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Definition of Poverty:
Poverty is about not having enough money to meet basic needs
including food, clothing and shelter. It is the state of one who lacks a
certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute
poverty or destitution refers to the deprivation of basic human needs,
which commonly includes food, water, sanitation, clothing, shelter,
health care and education. Approximately, 1.7 million people are living
in absolute poverty in the present world. Relative poverty is defined
contextually as economic inequality in the location or society in which
people live.
However, poverty is more, much more than just not having enough
The World Bank Organization describes poverty in this way:
“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick
and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to
school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is
fear for the future, living one day at a time.”

According to Oxford Dictionary:

1. The state of being extremely poor: thousands of families are living
in abject poverty
2. The renunciation of the right to individual ownership of property
as part of a religious vow.
3. The state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount: the
poverty of her imagination

Despite the many definitions, one thing is certain; poverty is a complex

societal issue. No matter how poverty is defined, it can be agreed that
it is an issue that requires everyone’s attention. It is important that all
members of our society work together to provide the opportunities for
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all our members to reach their full potential. It helps all of us to help
one another .

Classification of Poverty:
Different people think about poverty in different ways. Some people
think that poverty is about being able to buy and sell but other people
think about getting a fair share of education and health care or about
being given respect, and having some influence over what happens in
their life. Because of these differences it is useful to think about two
main types of poverty - income poverty and non-income poverty

Income Poverty: Income poverty happens when a household takes in

less than one US dollar per day. This means that people will not have
enough food or medicine and they will have poor clothes and houses.
Income poverty is due to people not having access to money or other
assets. If people do not have any other assets like land to grow their
own food, then income poverty can result in stunted growth and early
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Non-income Poverty: Non income poverty happens when people may

have a little bit of money but otherwise the quality of their life is not
good. They do not have access to affordable social and physical services
(schooling, health care, medicines, safe water, good sanitation, good
transport) and they may not feel safe in their homes either because
they cannot trust the authorities or because they belong to some
particularly vulnerable group.

Poverty in Bangladesh:
Condition of poverty in Bangladesh is not so good. Now, We would like
to delineate the present situation of poverty in Bangladesh. Around
31% of the rural population presently suffers the indignity of chronic
poverty low consumption, hunger and under-nutrition, lack of access to
basic health services, illiteracy and other deprivations for more than a
decade. About 24% of the total population currently lives in extreme
income-poverty. About 19% of rural households cannot have 'full three
meals' a day; about 10% subsist on two meals or less for a number of
months every year. While Bangladesh has come out of the "shadow of
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famine", the problem of starvation still persists. However, 47% people

are staying below poverty line and 28% of our population lives under
the extreme poverty line. About 40 million people go to bed without
meal every night. This observation shows that Bangladesh is a country
of poor. Although, several international organizations like IMF, World
Bank; Government and Non Governmental organizations have been
working for the alleviation of poverty but the success in the field is very
negligible i.e. 1% or 1.8% at best each year. Statistics show reduction of
poverty in the years (1995---2007) from 51.00% to 38.66%. But
according to the principles of Millennium Development Goals (MDG),
we have to reduce poverty by 1.15% every year.

Figure: Poverty rate in various district of Bangladesh.

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Reasons of Poverty:
There are many reasons of poverty in Bangladesh. Now, the reasons
that are working effectively behind the poverty of Bangladesh are
stated below:

1. Rapid growth of population.

2. Corruption of top level personnel of the society.

3. Death of chief wage-earner.

4. Incapability of chief wage- earner through accident, illness, and old


5. Chronic irregularity of work.

6. Largeness of family.

7. Low wage.

8. Habits drinking , betting, and gambling .

9. Careless housekeeping for improvident expenditure.

10. Chronic shortage of cash.

11. Absence of food reserves.

12. Natural calamities (river erosion, cyclone, tidal surge, excessive


13. Under developed communications system.

14. Lack of education and skilled labor.

15. Lack of administrative fairness and accountability.

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16. Limited access to public services.

