(From left) Jamil Ahmed, Sazia Omar, Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman and Dr Binayak Sen hold copies of “Manifesto for the Extreme Poor” while making it public in the capital's The Daily Star Centre yesterday. Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment (Shiree) led the manifesto's preparation in consultation with over 1 lakh people living in abject poverty and with other stakeholders while 43 national and international organisations endorsed it. Photo: Star
Extreme poverty, if not poverty, can be overcome in a decade by distributing three percent of Bangladesh's present Gross Domestic Product's monetary value among the affected six million families, on condition that democracy and political will persist, said experts yesterday.
The experts, on poverty and from think tanks, private sector companies, development partners and non-government organisations, validated their statement pointing at Bangladesh's remarkable success in reducing poverty in the last two decades.
They were making public a “Manifesto for the Extreme Poor”, prepared in consultation with over 1 lakh people living in abject poverty and other stakeholders, in the capital's The Daily Star Centre.
Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment (Shiree) led the manifesto's preparation and it was endorsed by 43 national and international organisations.
The manifesto calls for three key steps, one of which is designing a national programme to provide people living in absolute poverty the resources and engage them in the market system.
The other two are -- prioritising these people while reforming delivery of social protection and public services, and addressing extreme poverty's basic causes.
Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud, a former adviser to a caretaker government, said, “We can dream further, it is doable and feasible if we can act properly.”
“But channeling money to the extreme poor would be a major challenge,” he said, citing a 2010 government household survey showing that 53 percent of the government' social safety net programme beneficiaries were not even poor.
Economist Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, another former adviser, said no single actor was behind the poverty reduction achievement for the Awami League, BNP and a caretaker government were in office separately during the period.
So eradicating extreme poverty is an absolutely possible dream irrespective of who stays in office, he said, adding that Bangladesh's achievements till date resulted from an agenda-centric government-non-government sector coalition and similar coalitions are necessary to achieve the goal.
Dr Binayak Sen, research director, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, emphasised improving service delivery and building a civic and social movement to reach the goal.
Julian Fancis, a development consultant, said he predicted in a March 1972 article a grim future about the then a devastated Bangladesh.
“But I am happy that my prediction proved wrong as Bangladesh made remarkable progress,” he said.
Farah Kabir, country director, ActionAid, said development partners or NGOs would not be able to implement the programme unless the government plays an active role and formulates proper policies to eradicate extreme poverty.
Sazia Omar, head of advocacy, Shiree, presented the manifesto and Oxfam's country representative Snehal Sonejie and development activists Rokeya Kabir and Farida Akhter also spoke.