Thursday, November 03, 2011

Bangladesh poverty lowers, score rises, ranking down

SALEEM SAMAD

DESPITE SLOW economic growth, Bangladesh's poverty index has declined, a direct impact of human development initiatives, says the latest development report by the United Nations.

The poverty rate has declined from 49 percent in 2010 to 31 percent this year, according to the Human Development Report 2011 released Thursday.

Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been praised for progress in various categories of human development.

This year the nation of 150 million scored higher than it did in last year's Human Development Index (HDI), but slipped down 17 places on the index due to better progress made by regional competitors and inclusion of more countries in the ranking.

This year Bangladesh ranked 146 out of 187 countries with a score of 0.500 in the HDI, said Stefan Priesner, country director for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

In the South Asian region, Bangladesh only fared better than Nepal, which was ranked 157th. India ranked 134, Sri Lanka 97, the Maldives 109 and Bhutan 141.

The overall inequality HDI has dropped by seven percentage points from 29 per cent to 22 per cent, showing a good performance of the country, which is ranked just below Pakistan.

The UN country director said Bangladesh needs to address the pressure of environmental degradation, adverse impact of climate change and risks of disaster to improve further.

"Equity and sustainable development are two sides of one coin," he said.

The four key messages of the report are sustainable urbanization, tackling climatic threat, providing clean energy to the poor and addressing environmental degradation issue, he said.

Since 1990, the Human Development Report has been publishing the HDI, which is considered an alternative to conventional measures to assess national development, such as level of income and the rate of economic growth.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com