Though there are flaws in the objective function of MGDs, the achievement in terms of goal is praiseworthy. Much works has been done for the challenges of MDG implementation. But there are lot of challenges and pitfalls in the process of implementation and sustainability of the process. It looks nice that the goals have been achieved, but the sustainability of the goals is really a big question today. I would like to highlight my ideas on the thematic topics in the Bangladeshi perspective.
In Bangladesh, it is reported that by the government and also by UNDP that most of the MDGs are almost achieved and some are very close to the targets. It is very impressive and government can make it a political success and brag about their achievement. But there are some real issues that need to be address that I will highlight.
In goal Poverty and Hunger, Bangladesh has reduced poverty to 31.5% in 2010 according to National data. It is also proved by other dataset also that the rate of extreme poverty has declined to almost 30%. This is a good achievement for Bangladesh. But another question is very crucial now, is it enough to measure poverty by 2122 kilocalorie per day? Where only two plate of rice can generate this energy, the other requirement of the human body is ignored. People are having rice everyday but the nutrition that they need is not sufficient. As a result lot of diseases are attacking them and they are becoming vulnerable. So only 2122kilocaloire a day or $2.00 a day should not be the measurement of poverty. I think poverty has lot of dimension. According to the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, poverty has more dimensions that are now being measured. So I think the measuring poverty in terms of kilocalorie is misleading and not accurate.
Bangladesh also has improved universal primary education and gender equality to a great extent. It is also is on track in reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS. Bangladesh has also improved the safe drinking water and sanitary latrines to the poorest people. But still a lot of works need to be done.
Challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years
Objective function: It is very important in the next agenda to set the objective function that really faces the challenges of 21st century. It is shame to the mankind that some people are starving for days without food and some are wasting foods. Even the measurement of poverty is wrong. Of course, 2122 kilocalorie is important but this should have at least some variety of sources, like carbohydrate, protein, fat, minerals etc. nutrition issue should be more emphasized in the next agenda. In the education level, people should have able to read, write and ability to read the newspaper in their own language. Proper health care should be ensured to the mother and children and also the seniors those who are out of income category. Now days those who have money can avail good medical care in Bangladesh, because most of the people don’t have any medical insurance and savings to bear the medical expenses. They somehow got primary treatment, but they never goes to the professional doctors. This is very important to have either health insurance or provide sufficient medial doctors to the local areas.
Governance and sustainability: The process of implementing of MDGs is having lot of corruption and misuse of resources. Most of the targeted households are illiterate and they can’t protest this corruption by their own and they believe that the program is like an aid. But the problem should be address from the government. So in the next agenda, corruption and governance issue should be incorporated. Sustainability of the program should also be ensured, because some household today seems to be graduated from poverty but anytime they can also fall into the poverty again, because the sustainable income generating activity is required to make them get out of poverty and nutrition issues. Otherwise, the program will not be successful.
It is very important to establish good governance, accountability and also political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security. Because in a country like Bangladesh, corruption is the main hurdle for eradicating poverty. Corruption is everywhere. The victims are the poor people those who need help and those who seek service. From healthcare to job sector, you have to bribe the authority. It becomes an open secret matter. Everyone knows but no one can do anything. Civil society is shouting but the government itself is corrupted. The security, law and order, police everyone is corrupted. So whenever, a goal like MDGs comes the fifty percentage of money goes to the pocket of the authority. So Political will, accountability and governance should be improved in the country. There should be a goal in the next agenda that corruption level should be declined by more than 50% by next five years.
I think the set of objectives that has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC) is alright.
a. 100% access to adequate food all year round
b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
c. All food systems are sustainable
d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
e. Zero loss or waste of food.
f. Zero corruption in development projects like MDG goals.
g. Sustainability of the food and nutrition program
h. Climate change affected people should be most priority and full support with zero corruption.
i. Increase the social security for all, especially for the vulnerable people.
j. Access to communication technology to all.
These goals may be in some cases country specific and regional also. The climate, culture and geography are different from country to country. So region specific goals should also be addressed in the next agenda.
Mohammad Monirul Hasan
Senior Research Associate, InM
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)
All contributions received (DOC)