Lack of income scope keeps char people in acute poverty
Landlessness and lack of income generating opportunities have kept thousands of people in char areas in acute poverty, development workers said yesterday.
The inhabitants of chars (land emerged from rivers), who are in severe indebtedness, suffer from hunger and malnutrition. They also virtually do not to get benefit of public services, such as education and primary healthcare, in absence of proper infrastructure and service delivery.
"The level of poverty is higher in char areas than the main land. Some 77 percent people in char areas suffer from extreme poverty," according to a paper on improvement of livelihood of char people through Nodi O Jibon, a project run by Concern Worldwide in association with local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
The paper based on a study conducted in the country's northern regi-on, said more than 50 lakh char people suffer from extreme poverty because they depend solely on farming. Also, lack of any scope for non-farm activities puts them below poverty.
The paper, presented at a discussion at Unnayan Shamannay office, also pointed out that 13 percent of char people remain jobless round the year.
The rate of seasonal unemployment is also very high, as agriculture cannot provide jobs more than four months a year, it said.
"The extent of poverty is different from mainland," said Talukdar Golam Sarwar, coordinator of the fiver-year project, Nodi O Jibon (river and life).
The Tk 32 crore project aims to help 10,000 extreme poor in char areas to improve living standards by taking various initiatives, including employment generation and market linkage.
Tarafdar claimed that there has been a change in economic activities in char areas due to the project, the tenure of which expires next March. There has also been improvement in public service delivery, added the official.
Some discussants at the programme stressed proper coordination of all the activities in the areas aimed at ameliorating the standard of livings, as a number of international and local NGOs are working there for such purpose.
They feared that in absence of proper coordination a problem of overlapping might be created.
A coordinated effort will bring benefit, said Khondker Ibrahim Khaled, chairman of Bangladesh Krishi Bank.
“The government should recover the char lands from grabbers and distribute these lands to char people," suggested Khaled, also a former central bank deputy governor.
"Such distribution of land will be of great help in improving the economic condition of char dwellers."
NGO Foundation Managing Director Abu Taher Khan suggested a strong local government, which can bring about improvement in public service delivery in char areas.