20th January 2021
Md. Abul Kalam Azad

Series 6: SDG 1 End Poverty

“To end poverty in all its forms, everywhere”; what a bold determination and sky-high ambition of the global community in SDG 1 of agenda 2030!

UN data says in 2015 about 736 million of the global population was under extreme poverty (income per day bellow 1.90 US$) and 1.3 billion under multidimensional poverty as it was in 1990 and now before Covid it stood at 8.2% with a projection to reach 6% by 2030 which is already off track. One person in every 10 lives as extreme poor and 80% of them live in Sub-Saharan and South Asia. The rate of decreasing extreme poverty was excellent during 1990-2015; it came down to 10% from 36%. Covid pushes at least 71 million people in 2020 in the line of extreme poverty. This is to be noted that about three forth of these extreme poor live in rural area mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The poor are hungry, has less access to education, health and electricity. Fulfilment of basic needs through increased social protection, access to services can reduce poverty. UN defined SDG 1 with 5 targets, 2 means of implementation and 14 indicators.

These five targets are eradication of extreme poverty, reduction of all poverty by half; implementation of social protection systems; ensuring equal rights to ownership, basic services, technology and economic resources; and the building of resilience to environmental, economic and social disaster. The two targets related to means of achieving SDG 1 call for mobilization of resources to end poverty; and the establishment of poverty eradication policy frameworks at all levels.


Key business area of SDG 1 are availability of products and services for those on low incomes, their earning, wages and benefits, economic development in areas of high priority, access to quality essential health care services, access to WASH, electricity availability and reliability also non-discrimination.


Under Target 1.1 eradicate extreme poverty, track record of Bangladesh is remarkable; in 2000 in Bangladesh extreme poor was 33.7% which came down to 13.8% at the end of MDG period. With that base line our target is to reach 9.3% in 2020, 4.8% in 2025 and zero in 2030. Record shows that in 2019 we had extreme poverty count at 10.5% which is almost near the target. During 2000-2016, yearly reduction of global extreme poverty was 0.62% where Bangladesh achieved almost 1% and in last four year it reduced at the rate of 0.75% yearly. We understand if Covid was not there we could meet the target where rest of the South Asia is far from the target. Doubling GDP per capita in 5 years 1002 US$ in 2015 stood at 2068 US$ in 2020 shows the inner strength also.


Under SDG Target 1.2 we need to halve the poverty level in 15 years. Globally Bangladeshi is much-admired for her achievement in poverty reduction. During the MDG period global poverty reduced by half and Bangladesh did that three years earlier than the stipulated time. Bangladesh is credited for her extraordinary success in poverty reduction, as it is the No.1 densely populated LDC and once more than eighty percent people were living below the poverty line. The beauty of poverty reduction strategies applied in Bangladesh is that not only poverty head count declined from 56.8 percent in 1991-92 and 24.3 in 2016 to 20.5 percent in 2020, the poverty gap (intensity of poverty) has also reduced from 17.2 percent to 5 percent in the same period. Moreover, during the same period, the squared poverty gap, which measures the severity of poverty, has also declined from 6.8 percent to 1.5 percent.  The prevalence of undernourishment was 32.8 percent in 1990-92, which has come down to 14.7 percent in 2018. Prevalence of stunting among children under 5 years of age was 42 percent in 2012-13 which has declined to 28 percent in 2019.

For enhanced and more structured social safety network Bangladesh government passed National Social Safety Strategy (NSSS) in 2015 and law on protection for the disabled were passed in 2013 which help achieving SDG 1.3 Social Protection to cover poor and vulnerable. NSSS work plan for the ministries were introduced in 2018. According to monitoring and evaluation framework of Bangladesh, we had target to raise the beneficiary house hold to 30% in 2020, 35% in 2025 and 40% in 2030 from 28.7% in 2016. In 2019 Bangladesh achieved 58.1% beneficiary under SSN. Different Ministry implement 130 types of SSN program like Old age allowance, allowance for the widows, maternity allowance, allowance for the disables etc. which has allocation of 13.81% of 2018-19 budget covering 2.53% of our GDP. During Covid in May 2020 government allocated a special allowance of taka 2500 for each of 5 million poor families.

Target 1.4 covers wide range of issues relating to life, livelihood and wellbeing. This includes equal opportunity to all irrespective of gender in the area of economic resources, basic services like health, education, electricity, water and drinking water, sanitation, ownership of land and other property, natural resources, new technology including financial services and microfinance.

Resilience of the poor in climate related vulnerability Target 1.5 put targets for reducing death and missing population in climate related events also reduce loss in disasters in climate issues. In Bangladesh in 2019 number of affected people was 2,487 per one hundred thousand and death rate was 0.1545 person per one hundred thousand. Though Bangladesh is 3rd among countries hard hit by disaster and 7th vulnerable country of the globe, in CRI 2018 Bangladesh is not within 10 most affected country; this shows the resilience of Bangladesh. From just after independence Bangabandhu started with huge plantation through coast line, construction of cyclone shelter, create cyclone volunteer and constructing Mujib killa (high land for the shelter of cattle head) which continues now with additional efforts by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh had its National Plan for Disaster Management (2016-2020) and action plan to achieve the targets under Sendai Framework (2015-2030).

Means of implementation of SDG 1 are 1a: Resource mobilization and 1b: Pro-poor public spending are addressed well in our budget. In 2014-15 budget allocation for education, health and social sector was 12.82, 4.81 and 12.72 percentage respectively. Education sector had allocation increased to15.2% in 2018-19 and in 2020-21 15.1%. Likewise, health sector was allocated 4.9% and 5.1%. Also, allocation for the social sector was increased to 14.2% of the national budget of 2018-19. All these help achieving ‘No Poverty’ in Bangladesh. (to be continued…)


Former Principal Secretary and SDG Coordinator


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