Syndicate content

Bangladesh

Rural Bangladeshis filming their way to better nutrition

Wasiur Rahman Tonmoy's picture
Local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have created awareness videos to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, including indigenous foods, threatened by packaged food products with low nutritional value
Local communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have created awareness videos to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods, including indigenous foods, threatened by packaged food products with low nutritional value.

In Bangladesh, chronic and acute malnutrition are higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) thresholds for public health emergencies—it is one of 14 countries where eighty percent of the world’s stunted children live.
Food insecurity remains a critical concern, especially in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
 
Located in the southeastern part of Bangladesh, CHT is home to 1.7 million people, of whom, about a third are indigenous communities living in the hills. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, but farming is difficult because of the steep and rugged terrain.
 
With support from the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) conducted a food and nutrition analysis which finds that more than 60% of the population in CHT migrates during April – July when food becomes harder to procure.
 
Based on these findings, MJF helped raise awareness through nutrition educational materials and training.  The foundation staff also formed courtyard theatres with local youth to deliver nutrition messages, expanded food banks with nutritious and dry food items, and popularized the concept of a “one dish nutritious meal” through focal persons or “nutrition agents” among these communities.

আমার সন্তান যেন থাকে মাছে-ভাতে

Susmita Dasgupta's picture
 
A mother feeds her daughter in Bangladesh. Image courtesy: The World Bank


বাঙালির  চিরন্তন প্রার্থনা তার সন্তানের মুখে একটু মাছ তুলে দেয়া।  প্রকৃতির দাক্ষিণ্যে বাংলাদেশে ধান, ফল, আর মাছের অভাব ছিল না।  তাই বাঙালির  সহজাত জ্ঞান ছিল যে মাছ সুপ্রাপ্য, মাছ সুস্বাধু , মাছ পুষ্টি দায়ক আর শিশুর জন্য মাছ পরিপূর্ণ খাবার। মাছ বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র ছিল সহজলভ্য। নানা ধরণের মাছ, ছোট মাছ  অনেকটা যেন নিজে ধরা দিতো, মাছ আর কেবল শুধুমাত্র ভালো আর পুষ্টিকর খাবার থাকেনি, বাঙালীর ভালোবাসা আর গর্বের বিষয় হয়েছে। বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র, অধিকাংশ পরিবারে মাছ সামাজিকতার অঙ্গ হয়েছে, আত্মীয়জন মাছ পরিবেশন না করলে মনক্ষুন্ন হয়েছে।  সব বাঙালিই ছোট বয়সে উপদেশ শুনেছে “মাছ খাও না হলে বড় হবে না” “মাছ খাও, মাথায় বুদ্ধি হবে” বা “এই মাছ খাও, পরীক্ষার ফল ভালো হবে” ।

আজকাল কিন্তু আর মাছ নিয়ে অত কথা শুনতে পাওয়া যায় না।  অবশ্যই এ বছর ইলিশ বেশি না কম হলো, এবার রপ্তানি হবে না আমদানি হবে; এরকম খবর দুচারটি খবরের কাগজে ছাপে।  কারণ এগুলো সব দামি মাছ। খবর গুলো হয়তো মাছ নিয়ে নয়, মাছের দাম নিয়ে। ঢাকা অথবা অন্যান্য শহরাঞ্চলে নতুন দারুণ খাবারের দোকান হয়েছে; দেশিবিদেশী নানাবিধ আয়োজনের খাবার পাওয়া যায়।  কিন্তু একটু ভালো মাছ-ভাত কোথায় পাওয়া যাবে, খুঁজতে হলে অনেকদিন অনেক পথে হাটঁতে হবে। যারা শহুরে  মধ্যবিত্ত, অথবা গ্রামাঞ্চলে উচ্চবিত্ত, তাদের অনেকের বাড়িতে বাচ্চারা দামি খাবার খায়, কিন্তু মাছ খাবে না।

