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Increasing urbanization poses a major problem

Mid-way through to the 2015 target of MDGs attainment, Bangladesh has covered significant grounds and can safely be said to be “on track” in relation to most of the targets. A midterm review of progress at the aggregate level shows that Bangladesh is making progressive strides in reducing poverty, already bringing down the poverty gap ratio to 9 against 2015 target of 8 with the rate of poverty reduction being 1.34 percent in relation to the required rate of 1.23 percent. With regard to targets such as expansion of primary and secondary education, infant and child mortality rate, containing the spread and fatality of malaria and tuberculosis, reforestation, access to safe drinking water and sanitation latrines especially in urban areas, Bangladesh has done remarkably and may well reach several of these targets before the stipulated time. The country has already achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education and in the wage employment in the non-agriculture sector.

However, among the challenges that Bangladesh faces, improving maternal health is a major concern.  Maternal mortality, although currently on track, should be focused on more, particularly in the backdrop of recent flood and cyclones. The country is also struggling in terms of maintaining protected areas, specially the wet lands, for bio-diversity. Access to safe drinking water and sanitary latrines particularly in the rural areas is also an aspect where focus is required. Yet another challenge that Bangladesh faces is in addressing certain pockets of poverty that are lagging far behind with respect to the national averages and where the benefits of MDGs attainment need to be specifically reached. These areas include the urban slums, the hill tracts, coastal belts and other ecologically vulnerable areas.  
After the implementation of the first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)  – “Unlocking the Potential: National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction” (NSAPR) prepared in 2005, the Government of Bangladesh is currently in the process of finalizing its second PRSP titled “Moving Ahead”.   

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Bangladesh is well on track to achieving Goal 1 with poverty coming down to 40 percent in 2005. Also, the average annual rate of poverty reduction till 2005 has been 1.34 percent against the required 1.23 percent to meet the 2015 target. The poverty gap ratio has also decreased dramatically to 9.0.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
While a significant 87 percent has been achieved in terms of primary school enrollment, dropout rates remain high and therefore primary school completion rate low. Progress has been made in adult literacy—54 percent in 2005—but additional effort is needed to reach the target.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Bangladesh has achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education together with being on track with respect to percentage of women employed in agriculture sector. 

Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
The country is on track with regard to achieving this goal. Significant strides have been made in all three indicators and if the trend sustains, the country will meet the 2015 target well ahead of schedule. 

Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
Although the maternal mortality ratio is on track, it remains a challenge for Bangladesh to sustain the rate given the complex socio-economic factors that affect the goal. Also, the percentage of skilled birth attendants is low.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
Bangladesh has made some progress in combating the spread of malaria with the number of prevalence dropping from 42 cases per 100,000 in 2001 to 34 in 2005.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
While significant progress has been made in terms of access to safe drinking water and sanitary latrines in urban areas, the same remains a challenge in rural areas. Also maintaining wet-lands and bio-diversity is still a challenge

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Penetration of telephone lines and internet, particularly cell phone usage, has increased to a great extent but youth employment rate is still low. 

Last updated 30 July 2008

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NOTE: The MDG data presented here is the latest available from the United Nations Statistics Division. The World Bank has recently released new poverty estimates, which reflect improvements in internationally comparable price data. The new data estimates set a new poverty line of US$1.25 a day and offer a much more accurate picture of the cost of living in developing countries. They are based on the results of the 2005 International Comparison Program (ICP), released in first half of 2008. Country-specific poverty estimates will be released by the World Bank in late 2008