17. Lack of mass people's participation in local government etc.

18. High inflation rate.

19. Inadequate employment.

20. Misuse of natural resources.

21. Inequitable distribution of land, income and productive assets.

Impacts of Poverty:
1. Illiteracy: Poor people can not afford to send their children to school.
Thus a bigger part of society remains illiterate.

2. Malnutrition: Poverty affected people are unable to buy nutritious

food. Sometime they can not manage three meals a day and that’s why
they suffer from malnutrition.

3. Shelter Problem: Poverty affected people do not have proper living

place. Sometime poverty compel them to sleep under open sky.

4. Lack of Clothing: Poor people can not manage proper clothing for
them. They wear rag dress. During winter many poor people suffer
from cold, even some of them die for want of warm cloth.

5. Lack of Health Service: Because of poverty many people do not get

proper medical treatment. They suffer a lot from various diseases even
die without any treatment.

6. Increasing Crime : When people are unable to fulfill their basic needs
they are compelled to involve in various crime.
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7. Increasing Child Labor: Because of poverty many parents send their

children to do different types of work at an early age instead of sending
them to school. Thus child labor is increasing day by day.

8. Slowdown Development: As poverty affected people can not

contribute to national income thus they slowdown development
process of our country.

9. Social Discrimination: Poverty creates discrimination between rich

and poor.

10. Psychological Problem: Member of a poverty affected family always

suffer from mental stress. Thus poverty hinders their psychological
growth, particularly for children member of family.

11. Unplanned Life Leading: Poor people do not have any plan for
leading their life style. They lead a very unorganized and untidy life.

Definition of Poverty Alleviation:

Poverty reduction (or poverty alleviation) is any process which seeks to
reduce the level of poverty in a community, or amongst a group of
people or countries. Poverty reduction programs may be aimed at
economic or non-economic poverty. Some of the popular methods
used are education, economic development, and income redistribution.
Poverty reduction efforts may also be aimed at removing social and
legal barriers to income growth among the poor.

Poverty Alleviation Process in Bangladesh:

Although poverty alleviation process in Bangladesh is very slow but the
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happy news is that Bangladesh is progressing. We can easily understand

progress of poverty alleviation process of Bangladesh by comparing the
previous two decade’s poverty rate that are given below.

Year Rural Urban National

1990 61.20% 44.90% 58.80%
1995 55.30% 29.50% 51.00%
2000 52.30% 35.20% 48.90%
2005 43.80% 28.40% 40.00%
2007 42.30% 27.60% 38.66%
2010 35.20% 21.30% 31.50%
2015* 30.60% 22.50% 29.40%

Table: Proportion of population below national poverty line

Ways of poverty alleviation in Bangladesh:

1. Education: Education is compared to light and poverty is compared
to darkness. Poverty can not affect us if we are educated. Educated
nation is never underdeveloped. So education is a must for us if we
want to get rid of the curse of poverty.

2. Employment Opportunity: Unemployment is one of the most

important causes of poverty in our country. In order to eradicate
poverty, employment opportunity must be enhanced in government
sector as well as in private sector.

3. Population Check: We know that Bangladesh is an over populated

country. It is very difficult for the government to ensure proper facilities
to the excess population and that’s we can not lead a standard life
style. So we should convince people to accept family planning in order
to control birth rate to check population.
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4. Proper Utilization of Natural Resources: Almighty Allah has blessed

our country with huge amount of natural resources. Our prosperity
depends on proper utilization of those natural resources. So we should
make the best use of our natural resources to erase poverty from our

5. Train up Manpower: We regretfully say that our country is over

populated! But population of a country can never be a problem. If we
can train them up properly they will surely turn into asset and will play
a vital role in eradicating poverty from society.

6.Eradication of Corruption: At present corruption is prevailing in our

country like spider wave. Every year millions of money goes to
individual pocket as a result of corruption. If we could utilize this money
behind development purpose we could reduce poverty to a great

7. Promotion of Gender Equality: Women fall into poverty more easily

and more frequently than men. They constitute majority of the people
living in poverty. Ending discrimination against women and girls and
promoting gender equality were critical for poverty eradication.

