Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bangladesh: a symbol of hope for world's poor


Once in a while we hear about some good news that is happening in the world. I missed seeing any reports of the situation in Bangladesh. That is, until World Ark published by Heifer International, printed a report by Stephen Smith in the Summer 2009 issue.Considered an international basket case, it nearly starved to death in the 1974. Since then that little country teeming with overpopulation has transformed itself to become a symbol of hope with important lessons for the rest of the world seeking to end global poverty.

The poverty rate has fallen steadily since 1974 from 75 percent to 60 percent in 1992 to less than 40 percent today. Life expectancy has risen from 45 years to more than 63 years. The literacy rate has doubled, and gender parity has been achieved.The author lists five major reasons.

First, emphasis on a rice crop using modern seed and methods, irrigation and roads.
Second,the population growth rate has now fallen to less that 2 percent.
Third, NGOs, or nongovernmental organizations, have played a central role involving the citizens by the millions in education and leadership.
Fourth, the garment industry has provided jobs and income for hundreds of thousands of women.
And fifth, money sent home from workers from other countries now provides more that 8 percent of the gross domestic productThe author believes that Bangladesh is an example of foreign aid that allows and encourages people to help themselves. It is still a very poor country with many problems, but progress is being made.

Don Rea, Albany

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