Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development and Manusher Jonno Foundation have jointly developed an online database of households of two unions with a view to helping policymakers manage social safety net schemes through proper selection of beneficiaries.
The database was unveiled yesterday at a workshop organised by BARD and MJF at the Cirdap International Convention Centre.
“This is a good job. This will play a vital role,” said NM Zeaul Alam, a secretary of the cabinet division.
The online database, which has been developed on a pilot basis, was unveiled at a time when the state's expansive social safety net programmes are suffering from pilferage and misuse, mainly because of wrong selection of beneficiaries.
Many relatively well-off people get the benefit although they should not, discussants at the workshop said.
The government has allocated Tk 54,206 crore under various social protection schemes for the current fiscal year, up 33 percent year-on-year. The allocation is 2.44 percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to the finance ministry.
At present, 23 ministries operate more than 140 social safety net schemes to support the poor. But there are some anomalies and irregularities relating to selection of beneficiaries, Alam said.
“There are ghost beneficiaries -- we can eliminate this if we can select beneficiaries properly,” he added.
The BARD and MJF conducted the census in Sonabaria Union of Kolaroa under Sathkhira and Balarhat of Mithapukur under Rangpur. The census shows that wrong selection of beneficiaries in ten safety net schemes was 31 percent to 53 percent in Sonabaria, Sathkhira.
In case of Balarhat, Rangpur, mistargeting ranged from 27 percent to 45 percent, said BARD Joint Director Ranjan Kumar Guha, while presenting the online database of households of two unions.
Some 4,161 recipients in Sonabaria union, that has a population of 19,621 across 5,278 households, have benefitted from nine selected safety net schemes.
And 4,471 persons in Balarhat union have benefitted from the same number of safety net schemes.
The census found that Balarhat has a population of 21,889 in 6,500 households.
“This is a dynamic database. From the database, one can see who is eligible for getting the benefit and who is not, who are getting the benefits and who are not,” Guha added.
MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said the government can get a model from the methodology used for the database.
“If the government can take anything from this database, our efforts would be worth it,” she said, adding that the online database will help cut targeting error.
Proper management of safety net schemes will benefit both the government and the people, she added.
Tofail Ahmed, an analyst on local government, said policymakers can use the database for multiple purposes.
The workshop was chaired by BARD Director General Muhammad Maududur Rashid Safdar. Mafruha Sultana, secretary of Rural Development and Cooperatives, and Salauddin M Aminuzzaman, professor of Public Administration at Dhaka University, also spoke, among others.