It was a rewarding experience talking to the Director General of BBS, former Director General of Disaster Management, Mohammah Abul Wazed. While talking about achieving the SDG targets he said, “As we all know, Bangladesh is the only country to have achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and BBS started working on the SDGs even before the agreement was signed”. As he reflected on the lessons learnt whilst achieving the MDGs, Mohammad Abul Wazed pointed out that monitoring, collection of data and evidence was only available from 2008. Even though a lot of information was missing from the years before that, joint efforts made by the other ministries and partners were what helped Bangladesh perform so well. Currently, the BBS has enough data not only of its own but also through data mining (the practice of examining large databases in order to generate new information) and data collected from surveys done by other monitoring bodies to support the Prime Minister's vision for 2020.
He explained that of the 17 goals, overcoming poverty will be the biggest challenge and might not be possible but ending extreme poverty will be possible and in terms of gender equality he assured that the government is working relentlessly on inclusive development to ensure justice and equality for adolescents, women, disabled and the old.
When asked about the measurement of health indicators and if there was room for improvement, the DG stated that the National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT) conducts the Bangladesh Demography and Health Survey every three years under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and collects data on fertility, family planning and maternal and child health. The quality of data is that of international standard and he hopes to see more of the other ministries taking on such initiatives in their respective fields. He went on to discuss some of the in-house surveys in BBS that are yearlong on household, income and expenditure. Such studies include the general mass and also vulnerable and hard to reach people in Bangladesh. For example, with the frequency and intensity of natural disasters increasing in Bangladesh, the country is a victim rather than a contributor to global warming and the government has already started funding researches as well as undertaking projects to address issues related to how economically people are affected by natural calamities, death and how these can be reduced.
As the interview came to an end, Mohammad Abul Wazed discussed the future initiatives saying, “The Planning Wing has already conducted a workshop where many ministries as well as BBS were invited to discuss the importance of ensuring policy coherence. It was extremely beneficial for us and we will hopefully be doing something similar to improving coordination amongst ministries and ensure proper implementation of all SDGs.”
Written by Supriti Sarkar.