While Bangladesh has made significant progress in terms of improving social indicators such as a higher completion rate of primary education and access to drinking water, there are regional disparities in areas such as children's nutrition, access to sanitation and maternal healthcare. This has been revealed from the key findings of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2012-2013 conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
The study finds, for instance, that two out five children under the age of five to be stunted and three in every 10 to be underweight. Malnutrition in children from the poorest families is also quite high – 52.8 percent. There are, moreover, divisional disparities – poorer regions are more affected by malnutrition and stunting. Barisal, for example, has the highest proportion of stunted children while Khulna has the lowest. Similarly, Sylhet has the lowest rate of providing skilled birth attendants for deliveries while Khulna has the highest. Differences in the use of sanitation facilities are also significant between better off and poor households.
Although overall enrollment and completion rate in primary schools have increased, the survey has found that one in four children are not in primary school, with more boys going without any schooling than girls.
The BBS survey should help the government to identify and reach out to the more vulnerable regions of the country where families are poorer and deprived of basic rights to nutritious food, healthcare, education and proper sanitation, among others. The government's target to fulfill the MDG goals can only be realised if it can improve social indicators of all households and in all districts. Proper distribution of resources and vigorous programmes to address the gaps will help to smoothen out the inconsistencies in developmental efforts.