BookPDF Available
Delivering SDGs
at the Local Level
Efficiency of
in Bangladesh
Social Protection Programmes
Mustafizur Rahman
Towfiqul Islam Khan
Muntaseer Kamal
Nawshin Nawar
Delivering SDGs
at the Local Level
Efficiency of
Social Protection Programmes
in Bangladesh
Mustafizur Rahman
Towfiqul Islam Khan
Muntaseer Kamal
Nawshin Nawar
Delivering SDGs
at the Local Level
Efficiency of
Social Protection Programmes
in Bangladesh
Mustafizur Rahman
Towfiqul Islam Khan
Muntaseer Kamal
Nawshin Nawar
Published in June 2021 by
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
House 40/C, Road 11 (New)
Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1219, Bangladesh
Telephone: (+88 02) 48118090, 55001185, 58156979
Fax: (+88 02) 48110414
E-mail: info@cpd.org.bd
Website: www.cpd.org.bd
Copyright © Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Oxfam in
Bangladesh. All rights received. Licenced to the European Union under
conditions.
Disclaimer: This publication was produced with the financial support of
the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the
authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Union,
CPD or the Oxfam in Bangladesh.
This publication was prepared under the project titled ‘Enhancing the
participation of CBOs and CSOs in democratic governance in
Bangladesh’, which is being implemented by Oxfam in Bangladesh and
CPD, and funded by the European Union.
Cover Design and Photographs
Manan Morshed
Design and Printing
Arka
Foreword
The aphorism that “a rising tide lifts all boats” is associated
with the idea that an improved economy will benefit all
participants. However, we by now know from economic
history that, in the absence of appropriate public policies, a rising
tide may end up only lifting the yachts. Indeed, even in the case of
robust and sustained economic growth, a large number of people
may be left behind because of their initial conditions and structural
handicaps.
Accordingly, almost all countries in the world have rolled out social
safety net programmes (SSNPs) to provide support to those who are
unable to draw sustenance from the economic mainstream.
Bangladesh, informed by declared policy priority, launched its
targeted safety net programmes in the second half of 1990s. Today a
plethora of SSNPs comprising 119 programmes is being
implemented across the country, targeting a diverse group of “left
behind” people. These pro-poor schemes are underwritten by a
resource package amounting 2.3 per cent of the GDP in FY2020-21.
However, these SSNPs have been fraught with many challenges.
These include low coverage of the schemes, mistargeting of
beneficiaries, leakages of resources, overlap of programmes,
inefficient delivery system, absence of grievance redressal system,
inadequate data base and coordination failure. All these
shortcomings have to be addressed by the government the soonest.
This has to be done keeping the need of delivery of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.
For the government to undertake a set of reform measures, it needs
to take note of the field-level realities, particularly the perceptions
of the target population. Indeed, strengthening the demand side of
the programmes will be critical in enhancing their efficiency,
transparency and accountability. To this end, energetic
engagement of the community-based organisations (CBOs) and the
grassroots level civil society organisations (CSOs) should be
actively encouraged. Indeed, the capacity of the local government
institutions will be the defining factor in this regard.
3
Published in June 2021 by
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
House 40/C, Road 11 (New)
Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1219, Bangladesh
Telephone: (+88 02) 48118090, 55001185, 58156979
Fax: (+88 02) 48110414
E-mail: info@cpd.org.bd
Website: www.cpd.org.bd
Copyright © Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Oxfam in
Bangladesh. All rights received. Licenced to the European Union under
conditions.
Disclaimer: This publication was produced with the financial support of
the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the
authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Union,
CPD or the Oxfam in Bangladesh.
This publication was prepared under the project titled ‘Enhancing the
participation of CBOs and CSOs in democratic governance in
Bangladesh’, which is being implemented by Oxfam in Bangladesh and
CPD, and funded by the European Union.
Cover Design and Photographs
Manan Morshed
Design and Printing
Arka
Foreword
The aphorism that “a rising tide lifts all boats” is associated
with the idea that an improved economy will benefit all
participants. However, we by now know from economic
history that, in the absence of appropriate public policies, a rising
tide may end up only lifting the yachts. Indeed, even in the case of
robust and sustained economic growth, a large number of people
may be left behind because of their initial conditions and structural
handicaps.
Accordingly, almost all countries in the world have rolled out social
safety net programmes (SSNPs) to provide support to those who are
unable to draw sustenance from the economic mainstream.
Bangladesh, informed by declared policy priority, launched its
targeted safety net programmes in the second half of 1990s. Today a
plethora of SSNPs comprising 119 programmes is being
implemented across the country, targeting a diverse group of “left
behind” people. These pro-poor schemes are underwritten by a
resource package amounting 2.3 per cent of the GDP in FY2020-21.
However, these SSNPs have been fraught with many challenges.
These include low coverage of the schemes, mistargeting of
beneficiaries, leakages of resources, overlap of programmes,
inefficient delivery system, absence of grievance redressal system,
inadequate data base and coordination failure. All these
shortcomings have to be addressed by the government the soonest.
This has to be done keeping the need of delivery of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) in the country.
For the government to undertake a set of reform measures, it needs
to take note of the field-level realities, particularly the perceptions
of the target population. Indeed, strengthening the demand side of
the programmes will be critical in enhancing their efficiency,
transparency and accountability. To this end, energetic
engagement of the community-based organisations (CBOs) and the
grassroots level civil society organisations (CSOs) should be
actively encouraged. Indeed, the capacity of the local government
institutions will be the defining factor in this regard.
3
The present publication needs to be considered in the above context.
This publication is a study prepared under a project titled
Enhancing the participation of CBOs and CSOs in democratic
governance in Bangladesh. The project is being implemented jointly
by Oxfam in Bangladesh and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD),
with the support from the European Union and in association with
the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.
The study has undertaken a review of five SSNPs which are being
implemented in four districts in the country. It has tried to establish
efficiency and participation gaps in these programmes. It has
further tried to develop and deploy “social accountability tools” to
explore the possibility of closing these gaps. The findings and
recommendations highlighted in the study will be immensely
useful for the policy-makers as they take the SSNPs to the next level.
The publication is coming to light at a time when the country is
confronting the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The
fallouts of the pandemic are being felt particularly in the areas of
income and employment, consumption and nutrition, savings and
indebtedness, and social cohesion at the household and community
levels. The recommendations presented in the study will be in full
sync in dealing with these new challenges.
Let me warmly compliment the team of authors led by Professor
Mustafizur Rahman for the good piece of work. I also commend the
contribution of CPD's Dialogue and Communication Division as
well Finance and Administration Division. Support received from
the Oxfam colleagues and other partners of the Citizen's Platform in
providing local level organisational support is highly appreciated.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, PhD
Team Leader of the project
Distinguished Fellow, CPD
and
Convenor, Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh
Dhaka: 11 April 2021
Preface
Securing social and economic rights of vulnerable and
marginalised groups demands both targeted policy supports
and concrete actions on the part of all involved actors. Of
particular significance in this regard is the ability of relevant
organisations to deal with the concerned issues adequately and in
an informed manner. Grassroots stakeholders have an important
role to play in this regard. The project, as part of which this study
was prepared, aims at strengthening the capacity of grassroots
CBOs and CSOs to deal with issues of accountability of public
service delivery institutions. The project is titled 'Enhancing the
participation of community-based organisations (CBOs) and civil
society organisations (CSOs) in democratic governance in
Bangladesh'. The project is being implemented jointly by Oxfam in
Bangladesh and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), funded by
the European Union. The key objective of the project is to enable
vulnerable individuals and communities to have a greater voice in
the design and execution of public policies in the context of
implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in
Bangladesh. The ambition of the project is to help attain the goals
and targets by strengthening the cause of accountable SDG
implementation. In doing so, the project involves marginalised
groups and communities in a way that their voice gets heard by
concerned public officials and elected representatives. The idea is to
help raise the quality and effectiveness of public service delivery at
local levels in Bangladesh.
It goes without saying that, from the perspective of the
marginalised communities, social protection and social safety net
programmes (SSNPs) are critically important enablers in attaining
the SDGs. This is particularly pertinent when the implementation of
the SDGs in line with the spirit of 'leave no one behind' is taken into
consideration. At the aggregate level, it is the state's responsibility
45
The present publication needs to be considered in the above context.
This publication is a study prepared under a project titled
Enhancing the participation of CBOs and CSOs in democratic
governance in Bangladesh. The project is being implemented jointly
by Oxfam in Bangladesh and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD),
with the support from the European Union and in association with
the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.
The study has undertaken a review of five SSNPs which are being
implemented in four districts in the country. It has tried to establish
efficiency and participation gaps in these programmes. It has
further tried to develop and deploy “social accountability tools” to
explore the possibility of closing these gaps. The findings and
recommendations highlighted in the study will be immensely
useful for the policy-makers as they take the SSNPs to the next level.
The publication is coming to light at a time when the country is
confronting the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The
fallouts of the pandemic are being felt particularly in the areas of
income and employment, consumption and nutrition, savings and
indebtedness, and social cohesion at the household and community
levels. The recommendations presented in the study will be in full
sync in dealing with these new challenges.
