Bangladesh on a rising tide

Noted economist Binayak Sen said Bangladesh is now on a rising tide; there are a few countries in the world that are both rising socially and economically.

Sen was speaking at a national seminar on rural employment opportunities at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre styled ‘Sharing of REOPA experience, results and lessons learnt’.

The project, REOPA (Rural Employment Opportunities for Public Assets), is a social safety net programme arranged by the Local Government Division with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and European Union (EU) as development partners.

Sen said development should not be measured from economic data alone; rather, it should consider the confidence levels or helplessness of the people. These are not considered in the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of the United Nations, he said.

He also said if the local governments work well, then the social safety net programmes will work better.

The REOPA project is ending this December and the seminar was arranged to share experiences, results and the lessons learnt, with project stakeholders. At the seminar, a report was also published.

Speakers at the programme highly appreciated the people who implemented the workforce, as it was a successful one. A beneficiary of the project, Nurjahan Begum of Belkuchi in Sirajganj district, expressed gratitude as she is now a self-employed woman. She makes compost fertiliser at home.

In response to a question, she said she wants to see herself as a local government representative in the future. A number of women of her village are self employed under this project, she added.

The REOPA project was designed to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable groups of people in rural Bangladesh. It focused on generating employment and alleviating poverty through effective local government institutions, community partnerships and pro-poor service delivery, said Goran Jonsson, international team leader of the project.

Jahangir Kabir Nanak, state minister of the local government, rural development and cooperatives ministry (LGRD), said 15 percent of the national budget is allocated for the social safety net programmes, where more than 80 programmes are currently going on.

Abu Alam Md Shahid Khan, LGRD secretary, Milko Van Gool, head of cooperation of EU, and Stefan Priesner, country director of UNDP, also spoke at the programme.