অথচ বাংলাদেশের অসংখ্য শিশু অপুষ্টির শিকার। সরকার আর ইউনিসেফের নতুন রিপোর্ট " প্রগতির পথে বিবরণী " জানিয়েছে যে, পরিসংখ্যান মতে ৩০-৪০ শতাংশ শিশু এদেশে অপুষ্টিতে ভুগছে। কেবল গরিবের সন্তান নয়, মধ্যবিত্ত পরিবারের ছেলে মেয়েরাও প্রয়োজনীয় পুষ্টিকর খাবার আর পরিপালনের বাইরে। প্রশ্ন জাগে, চিরন্তন বিশ্বাস যে মাছ শিশুদের পুষ্টি যোগায়, তার থেকে আমরা দূরে সরে যাচ্ছি না তো? শিশু স্বাস্থ্যের সাথে জড়িত মায়েদের স্বাস্থ্য। মায়েরা মাছ খাচ্ছেন তো? এই সব ভাবনা চিন্তা নিয়ে বিশ্বব্যাংকের নতুন একটা গবেষণা প্রকাশিত হলো সম্প্রতি। বাংলাদেশে সামাজিক অর্থনৈতিক প্রসঙ্গে মাছ খাওয়া ও শিশু স্বাস্থ্য (The Socioeconomics of Fish Consumption and Child Health in Bangladesh)।

 বাংলাদেশের নিজস্ব জনসংখ্যাতাত্ত্বিক ও স্বাস্থ্য জরিপ (Demographic Health Survey) প্রায় প্রতি চার বছর পর হয়। এরকম ৫ টি জরিপের ( ২০০০, ২০০৪, ২০০৭, ২০১১ এবং ২০১৪ সাল) মোট ৩৬৪৯১ টি বর্ণনার সংখ্যাতাত্ত্বিক প্রতিলিপি (statistical regression) বিশ্লেষণ করা হয়েছে বিশ্বব্যাংকের এই গবেষণায়।  জানা যাচ্ছে যে, দেশের উন্নতির সাথে শিশু মৃত্যুর সংখ্যা কমেছে। পরিবারের আর্থিক উন্নতির সাথে শিশুর খাদ্য তালিকায় সর্ব মোট মাছ , মাংস আর  ডিমের অনুপাত বেড়েছে নজর কাড়ার মতো। কিন্তু আর্থিক উন্নতির সাথে মাছের  অনুপাত শিশুর খাদ্যে প্রত্যাশিত সমানুপাতে বাড়েনি।

গবেষণায় একটি অপ্রত্যাশিত ফল হলো যে পরিবারের প্রধানত: মায়েদের উচ্চশিক্ষার সাথে মাছ খাওয়ানোর প্রবণতা কমেছে। সব মিলিয়ে ডিম ও মাংসের তুলনায় বেশি পুষ্টিকর, উপকারী ও সস্তা হওয়া সত্ত্বেও, পারিবারিক ও আর্থিক সাচ্ছল্যের সাথে শিশুর খাবারে মাছের অনুপাত কমেছে। 

গবেষণাটি দেখিয়েছে যে, শিশু জন্মের আগে ও পরে মায়েরা একটু বেশি মাছ খেলে জন্মের প্রথম বছরে শিশুর মৃত্যুর আশংকা কমে যায়, আর জ্বর, কাশি, পেটের অসুখেও অপেক্ষেকৃত কম ভোগে শিশুরা।  বর্ষাকালে ও বর্ষার ঠিক পরে মাছ যখন সুলভ আর সহজপ্রাপ্য, তখন নিতান্ত নিম্নবিত্ত পরিবারের খাবারের তালিকায় অনুপাতে একটু বেশি হলেও স্থান পায় মাছ। ধারণা করা হচ্ছে এই সময়ে মায়েরাও মাছ খান। ফলত : বর্ষা অথবা তার একটু পরে সদ্যজাত বাচ্চাদের রোগ প্রতিরোধ ক্ষমতা বাড়ে এবং মৃত্যুহার কমে।  আর এর  উল্টো ঘটনা  ঘটে শুকনা মৌসুমে, যখন মাছ অতটা সহজ প্রাপ্য ও সুলভ হয় না। এবং মাছ খাওয়া কমে যায়।  সদ্যজাত শিশুদের রোগ বাড়ে, মৃত্যু হার বাড়ে।