Let me warmly compliment the team of authors led by Professor
Mustafizur Rahman for the good piece of work. I also commend the
contribution of CPD's Dialogue and Communication Division as
well Finance and Administration Division. Support received from
the Oxfam colleagues and other partners of the Citizen's Platform in
providing local level organisational support is highly appreciated.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, PhD
Team Leader of the project
Distinguished Fellow, CPD
and
Convenor, Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh
Dhaka: 11 April 2021
Preface
Securing social and economic rights of vulnerable and
marginalised groups demands both targeted policy supports
and concrete actions on the part of all involved actors. Of
particular significance in this regard is the ability of relevant
organisations to deal with the concerned issues adequately and in
an informed manner. Grassroots stakeholders have an important
role to play in this regard. The project, as part of which this study
was prepared, aims at strengthening the capacity of grassroots
CBOs and CSOs to deal with issues of accountability of public
service delivery institutions. The project is titled 'Enhancing the
participation of community-based organisations (CBOs) and civil
society organisations (CSOs) in democratic governance in
Bangladesh'. The project is being implemented jointly by Oxfam in
Bangladesh and the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), funded by
the European Union. The key objective of the project is to enable
vulnerable individuals and communities to have a greater voice in
the design and execution of public policies in the context of
implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in
Bangladesh. The ambition of the project is to help attain the goals
and targets by strengthening the cause of accountable SDG
implementation. In doing so, the project involves marginalised
groups and communities in a way that their voice gets heard by
concerned public officials and elected representatives. The idea is to
help raise the quality and effectiveness of public service delivery at
local levels in Bangladesh.
It goes without saying that, from the perspective of the
marginalised communities, social protection and social safety net
programmes (SSNPs) are critically important enablers in attaining
the SDGs. This is particularly pertinent when the implementation of
the SDGs in line with the spirit of 'leave no one behind' is taken into
consideration. At the aggregate level, it is the state's responsibility
45
to deliver the SDGs, but local authorities play a vital role in the
delivery of services on the ground. Delivering the SSNPs at the
grassroots level requires involvement of several actors, including
the central authorities, local governments (LGs) and local
administrations (LAs). Indeed, the role of local authorities in this
connection has been explicitly articulated in the SDG framework
itself. However, in most cases, the gaps between the demands and
realities concerning delivery of public service provisions to the
furthest behind population groups in Bangladesh have continued
to remain quite significant. This has been pointed out by a number
of studies. The gaps relate to, inter alia, inadequacy of allocation,
limited coverage of beneficiaries, mistargeting, leakages,
coordination failure among the implementing agencies, high
administrative costs and inefficiencies, absence of grievance
redressal mechanism, and lack of impact evaluation framework.
In this backdrop, there is a growing need to identify concrete tools
to raise effectiveness of public service delivery, particularly in the
delivery of the SSNPs in Bangladesh. To this end, the present study
has focused on raising the quality of delivery of five selected SSNPs
in Bangladesh. These are maternity allowance, primary and
secondary school stipend programmes, employment generation
programme for the poorest and old age allowance. Delivery of these
programmes was examined in four north-west districts of
Bangladesh: Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram and Gaibandha. The
idea was to identify the gaps between policies and praxis and offer
concrete recommendations to improve the quality of delivery.
Several indepth discussions were carried out as part of the work
plan with participation of concerned stakeholders including
representatives of CBOs, CSOs and NGOs, beneficiaries of the
programmes, local level elected representatives and officials
working with concerned local level institutions and delivery
organisations. Many useful lessons were learned in the course of the
abovementioned exercise and a number of concrete suggestions
have emerged in the process. The present study has made an
attempt to capture those in a coherent, systematic and well-
argumented manner.
It may be recalled that an earlier version of the study was presented
at a national dialogue in the presence of key policymakers and
representatives of relevant stakeholder groups. The findings and
recommendations of the study received wide coverage in print and
electronic media thanks to this event. It is hoped that the CBOs and
CSOs will keep the discussion alive in the public domain, and
advocacy groups will use the recommendations to proactively
pursue the cause of delivery of the SDGs at the local level in a way
that does not leave anyone behind. It is also hoped that the
recommendations presented in this study will help policymakers to
take required actions towards more efficient delivery of SSNPs in
Bangladesh and appropriate initiatives will be taken to ensure
attainment of SDGs in Bangladesh in a more inclusive and
participatory manner.
67
to deliver the SDGs, but local authorities play a vital role in the
delivery of services on the ground. Delivering the SSNPs at the
grassroots level requires involvement of several actors, including
the central authorities, local governments (LGs) and local
administrations (LAs). Indeed, the role of local authorities in this
connection has been explicitly articulated in the SDG framework
itself. However, in most cases, the gaps between the demands and
realities concerning delivery of public service provisions to the
furthest behind population groups in Bangladesh have continued
to remain quite significant. This has been pointed out by a number
of studies. The gaps relate to, inter alia, inadequacy of allocation,
limited coverage of beneficiaries, mistargeting, leakages,
coordination failure among the implementing agencies, high
administrative costs and inefficiencies, absence of grievance
redressal mechanism, and lack of impact evaluation framework.
In this backdrop, there is a growing need to identify concrete tools
to raise effectiveness of public service delivery, particularly in the
delivery of the SSNPs in Bangladesh. To this end, the present study
has focused on raising the quality of delivery of five selected SSNPs
in Bangladesh. These are maternity allowance, primary and
secondary school stipend programmes, employment generation
programme for the poorest and old age allowance. Delivery of these
programmes was examined in four north-west districts of
Bangladesh: Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram and Gaibandha. The
idea was to identify the gaps between policies and praxis and offer
concrete recommendations to improve the quality of delivery.
Several indepth discussions were carried out as part of the work
plan with participation of concerned stakeholders including
representatives of CBOs, CSOs and NGOs, beneficiaries of the
programmes, local level elected representatives and officials
working with concerned local level institutions and delivery
organisations. Many useful lessons were learned in the course of the
abovementioned exercise and a number of concrete suggestions
have emerged in the process. The present study has made an
attempt to capture those in a coherent, systematic and well-
argumented manner.
It may be recalled that an earlier version of the study was presented
at a national dialogue in the presence of key policymakers and
representatives of relevant stakeholder groups. The findings and
recommendations of the study received wide coverage in print and
electronic media thanks to this event. It is hoped that the CBOs and
CSOs will keep the discussion alive in the public domain, and
advocacy groups will use the recommendations to proactively
pursue the cause of delivery of the SDGs at the local level in a way
that does not leave anyone behind. It is also hoped that the
recommendations presented in this study will help policymakers to
take required actions towards more efficient delivery of SSNPs in
Bangladesh and appropriate initiatives will be taken to ensure
attainment of SDGs in Bangladesh in a more inclusive and
participatory manner.
67
Study team members are indebted to several individuals and
institutions who have extended valuable support towards
successful completion of the activities undertaken in
connection with this study.
The authors of the study would like to thank Dr Debapriya
Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, CPD for his stewardship of all
project-related activities and for his guidance, insightful comments
and very helpful suggestions at various stages of this study.
The authors are thankful to a number of concerned government
agencies for sharing relevant documents and data which have
provided valuable background information for this study. These
include the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), General
Economics Division (GED), Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of
Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), Ministry of Primary and
Mass Education (MoPME), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry
of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), and Ministry of
Social Welfare (MoSW).
An earlier version of the draft report has greatly benefitted from the
very insightful comments and helpful suggestions received from
two external peer reviewers. In this connection, the authors would
like to express their sincere appreciation to Dr M Abu Eusuf,
Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka
and Mr Md. Faizul Islam, Joint Chief, Fiscal and Monetary Policy
Wing, GED, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh.
The study team would like to thank Development Research
Initiative (dRi) for conducting the field survey for this study with
due care for the quality of information generated. The four local
partners of the project deserve special mention for their valuable
support to the survey teams. These are Pollisree, RDRS Bangladesh,
Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) and SKS Foundation.
Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions
offered by representatives of various stakeholder groups and
experts who took part in the national dialogue titled 'Efficiency of
Delivering Social Protection Programmes in North-West Region'.
The dialogue was held (virtually) on 16 September 2020 to discuss
the findings of an earlier draft of the present report. In this regard,
the authors would like to put on record their deep appreciation of
the valuable inputs provided by Special Guest at the event Mr A B
Tajul Islam, Member of Parliament and Chairman, Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Ministry of Disaster Management and
Relief. The team thankfully recalls the insightful comments and
suggestions offered by H E Ms Rensje Teerink, Ambassador and
Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to
Bangladesh who attended the event as Special Guest. Valuable
comments were received from the panellists, Dr M Abu Eusuf,
Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of
Dhaka, and Ms Parveen Akhter, Director General, Department of
Women Affairs, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
Taking this opportunity, the authors would like to register their
sincere thanks to the EU Delegation in Dhaka for their generous
support in implementing the study, and for extending full
cooperation on a continuing basis in the course of implementing the
study.
Oxfam in Bangladesh has been an exceptionally supportive partner
of the CPD, and between them the two concerned teams have
extended fullest cooperation to the study team at every stage of
preparing this report. In this connection, special words of
appreciation are due to Dr Dipankar Datta, Country Director, who
has been a pillar of support for this project. Oxfam in Bangladesh
colleagues, Mr Soeb Iftekhar, Head, Economic Inclusion and
Justice, Ms Kazi Rabeya Ame, Rural Manager and Mr Saiful Alam,
Programme Coordinator, have extended their wholehearted
support to the team throughout the study.
The team gratefully acknowledges the valuable cooperation
extended by all colleagues at the CPD who were involved with
various project-related activities. The team received excellent
support from the CPD Executive Director, Dr Fahmida Khatun,
towards successful implementation of all study-related activities.
89
Study team members are indebted to several individuals and
institutions who have extended valuable support towards
successful completion of the activities undertaken in
connection with this study.
The authors of the study would like to thank Dr Debapriya
Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, CPD for his stewardship of all
project-related activities and for his guidance, insightful comments
and very helpful suggestions at various stages of this study.
