Bangladesh’s poverty level drops to 24.3pc

17 Oct 2017, 20:14

Online Desk

Dhaka: Bangladesh's poverty rate has come down to 24.3 percent although it is still high at rural level with 26.4 percent while 18.9 percent at urban level, according to the preliminary report of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey, 2016.

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) on Tuesday released the preliminary findings of the survey through a dissemination seminar held at BBS auditorium.

According to the HIES 2010, the poverty rate at national level in the country was 31.5 percent with high poverty rate at the rural level having 35.2 percent while 21.3 percent at the urban level.

The HIES 2016 also showed that the extreme poverty rate came down to 12.9 percent at national level with highest 14.9 percent at the rural level while the lowest 7.6 percent at the urban level.

As per the HIES 2010, the extreme poverty rate was 17.6 percent at the national level with the highest 21.1 percent at the rural level and the lowest 7.7 percent at the urban level.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal spoke at the dissemination seminar as the chief guest. World Bank acting country Director Rajashree Palarkar, lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka Office Dr Zahid Hussain also spoke at the programme chaired by Secretary of the Statistics and Informatics Division KM Mozammel Hoq.

BBS Director General Md Amir Hossain delivered the welcome remarks while Project Director of HIES, BBS Dipankar Roy made the keynote presentation on the HIES 2016.

Analysing the poverty rate at division and district levels, it was found that the poverty rate of 31 districts was below the lowest poverty line while the poverty rate of 36 districts was above the national poverty rate of 24.3 percent.

The HIES 2016 was done in a very large sample of 2,304 primary sampling units (PSUs) comprising 46,080 households. Thus, HIES 2016 covered nearly four times higher sample than 2010.

The field operation was done during April 2016 through March, 2017. The first HIES Survey in the country was conducted during the fiscal year 1973-74.

Speaking on the occasion, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said Bangladesh is doing well in terms of alleviating poverty as the country is below the world's average rate of extreme poverty.

For example, he said, the rate of extreme poverty in the country is below California State of the USA.

The Planning Minister also expressed his high optimism that Bangladesh would be fare better economically than Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia by 2030.

World Bank Acting Country Director Rajashree Paralkar said, "Although monitoring and estimating poverty is a hard task, Bangladesh has continued its impressive journey towards eradicating poverty."

Within a span of six years, he said, Bangladesh has reduced poverty by half. "Bangladesh is also on track to achieve the first goal of the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating poverty."

World Bank's lead economist at its Dhaka office Dr Zahid Hussain said the HIES 2016 Survey is a mixture of some good and bad news for the country.

Among the good news, he mentioned that the poverty and the extreme poverty rates have been declining while consumption level was good.

On the other hand, Dr Zahid said the bad news for the country is that the pace of poverty reduction has slowed down while there is gap in income distribution.

Among the key HIES 2016 Survey findings, it was found that the monthly income of the households increased to Tk 15,945 in 2016 from Tk 11,479 in 2010. Similarly, monthly household expenditure increased to Tk 15,715 in 2016 from Tk 11,200 in 2010. There exists variation in income between rural and urban areas of the country.

The standard of living of households improved in 2016 compared to 2010. The wall materials of households with durable materials increased, brick/cement wall increased from 25.12 percent in 2010 to 30.50 percent in 2016.

Substantial increase in access to electricity is observed in 2016. It increased from 55.3 percent in 2010 to 75.9 percent in 2016. The use of mobile phone increased from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 92.5 percent in 2016.

The literacy rate increased from 57.9 percent in 2010 to 65.6 percent in 2016. Female literacy rate increased from 54.8 percent in 2010 to 63.4 percent in 2016.

The access to social safety net which contributes in poverty reduction increased substantially during the 2010-2016. The households and programme beneficiaries under different social safety net programmes were 24.6 percent in HIES 2010, whereas it increased to 27.8 percent at the household level and 28.7 percent at the individual level in HIES 2016.