8. Self-employment: self-employment played a central role in poverty

eradication. Access of the poor to land, capital and other productive
resources must be improved.

9. Reduction of Hunger and Malnutrition: Hunger and malnutrition

were the worst manifestations of poverty. The chronically hungry
cannot grow out of poverty. This is morally reprehensible and
economically wasteful. Efforts should be redoubled to reduce the
proportion of under/nourished by half by 2015.

10. Supply of Safe Water and Clean Environment: Sufficient supply of

safe water and a clean environment are necessary for life. Poverty
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eradication and environment protection should be mutually


11. Social Service: Social services must be developed with more social
investments by governments and less military expenditures, if poverty
is to be defeated.

12. Good Governance and Effective Administration: Good governance

and effective administration are prerequisites to effectively fight
poverty. Public policy should aim at preserving social cohesion and
promoting social stability, especially through democracy, the rule of law
and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

13. Jakat: Jakat is an effective way to eradicate poverty. If the wealthy

people provide Jakat according to Islamic rule there will be a proper
distribution of wealth among the poor. In this way we can eradicate
poverty from our country.

14. Micro-credit Program: By enhancing micro-credit program in our

society particularly, in rural area we can uplift the economic condition
of the poor people which will be helpful to reduce poverty.

15. Allowance Scheme: By allocating different allowance scheme for

poor, old-aged, unemployed etc. government can help them to be
economically self-depended.

16. Helping Peasantry: As most of the farmers of our country live under
poverty line so government should try to up lift their condition in order
to reduce poverty. In this case government can provide them interest
free loan; free or less price fertilizer, seeds, different types of
agricultural instrument etc.

17. Small and Cottage Industry: Government should patronize the

entrepreneur to build up small and cottage industry for developing the
socio-economic condition of rural population . Government can allocate
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land, provide electricity connection, loan, technological support etc. to

them so that they can easily start this type of industry.

Flowchart of poverty reduction strategy:

Source: www.imf.org

To fulfill the vision of poverty reduction, four strategic blocks are

identified. These four blocks are enhancing pro-poor growth, boosting
critical sectors for pro-poor economic growth, devising effective safety
nets and targeted programmes and finally ensuring social development.
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The framework also identifies four supporting strategies or crosscutting

issues. These are (i) ensuring participation, social inclusion and
empowerment of all sections, groups and classes of people, (ii)
promoting good governance by ensuring transparency, accountability
and rule of law, (iii) providing service delivery efficiently and effectively,
particularly to the poor and (iv) caring for the environment and
sustainable development on a long-term basis. Identification of
problems and recommendations of actions to be taken in four strategic
blocks and four supporting strategies are based on nationwide
consultations with stakeholders at various levels.

Steps Taken by Bangladesh Government to Alleviate


1. Emphasize on Education: Bangladesh government has emphasized

on education sector to reduce poverty. Government has made free
primary education for all. Now government provides text book to the
high school level student free of cost. It has started food for education
program where students are provide with food who come to school.

2. Job Creation: Every year government adds about one million new
entrance to the total workforce by introducing new mills and industries
or by expanding prevailing offices, mills and factories . Many of which
are occupied by women.

3. Immigration Scheme: Government has taken a grandiose scheme to

send people to the country like Malaysia, Saudi Arab, UAE, Oman,
Singapore, Korea etc. Every year a lot of people are going to abroad for
earning their livelihood. Through immigration process government
earns huge amount of remittance and person who goes to abroad can
uplift his or his family’s economic condition.
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4.Training: Training given by different govt. organization as well as by

NGO’s. Training plays an important role in poverty alleviation.
Government has taken effective measures to train up unemployed

5. One House One Farm: The present government has undertaken a Tk

11.97 billion project named "one-house-one-farm" for the poor and
distressed people in order to create employment in the rural areas and
reduce poverty. The Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB),
Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD) in Comilla; BARD in
Bogra and Department of Cooperative will implement the project.