The authors are thankful to a number of concerned government
agencies for sharing relevant documents and data which have
provided valuable background information for this study. These
include the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), General
Economics Division (GED), Ministry of Finance (MoF), Ministry of
Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), Ministry of Primary and
Mass Education (MoPME), Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry
of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), and Ministry of
Social Welfare (MoSW).
An earlier version of the draft report has greatly benefitted from the
very insightful comments and helpful suggestions received from
two external peer reviewers. In this connection, the authors would
like to express their sincere appreciation to Dr M Abu Eusuf,
Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka
and Mr Md. Faizul Islam, Joint Chief, Fiscal and Monetary Policy
Wing, GED, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh.
The study team would like to thank Development Research
Initiative (dRi) for conducting the field survey for this study with
due care for the quality of information generated. The four local
partners of the project deserve special mention for their valuable
support to the survey teams. These are Pollisree, RDRS Bangladesh,
Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) and SKS Foundation.
Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments and suggestions
offered by representatives of various stakeholder groups and
experts who took part in the national dialogue titled 'Efficiency of
Delivering Social Protection Programmes in North-West Region'.
The dialogue was held (virtually) on 16 September 2020 to discuss
the findings of an earlier draft of the present report. In this regard,
the authors would like to put on record their deep appreciation of
the valuable inputs provided by Special Guest at the event Mr A B
Tajul Islam, Member of Parliament and Chairman, Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Ministry of Disaster Management and
Relief. The team thankfully recalls the insightful comments and
suggestions offered by H E Ms Rensje Teerink, Ambassador and
Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to
Bangladesh who attended the event as Special Guest. Valuable
comments were received from the panellists, Dr M Abu Eusuf,
Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of
Dhaka, and Ms Parveen Akhter, Director General, Department of
Women Affairs, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs.
Taking this opportunity, the authors would like to register their
sincere thanks to the EU Delegation in Dhaka for their generous
support in implementing the study, and for extending full
cooperation on a continuing basis in the course of implementing the
study.
Oxfam in Bangladesh has been an exceptionally supportive partner
of the CPD, and between them the two concerned teams have
extended fullest cooperation to the study team at every stage of
preparing this report. In this connection, special words of
appreciation are due to Dr Dipankar Datta, Country Director, who
has been a pillar of support for this project. Oxfam in Bangladesh
colleagues, Mr Soeb Iftekhar, Head, Economic Inclusion and
Justice, Ms Kazi Rabeya Ame, Rural Manager and Mr Saiful Alam,
Programme Coordinator, have extended their wholehearted
support to the team throughout the study.
The team gratefully acknowledges the valuable cooperation
extended by all colleagues at the CPD who were involved with
various project-related activities. The team received excellent
support from the CPD Executive Director, Dr Fahmida Khatun,
towards successful implementation of all study-related activities.
89
Mr Avra Bh att acharje e, Joint Dire cto r, Dialogu e a nd
Communication Division, CPD and all colleagues at the Division
have always been extremely supportive in organising various
activities planned under this study. The authors also remain deeply
indebted for their hard work to get the study manuscript ready for
publication under a very tight schedule. Research support received
from Mr Md. Al-Hasan, Senior Research Associate, CPD is
thankfully acknowledged in this connection. The team will fail in its
duty if it did not mention the contribution of Mr Mostafa Amir
Sabbih, Senior Research Associate, CPD who has provided valuable
inputs to the team which have enriched the study.
About the Authors
Professor Mustafizur Rahman is currently serving as Distinguished
Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). Prior to this, he
taught at the University of Dhaka where he is currently a member of
the University Senate. He did Ph.D in Economics from Moscow State
University, Russia and carried out research at several reputed
academic institutions including the University of Oxford, UK as a
Visiting Fellow, Yale University, USA as a Senior Fulbright Fellow
and Warwick University, UK as a post-Doctoral Research Fellow.
As a public policy analyst, Professor Rahman's areas of current
interest include Bangladesh's fiscal-monetary policies, trade policies
and trade reforms, regional trade and connectivity in Southern Asian
region, multilateral trading system and interests of low-income
countries, implementation challenges of the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) in Bangladesh, and graduation
challenges of the LDCs. He has published widely in professional
journals and in volumes brought out by reputed publishing houses
including Routledge, Springer and Palgrave Macmillan.
Professor Rahman has served as member of various important
national committees set up by the Government of Bangladesh
including Regulatory Reforms Commission, Committee to Review
National Sustainable Development Strategy and Core-committee on
Transit and Connectivity. Dr Rahman has served as member of the
Panel of Economists for Bangladesh's Sixth and Seventh Five Year
Plans and First and Second Perspective Plans of the country.
Professor Rahman is a member of Board of Trustees of Brac
University. He is a member of Core Group of Citizen's Platform for
SDGs, Bangladesh.
Mr Towfiqul Islam Khan is an economist and currently a Senior
Research Fellow at the CPD. He has undertaken various research
and published in a number of areas including macroeconomic
10 11
Mr Avra Bh att acharje e, Joint Dire cto r, Dialogu e a nd
Communication Division, CPD and all colleagues at the Division
have always been extremely supportive in organising various
activities planned under this study. The authors also remain deeply
indebted for their hard work to get the study manuscript ready for
publication under a very tight schedule. Research support received
from Mr Md. Al-Hasan, Senior Research Associate, CPD is
thankfully acknowledged in this connection. The team will fail in its
duty if it did not mention the contribution of Mr Mostafa Amir
Sabbih, Senior Research Associate, CPD who has provided valuable
inputs to the team which have enriched the study.
About the Authors
Professor Mustafizur Rahman is currently serving as Distinguished
Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). Prior to this, he
taught at the University of Dhaka where he is currently a member of
the University Senate. He did Ph.D in Economics from Moscow State
University, Russia and carried out research at several reputed
academic institutions including the University of Oxford, UK as a
Visiting Fellow, Yale University, USA as a Senior Fulbright Fellow
and Warwick University, UK as a post-Doctoral Research Fellow.
As a public policy analyst, Professor Rahman's areas of current
interest include Bangladesh's fiscal-monetary policies, trade policies
and trade reforms, regional trade and connectivity in Southern Asian
region, multilateral trading system and interests of low-income
countries, implementation challenges of the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) in Bangladesh, and graduation
challenges of the LDCs. He has published widely in professional
journals and in volumes brought out by reputed publishing houses
including Routledge, Springer and Palgrave Macmillan.
Professor Rahman has served as member of various important
national committees set up by the Government of Bangladesh
including Regulatory Reforms Commission, Committee to Review
National Sustainable Development Strategy and Core-committee on
Transit and Connectivity. Dr Rahman has served as member of the
Panel of Economists for Bangladesh's Sixth and Seventh Five Year
Plans and First and Second Perspective Plans of the country.
Professor Rahman is a member of Board of Trustees of Brac
University. He is a member of Core Group of Citizen's Platform for
SDGs, Bangladesh.
Mr Towfiqul Islam Khan is an economist and currently a Senior
Research Fellow at the CPD. He has undertaken various research
and published in a number of areas including macroeconomic
10 11
policies, fiscal policy and fiscal transparency, governance, social
protection, inclusive development and SDGs. Khan is a member of
the 'SDG Working Team' constituted under the Prime Minister's
Office, Government of Bangladesh. He is also a member of the 'SDGs
NGO Sub-Committee' constituted under the NGO Affairs Bureau of
Bangladesh. Khan received the Australian Leadership Award (ALA)
in 2008 to carry out his post-graduation academic degree at
University of Melbourne, Australia. Khan also obtained his Masters
and Bachelors in the area of Economics from Jahangirnagar
University, Bangladesh.
Mr Muntaseer Kamal is an aspiring economist and currently
working as a Senior Research Associate at the CPD. His primary
research interests are in the areas of macroeconomics and
development economics, with particular focus on Bangladesh's
development. His other areas of interest include international
economics, inclusive development, SDGs and ICT issues. Prior to
joining CPD, he received his Masters and Bachelors degrees in
Economics from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Ms Nawshin Nawar is a Research Associate at the CPD. Her areas of
research interest include macroeconomic management, governance,
sustainable development, and SDG implementation. Prior to joining
CPD, she worked as a Research Assistant in Engineers and Advisors
Limited (EAL), and provided extensive research support for
Commonwealth of Independent States Bangladesh Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (CIS-BCCI). She obtained her Masters and
Bachelors degrees in Economics from the University of Dhaka,
Bangladesh.
About the Project
The overarching objective of the project titled “Enhancing the
Participation of CBOs and CSOs in Democratic Governance
in Bangladesh”, funded by the European Union, is to promote
the cause of transparency, voice and accountability in the
implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in
Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is at present working towards implementing the SDGs,
which have set the global ambition of attaining 17 goals and 169
targets by 2030. A total of 193 countries including Bangladesh have
committed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development with its global vision of economic growth, inclusive
societies and sustainable development.
Transparency and accountability in public decision-making are key
to ensuring that efforts at implementing the SDGs deliver the
expected results. In this backdrop, it is critically important that the
voices of the people, especially the marginalised, the women and the
other left behind groups, are being heard and actions taken
accordingly. However, oftentimes, it is seen that the demands of the
marginalised groups remain unaddressed and their expectations are
not reflected in national policies. There is thus an urgent need for
participatory governance which will ensure meaningful
participation of grassroots people through inclusion in decision
making power structures.
