Sustainable Development In Bangladesh: Goal 1 – No Poverty

Repoter : News Room
Published: 15 December, 2019 11:19 am
Barrister Fabliha Afia

Fabliha Afia:


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the blueprint to achieve a better future and a more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve them all by 2030.[1]

There is not just one way to achieve SDGs. It is like mathematics, there are so many different answers to make one number. For example ‘5’:

1+4 = 5

2+3 = 5

It is explained in this way because in this world, no country has the same background. Taking into account global and local information, skills, technology, culture, natural environment, etc. Bangladesh is making its way to achieving sustainable development. This can be illustrated by referring to some of the Government’s achievements.


 The United Nations has defined 7 Targets and 12 Indicators for SDG 1: No Poverty. The original texts of the Targets and Indicators are as follows:[2]

1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day

1.1.1 Proportion of population below the international poverty line, by sex, age, employment status and geographical location (urban/rural)

1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

1.2.1 Proportion of population living below the national poverty line, by sex and age

1.2.2 Proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable

1.3.1 Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable

1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including micro finance

1.4.1 Proportion of population living in households with access to basic services

1.4.2 Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure

1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters

1.5.1 Number of deaths, missing persons and persons affected by disaster per 100,000 people

1.5.2 Direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP)

1.5.3 Number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies

1.A Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions

1.A.1 Proportion of resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes

1.A.2 Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection)

1.B Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions

1.B.1 Proportion of government recurrent and capital spending to sectors that disproportionately benefit women, the poor and vulnerable groups

 The goal is that economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality, so as to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030. It is important to end poverty because as human beings, our well-being is linked to each other. Inequality is detrimental to economic growth and undermines social cohesion, increases political and social tensions and in some circumstances, causes instability and conflicts.[3]


‘No poverty’ is one of the electoral mandates of the Government.[4] Their success in meeting the goal is evident from the international recognitions. According to the World Economic Forum, Bangladesh is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Bangladesh’s economy is growing faster than India. 8 million people have been lifted out of poverty since 2010. Income per head has almost tripled in just 10 years. The economy is growing this fast mainly because of four factors. First, Bangladesh has the world’s second biggest garment industry, beaten only by China. The garment exports from Bangladesh are still rising around 16% every year. The second contributing factor is the large, young workforce. Bangladesh have the 8th biggest population in the world. Half the country is under 25. Young workers adapt easily to new technologies. The third contributor is digital power. Bangladesh has 600,000 IT freelancers – the largest number in the world. Tech is also helping more Bangladeshis join the formal economy as more and more people access bank accounts online. Finally, the fourth contributing factor is the movement towards a knowledge-based society. Bangladesh is diversifying beyond farming and manufacturing. Building its own tech hubs, generous tax breaks incentivise entrepreneurs and 100 special economic zones are being developed to attract investment. Economic growth is predicted to hit 8% this year. In the next 20 years Bangladesh aims to be recognised as a developed country.[5] A panel of Malaysian foreign investors has even commented that in the near future, citizens will be using plates made of gold.[6] If asked what is the secret to success, it is our Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.

To quote the Honourable Prime Minister, ‘সরকারের ধারাবাহিকতা আছে বলে মানুষ উন্নয়নের সুফলটা পাচ্ছে।’ The Government is building 100 economic zones across the country and attracting foreign investors. In Narayangonj, a Japan economic zone will be built in a 1,000 acres of land. As a result, Japanese entrepreneurs will come forward and Japanese investment will increase in the country.[7] A special economic zone is also being built in Phirojpur.[8] Another economic zone, ‘Central Business District’ is also being built in Purbachol. The project will be on 114 acres of land and will consist of a 96 storey skyscraper and 41 other high-rise buildings.[9] Such economic zones will create more job opportunities.

The Government will also add two more tanneries to the tannery industry. One will be in Rajshahi and the other in Bangabandhu Industrial City in Mirsarai.[10] The Government will extend export capacity for leather and leather products, footwear, light engineering and plastic sectors.[11] The labour market is also expanding. The labour market in the UAE is going to resume.[12] These initiatives will further enhance the economic growth.

