Bangladesh has launched new poverty maps which visually identify poor areas with greater accuracy and will help improve planning in terms of policy and resource allocations. The poverty maps show that the Northern and Southern districts, except Barisal, have lower primary school completion and higher poverty rates associated with low wages in agriculture.
Bangladesh has made impressive economic and social gains over the past decade. Still, poverty levels continue to be a challenge with around 32 percent of people living below the poverty line in 2010. There is considerable demand from policy makers, planners and researchers in the country for more precise and targeted poverty estimates to better understand the geographical variations and spatial inequality in growth and poverty.
Responding to this demand, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics jointly launched the poverty mapping exercise in 2012 with the World Bank and the World Food Programme (WFP). The result is the launch of the “Poverty Maps of Bangladesh 2010”, in August 2014. Poverty maps are essential planning tool with powerful visuals, enabling government, civil society, and development partners to identify poor areas with greater accuracy. The initiative produced poverty estimates for key sub-national administrative units using data from both the 2010 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) and 2011 Population census.
This mapping exercise aims to help policy makers make better informed decisions about poverty reduction initiatives and design programs that serve those who need them the most.
The poverty maps have also been compared with other correlates of poverty- such as educational attainment of household heads and the average agricultural wage rate laborers- to help identify key impediments and bottlenecks that poor people face.
Highlights from the Poverty Maps 2010 include:
· Poverty rates vary considerably according to location, with pronounced inequalities at the division, district (zila) and sub-district (upazila) levels.
· The northern and southern districts, apart from Barisal, have a high prevalence of poverty and low primary school completion rates.
· Poverty rates are also high in chronic disaster-prone areas, such as the districts along the Jamuna River, where communities are repeatedly affected by river erosion and flooding, and in the south-west which is prone to cyclones, tidal surges, salt water intrusion, and water-logging.
· Chittagong and Sylhet division have the lowest prevalence of poverty.
Building on the improved knowledge of local conditions, the Poverty Map 2010 with its key findings is anticipated to strengthen the targeting of policy interventions and programs and help Bangladesh continue to reduce poverty.