We are heartened to learn from the 2019 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that Bangladesh lifted some 19.3 million people out of poverty over the decade between 2004 and 2014. The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deserves kudos for tackling the poverty issue head-on. The MPI index is far more comprehensive than a simple poverty index and, as such, our achievement is that much more noteworthy. The index was developed in 2010 by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the University of Oxford and the Human Development Report Office of the UNDP. The latest index covered 101 countries (31 low-income, 68 middle-income and two high-income) and is based on 10 indicators ranging from nutrition, child mortality, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, electricity, etc. It is a broad-spectrum analysis to determine the various aspects of poverty, which is termed as multidimensional poor and this year’s focus was on South Asia.
What is encouraging is that Bangladesh is one of 10 countries that have made significant progress in achieving “SDG-1: No poverty”, being one of the countries to achieve “the fastest absolute reductions in MPI value”. The MPI index provides a roadmap for policymakers in a manner that no other index can, since it takes into account multifarious indicators to gauge the reasons for poverty that exist in countries like Bangladesh.
However, while we may feel rightly proud of the achievement, we feel there is considerable distance to go till we say goodbye to poverty altogether. As the figure stands, the number of people below the poverty line has reduced by nearly 20 million—from 2004 to 2014. About 74 million people, out of a population of about 154 million till 2014, were living below the poverty line. All the efforts of the government should be geared to get these people out of the poverty line eliminating the poverty trap. That is the main challenge of the government.