Job opportunities have also been created for the disabled. ‘Mukta’ mineral drinking water  is a state-owned factory in Tongi, where 75 out of 81 employees are disabled. Salary is paid to them from the profit. Further, a portion of the profit of the company is given as a stipend to 128 handicapped undergraduate students. An education allowance is also issued to the children of the employees.[13] The Government is also taking initiatives to provide training to the disabled children so that they can be independent.[14]

Along with industrial growth, the Government also gives special attention to agriculture. To quote the Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, ‘আমরা উন্নত হব, শিল্পায়নে যাব। কিন্তু কৃষি ও কৃষককে ত্যাগ করে নয়। কারণ কৃষিই আমাদের বাঁচিয়ে রাখে।’ To benefit the farmers the Government has reduced the price of Diammonium Phosphate fertilizer from Tk 25 to Tk 16. This initiative will reduce the cost of production.[15] The Government will also provide incentive to 4 lakh small and marginal farmers to increase cultivation and production of nine crops of Robi season.[16] Insurance coverage for the farmers affected by natural disasters will also be available.[17] This will help them stay secured from the effects of natural disasters. The farmers are becoming more self-sufficient and making profits due to informed decisions. For example, turmeric is being cultivated in 1,390 hectares of land in Nilphamari and as a result they are making more profits than before.[18]

 Electricity coverage has reached 95% and this is also improving the economic growth across  the country. Access to electricity is having a positive impact in the city, for example the garments sector is flourishing. Similarly, in the rural areas it is also improving the economic development. Sabrina in Foridpur is successfully running a dairy farm which has not only changed her life but also created job opportunities for others. Another inspiring story is of Alamin’s who has opened a computer training centre in Foridpur, where many youths receive computer training. None of these would have been possible without access to electricity. The Government is further working towards 100 percent electricity coverage.[19] To quote the Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, ‘মুজিববর্ষেই আলোকিত হবে গোটা বাংলাদেশ।’

 Regulating a peaceful environment in the country is also playing an important role in the economic development. To quote the Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, ‘যদি দেশের শান্তি-নিরাপত্তা নিশ্চিত থাকে তাহলে অগ্রগতি অবশ্যম্ভাবী, সন্ত্রাস-জঙ্গিবাদ দুর্নীতির বিরুদ্ধে যে অভিযান চলছে তা অব্যাহত থাকবে।’[20]


 The Government has also taken many initiatives to tackle poverty at the root level.  The poverty rate in 2018 has come down to 21 percent while the ultra-poor rate is 11.3 percent.[21] The poverty rate will further be reduced to 15-16 percent.[22]

A substantial number of social safety programmes, including Stipends for Girls, Stipends for the Physically Challenged Students, Old Age Allowance, Maternity Allowance, Allowances for Widows and Husband’s Deserted Destitute, Ektee Bari Ektee Khamar, Ashrayan Projects, Food For Work Programmes, Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) and Char Livelihoods Programme are being carried out under ‘Social Safety Net’. A total of 76 lac 32 thousand individuals and families are being assisted countrywide under 130 social safety programmes.[23] At present, a total of 4 crore 92 lac people are receiving different financial assistances. The allocation in this sector will be doubled in the coming years.[24]

The Government is ensuring housing for all through social safety programmes such as Jar Jomi Ache Ghor Nai, Durjog Shohonoi Bashgriho Nirman Prokolpo, etc. Under these schemes the Government provides housing to the poor and marginalised. Such noble initiative is changing the lives around of people like Rabeya Begum, Nurul Islam[25] and 304 other homeless families in Gaibandha.[26] In Shunamgonj, Abdul Shahid who is a disabled beggar has received a house from the Government. He has expressed it as a dream come true.[27] In Rangamati 41 families has received disaster resistant houses.[28] Similarly, in Sharsha upazila, Joshore the Government has built houses for 356 families. The Government has pledged that every poor and marginalised person will be brought within such programmes.[29]