6. Development in Agriculture: The Ministry of Agriculture of

Bangladesh government is working to develop the agricultural sector of
Bangladesh through numerous projects and agencies. The grand
success has mainly been brought by the farmers through using modern
technologies developed by research organizations and effective
Agricultural Extension Services of the “Department of Agricultural
Extension (DAE)” . Again BADC is entrusted with the task of
multiplication, production and supply of high-yielding varieties of seeds.

7. Birth Rate Control: As over population is one of the main causes of

poverty in Bangladesh, government has taken effective measures to
control the birth rate. Government is rising people awareness about
overpopulation problem by television, radio, newspaper etc. There is a
slogan saying “Duti Sontaner Besi Noy, Ekti Hole Valo Hoy”. Finally, by
the government effort birth rate has come down to 1.566%(2011 est.)

8. Anti-corruption Activity: In order to eradicate corruption

government has made “Durnity Domon Commission” free from all
barriers and made it independent.
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9. Old-age Allowance Scheme: Government has introduced old-age

allowance scheme in all rural area of Bangladesh as well as in municipal
areas. Poor persons are receiving this pension. Each beneficiary gets
300 tk. Per month.

10. Food-for-Work Program: The FFW program was launched by the

Government of Bangladesh in1975 in response to the 1974 famine. The
main objectives of the program are
• to improve the performance of the agriculture sector through the
construction and maintenance of infrastructure for production and
• to reduce physical damage and loss of human life due to floods and
other natural disasters through appropriate protective structures; and
• to generate productive seasonal employment for the rural poor.

11. Encourage NGO: Government encourages NGOs to work in rural

areas, because they play an important role to alleviate poverty from
rural area.

Government Barriers to Alleviate Poverty:

1. Shortage of fund.
2. Lake of proper planning.
3. Slow economic growth and inequality.
4. Corruption in every sector.
5. Lack of Proper monitoring.
6. Lack of sufficient infrastructure.
7. Slow industrial development.
8. Political instability.
9. Lack of commitment in people.
10. Lake of technology.
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Grammen Bank and poverty reduction in Bangladesh:

Introduction: Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking

practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking
system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and
creativity. GB provides credit to the poorest of the poor in rural
Bangladesh, without any caution money. At GB, credit is a cost effective
weapon to fight poverty and it serves as a catalyst in the overall
development of socio-economic conditions of the poor who have been
kept outside the banking orbit on the ground that they are poor and
hence not bankable. Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of
"Grameen Bank" and its Managing Director, reasoned that if financial
resources can be made available to the poor people on terms and
conditions that are appropriate and reasonable, "these millions of small
people with their millions of small pursuits can add up to create the
biggest development wonder."

Social Wellbeing: The Bank started its journey by giving loans to 42

women. By 1980 the number of member- borrowers increased to
around 15,000; by mid-1984 its membership grew to nearly 100,000. By
the end of 1998, Grameen had a membership of 2.34 million people,
where 2.24 million comprised of women. In 2008 the Bank services
extended to 7.56 million poor people, 97 percent of whom are women.
As of October, 2011(Last update), it has 8.349 million borrowers, Out of
which 65 percent has managed to improve their socio-economic
conditions and are able to push themselves out of extreme poverty.
The Grameen Bank provides this service through its 24,638 staff with
2,565 branches in 81,379 villages covering more than 97 percent of the
total villages in Bangladesh. It is estimated that the average household
income of Grameen Bank members is about 50 percent higher as
compared to the target group under the control of non-Grameen Bank
villages. From Grameen Bank service, the landless have benefited most,
followed by marginal landowners. This has resulted in a sharp reduction
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in the number of Grameen Bank members living below the poverty line,
that is, 20 percent in comparison to 56 percent non-Grameen Bank
members. Thus, Grameen Bank has not only provided help to the
poorest to come out of abject poverty but also provided employment
to thousands of educated young people.

Replicability: Replicability of the Grameen Bank model is well

recognized. In 1976 it started at Jobra, as far October, 2011(Last
update), the bank functions in 81,379 villages which cover around 97
percent of Rural Bangladesh. Internationally, the Grameen model is
replicated in some of the African countries, in India and even in
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Bangladesh Studies