Bangladesh’s Social Safety Net programs less bothered about indigenous communities

By Mehedi Al Amin

There are round about 116 safety net programs in Bangladesh, though none is specialized for indigenous communities. Experts pointed out in an annual convention titled “indigenous minority in Social Safety Net program: New policy Framework” organized by Right to Food Bangladesh, and World Vision at CIRDAP auditorium yesterday.

Experts said: “Participation of indigenous minorities has increased in Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) , Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), allowances for elderly, and disabled people programs in some places, due to NGO interventions. But they have no participation in other social safety net program.”

Experts recommended increasing cottage industries, considering that indigenous minorities have special abilities in that field, and this in turn this will improve the standard of their living.

Dr MM Akash, professor of Dhaka University said: “National poverty stands at 22 % while poverty among the indigenous minority stands at 60%. So they need special programs, and proper budget allocation.”

“24% allocation of Social Safety Net program (SSNP) goes to only 0.5% beneficiary as pension for the government employee. OMS in the most recognized program among SSNP. 28 % of SSNP beneficiary are engaged with OMS but allocation of the budget is just 7 % for this program. Such programs, and allocation must be rearranged. “he informed.

Dr Kazi Kholiquzzaman, chairman of both Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (pksf) and Right to Food Bangladesh said: “Sustainable development is not possible without eliminating discrimination. We have to work considering, and coordinating various demand.”

“To sustain the inclusion of indigenous community, SSNP projects must be transformed into programs. Human beings and their demands have to be at the center of all programs.” he said.

Gazi Mohammad Nurul Kabir, director general, Department of Social Service said : “ Everyone has equal rights in the country.”

Dr Asif Shahan, associate professor of Dhaka University presented a research paper at the program. Dr Shahan said: “Very few people were able to capitalize on the benefits of these programs to enhance, and create a sustainable livelihood. These programs do not consider the variation of their cultural diversity, and livelihood pattern. To design any program, these diversities should be considered.

Mohsin Ali, general secretary, Right to Food Bangladesh moderated the program.

Courtesy: Dhaka Tribune

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