The Government will also provide housing to 14,000 low income freedom fighters. The budget allocated for the project is Tk 1,200 crore and the estimated cost for each house is Tk 15 lac.[30]

‘Ektee Bari Ektee Khamar’ is another social safety programme which is turning lives around. It is a poverty alleviation project through family farming. The goal of the project is to alleviate poverty through e-financial inclusion, followed by family farming livelihood and income generation of the under privileged and small holders.[31] Under the project, a total of 36.39 lac families have been selected as beneficiaries by setting up 75,993 rural development samitees (associations). In these samitees, the total amount of savings deposit made by the members themselves is Tk 1 thousand 3 hundred 66 crore 80 lac, the Welfare Grants (Bonus Incentives) is Tk 11 hundred 55 crore 21 lac and the distributed Recurring Debt Fund is Tk 2 thousand 28 crore 98 lac, while, on the other hand, the samitees have realised Tk 2 hundred 19 crore 77 lac service values.[32]

A project named ‘Employment for the Ultra-Poor’ is also being currently implemented to ensure food security across the country, including in the ultra-poor areas (Northern, Coastal and Char areas, and Haor-Baor etc.). Under this programme, 80-day employments for 8 lac people around the country have been created at a cost of Tk 1,000 crore on an average per annum. Currently, a worker can buy around 9-10 kilograms of rice with his/her one-day income, which is the highest in the history of Bangladesh.[33]

The Government also provides food at a lower price for the low income families. In 11 upazila of Naogaon, rice was given at Tk 10 per kilogram to 1 lakh 18 thousand 923 people.[34] These are some of the initiatives taken by the Government to reduce poverty.


 Poverty rate is also declining because of education. Education is accessible to all. Public schools are free in the country. The Government also provides free books to the students at the beginning of the year. Free lunch is also provided at the schools.[35] The Government will also start providing school uniforms to the students.[36] Student stipend is also given to 1 crore 30 lac parents through mobile money transfer across the country. Number of schools have also increased and this is further making education more accessible. There are adequate teachers in the schools and they get their salaries on time. The Government is also working towards improving the quality of education. All these initiatives are ensuring quality education for all. As a result the rate of educated people is increasing; and educated people are being able to better support their families.[37]


 Access to health care is also important in mitigating poverty and this is also being ensured by the Government. There are many community clinics across the country which ensures primary health care to even those in remote areas.[38] This is an integral part of the health care system of Bangladesh, and millions of people receive free health care and medicines from these clinics.[39] Further a website is available ‘’ where people can discuss and take medical advice.[40] A national health call centre ‘16263’ is also available for medical advice.[41] The Government is working further towards improving the health care system.


 Disaster management is also playing a role in the economic development of the country. To quote the Honourable Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, ‘বাংলাদেশ এখন কেবল উন্নয়নেরই নয়, দুর্যোগ ব্যবস্থাপনাতেও বিশ্বে একটি রোল মডেল দেশ।’ Disaster resistant houses and shelters are being built across the country. 11,604 new disaster management houses and 100 shelters have been inaugurated.[42] This helps in mitigating the effects of natural disasters.

Recently, Bangladesh was hit by the cyclone ‘Bulbul’. The Government took many precautionary measures which reduced the impact of the cyclone. During the time, holidays of the Government employees in 13 affected districts were cancelled. Emergency relief and medical services were given from 3 ships in the affected areas. 21 lac 6 thousand 918 people were moved to 5,787 disaster shelters. 1,577 medical teams worked in the affected areas. 14,000 packets of dry food were supplied. Further, for the affected people Tk 1 crore was allocated. 2,000 metric tons of rice was also allocated. The Bangladesh Army was also prepared to co-operate in the Bengal Sea Coast. Advance warning of the cyclone was also announced through volunteers in 3,684 units.[43]

The Government is also working towards prevention of river erosion. A dredging project has been inaugurated to turn the flow of stream of Sandha River in Barisal.[44]

The Government has also undertaken the Delta Plan 2100 program to reduce the effects of climate change and to improve the quality of life.[45]