বিশ্বব্যাংকের এই গবেষণার ফলাফল যেন কিছুটা ভুলে যাওয়া ঐতিহ্য মনে করিয়ে দেবার প্রচেষ্টা। শিশু স্বাস্থ্যের খাতিরে মাছের যোগান বাড়াতে হবে। বিশেষত: শিক্ষিত মায়েদের মাতৃ মঙ্গল শিক্ষায় জানাতে হবে মাছ খাওয়া কত প্রয়োজন। কেবল শিশুর খাবার নয়, অন্তঃসত্ত্বা মায়েদের বছর ধরে খেতে হবে আরো একটু বেশী মাছ। গবেষণাটি আশা করে যে শিশুর অপুষ্টির অন্যতম সমাধান হবে বাঙ্গালীর চির পরিচিত মাছে ভাতে। আর ভাবতে ভালো লাগে যে সবার প্রার্থনা যেন হয়, কেবল সন্তান নয়, জননীরাও যেন সবাই থাকেন মাছে - ভাতে। 

 
ডেভিড হুইলার , সুস্মিতা দাশগুপ্ত, তাপস পাল , গোলাম মোস্তফা      

Measuring South Asia’s economy from outer space

Martin Rama's picture
New technologies offer an opportunity to strengthen economic measurement. Evening luminosity observed from satellites has been shown to be a good proxy for economic activity.
New technologies offer an opportunity to strengthen economic measurement. Evening luminosity observed from satellites has been shown to be a good proxy for economic activity.
Economic growth is a key concern for economists, political leaders, and the broader population.

But how confident are we that the available data on economic activity paints an accurate picture of a country’s performance?

Measuring Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the most standard measure of economic activity, is especially challenging in developing countries, where the informal sector is large and institutional constraints can be severe.

In addition, many countries only provide GDP measures annually and at the national level. Not surprisingly, GDP growth estimates are often met with skepticism.
 
New technologies offer an opportunity to strengthen economic measurement. Evening luminosity observed from satellites has been shown to be a good proxy for economic activity.

As shown in Figure 1, there is a strong correlation between nightlight intensity and GDP levels in South Asia: the higher the nightlight intensity on the horizontal axis, the stronger the economic activity on the vertical axis.
Figure 1 Nightlight intensity increases with economic activity
Figure 1 Nightlight intensity increases with economic activity

However, measuring nightlight is challenging and comes with a few caveats. Clouds, moonlight, and radiance from the sun can affect measurement accuracy, which then requires filtering and standardizing.

On the other hand, nighlight data has a lot advantages like being available in high-frequency and with a very high spatial resolution. In the latest edition of South Asia Economic Focus, we use variations in nightlight intensity to analyze economic trends and illustrate how this data can help predict GDP over time and across space.

Bicycles can boost Bangladesh's exports

Nadeem Rizwan's picture
Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall
Bicycles are the largest export of Bangladesh’s engineering sector, contributing about 12 percent of engineering exports. Credit: World Bank
This blog is part of a series exploring new sources of competitiveness in Bangladesh

Did you know that Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall?

Bicycles are the largest export of Bangladesh’s engineering sector, contributing about 12 percent of engineering exports.
 
This performance is in large part due to the high anti-dumping duty imposed by the EU against China.
 
Recently, the EU Parliament and the Council agreed on EU Commission’s proposal on a new methodology for calculating anti-dumping on imports from countries with significant market distortions or pervasive state influence on the economy.
 
This decision could mean that the 48.5 percent anti-dumping duty for Chinese bicycles may not end in 2018 as originally intended. China is disputing the EU’s dumping rules at the World Trade Organization.
 
As the global bicycle market is expected to grow to $34.9 billion by 2022, Bangladesh has an opportunity to diversify its exports beyond readymade garments. Presently, Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall.
Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall
EU27 bicycle imports in 2016 (Million $). Bangladesh is the 2nd largest non-EU exporter of bicycles to the EU and the 8th largest exporter overall. Source: UNComtrade through WITS

However, if the EU anti-dumping duty against China is reduced or lifted after 2018, Bangladesh’s price edge might be eroded.
 
Bangladeshi bicycle exporters estimate that without anti-dumping duties, Chinese bicycles could cost at least 10-20 percent less than Bangladeshi bicycles on European markets. And Chinese exporters can ship bicycles to the EU market with 35-50 percent shorter lead times.
 