The project's aim is to contribute towards implementation of the
SDGs in Bangladesh through enhanced participation of the
community-based organisations (CBOs) and civil society
organisations (CSOs). Oxfam in Bangladesh and Centre for Policy
Dialogue (CPD) have joined hands to implement the aforesaid
project which seeks to strengthen the role of local CBOs and CSOs
through capacity building to ensure that the demands made by
12 13
policies, fiscal policy and fiscal transparency, governance, social
protection, inclusive development and SDGs. Khan is a member of
the 'SDG Working Team' constituted under the Prime Minister's
Office, Government of Bangladesh. He is also a member of the 'SDGs
NGO Sub-Committee' constituted under the NGO Affairs Bureau of
Bangladesh. Khan received the Australian Leadership Award (ALA)
in 2008 to carry out his post-graduation academic degree at
University of Melbourne, Australia. Khan also obtained his Masters
and Bachelors in the area of Economics from Jahangirnagar
University, Bangladesh.
Mr Muntaseer Kamal is an aspiring economist and currently
working as a Senior Research Associate at the CPD. His primary
research interests are in the areas of macroeconomics and
development economics, with particular focus on Bangladesh's
development. His other areas of interest include international
economics, inclusive development, SDGs and ICT issues. Prior to
joining CPD, he received his Masters and Bachelors degrees in
Economics from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Ms Nawshin Nawar is a Research Associate at the CPD. Her areas of
research interest include macroeconomic management, governance,
sustainable development, and SDG implementation. Prior to joining
CPD, she worked as a Research Assistant in Engineers and Advisors
Limited (EAL), and provided extensive research support for
Commonwealth of Independent States Bangladesh Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (CIS-BCCI). She obtained her Masters and
Bachelors degrees in Economics from the University of Dhaka,
Bangladesh.
About the Project
The overarching objective of the project titled “Enhancing the
Participation of CBOs and CSOs in Democratic Governance
in Bangladesh”, funded by the European Union, is to promote
the cause of transparency, voice and accountability in the
implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in
Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is at present working towards implementing the SDGs,
which have set the global ambition of attaining 17 goals and 169
targets by 2030. A total of 193 countries including Bangladesh have
committed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development with its global vision of economic growth, inclusive
societies and sustainable development.
Transparency and accountability in public decision-making are key
to ensuring that efforts at implementing the SDGs deliver the
expected results. In this backdrop, it is critically important that the
voices of the people, especially the marginalised, the women and the
other left behind groups, are being heard and actions taken
accordingly. However, oftentimes, it is seen that the demands of the
marginalised groups remain unaddressed and their expectations are
not reflected in national policies. There is thus an urgent need for
participatory governance which will ensure meaningful
participation of grassroots people through inclusion in decision
making power structures.
The project's aim is to contribute towards implementation of the
SDGs in Bangladesh through enhanced participation of the
community-based organisations (CBOs) and civil society
organisations (CSOs). Oxfam in Bangladesh and Centre for Policy
Dialogue (CPD) have joined hands to implement the aforesaid
project which seeks to strengthen the role of local CBOs and CSOs
through capacity building to ensure that the demands made by
12 13
people at the grassroots get heard and measures in view of this are
implemented by policymakers at national level.
The project is making best use of the comparative advantage of the
two collaborating institutions to achieve the expected results. Oxfam
in Bangladesh is taking advantage of its extensive network to reach
the local level to ensure engagement and capacity building of local
communities and marginalized groups in support of SDGs
implementation in Bangladesh. CPD, a leading think tank of the
country, is contributing by undertaking research and through wide-
ranging publication and advocacy activities. It is to be noted that, the
CPD, the secretariat of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh,
connects the project activities with one of the most well-represented
networks of non-state actors working towards implementing the
SDGs in the country.
The project activities largely focus on a select set of riverine islands
(Char in Bengali), wetlands (Haor in Bengali) and coastal areas
belonging to 13 districts of Bangladesh. These are Barguna,
Chattogram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Kishoreganj, Kurigram,
Netrokona, Nilphamari, Pirojpur, Rangpur, Satkhira, Sirajganj, and
Sumanganj. These are considered to be areas with high levels of
poverty, suffering from remoteness, vulnerability to climate change
and proneness to disasters. It is reckoned that the need for improved
service delivery through transparency, accountability and good
governance is of heightened importance and relevance as far as these
marginalised and geographically handicapped areas are concerned.
Winning the fight to achieve the SDGs, from the vantage point of
leaving no one and no area behind will, without doubt, hinge on how
successfully specific challenges faced by these communities and
these areas are addressed adequately. It is also hoped that in the
process the project will contribute towards implementation of the
national five-year plans and the Vision 2021 Perspective Plan of the
government.
The project's target groups include 50 thousand members belonging
to 325 women-led CBOs/CSOs and 300 CSO representatives from 13
upazilas. Also, 450 local authority representatives and 650 local
government officials will have an opportunity to enhance their
knowledge and understanding about effective delivery of the SDGs.
Project activities will focus on how best to deliver local level public
services to the doorsteps of the beneficiaries. It is also hoped that
project-related stakeholders will use the new knowledge to advocate
the needs of local communities they serve and by working with local
level communities will work to ensure delivery of public services at
the local levels. Overall, the project is expected to benefit 175,000
people living in the 13 districts during the three and a half-year
period of its implementation.
14 15
people at the grassroots get heard and measures in view of this are
implemented by policymakers at national level.
The project is making best use of the comparative advantage of the
two collaborating institutions to achieve the expected results. Oxfam
in Bangladesh is taking advantage of its extensive network to reach
the local level to ensure engagement and capacity building of local
communities and marginalized groups in support of SDGs
implementation in Bangladesh. CPD, a leading think tank of the
country, is contributing by undertaking research and through wide-
ranging publication and advocacy activities. It is to be noted that, the
CPD, the secretariat of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh,
connects the project activities with one of the most well-represented
networks of non-state actors working towards implementing the
SDGs in the country.
The project activities largely focus on a select set of riverine islands
(Char in Bengali), wetlands (Haor in Bengali) and coastal areas
belonging to 13 districts of Bangladesh. These are Barguna,
Chattogram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Kishoreganj, Kurigram,
Netrokona, Nilphamari, Pirojpur, Rangpur, Satkhira, Sirajganj, and
Sumanganj. These are considered to be areas with high levels of
poverty, suffering from remoteness, vulnerability to climate change
and proneness to disasters. It is reckoned that the need for improved
service delivery through transparency, accountability and good
governance is of heightened importance and relevance as far as these
marginalised and geographically handicapped areas are concerned.
Winning the fight to achieve the SDGs, from the vantage point of
leaving no one and no area behind will, without doubt, hinge on how
successfully specific challenges faced by these communities and
these areas are addressed adequately. It is also hoped that in the
process the project will contribute towards implementation of the
national five-year plans and the Vision 2021 Perspective Plan of the
government.
The project's target groups include 50 thousand members belonging
to 325 women-led CBOs/CSOs and 300 CSO representatives from 13
upazilas. Also, 450 local authority representatives and 650 local
government officials will have an opportunity to enhance their
knowledge and understanding about effective delivery of the SDGs.
Project activities will focus on how best to deliver local level public
services to the doorsteps of the beneficiaries. It is also hoped that
project-related stakeholders will use the new knowledge to advocate
the needs of local communities they serve and by working with local
level communities will work to ensure delivery of public services at
the local levels. Overall, the project is expected to benefit 175,000
people living in the 13 districts during the three and a half-year
period of its implementation.
