The government of Bangladesh has done the exercise of SDG Data Gap Analysis with the assistance of all data-generating agencies including the National Statistical Organisation (NSO) of Bangladesh viz. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). The study reveals that of 230 indicators, data related to 63 indicators are readily available in the existing system; data related to 69 indicators is not available presently; and 109 data are partially available (63+69+109 = 241; 11 data are repeated, hence total number is 230). More emphasis has to be given to generating more administrative data. With respect to authenticity and accuracy of data, institutional linkages have to be established among the NSO and the administrative data generating agencies of different Ministries/Divisions.
The government is also in the process of initiating a web-based data repository system focusing on data disaggregation. The process has been started to generate a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework of SDG for the country. It will prioritise the SDG indicators based on the country context and availability of data and also benchmark base figure and target figures for the indicators up to 2030. Table-2 highlights top 15 Ministries/Divisions for generating data for SDG monitoring based on the M&E Framework of SDGs.
The government of Bangladesh has also taken initiatives for preparing 'SDG Needs: Assessment and Costing' to estimate the resources needed for achieving SDGs in Bangladesh by 2030. It will help assist the government for calculating financing gap of SDGs. It will give a clear indication for domestic resource mobilisation and financing from external sources.
WHOLE OF SOCIETY APPROACH: The government has adopted a 'whole of society' approach for implementation and attainment of the SDGs in Bangladesh. The General Economics Division (GED), in collaboration with UNRC, organised dialogues with the NGOs, CSOs, private sector, DPs and Media. 'Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh', a non-governmental initiative, has also been established in the country. It is hoped that the SDGs Mapping Exercise done by the government will help non-state actors to fill the gap, particularly in localising SDGs, awareness building, raising voice, ensuring accountability etc. The GO-NGO collaboration model that has been established in our country over the decades would be instrumental in the implementation of SDGs as well.
It is expected that based on the SDG Mapping (Who is to do what), the lead ministry along with its co-lead and associates will form a task group taking representatives from NGOs, CSOs, DPs and private sector. This group will ultimately chalk out interrelationship with other goals, among others.
ERADICATING POVERTY: Poverty reduction is the greatest global challenge the world faces today. It is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In the world, yet 800 million people suffer from hunger. After the independence, Bangladesh had to struggle with the war-ravaged country. More than 90 per cent of her total population was under the poverty line measured in the Direct Calorie Intake (DCI) method in 1973. Hence, poverty reduction was always the number one agenda of the government. From that unacceptable level of poverty, it came down to below 23.5 per cent in 2016. The poverty reduction measures taken by the government has helped Bangladesh to achiever MDG target 1 couple of years earlier than the stipulated time.
The government of Bangladesh recognises the multi-dimensional nature of the problem and the need to address the problem by adopting appropriate policies and strategies. The Sixth Five Year Plan provided the main strategic and implementation vehicle for achieving MDGs in Bangladesh. Development policies and strategies were mainly centred on the overarching goal of achieving pro-poor growth. The economy enjoyed annual growth rate persistently exceeding 6.0 plus per cent in the past several years. Sustained growth has been instrumental in reducing poverty. Economic growth has been broad-based comprising growth in agriculture, industry and services ensuring productive employment and incomes for a large number of people. The agriculture sector of Bangladesh has made a notable progress. Public investment in rural infrastructure such as power, roads, bridges, culverts, canals, dams has contributed immensely to the persistent reduction of poverty, creating farm and non-farm employment and generating higher incomes. The government has promoted export-led growth policy by liberalising the external sector, reforming the financial sector and providing incentives to industrial production, upgrading infrastructure, providing trade logistics, seeking market access by engaging in bilateral as well as multilateral trade liberalisation and seeking trade preferences.
An important component of the anti-poverty strategy of the government is providing social safety nets to address poverty and vulnerability of people. The present government, for the first time, has formulated a comprehensive National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) to provide support to its citizens who need it most. Distressed people, particularly women, children, old age and disabled persons, have been given priority under NSSS. Safety net coverage was 13 per cent of population until 2008. However, the government has increased it to 24 per cent of population in 2011. The allocation also increased from 1.98 per cent of GDP in FY 09 to 2.30 per cent in FY 15. The allocation for Annual Development Programme (ADP), which is the main public investment window to reduce poverty, was 3.15 per cent of GDP in FY 09 and has been increased to 5.32 per cent of GDP in FY15. Moreover, half of the total budget expenditure was related to poverty reduction for the last seven years. In order to overcome food insecurity and hunger, action is needed to transform food systems so that they are more productive, environmentally sustainable and resilient while preserving and enhancing livelihood benefits and well-being.
Outside Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Ministry of Agriculture through its National Agriculture Policy 2013, National Agriculture Extension Policy 2012; Ministry of Education through its Compulsory Primary Education Act 1990, Education Policy 2010; Ministry of Food through its Food Safety Act 2013, National Food Policy 2006; Ministry of Environment and Forest through its Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 2010, Environment Policy 1992; Ministry of Home Affairs through its Narcotics control Act 1990; Ministry of Women and Children Affairs through its Women and Children Repression (control) Act 2000, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief through its Disaster Management Act 2012 have been playing supporting roles for improvement of health outcomes.
Professor Shamsul Alam is Member (Senior Secretary), General Economics Division (Focal Point for Poverty and SDGs), Bangladesh Planning Commission.