So, how can Bangladeshi bicycles survive and grow?

Towards a clean India

Guangzhe CHEN's picture

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014, it marked the beginning of the world’s largest ever sanitation drive. Now, a 2017 survey by the Quality Council of India finds that access to toilets by rural households has increased to 62.45 per cent, and that 91 per cent of those who have a toilet, use it. Given India’s size and diversity, it is no surprise that implementation varies widely across states. Even so, the fact that almost every Indian now has sanitation on the mind is a victory by itself.

 Guy Stubbs

Achieving a task of this magnitude will not be easy. Bangladesh took 15 years to become open defecation free (ODF), while Thailand took 40 years to do so. Meeting sanitation targets is not a one-off event. Changing centuries-old habits of open defecation is a complex and long-term undertaking.

Bangladesh corridor vital to India’s ‘Act East’ policy

Sanjay Kathuria's picture
India-Bangladesh land border crossing, Photo by Sanjay Kathuria
India-Bangladesh land border crossing. Credit: Sanjay Kathuria

Deepening connectivity and economic linkages between India and Bangladesh will be critical for the success of India’s ‘Act East’ policy.

Here are five priority areas that have the potential to change the economy of Northeast India:

1. Transport Connectivity

After 1947, Northeast (NE) India has had to access the rest of India largely via the “Chicken’s Neck” near Siliguri, greatly increasing travel times. Traders travel 1600 km from Agartala (Tripura) to Kolkata (West Bengal) via Siliguri to access Kolkata port. Instead, they can travel less than 600 kms to reach the same destination via Bangladesh, or even better, travel only 200 km to access the nearby port of Chittagong in Bangladesh.

This is set to change as close cooperation between Bangladesh and India (including various ongoing initiatives such as the transshipment of Indian goods through Bangladesh’s Ashuganj port to Northeast India, expanding of rail links within Northeast India and between the two countries, the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement) can dramatically reduce the cost of transport between Northeast India and the rest of India.

The resultant decline in prices of goods and services can have a strong impact on consumer welfare and poverty reduction in the Northeast. Such cooperation also opens up several additional possibilities of linking India with ASEAN via Myanmar.

Moving forward, expanding direct connectivity between NE India and the rest of India via Bangladesh, while giving Bangladesh similar access to Nepal and Bhutan via India, is critical.

2. Digital Connectivity

Broadband connectivity of 10 gbps is now being provided from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar to Tripura and beyond, to help improve the speed and reliability of internet access in NE India. Bangladesh has the capacity to provide more.

Towards a cleaner Bangladesh: Safe water, sanitation, and hygiene for all

Qimiao Fan's picture
 
 The World Bank
Bangladesh has made progress in recent years in the field known as WASH -water, sanitation access, and hygiene. Image courtesy: The World Bank

Community-Led Total Sanitation might be the greatest Bangladeshi export you’ve never heard of.  In countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, a consensus has emerged that the best approach is Community-Led Total Sanitation, which is widely credited with changing people’s behavior around the world to no longer defecate in the open, which has greatly improved global health.

Bangladeshis can take plenty of pride in these far-away accomplishments. That’s because it is Northern Bangladesh - more specifically the Mosmoil village in Rajshahi district - that pioneered this approach seventeen years ago. Its success at home led to its widespread adoption abroad.

Safe drinking water is a right and proper sanitation is dignity of the citizens. Proper management of freshwater ecosystems and access to safe water and sanitation are essential to human health, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. Water and sanitation are at the core of sustainable development critical to the survival of people and the planet. Goal 6 of Agenda 2030 not only addresses the issues relating to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, but also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide.

The ‘Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment’ by World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) reported that in 2012 about 40% (2.6 billion) of the world’s population was without access to safe water. Approximately 4 billion cases of diarrhea each year causes 2.2 million deaths, and majority of them are children under the age of five. This situation in Bangladesh is also challenging. A study by Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) wing of the World Bank reveals that Bangladesh incurred a loss of Tk295.48 billion in 2010 due to inadequate sanitation, which is 6.3% of the GDP.
 