14 15
Table of Contents
17
1. Introduction
2. Rationale for choosing social protection programmes
as effective tools for delivering the SDGs 27
2.1. National commitments 29
2.2. Nexus between SDGs and social protection:
A review of literature 34
3. An introduction to social protection in Bangladesh 45
3.1. Evolution of social protection in Bangladesh 47
3.2. An introduction to the five selected SSNPs 52
4. Role of local actors in SDGs and SSNP delivery
in Bangladesh 61
4.1. Role of local level actors in delivering the SDGs 63
4.2. Role of local level actors in delivering SSNPs 69
5. Measuring efficiency of service delivery pertaining
to SSNPs: Analytical framework 75
5.1. Conceptual framework 77
5.2. Methodology 80
6. Findings 85
6.1. Distribution of the surveyed beneficiaries 87
6.2. Current practices involving the selection and
implementation process 88
6.2.1. Corruption, nepotism, and political pressure 100
6.2.2. Benefits distribution process 105
6.2.3. Perceived contribution of the selected SSNPs 109
7. Policy recommendations 113
References 128
Annex 136
21
Table of Contents
17
1. Introduction
2. Rationale for choosing social protection programmes
as effective tools for delivering the SDGs 27
2.1. National commitments 29
2.2. Nexus between SDGs and social protection:
A review of literature 34
3. An introduction to social protection in Bangladesh 45
3.1. Evolution of social protection in Bangladesh 47
3.2. An introduction to the five selected SSNPs 52
4. Role of local actors in SDGs and SSNP delivery
in Bangladesh 61
4.1. Role of local level actors in delivering the SDGs 63
4.2. Role of local level actors in delivering SSNPs 69
5. Measuring efficiency of service delivery pertaining
to SSNPs: Analytical framework 75
5.1. Conceptual framework 77
5.2. Methodology 80
6. Findings 85
6.1. Distribution of the surveyed beneficiaries 87
6.2. Current practices involving the selection and
implementation process 88
6.2.1. Corruption, nepotism, and political pressure 100
6.2.2. Benefits distribution process 105
6.2.3. Perceived contribution of the selected SSNPs 109
7. Policy recommendations 113
References 128
Annex 136
21
7FYP Seventh Five Year Plan
BBS Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
CBO Community-Based Organisation
CBPR Community Based Participatory Research
CCT Conditional Cash Transfer
COVID-19 Corona Virus Disease 2019
CPD Centre for Policy Dialogue
CSO Civil Society Organisation
DC Deputy Commissioner
DPS Deposit Pension Scheme
EGPP Employment Generation Programme for the
Poorest
FGD Focus Group Discussion
FY Fiscal Year
G2P Government to Person
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GED General Economics Division
GRS Grievance Redress System
HIES Household Income and Expenditure Survey
ID Identification
KII Key Informant Interview
LA Local Administration
LGI Local Government Institutions
M&E Monitoring and Evaluation
MDG Millennium Development Goals
MGNREGA Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act
Acronyms
MP Member of Parliament
NGO Non-Governmental Organisation
NHD National Household Database
NSA Non-State Actors
NSSS National Social Security Strategy
OC Officer in Charge
OMS Open Market Sales
PAR Participatory Action Research
PESP Primary Education Stipend Project
PIC Project Implementation Committee
SDG Sustainable Development Goals
SESP Secondary Education Stipend Programme
SMC School Management Committee
SME Small and Medium Enterprise
SSC Secondary School Certificate
SSNP Social Safety Net Programme
UIC Union Information Centre
UNO Upazila Nirbahi Officer
UP Union Parishad
UPS Universal Pension Scheme
VGD Vulnerable Group Development
VGF Vulnerable Group Feeding
18 19
7FYP Seventh Five Year Plan
BBS Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
CBO Community-Based Organisation
CBPR Community Based Participatory Research
CCT Conditional Cash Transfer
COVID-19 Corona Virus Disease 2019
CPD Centre for Policy Dialogue
CSO Civil Society Organisation
DC Deputy Commissioner
DPS Deposit Pension Scheme
EGPP Employment Generation Programme for the
Poorest
FGD Focus Group Discussion
FY Fiscal Year
G2P Government to Person
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GED General Economics Division
GRS Grievance Redress System
HIES Household Income and Expenditure Survey
ID Identification
KII Key Informant Interview
LA Local Administration
LGI Local Government Institutions
M&E Monitoring and Evaluation
MDG Millennium Development Goals
MGNREGA Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act
Acronyms
MP Member of Parliament
NGO Non-Governmental Organisation
NHD National Household Database
NSA Non-State Actors
NSSS National Social Security Strategy
OC Officer in Charge
OMS Open Market Sales
PAR Participatory Action Research
PESP Primary Education Stipend Project
PIC Project Implementation Committee
SDG Sustainable Development Goals
SESP Secondary Education Stipend Programme
SMC School Management Committee
SME Small and Medium Enterprise
SSC Secondary School Certificate
SSNP Social Safety Net Programme
UIC Union Information Centre
UNO Upazila Nirbahi Officer
UP Union Parishad
UPS Universal Pension Scheme
VGD Vulnerable Group Development
VGF Vulnerable Group Feeding
18 19
1
Introduction
1
Introduction
1. Introduction
Bangladesh's commendable success in achieving the targets of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has provided the country
with strong credentials and confidence to successfully tackle the
challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) and achieve most of the goals by 2030 (GED, 2017). It is
widely recognised that social protection and social safety net
programmes (SSNPs) are key enablers to attain basically all the
SDGs at the country level. This is particularly pertinent when one
keeps in mind the implementation of the SDGs in line with the spirit
of 'leave no one behind'. While SDG 1.3 (implement nationally
appropriate social protection systems and measures for all,
including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the
poor and the vulnerable) specifically mentions about social
protection, this has strong linkages with the attainment of several
other SDG targets. In this backdrop, it will be pertinent to note that
developing countries are increasingly trying to adopt
comprehensive social protection policies and strategies, albeit with
varying degrees of success. For instance, Ukraine and Uruguay
have attained universal maternity coverage. Developing countries
such as Argentina, Colombia, Mongolia and South Africa have
made notable progress in this regard. Universal disability benefits
programmes have been put in place in Brazil, Chile and Mongolia
(ILO, 2017a).
In spite of designing a National Social Security Strategy (NSSS), in
the particular case of Bangladesh, coverage of social protection
programmes still falls short of what is needed and necessary. For
example, the number of beneficiaries of the old age allowance
programme is proposed to be 49 lakhs in the fiscal year 2020-21
(FY2021) as against the target of 55 lakhs set out in the NSSS by
FY2018. Similar differences are also observed in the case of a
number of other SSNPs where the proposed number of
beneficiaries in a particular year is well below their corresponding
23
1. Introduction
Bangladesh's commendable success in achieving the targets of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has provided the country
with strong credentials and confidence to successfully tackle the
challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) and achieve most of the goals by 2030 (GED, 2017). It is
widely recognised that social protection and social safety net
programmes (SSNPs) are key enablers to attain basically all the
SDGs at the country level. This is particularly pertinent when one
keeps in mind the implementation of the SDGs in line with the spirit
of 'leave no one behind'. While SDG 1.3 (implement nationally
appropriate social protection systems and measures for all,
including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the
poor and the vulnerable) specifically mentions about social
protection, this has strong linkages with the attainment of several
other SDG targets. In this backdrop, it will be pertinent to note that
developing countries are increasingly trying to adopt
comprehensive social protection policies and strategies, albeit with
varying degrees of success. For instance, Ukraine and Uruguay
have attained universal maternity coverage. Developing countries
such as Argentina, Colombia, Mongolia and South Africa have
made notable progress in this regard. Universal disability benefits
programmes have been put in place in Brazil, Chile and Mongolia
(ILO, 2017a).
In spite of designing a National Social Security Strategy (NSSS), in
the particular case of Bangladesh, coverage of social protection
programmes still falls short of what is needed and necessary. For
example, the number of beneficiaries of the old age allowance
programme is proposed to be 49 lakhs in the fiscal year 2020-21
(FY2021) as against the target of 55 lakhs set out in the NSSS by
FY2018. Similar differences are also observed in the case of a
number of other SSNPs where the proposed number of
beneficiaries in a particular year is well below their corresponding
23
targets set out in the NSSS (CPD, 2018). In view of this, raising the
effectiveness of delivery of social protection programmes assumes
heightened importance from the vantage point of attaining the
SDGs in Bangladesh.
It is pertinent to mention here that delivering social protection
programmes at the grassroots level requires the involvement of
several actors including the central authorities, local governments
and local administrations (LAs). At the aggregate level, it is the
state's responsibility to deliver the SDGs. On the other hand, the
actions required from local authorities are also explicitly mentioned
in the SDG framework. It is found that integrated community-level
strategies are required to deliver at least 12 goals of the SDGs
(Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, 2017). According to
Article 59(2) of the constitution of Bangladesh, the key
responsibilities for socio-economic development, including “the
preparation and implementation of plans relating to public services
and economic development,” have been entrusted with the local
administrative and government bodies, particularly the union
parishad (UP) and upazila uarishad (Ahmed, Boex, Monem and
Pandey, 2014). Indeed, this constitutional mandate is a powerful
enabler of localisation of the SDGs implementation in Bangladesh.
Also, all national five-year plans of the country have highlighted the
importance of local government as a key institution for improving
governance and developm ent outcomes in Bangladesh
(Aminuzzaman, 2010).
From a theoretical perspective, functions carried out by the local-
level government are critically important since they provide
'accesses' to available government services and productive
resources, make those services 'affordable', and deliver those with
accountability, so that an 'enabling environment' is created for the
poor and marginalised people to overcome their situation and to
succeed (Coonrod, 1994). It has been the tradition of the local
government institutions (LGIs) in Bangladesh to carry out various
development projects under the head of SSNPs (Ahmed, 2007).
Such programmes, designed to help the disadvantaged groups to
realise their human rights, are also sometimes referred to as 'social
protection floor' (ILO and WHO, 2009). These include community-
based services for rural poor, impoverished women and children,
widowed and aged, disabled and indigenous people; rural women
self-reliance programmes; employment creation projects for rural
women, and social transfers, in cash or kind or both, for poor and
vulnerable people (Barkat-E-Khuda, 2011).
However, when it comes to public service provision to the most
marginalised and disadvantaged population in Bangladesh, in
most cases, the gap between their expectation and reality remains
significant (Aminuzzaman, 2008). Failure of the LGIs to respond to
the needs of the rural poor and vulnerable people often compels
them to seek support from alternative channels such as non-
governmental organisations (NGOs) and private providers. People
experiencing extreme or moderate poverty are generally deprived
of legal rights because of organisational weakness, lack of
information and lax enforcement of constitutional provisions. As
far as SSNPs are concerned, several studies have pointed out a
number of shortcomings. Among these, the most commonly
observed ones include inadequacy of allocation and coverage,
mistargeting, leakages, coordination failure among the
impleme nting agencies, hig h administrative costs and
inefficiencies, and lack of an impact evaluation framework (Khatun,
Rahman & Nabi, 2008; Khatun, Khan & Nabi, 2012; MSUK, 2013).
The present study seeks to assess the effectiveness of the delivery of
five selected social protection programmes currently in place in
Bangladesh. The idea is to identify the gaps between policies and
praxis. The study particularly focuses on the delivery of five core life-
cycle based social protection programmes. These include maternity
allowance, primary and secondary school stipend programmes,
employment generation programme for the poorest (EGPP), and old
age allowance. These programmes provide basic social protection to
the citizens against attendant risks at various stages of the life-cycle,
viz. early childhood, school age, working age, and old age. These
programmes are also more wide-ranging in nature as these are not
particularly targeted towards any particular social group.
Furthermore, these programmes are large in terms of both budgetary
allocation and coverage compared to other programmes.
The study looks at the delivery of these programmes in four districts
of Bangladesh: Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram, and Gaibandha.
24 25
targets set out in the NSSS (CPD, 2018). In view of this, raising the
effectiveness of delivery of social protection programmes assumes
heightened importance from the vantage point of attaining the
SDGs in Bangladesh.