The Government is also working towards eradicating beggary and vagrancy completely. Poverty rate and ultra-poor rate will be brought down to 12.3 percent and 5 percent respectively. By 2023, the number of poor people will be brought down below 2.2 crore. The goal of poverty alleviation will be attained by ensuring at least one regular wage earner for each family. The rural community people of the country will be engaged in financial activities by having access to loan through banks including Palli Sanchay Bank. Out of the total 8 million borrowers of PKSF, 91 percent are women. Preference for women will be continued in giving all sorts of microcredit. The basic need like a house for all will be ensured through expanding the Ashrayan Project even further.[46]

The Government is also committed to reduce income inequality between the rich and the poor and also between the rural and urban areas. To achieve this, poverty eradication policies and strategies have been framed, and programmes have also been undertaken in light of those. The programmes incorporating employment, labour productivity and increasing wages, facilitated human capital development for the poor, spreading out microcredit including other credit facilities for different SMEs, enhancing allocation for social safety programmes and improving their effectiveness, health, education, agriculture, and prioritizing rural development including execution of public fund spending are gradually being taken forward.[47]

The standard of living has overall improved in the country and the Government is working towards further improvement for all.


The private sector, as an engine of economic growth, also has a major role to play in determining whether the growth it creates is inclusive and in this way contributes to poverty reduction. It can promote economic opportunities for the poor, focusing on segments of the economy where most of the people are active, namely on micro and small enterprises and those operating on the informal sector.[48]

The academic and education also have a major role in increasing the awareness about the impact of poverty and solutions.[49]

The Writer is a Barrister-at-Law


[1] Sustainable Development Goals, UN <> accessed 15 November 2019

[2] Sustainable Development Goals, UN <> accessed 15 November 2019

[3] Sustainable Development Goals, UN <> accessed 15 November 2019

[4] Bangladesh on the march towards Prosperity: Election Manifesto 2018 of Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 10 December 2019

[5] World Economic Forum <> accessed 15 October 2019

[6] Darpon Desk, ‘অদূর ভবিষ্যতে বাংলাদেশীরা সোনার প্লেটে বসে খাবার খাবেন’ The Daily Ajker Darpon (24 October 2019) <> accessed 25 October 2019

[7] Desk Report, ‘Ek hajar acre jomite hocche Japan orthonoitik onchol’ The Daily Janakantha (16 November 2019) <> accessed 17 November 2019

[8] Fahad Moshiur Rahman, ‘বিশেষ অর্থনৈতিক অঞ্চল স্থাপন হবে পিরোজপুরে’ Ajker Darpon (18 November 2019) <> accessed 18 November 2019

[9] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 17 October 2019

[10] Desk Report, ‘ট্যানারি পল্লী হচ্ছে মিরসরাইয়ে’ NewsChattogram24.Com (31 October 2019) <–jm6t4PyP3u-90IE5-2Bh0XUg> accessed 10 November 2019

[11] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 11 November 2019

[12] Mohiuddin Mahmud, ‘দীর্ঘদিন পর খুলতে যাচ্ছে আমিরাতের শ্রমবাজার’ Bangla News 24 (17 November 2019) <> accessed 17 November 2019

[13] Abdullah Alif, ‘How a bottled water company is helping people with disabilities’ Dhaka Tribune (01 May 2019) <> accessed 01 May 2019

[14] Desk Report, ‘প্রতিবন্ধীরা যেন পরনির্ভরশীল না থাকে: প্রধানমন্ত্রী’ Bangla News 24 (05 December 2019) <> accessed 05 December 2019

[15] Desk Report, ‘২৫ টাকা কেজির ডিএপি সার এখন ১৬ টাকা’ BD News 24 (04 December 2019) <> accessed 05 December 2019

[16] Desk Report, ‘পেঁয়াজসহ ৯ ফসলে প্রণোদনা পাবে সাত লাখ কৃষক’ BD News 24 (30 October 2019) <> accessed 13 November 2019

[17] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 11 November 2019

[18] Tayob Ali Sharkar, ‘ধানের চেয়ে হলুদ চাষে বেশি লাভ’ Bangla Tribune (10 November 2019) <> accessed 10 November 2019

[19] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 15 November 2019

[20] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 27 November 2019

[21] Bangladesh on the march towards Prosperity: Election Manifesto 2018 of Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 10 December 2019

[22] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 13 November 2019

[23] Bangladesh on the march towards Prosperity: Election Manifesto 2018 of Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 10 December 2019

[24] Ibid.

