Landlessness main reason for poverty: experts

May 31, 2010

Growing landlessness in Bangladesh is undermining its efforts for steady progress in poverty elimination, experts said after a public survey revealed that majority poor people cited landlessness as the main reason for their extreme poverty, NewAge Quoted.
Some 60 per cent of the country’s 40 per cent poor people who are living down the poverty line or rely on less than one US dollar income are landless, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. These people could not come out of the vicious cycle of poverty as they did not own any land.
Lack of capital for running business is shown by 18.4 per cent poor for being trapped in poverty while 17.2 per cent pointed out that lack of education and training was holding back their efforts to come out of the trap.
Successive governments are running various anti-poverty schemes to half the number of poor people by 2015 along with many others targets to attain millennium development goals. The efforts, however, are not brining much benefit as the number of landless people is increasing.
According to an agriculture census carried out by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in 2008, the current rate of increase in landlessness is 12.84 per cent in rural areas.
Professor of the Dhaka University economics department, MM Akash, told the New Age that most of these poor are farmers who have to hire land from landlords to grow crops and earn their living.
Struggling to cope with the difficulties, many of these poor and landless farmers migrate to the cities and eventually end up their lives in slums, he added.
The number of people and slums in the country’s big cities, especially in capital Dhaka, is increasing. A local NGO calculated that the number of slums were 3,007 in 1996, which rose to 4,966 in 2006.
The annual increase of population in the capital has already crossed four per cent because of influx of poor people from the backward regions, putting a huge pressure on its infrastructure, said Dhaka University professor of Science and Population department Dr AKM Nur-Un-Nabi.
Experts suggested for immediate measures like land reform to curb the number of landless people and halt migration of poor people to urban areas. Besides, they emphasised on employment generation and skill development trainings to create employment opportunities for them.
BRAC executive director Mahbub Hossain observed that land reform in the country was essential to protect the rights of landless farmers. Without protecting the rights of farmers the county would not be able to attain food security, he added.
The agriculture ministry secretary, CQK Mustaq Ahmed, admitted that land reform was essential for the welfare of the farmers who still comprise majority of the country’s workforce. He, however, said land reform would need political will of the government.

Courtesy of NewAge

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