It is pertinent to mention here that delivering social protection
programmes at the grassroots level requires the involvement of
several actors including the central authorities, local governments
and local administrations (LAs). At the aggregate level, it is the
state's responsibility to deliver the SDGs. On the other hand, the
actions required from local authorities are also explicitly mentioned
in the SDG framework. It is found that integrated community-level
strategies are required to deliver at least 12 goals of the SDGs
(Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, 2017). According to
Article 59(2) of the constitution of Bangladesh, the key
responsibilities for socio-economic development, including “the
preparation and implementation of plans relating to public services
and economic development,” have been entrusted with the local
administrative and government bodies, particularly the union
parishad (UP) and upazila uarishad (Ahmed, Boex, Monem and
Pandey, 2014). Indeed, this constitutional mandate is a powerful
enabler of localisation of the SDGs implementation in Bangladesh.
Also, all national five-year plans of the country have highlighted the
importance of local government as a key institution for improving
governance and developm ent outcomes in Bangladesh
(Aminuzzaman, 2010).
From a theoretical perspective, functions carried out by the local-
level government are critically important since they provide
'accesses' to available government services and productive
resources, make those services 'affordable', and deliver those with
accountability, so that an 'enabling environment' is created for the
poor and marginalised people to overcome their situation and to
succeed (Coonrod, 1994). It has been the tradition of the local
government institutions (LGIs) in Bangladesh to carry out various
development projects under the head of SSNPs (Ahmed, 2007).
Such programmes, designed to help the disadvantaged groups to
realise their human rights, are also sometimes referred to as 'social
protection floor' (ILO and WHO, 2009). These include community-
based services for rural poor, impoverished women and children,
widowed and aged, disabled and indigenous people; rural women
self-reliance programmes; employment creation projects for rural
women, and social transfers, in cash or kind or both, for poor and
vulnerable people (Barkat-E-Khuda, 2011).
However, when it comes to public service provision to the most
marginalised and disadvantaged population in Bangladesh, in
most cases, the gap between their expectation and reality remains
significant (Aminuzzaman, 2008). Failure of the LGIs to respond to
the needs of the rural poor and vulnerable people often compels
them to seek support from alternative channels such as non-
governmental organisations (NGOs) and private providers. People
experiencing extreme or moderate poverty are generally deprived
of legal rights because of organisational weakness, lack of
information and lax enforcement of constitutional provisions. As
far as SSNPs are concerned, several studies have pointed out a
number of shortcomings. Among these, the most commonly
observed ones include inadequacy of allocation and coverage,
mistargeting, leakages, coordination failure among the
impleme nting agencies, hig h administrative costs and
inefficiencies, and lack of an impact evaluation framework (Khatun,
Rahman & Nabi, 2008; Khatun, Khan & Nabi, 2012; MSUK, 2013).
The present study seeks to assess the effectiveness of the delivery of
five selected social protection programmes currently in place in
Bangladesh. The idea is to identify the gaps between policies and
praxis. The study particularly focuses on the delivery of five core life-
cycle based social protection programmes. These include maternity
allowance, primary and secondary school stipend programmes,
employment generation programme for the poorest (EGPP), and old
age allowance. These programmes provide basic social protection to
the citizens against attendant risks at various stages of the life-cycle,
viz. early childhood, school age, working age, and old age. These
programmes are also more wide-ranging in nature as these are not
particularly targeted towards any particular social group.
Furthermore, these programmes are large in terms of both budgetary
allocation and coverage compared to other programmes.
The study looks at the delivery of these programmes in four districts
of Bangladesh: Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram, and Gaibandha.
24 25
These districts belong to the Rangpur Division, the poorest in the
country in terms of the poverty level. Indeed, based on the upper
poverty line, the poverty headcount ratio for these four districts
exceeded 30 per cent in 2016 in contrast to the corresponding
national figure of 24.3 per cent. Indeed, Kurigram is the district with
the highest poverty rate in Bangladesh (BBS, 2017).
In connection with the above, the study seeks to answer the
following questions:
i. How efficient is the delivery of identified SSNPs in the selected
districts? Are there any leakages or wastages of public
resources in delivering these programmes?
ii. What are the gaps between policies and existing practices of
the local government authorities regarding the delivery of
identified SSNPs in the selected districts?
iii. Are there any area/programme specific good practices and
innovative approaches that can be scaled up and replicated in
other areas?
iv. How effectiveness of SSNPs delivered by the LGIs can be
raised?
Following this introduction, Chapter 2 discusses the rationale for
choosing social protection programmes as effective tools for
delivering the SDGs. The chapter also provides a brief overview as
regards how social protection is embedded in various national
commitments and sheds light on the nexus between SDGs and
social protection. A review of key stylised facts concerning social
protection programmes in Bangladesh is presented in Chapter 3.
Actors at the grassroots level, e.g. local government, local
administration, and non-state actors such as local NGOs and
community-based organisations (CBOs) can play an important role
in ensuring efficient delivery of social programmes. Respective
roles of the aforesaid groups in delivering SDGs and social
protection programmes are briefly discussed in Chapter 4. Chapter
5 outlines the conceptual framework and methodology which
guided collection and analysis of field-level data and information.
Chapter 6 presents an analysis of field level findings concerning the
selected social protection programmes. Chapter 7 concludes the
discussion with a summary of the findings and presents a set of
policy recommendations.
2
Rationale for choosing
social protection
programmes
as effective tools for
delivering the SDGs
26
These districts belong to the Rangpur Division, the poorest in the
country in terms of the poverty level. Indeed, based on the upper
poverty line, the poverty headcount ratio for these four districts
exceeded 30 per cent in 2016 in contrast to the corresponding
national figure of 24.3 per cent. Indeed, Kurigram is the district with
the highest poverty rate in Bangladesh (BBS, 2017).
In connection with the above, the study seeks to answer the
following questions:
i. How efficient is the delivery of identified SSNPs in the selected
districts? Are there any leakages or wastages of public
resources in delivering these programmes?
ii. What are the gaps between policies and existing practices of
the local government authorities regarding the delivery of
identified SSNPs in the selected districts?
iii. Are there any area/programme specific good practices and
innovative approaches that can be scaled up and replicated in
other areas?
iv. How effectiveness of SSNPs delivered by the LGIs can be
raised?
Following this introduction, Chapter 2 discusses the rationale for
choosing social protection programmes as effective tools for
delivering the SDGs. The chapter also provides a brief overview as
regards how social protection is embedded in various national
commitments and sheds light on the nexus between SDGs and
social protection. A review of key stylised facts concerning social
protection programmes in Bangladesh is presented in Chapter 3.
Actors at the grassroots level, e.g. local government, local
administration, and non-state actors such as local NGOs and
community-based organisations (CBOs) can play an important role
in ensuring efficient delivery of social programmes. Respective
roles of the aforesaid groups in delivering SDGs and social
protection programmes are briefly discussed in Chapter 4. Chapter
5 outlines the conceptual framework and methodology which
guided collection and analysis of field-level data and information.
Chapter 6 presents an analysis of field level findings concerning the
selected social protection programmes. Chapter 7 concludes the
discussion with a summary of the findings and presents a set of
policy recommendations.
2
Rationale for choosing
social protection
programmes
as effective tools for
delivering the SDGs
26
2. Rationale for choosing social protection
programmes as effective tools for
delivering the SDGs
2.1. National commitments
A survey of literature bears out that social protection schemes
have their supporters and detractors. These have often been
criticised as being politically convenient, on the one hand, and
inadequate in addressing the real concerns of the poor, on the
other (Rahman, Choudhury and Ali, 2011). It is often argued that
this type of programmes undermines the working spirit of the
people by making them dependent on government handouts.
Whether the public allocations for social protection could be better
invested elsewhere also remains a debatable issue (Cabinet
Division and GED, 2019). Despite these criticisms, social
protection remains a key tool for poverty alleviation and an
essential element of socio-economic development in developing
countries. Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
of the United Nations states: Everyone, as a member of society, … has
the right to social security through national effort and international co-
operation and in accordance with the organisation and resources of each
State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his
dignity and the free development of his personality. The Declaration
further asserts: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate
for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food,
clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the
right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability,
widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond
his control (Article 25). Given that Bangladesh is a party to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the government of
Bangladesh is obliged to ensure that deserving people in need are
29
2. Rationale for choosing social protection
programmes as effective tools for
delivering the SDGs
2.1. National commitments
A survey of literature bears out that social protection schemes
have their supporters and detractors. These have often been
criticised as being politically convenient, on the one hand, and
inadequate in addressing the real concerns of the poor, on the
other (Rahman, Choudhury and Ali, 2011). It is often argued that
this type of programmes undermines the working spirit of the
people by making them dependent on government handouts.
Whether the public allocations for social protection could be better
invested elsewhere also remains a debatable issue (Cabinet
Division and GED, 2019). Despite these criticisms, social
protection remains a key tool for poverty alleviation and an
essential element of socio-economic development in developing
countries. Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
of the United Nations states: Everyone, as a member of society, … has
the right to social security through national effort and international co-
operation and in accordance with the organisation and resources of each
State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his
dignity and the free development of his personality. The Declaration
further asserts: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate
for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food,
clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the
right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability,
widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond
his control (Article 25). Given that Bangladesh is a party to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the government of
Bangladesh is obliged to ensure that deserving people in need are
29
provided with adequate social protection. To this end, over the
past years, a number of commitments have been made in key
policy documents.
