In recent decades, although Bangladesh made significant progress in reducing poverty, the number of extreme poor has increased by 0.314 percent annually on average. If this trend persists, the number of people living below the poverty line will increase from 57.3 million (in 2013) to 59.8 million (in 2021). In 2010, a quarter of the country’s citizen (36 million people) could not afford an adequate diet (BBS, 2010). The increase of economic inequalities is influenced by inflation, natural disaster, informal and formal employment variation and market fluctuation which not only undermine the potential for economic growth but can jeopardize social cohesion. In the last few decades social protection programmes have gained recognition as an integral part of the anti-poverty strategy. Their potential to protect the poor from falling into deeper poverty and to uphold past achievements is generally acknowledged. In Bangladesh, the budget allocated to social protection increases every year– BDT 114 billion in 2008-09, BDT 154billion in 2010-11 and BDT 198 billion for 2013-14.
This study qualitatively investigated how the allowance allocated to extreme poor widows, elders and disabled people can facilitate or hamper their livelihoods and resilience. It compares the situation of allowance receivers to the situation of non-beneficiaries in the Satkhira district. There are three important findings emerging from this study. Firstly, the data shows that the expenditures of the receivers and non-receivers are generally higher than their income which often causes high vulnerabilities and pushes them into extreme coping strategies preventing them from building resilience.
Secondly, it finds that although the allowance amount is relatively small and insufficient to significantly contribute to households’ graduation, it often enables recipients to stabilize their earnings and help them cope better with certain types of hazards (lean period for example). Thirdly, we argue that the allowance has important social implications for recipients which influence the financial and economic output of the allowance for them. In this way the social protection system being studied, acts as social means to economic resilience which the author calls social resilience.
Tariquzzaman, S.; Sohel Rana. The role of social protection allowance programmes in extreme poor households&#8217; resilience: Social means to economic resilience? Shiree Working Paper No. 22. Shiree, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2014) 42 pp.