themselves in eradication of poverty (Sobhan 1998 p 29). Given its multi-faceted and multi-dimensional character poverty is being denoted as economic, social and political deprivation between people that result in paucity of resources essential maintain minimum standard of living (Fifth Five Year Plan, 1997-2002, VIII-1). Since majority of population lives in rural areas, poverty in Bangladesh relates mainly to rural poverty (Ibid.). Chambers suggested (1983 as cited in Clark 1991, p 21) following five interrelated causes which may have worsen poverty:

• Isolation from the opportunities such as lack of access to education and health etc. services due to living in remote and backward regions, like social services
• Vulnerability because of natural calamities, exploitation, physical incapability, and traditional social system (e.g. dowry).
• Powerlessness which is manifested in three different forms:
-Exploitation by powerful elite group and thus limiting benefits and access to any development advantage (e.g. access to credit, benefit from land distribution etc.)
-Lack of power to prevent violence, and any other criminal and social injustice.
-Paucity of power to negotiate or bargain for their own right.
• Poverty itself and
• Physical weakness.
However, Clark (ibid.) prefers to add powerlessness and vulnerability to environmental damages and gender discrimination to describe poverty.
It is easy for NGDOs to bring changes in the macro policy reforms (Clark 1991 p 125). Now they are influencing / participating in macro-policy reform[1]. Similarly, at the micro level they can mobilise the poor to participate in the policy making process. However, involvement in macro policy reforms is easy. Micro policy reforms cannot be achieved through changes in legislation and central government policies.

Review of poverty situation in rural Bangladesh envisages that all the factors of poverty mentioned by chambers and Clark exist in Bangladesh as indicators and causes of poverty. Therefore, programmes to eradicate poverty must include factors that will affects the above mentioned indicators. The relevant variables are basic health and sanitation, nutrition, housing, security and safety, primary education, access to state distribution system, participation and institutional capability, crisis coping capacity, and preservation of natural resources.

[1] An example in this aspect is the NGO participation in the preparation of the National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP) by the Ministry of Environment.