Constitutional provision
One of the fundamental principles of state policy, according to
Article 15 (d) of the Constitution of the People's Republic of
Bangladesh, is the right to social security for the citizens. Article 15
(d) declares that the State shall be responsible to attain through
planned economic growth, a constant increase of productive forces and a
steady improvement in the material and cultural standard of living of the
people, with a view to securing to its citizens…… the right to social
security, that is to say, to public assistance in cases of undeserved want
arising from unemployment, illness or disablement, or suffered by widows
or orphans or in old age, or in other such cases. However, it is to be noted
in this connection that there is no separate law or Act of Parliament
for providing social security to the citizens of Bangladesh.
Perspective Plan of Bangladesh (2010-2021)
The “Perspective Plan of Bangladesh (2010-2021): Making Vision
2021 A Reality” has put emphasis on an effective policy initiative
based on holistic approach to social protection. The Plan envisages
an increase in public expenditures on social protection programmes
in view of the rising demand and in the backdrop of the present low
coverage. The Perspective Plan also mentions about the
development of a coherent and integrated national social protection
strategy based on a comprehensive mapping of existing and
emerging vulnerabilities (GED, 2012). The Perspective Plan
articulates the aspiration of establishing a caring society by 2021 for
which actions were required in a number of core areas: health,
housing, labour and social security, gender and development,
youth and culture, sports and recreation, sustainable communities,
and social services. In the targets and strategies regarding
population policy emphasis was put on reducing the total fertility
rate. In order to achieve this, the Plan stressed on pursuing
strategies including preferential treatment for one child for
educational support, access to health and educational services,
public sector employment, old age pension, and social security
benefit. The Perspective Plan espoused a pro-poor bias in public
expenditure by way of making the budget an effective instrument
of economic management. With a view to attaining the objective of
making high growth inclusive and pro-poor so that its benefits
reach all sections of the population, the Plan has put emphasis on
employment generation, promotion of human resource
development, and wider network of safety nets for the poor, elderly
and disabled population. Section 12.6 of the Plan on addressing
poverty through social protection focuses on the necessity, status,
and challenges as regards implementation of social protection
programmes. It also stresses on the need for monitoring and
coordination of social protection programmes.
National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) of Bangladesh
Bangladesh government approved the “National Social Security
Strategy (NSSS) of Bangladesh” on 1 June 2015. The long-term
vision of the Strategy revolves around building an inclusive Social
Security System for all deserving Bangladeshis that effectively tackles and
prevents poverty and inequality and contributes to broader human
development, employment and economic growth. The timeline of the
Strategy coincides with that of the Perspective Plan of Bangladesh
as the implementation of the NSSS is planned from 2016 to 2020.
Over these five years of its duration, the goal of the NSSS is to reform
the national Social Security System by ensuring more efficient and
effective use of resources, strengthened delivery systems and progress
towards a more inclusive form of Social Security that effectively tackles
lifecycle risks, prioritising the poorest and most vulnerable members of
society (GED, 2015).
The NSSS aims to modernise the social security system through a
combination of tax-funded SSNPs, contributory social insurance
and employment regulations to safeguard the interests of the
workers. It has indeed expanded the scope of social protection from
the earlier narrow safety net concept. The NSSS has been designed
to address some of the drawbacks of the present social security
system including low coverage, inadequate attention to regional
dimensions, lack of access to programmes, less than full benefit
accrued to beneficiaries, leakages, etc. Identifying the underlying
causes and opportunities of widening the scope of social protection
will enable policymakers to take necessary steps towards more
effective and strengthened social security.
30 31
provided with adequate social protection. To this end, over the
past years, a number of commitments have been made in key
policy documents.
Constitutional provision
One of the fundamental principles of state policy, according to
Article 15 (d) of the Constitution of the People's Republic of
Bangladesh, is the right to social security for the citizens. Article 15
(d) declares that the State shall be responsible to attain through
planned economic growth, a constant increase of productive forces and a
steady improvement in the material and cultural standard of living of the
people, with a view to securing to its citizens…… the right to social
security, that is to say, to public assistance in cases of undeserved want
arising from unemployment, illness or disablement, or suffered by widows
or orphans or in old age, or in other such cases. However, it is to be noted
in this connection that there is no separate law or Act of Parliament
for providing social security to the citizens of Bangladesh.
Perspective Plan of Bangladesh (2010-2021)
The “Perspective Plan of Bangladesh (2010-2021): Making Vision
2021 A Reality” has put emphasis on an effective policy initiative
based on holistic approach to social protection. The Plan envisages
an increase in public expenditures on social protection programmes
in view of the rising demand and in the backdrop of the present low
coverage. The Perspective Plan also mentions about the
development of a coherent and integrated national social protection
strategy based on a comprehensive mapping of existing and
emerging vulnerabilities (GED, 2012). The Perspective Plan
articulates the aspiration of establishing a caring society by 2021 for
which actions were required in a number of core areas: health,
housing, labour and social security, gender and development,
youth and culture, sports and recreation, sustainable communities,
and social services. In the targets and strategies regarding
population policy emphasis was put on reducing the total fertility
rate. In order to achieve this, the Plan stressed on pursuing
strategies including preferential treatment for one child for
educational support, access to health and educational services,
public sector employment, old age pension, and social security
benefit. The Perspective Plan espoused a pro-poor bias in public
expenditure by way of making the budget an effective instrument
of economic management. With a view to attaining the objective of
making high growth inclusive and pro-poor so that its benefits
reach all sections of the population, the Plan has put emphasis on
employment generation, promotion of human resource
development, and wider network of safety nets for the poor, elderly
and disabled population. Section 12.6 of the Plan on addressing
poverty through social protection focuses on the necessity, status,
and challenges as regards implementation of social protection
programmes. It also stresses on the need for monitoring and
coordination of social protection programmes.
National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) of Bangladesh
Bangladesh government approved the “National Social Security
Strategy (NSSS) of Bangladesh” on 1 June 2015. The long-term
vision of the Strategy revolves around building an inclusive Social
Security System for all deserving Bangladeshis that effectively tackles and
prevents poverty and inequality and contributes to broader human
development, employment and economic growth. The timeline of the
Strategy coincides with that of the Perspective Plan of Bangladesh
as the implementation of the NSSS is planned from 2016 to 2020.
Over these five years of its duration, the goal of the NSSS is to reform
the national Social Security System by ensuring more efficient and
effective use of resources, strengthened delivery systems and progress
towards a more inclusive form of Social Security that effectively tackles
lifecycle risks, prioritising the poorest and most vulnerable members of
society (GED, 2015).
The NSSS aims to modernise the social security system through a
combination of tax-funded SSNPs, contributory social insurance
and employment regulations to safeguard the interests of the
workers. It has indeed expanded the scope of social protection from
the earlier narrow safety net concept. The NSSS has been designed
to address some of the drawbacks of the present social security
system including low coverage, inadequate attention to regional
dimensions, lack of access to programmes, less than full benefit
accrued to beneficiaries, leakages, etc. Identifying the underlying
causes and opportunities of widening the scope of social protection
will enable policymakers to take necessary steps towards more
effective and strengthened social security.
30 31
The NSSS illustrates a mechanism to develop a social protection floor,
through identification and categorisation of the needs and priorities
of different lifecycle groups. The Strategy suggests four core lifecycle
programmes consolidated along the lifecycle risks. These include: i)
social security support for children; ii) programmes for working age
populations, including young people; iii) comprehensive pension
system for the elderly; and iv) social security for people with
disabilities. The strategy, though ambitious, has the potential to serve
as an effective tool for putting in place a sound social safety net in the
Bangladesh context if it is implemented in a systematic manner. This
could be achieved by taking a comprehensive view, addressing
overlaps in the programmes, avoiding duplications, reducing
leakages, and raising the efficacy of delivery of the SSNPs.
The financing of the NSSS is designed to be based on cost-sharing in
the long-run. Part of it would be financed by public expenditure (i.e.
transfers and subsidies) while the remainder by the private sector,
through social insurance and employment-based measures. These
relate to minimum wage, statutory maternity benefits, leave pay,
compensation for dismissal and work injury compensation.
However, the proposed financing structure of the NSSS is
somewhat vague as there is no adequate explanation of how the
financing is to take place and who will bear the responsibility. The
social insurance part of the financing is relatively small, indicating
that the NSSS will have to be dependent on tax-financed transfers
for quite some time. Clear guidelines should have been in place as
regards the financing mechanism and the coordination process
involving different government agencies for the Strategy to work
successfully (Khatun and Saadat, 2018).
The NSSS recognises the role of LGIs and NGOs in the delivery of
the SSNPs. The Strategy mentions that LGIs' role will be important
in terms of identifying prospective beneficiaries, resolving
disputes, and providing assistance for monitoring and evaluation
related tasks. It is reckoned that NGOs can be an important partner
in attaining the goals of NSSS. They could reinforce NSSS
implementation by piloting novel ideas for scaling up, identifying
potential beneficiaries, particularly those in remote areas and the
marginalised and vulnerable sections of the population, and by
helping redress grievances and disputes.
The Seventh Five Year Plan
The Seventh Five Year Plan (7FYP) is aligned with the goals
articulated in the NSSS and Perspective Plan of Bangladesh and
talks of introducing a comprehensive social protection system in
Bangladesh. Chapter 14 of the Plan on “Social Protection, Social
Welfare and Social Inclusion” identifies the key challenges if the
various milestones of the NSSS are to be achieved. Indeed, the 7FYP
basically reiterates the most important elements of the NSSS when it
comes to social protection.
The 7FYP also mentions about issues such as gender equality and
social inclusion. The Plan states that the success of gender equality
and women's empowerment agenda will depend not only on
enhancing capabilities of these groups and access to resources and
opportunities, but also on addressing the structural and
institutional barriers. The framework here includes four areas of
strategic objectives, viz. improving women's human capabilities,
increasing their economic benefits, enhancing their voice and
agency, and creating an enabling environment for women's
advancement. The 7FYP strategy for inclusion aims at addressing
the concerns of children, ethnic population, dalits and extreme poor
groups, third gender groups and differently abled people, among
others.