[25] Maasranga News Desk, ‘আশ্রয়ণ প্রকল্পের আওতায় ঘর পেল গৃহহীন মানুষ’ Maasranga Television <> accessed 15 October 2019

[26] Desk Report, ‘গাইবান্ধার ৩০৬টি গৃহহীন পরিবার পেয়েছে দুর্যোগ সহনীয় বাড়ি’ Uttor Bangla <> accessed 10 November 2019

[27] Mahbub Alam, ‘ভিক্ষুক পেলেন পাকা ঘর, বললেন স্বপ্নের মতো লাগছে’ Kalerkantho (30 October 2019) <> accessed 14 November 2019

[28] Desk Report, ‘রাজস্থলীতে ৪১টি পরিবার পেল দুর্যোগ সহনীয় ঘর’ Dainik Purbokone (31 October 2019) <> accessed 10 November 2019

[29] Desk Report ‘ঘর পেয়ে কাঁদলেন তারা, বললেন আজীবন ক্ষমতায় থাকুক শেখ হাসিনা’ BD Morning (06 December 2019) <> accessed 06 December 2019

[30] Desk Report, ‘১৪ হাজার অসচ্ছল মুক্তিযোদ্ধাকে বাড়ি দেবে সরকার’ Bangla Tribune (01 December 2019) <> accessed 03 December 2019

[31] One House One Farm (Ektee Bari Ektee Khamar) <> accessed 10 December 2019

[32] Bangladesh on the march towards Prosperity: Election Manifesto 2018 of Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 10 December 2019

[33] Ibid.

[34] Desk Report, ‘১০ টাকা কেজি চাল পাচ্ছেন নওগাঁর অভাবী মানুষ’ Somoy News TV (20 October 2019) <> accessed 22 October 2019

[35] Abu Saleh Mohammad Musa, ‘স্বপ্ন পূরণ’ The Daily Ittefaq (27 November 2019) <> accessed 30 November 2019

[36] Shongeet Shaha, ‘আগামীতে নতুন বইয়ের সঙ্গে স্কুলড্রেস দেবে সরকার’ Jago News 24 (27 November 2019) <> accessed 28 November 2019

[37] Abu Saleh Mohammad Musa, ‘স্বপ্ন পূরণ’ The Daily Ittefaq (27 November 2019) <> accessed 30 November 2019

[38] Community Based Health Care, DGHS, Ministryof Health and Family Welfare <> accessed 12 December 2019

[39] Nipu Roy, ‘Community clinics become pillars of healthcare system’ Dhaka Tribune (25 March 2018) <> accessed 12 December 2019

[40] Desk Report, ‘৬৫ বছরের ওপরের সব নাগরিক বিনামূল্যে চিকিৎসা পাবেন: স্বাস্থ্যমন্ত্রী’ Channel i (16 January 2019) <> accessed 16 January 2019

[41] Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare <> accessed 12 December 2019

[42] Desk Report, ‘প্রধানমন্ত্রী: নদী ভাঙনে ক্ষতিগ্রস্তদের জন্য বরাদ্দ একশ’ কোটি টাকা’ Dhaka Tribune (13 October 2019) <> 13 October 2019

[43] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 11 November 2019

[44] Desk Report, ‘সন্ধ্যা নদীর ভাঙনরোধে ড্রেজিং প্রকল্পের উদ্বোধণBarisal Today (26 October 2019) <> accessed 10 November 2019

[45] Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 09 November 2019

[46] Bangladesh on the march towards Prosperity: Election Manifesto 2018 of Bangladesh Awami League <> accessed 10 December 2019

[47] Ibid.

[48] Sustainable Development Goals, UN <> accessed 15 November 2019

[49] Ibid.