Indeed, there is much to emulate in Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in recent years in the field known as WASH -water, sanitation access, and hygiene. Today, 98 percent of the population gets drinking water from a technologically improved source – water which comes from a manmade structure– up from 79 percent in 1990.  Bangladesh also largely succeeded in providing access to basic sanitation. It is estimated that only three percent of the population practice open defecation, down from 34 percent in 1990, thanks to behavior change campaigns and the building of many new toilets. 

But, much has yet to be done. Bangladesh has still a long way to go to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of providing universal access to clean water and sustainable sanitation by 2030. The World Bank recently completed a study, the WASH Poverty Diagnostic, which examines the remaining challenges in ensuring access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene. The findings are startling.

Fresh thinking on economic cooperation in South Asia

Nikita Singla's picture
 Aamir Khan/ Pakistan, Sreerupa Sengupta/ India, Sanjay Kathuria/ World Bank, Mahfuz Kabir & Surendar Singh/ Bangladesh) Photo By: Marcio De La Cruz/ World Bank
Young Economists sharing the stage with Sanjay Kathuria, Lead Economist and Coordinator, Regional Integration (Left to Right: Aamir Khan/ Pakistan, Sreerupa Sengupta/ India, Sanjay Kathuria/ World Bank, Mahfuz Kabir/Bangladesh & Surendar Singh/ India). Photo by: Marcio De La Cruz/ World Bank


That regional cooperation in South Asia is lower than optimal levels is well accepted. It is usually ascribed to – the asymmetry in size between India and the rest, conflicts and historical political tensions, a trust deficit, limited transport connectivity, and onerous logistics, among many other factors.

Deepening regional integration requires sufficient policy-relevant analytical work on the costs and benefits of both intra-regional trade and investment. An effective cross-border network of young professionals can contribute to fresh thinking on emerging economic cooperation issues in South Asia.

Against this background, the World Bank Group sponsored a competitive request for proposals.  Awardees from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, after being actively mentored by seasoned World Bank staff over a period of two years, convened in Washington DC to present their new and exciting research. Research areas included regional value chains, production sharing and the impact assessment of alternative preferential trade agreements in the region.

Young Economists offer fresh thoughts on economic cooperation in South Asia

Mahfuz Kabir, Acting Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and Surendar Singh, Policy Analyst, Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS International) presented their research: Of Streams and Tides, India-Bangladesh Value Chains in Textiles and Clothing (T&C). They focus on how to tackle three main trade barriers for T&C: a) high tariffs for selected, but important goods for the industries of both countries; b) inefficient customs procedures and c) divergent criteria for rules of origin classification.

Sreerupa Sengupta, Ph.D. Scholar at Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi discussed Trade Cooperation and Production Sharing in South Asia – An Indian Perspective. Reviewing the pattern of Indian exports and imports in the last twenty years, her research focuses on comparing the Global Value Chain (GVC) participation rate of India with East Asian and ASEAN economies. Barriers to higher participation include a) lack of openness in the FDI sector; b) lack of adequate port infrastructure, and long port dwell times; and c) lack of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).

Aamir Khan, Assistant Professor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad presented his work on Economy Wide Impact of Regional Integration in South Asia - Options for Pakistan. His research analyzes the reasons for Pakistan not being able to take full advantage of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China, and finds that the granting of ASEAN-type concessions to Pakistan in its FTA with China would be more beneficial than the current FTA arrangement. The work also draws lessons for FTAs that are currently being negotiated by South Asian countries.

Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 3/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture


This is the third of a three-part series, Resilience in the of the Eye of the Storm, on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.
 
Over the years, Bangladesh has taken major strides to reduce the vulnerability of its people to disasters and climate change. And today, the country is at the forefront in managing disaster risks and building coastal resilience.
 
Let’s compare the impact of the Bhola Cyclone of 1970 to the far stronger Cyclone Sidr in 2007. The 1970 cyclone was then the deadliest in Bangladesh’s history, and one of the 10 deadliest natural disasters on record. Official documents indicate that over 300,000 lives were lost, and many believe the actual numbers could be far higher. 
 
By contrast, Sidr was the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in Bangladesh. This time, fewer than 3,500 people lost their lives. While tragic, this represents about 1% of the lives lost in 1970 or 3% of the nearly 140,000 lost lives in the 1991 cyclone.
 
The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were unprecedented in scale. Yet, they steered the country into action.

Pages