PKSF scheme helps raise income of households: study
An initiative of the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), styled "Enhancing Resources and Increasing Capacities of Poor Households towards Elimination of Poverty (ENRICH)", has helped increase the income and food intake of about 13 lakh households across Bangladesh, according to a study.
The integrated development programme was launched in 2010 with a total of 21 unions under its coverage. Since then, the ENRICH programme has expanded to cover some 56 lakh people across 197 unions in the country.
The average monthly income per capita of those living in these unions has increased to Tk 1,871 as of 2018 compared to the baseline of Tk 1,435 registered eight years prior, the study shows.
Martin Greeley, a professor of development studies at the University of Sussex, Asif M Shahan and Shubhasish Barua, associate professors of development studies at the University of Dhaka, jointly conducted the study from 2010 to 2018.
The researchers said this programme's value should not be determined only by its nominal value as it has multidimensional social outcomes, including raising "human dignity" in society.
A book based on the study, titled "Sustainable Development, Human Dignity and Choice: Lessons from the ENRICH Program, Bangladesh", was unveiled by the PKSF at its auditorium in Dhaka yesterday.
The study also found that the most significant change in terms of food intake took place in three unions, namely Saghata in Gaibandha, Durgapur in Netrokona and Simanto in Chuadanga, where almost 98 per cent of the locals now enjoy three meals per day.
The intake of animal protein also rose during this period.
In addition, around 53.6 per cent of the households surveyed now have health cards, which allows holders to receive services provided under the health component of ENRICH.
Previously, only 1.6 per cent of the households in unions under coverage had access to this benefit.
Besides, seven of the 10 unions surveyed saw a decline in the number of households without a lavatory.
Also, the dropout rate among primary school children in ENRICH unions has come down to 0.9 per cent whereas the national average is 4 per cent.
Along with economic empowerment, the PKSF programme focuses on enhancing human dignity and bringing down the number of ultra-poor people, according to Shahan.
The associate professor of development studies then said that no matter how much economic progress a person makes, they do not have the ability to change society if they themselves lack dignity.
Ensuring dignity means combining the capabilities of people functioning in a society in a way that helps ultra-poor people get equal respect, said Barua.
Speaking at the event as chief guest, Moshiur Rahman, the prime minister's adviser on economic affairs, welcomed the concept of improving peoples' dignity.
"The idea of dignity is not usually seen in discussions related to the economy or its growth. But in this study, dignity has been considered as an indicator of development, which is unprecedented," he said.
Rahman hoped that the ENRICH programme would further expand in the future given its success so far.
Kazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of the PKSF, said under this programme, necessary services and support are provided at every stage of a person's lifecycle so that they can make the best use of existing opportunities.
However, Ahmad informed that the finance ministry has suspended funding for the programme for the last three years.
And although the programme is ongoing, it is uncertain how long it will last without budgetary support, he added.
Among others, MA Baqui Khalily, a former professor at the University of Dhaka, and Mustafa K Mujeri, executive director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development, also spoke at the event.