30 Mln Children in Poverty
Friday, 22 October 2010

Over 30 million children of Bangladesh live below the poverty line, according to the UNICEF.

In a keynote paper presented at a seminar on 'Mitigating socio-economic inequalities to accelerate poverty reduction: investing in vulnerable children', it said that 7.5 million children live in hardcore poverty.

UNICEF representative in Bangladesh Carel de Rooy presented the paper. The seminar was jointly organised by Bangladesh Economic Association and UNICEF at the city's Sonargaon Hotel on Thursday.

The report says while there are great progresses in many areas of social and economic sectors, child poverty and socio-economic disparities in Bangladesh remain a grave concern. More than 30 million children live below the upper poverty line and one-quarter in extreme poverty.

Even though almost half its population is children, the government has allocated only about 9.8 percent of the social safety net budget, i.e., just 1.44 percent of the national budget in 2010-11.

The UN children agency called for higher government allocation to reduce child poverty.

The report says the most vulnerable among the poverty-stricken children were the urban working children, who live on the streets and orphans. And the government has provisionally allocated a meagre 0.7 percent of the social safety net budget for them.

It is assumed that by the year 2011 working children aged between 1 and 14 will increase to 900,000 and the number of street and destitute children aged 14 years will be more than 1 million.

The government in cooperation with UNICEF is currently implementing specific projects to reach the most vulnerable children, especially those who are living on the streets, engaged in child labour or orphans.

It has allocated Tk 4.30 billion for these projects in the current fiscal year. The report suggested an allocation of Tk 6.72 billion for next fiscal year and Tk 13.43 billion for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhit, the chief guest of the seminar, pointed out four problems the children of the country were facing — inequality, malnutrition, school dropout and lack of neo-natal care. "The government was working towards improving the situation", he said.

When asked whether budget allocation for the development of children will be increased, the minister said, "It is being increased every year."

Source: bdnews24.com

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