Survey finds geographic disparities in reaching millennium development goals in Bangladesh

09:56, January 25, 2010      

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by Naim-Ul-Karim

Despite the overall good progress made by Bangladesh towards achievement of the millennium development goals, a recent survey finds huge disparities among 64 districts of the South Asian country.

Under the survey, by the state-run Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) with support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF 24 social indicators were assessed, but the preliminary report presents the findings for nine indicators.

The report showed a large gap exists between the best and the worst performing districts for those nine indicators related to education, child health, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

These key findings were disseminated Sunday at a workshop in Dhaka with the country's Minister for Planning AK Khander in the chair.

Using a composite index based on these nine indicators, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) ranks each district of the country according to their level of performance.

For child mortality (children under five), the report showed, the lowest performing northern district Sherpur records 102 deaths per 1,000 live births and the best performing western Pabna district records only 43 per 1,000 while the national average is 67 per 1,000.

For the proportion of births attended by a skilled attendant, there is also a huge disparity with 61 percent for the best performing western district Meherpur and 8 percent for the lowest performing hilly district southeastern Bandarban with the national average being 24 percent, it also showed.

Regarding the net attendance rate in primary education, according to the report, the difference is 30 percentage points between the best performing western district Meherpur (91 percent) and the least performing southeastern district Bandarban (60.6 percent), the national average being 81.3 percent with no significant difference between girls and boys.

The report noted that attendance is very low in urban slum areas with 62.8 percent.

However, the MICS survey shows that Bangladesh has made major progress in registering the birth of children under-five, jumping from 10 percent of children's birth registered in 2006 to 53.6 percent presently.

The survey confirms that Bangladesh has reached gender parity in primary education, but not yet in secondary education.

It said progress is also recorded in the retention rate of pupils at primary school as almost 80 percent of children, who start grade one reach the last grade of primary school compared to only 63.6 percent in 2006.

Access to improved source of water is almost universal with 97. 8 percent, but the report also indicates that 12.6 percent of the households' drinking water exceeds Bangladesh standards for arsenic content.

When taking arsenic contamination into consideration, access to safe drinking water is reduced to 85.2 percent of the population, showed the MICS survey.

Under the 2009 MICS survey, conducted by the BBS, a total of 7, 683 interviewers collected data from 300,000 households from April to May 2009 while a total of 13,301 water samples were tested for arsenic.

A government study report released in March, 2009 said Bangladesh needs 114.97 billion U.S. dollars investment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in seven years between 2009 and 2015.

The study, titled "MDGs: Need assessment and costing," jointly carried out by the Bangladeshi government and the United Nations Development Program, showed it will require 16.42 billion U.S. dollars on an average investment per year to attain the goals by 2015, when particularly the poverty rate would be cut by half from that in 2000.

The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The MDGs include eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and women empowerment, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Source: Xinhua
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