Challenges such as inequality of income, geographical and nutritional status must be addressed by the government

Published in Observer on Thursday, 17 September 2015.

Dhaka will be SDGs global leader too, experts say

Banani Mallick

Experts and representatives of civil society on Wednesday said that Bangladesh’s great success in reducing poverty under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has made Bangladesh a global leader.

They also noted that if Bangladesh would continue this effort and ensure an inclusive and sustainable development like many indicators of MDGs goal, it will be able to be global leader too in the upcoming SDGs goals to be set in New York from 25-27.

Bangladesh has published on Wednesday the eighth edition of its MDG Progress Report in the terminal year of the MDG, set by the United Nations in 2000.

It comes at a time when the UN is set to adopt Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as the post-MDG global development agenda with a 15-year (2016-2030) implementation period.

A few experts and representatives have shared their opinions on the published report.

Talking exclusively to the Daily Observer, Nick Beresford, Deputy Country Director of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that Bangladesh has become global leader for its great success in reducing poverty level in MDGs goal.

“Bangladesh already achieved many indicators of MDGs including poverty alleviation. Even it has crossed the expectation level. If Bangladesh keeps continuing this spirit, I hope it will be world leader in achieving SDGs goal too,” he said.

When asked the reasons behind this success, he said that selection of targets group was the key to achieving poverty reduction in MDGs goals.

“Targeting poor and ultra-poor people to change their life style by introducing different development works under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the key,” he said.

Referring to the Government’s Seventh Five Year Plan of 2016-2020 action plan, he said that if government continues this inclusive efforts and ensure no one will be behind this package then achieving SDGs will not be difficult.

Professor Shamsul Alam, Member (Senior Secretary), GED of Planning Commission, said that reducing poverty was possible because of government’s pragmatic strategies.

“Government took very focused practical steps and successfully implemented all of them. Such as, job creation, stipends and free education, rural network and others have helped a lot to reduce the poverty,” he said.

Asked what targets the government was setting for the upcoming SDGs, he mentioned women empowerment, human rights, increased employment opportunities, good governance, environment sustainability and others.

Bangladesh has recommended 17 goals in the upcoming SDGs. Of the 17 goals, Bangladesh’s recommendations for 9 were valued most.

A total of 193 countries expressed their commitment to realizing these through signing the goal instrument.

These goals are the result of global conversation in which Bangladesh also took active part.

Mike Robson, Country Representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said that Bangladesh has made remarkable progress towards MDGs, as seen in today’s 2015 report, with economic growth and poverty reduction contributing to improved food security and nutrition.

Although Bangladesh is developing fast, agriculture still remains the backbone of the economy, with almost 50% employed in the sector.

One area for renewed attention under the new SDGs will be the environment (especially soil fertility and water availability) – to make sure that food and agriculture production can be sustained as needed to feed a growing population.

Bangladesh is one of the forerunners in achieving the first of eight Millennium Development Goals — reducing extreme poverty rates by a half between 1990 and 2015.

Bangladesh received special honours from the UN for halving the number of people in extreme poverty (from 58 percent to 29 percent) more than a couple of years ahead of time.

Maleka Banu, General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, noted that poverty reduction under MDGs goal is a great achievement for Bangladesh but still lots of challenges are there such as violence against women increasing alarmingly.

“Women’s equal rights in the property and in the resources are very important for upholding women status and ensuring equal rights,” she said.

Referring to the women’s contribution in reducing poverty, she said that today’s recognition in international level has been possible due to women’s huge contribution but unfortunately their life styles have not changed yet.

“Some issues should be addressed in the upcoming SDGs goal for a real change in the life of women such as equal job opportunities for male and female, receiving pragmatic and quality education and provide training will help to compete the global market, decent job, ensuring enabling environment and others,” he said.

Naba Krishna Muni, Capacity Building Specialist, USAID’s ACME Activity, said that Poverty is one of the main causes of hunger. Bangladesh addressed these causes of hunger and as a result she has been successful in achieving millennium development goal 1.

“Poverty is one of the main causes of hunger in the country. Many individuals and families have to make a trade-off between buying food and paying for other expenses such as medical expenses, education expenses and others,” he said.

Bangladesh has been successful in managing poverty in urban and rural level by adopting various Government need based initiatives like allowance to vulnerable population, providing agricultural subsidies, promoting free education for girls, undertaking various projects for socio-economic development, empowering people at the grass root level, etc.

The UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held on September 25-27 in New York.

A draft document titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” shows that under the SDG, 17 goals might be set.

The first two of the proposed goals are: 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere, and 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Ranjon Karmokar, Executive Director of the Steps towards Development, said that “Besides economic discrimination we have social, cultural, and political discrimination, without removing it achieving SDGs goal will not be possible,” he said.

“Focusing on economic discrimination for poverty reduction, government should also keep its eye on cultural, social, and political discrimination too,” he said.

Government’s all plans and budget should be people- centred to bring the success of the SDGs.

Bangladesh is one of the forerunners in achieving the first of eight Millennium Development Goals — reducing extreme poverty rates by a half between 1990 and 2015. In fact, Bangladesh received special honours from the UN for halving the number of people in extreme poverty (from 58 percent to 29 percent) more than a couple of years ahead of time.

Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, said that Bangladesh Government has taken so many steps for successfully reducing poverty under MDGs goals.

Basically the government took a coordinated approach in the MDGs goals with the help of people were involved in the field level.

“I think under Sheikh Hasina’s government it is a great success,” he said.

According to the summary of the “Millennium Development Goals: Bangladesh Progress Report 2015”, the country has made remarkable progresses in poverty alleviation, ensuring food security, primary school enrollment, gender parity in primary and secondary-level education, lowering infant and under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, improving immunisation coverage and reducing communicable diseases.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said that reducing poverty level is being possible due to joint venture of private and public initiatives.

“Government has taken different initiatives, strategies such as employment generation, safety net, five years plan since 1990 to reduce poverty across the country,” he added

When asked what others issues government should take up for poverty reduction, he said today’s achieving is average but we need to work in the urban and rural areas in different division too especially western division.

He also mentioned some challenges, such as inequality of income, geographical and nutritional status. These areas are challenges the government must address in the upcoming SDGs goal.




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