Election Manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League: National
Parliament Election 2018
Bangladesh Awami League's 2018 Election Manifesto puts
emphasis on the expansion of the coverage of the existing SSNPs.
The manifesto states that the income and purchasing power of the
people had increased as a result of the introduction and expansion
of various SSNPs. It is also stated that through budgetary reforms
allocations for social safety nets will be increased in line with the
demands on the ground. The manifesto presents the 'National
Social Protection Strategy' as an example of the government's
success stories. In this connection, the manifesto mentions some of
the major SSNPs that the government had already launched:
stipends for girls, stipends for the physically challenged students,
old age allowance, maternity allowance, allowances for widows
and husband's deserted destitute, ektee bari ektee khamar,
ashrayan projects, food for work programmes, vulnerable group
32 33
The NSSS illustrates a mechanism to develop a social protection floor,
through identification and categorisation of the needs and priorities
of different lifecycle groups. The Strategy suggests four core lifecycle
programmes consolidated along the lifecycle risks. These include: i)
social security support for children; ii) programmes for working age
populations, including young people; iii) comprehensive pension
system for the elderly; and iv) social security for people with
disabilities. The strategy, though ambitious, has the potential to serve
as an effective tool for putting in place a sound social safety net in the
Bangladesh context if it is implemented in a systematic manner. This
could be achieved by taking a comprehensive view, addressing
overlaps in the programmes, avoiding duplications, reducing
leakages, and raising the efficacy of delivery of the SSNPs.
The financing of the NSSS is designed to be based on cost-sharing in
the long-run. Part of it would be financed by public expenditure (i.e.
transfers and subsidies) while the remainder by the private sector,
through social insurance and employment-based measures. These
relate to minimum wage, statutory maternity benefits, leave pay,
compensation for dismissal and work injury compensation.
However, the proposed financing structure of the NSSS is
somewhat vague as there is no adequate explanation of how the
financing is to take place and who will bear the responsibility. The
social insurance part of the financing is relatively small, indicating
that the NSSS will have to be dependent on tax-financed transfers
for quite some time. Clear guidelines should have been in place as
regards the financing mechanism and the coordination process
involving different government agencies for the Strategy to work
successfully (Khatun and Saadat, 2018).
The NSSS recognises the role of LGIs and NGOs in the delivery of
the SSNPs. The Strategy mentions that LGIs' role will be important
in terms of identifying prospective beneficiaries, resolving
disputes, and providing assistance for monitoring and evaluation
related tasks. It is reckoned that NGOs can be an important partner
in attaining the goals of NSSS. They could reinforce NSSS
implementation by piloting novel ideas for scaling up, identifying
potential beneficiaries, particularly those in remote areas and the
marginalised and vulnerable sections of the population, and by
helping redress grievances and disputes.
The Seventh Five Year Plan
The Seventh Five Year Plan (7FYP) is aligned with the goals
articulated in the NSSS and Perspective Plan of Bangladesh and
talks of introducing a comprehensive social protection system in
Bangladesh. Chapter 14 of the Plan on “Social Protection, Social
Welfare and Social Inclusion” identifies the key challenges if the
various milestones of the NSSS are to be achieved. Indeed, the 7FYP
basically reiterates the most important elements of the NSSS when it
comes to social protection.
The 7FYP also mentions about issues such as gender equality and
social inclusion. The Plan states that the success of gender equality
and women's empowerment agenda will depend not only on
enhancing capabilities of these groups and access to resources and
opportunities, but also on addressing the structural and
institutional barriers. The framework here includes four areas of
strategic objectives, viz. improving women's human capabilities,
increasing their economic benefits, enhancing their voice and
agency, and creating an enabling environment for women's
advancement. The 7FYP strategy for inclusion aims at addressing
the concerns of children, ethnic population, dalits and extreme poor
groups, third gender groups and differently abled people, among
others.
Election Manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League: National
Parliament Election 2018
Bangladesh Awami League's 2018 Election Manifesto puts
emphasis on the expansion of the coverage of the existing SSNPs.
The manifesto states that the income and purchasing power of the
people had increased as a result of the introduction and expansion
of various SSNPs. It is also stated that through budgetary reforms
allocations for social safety nets will be increased in line with the
demands on the ground. The manifesto presents the 'National
Social Protection Strategy' as an example of the government's
success stories. In this connection, the manifesto mentions some of
the major SSNPs that the government had already launched:
stipends for girls, stipends for the physically challenged students,
old age allowance, maternity allowance, allowances for widows
and husband's deserted destitute, ektee bari ektee khamar,
ashrayan projects, food for work programmes, vulnerable group
32 33
development (VGD) and char livelihoods programme. It was
stated that the coverage of the programmes and the expenditure
for ultra-poor, widow and elderly women were to be enhanced.
The manifesto also mentions about strengthening and expanding
measures for social safety in areas of health, education, vocational
education and undertaking targeted activities to end child labour.
For the welfare of the aged, steps were to be taken to increase the
number of beneficiaries and the amount of assistance. A number of
steps have been mentioned in this connection: undertaking
income-generating activities for the aged, introducing chapters in
text books to encourage social responsibility and inculcate
awareness concerning the aged people, earmarking seats/spaces
for the aged in transport and residential establishments,
expanding geriatric healthcare at grassroots levels, and senior
citizens-friendly entrances in hospitals, airports, buildings and
transport. The manifesto also states about ensuring health,
education, respect and safe future of autistic children and persons
with disabilities.
2.2. Nexus between SDGs and social protection: A
review of literature
As is known, at the seventieth session of the United Nations General
Assembly on 25 September 2015, 193 member states adopted the
SDGs. The 17 goals with 169 targets of the Agenda 2030 were
expected to guide international development efforts beginning
from January 2016, and these were to be attained over the next 15
years. The ambitious 2030 agenda, which followed the MDGs,
reflect a set of global aspirations for the people, for the planet and
for long-term prosperity across countries and population groups.
The goals articulated in this transformational and universal agenda
aim to end poverty and fight inequality, ensure healthy lives, build
prosperous, inclusive and resilient economies, and restore and
sustainably manage natural resources. The goals integrate the three
intertwined dimensions of sustainable development: economic,
social, and environmental.
Social protection is recognised as an integral tool for attaining the
SDGs (UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development, 2016). In
the SDGs framework, social protection can be directly identified
under three goals related to poverty reduction (SDG 1), gender
equality (SDG 5) and reduction of inequality (SDG 10). More
specifically, social protection is explicitly mentioned in three targets
under the aforementioned three goals. At the same time, social
protection can be indirectly linked to SDG 3 (good health and well-
being) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). Universal
health coverage mentioned in target 3.8 under goal 3 is a key social
protection measure and one of the four aspects of social protection
floor (Cabinet Division and GED, 2019). Similarly, social protection
is one of the pillars of decent work and hence, can be linked to goal 8,
particularly target 8.5 (UNDP, 2016a). Examples of where social
protection features in the SDGs framework can be discerned from
Table 2.1.
Although social protection can be aligned, either directly or
indirectly, to five of the 17 SDGs, their role in attaining the SDGs is
not limited to these specific goals. As UNDP (2016a) argues,
alignment of social protection with the 2030 agenda points towards
considering this from an equity viewpoint. Social protection can be
perceived as a tool which has the potential to simultaneously
address various drivers of exclusion and deprivation. If social
protection measures are designed and conceptualised from this
perspective, these will contribute to the implementation of the 2030
agenda in its entirety. In fact, UNDP World Centre for Sustainable
Development (2016) asserts that social protection programmes can
serve as critical tools capable of contributing to the attainment of all
three dimensions of the sustainable development agenda. Cabinet
Division and GED (2019) elaborated how social protection may act
as both driver and enabler to attain the SDGs. Giribabu et al. (2019),
based on their assessment of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programme, has
illustrated that the programme is directly or indirectly contributing
towards the attainment of all 17 SDGs in India.
While social protection can contribute towards the delivery of all
the SDGs, an exhaustive examination of how it can help achieve the
different goals and targets may prove to be an unwieldy exercise. In
view of this, the present study attempts to focus on the impact of
social protection on a number of key areas which are central to the
current development discourse, particularly in the context of the
SDGs.
34 35
development (VGD) and char livelihoods programme. It was
stated that the coverage of the programmes and the expenditure
for ultra-poor, widow and elderly women were to be enhanced.
The manifesto also mentions about strengthening and expanding
measures for social safety in areas of health, education, vocational
education and undertaking targeted activities to end child labour.
For the welfare of the aged, steps were to be taken to increase the
number of beneficiaries and the amount of assistance. A number of
steps have been mentioned in this connection: undertaking
income-generating activities for the aged, introducing chapters in
text books to encourage social responsibility and inculcate
awareness concerning the aged people, earmarking seats/spaces
for the aged in transport and residential establishments,
expanding geriatric healthcare at grassroots levels, and senior
citizens-friendly entrances in hospitals, airports, buildings and
transport. The manifesto also states about ensuring health,
education, respect and safe future of autistic children and persons
with disabilities.
2.2. Nexus between SDGs and social protection: A
review of literature
As is known, at the seventieth session of the United Nations General
Assembly on 25 September 2015, 193 member states adopted the
SDGs. The 17 goals with 169 targets of the Agenda 2030 were
expected to guide international development efforts beginning
from January 2016, and these were to be attained over the next 15
years. The ambitious 2030 agenda, which followed the MDGs,
reflect a set of global aspirations for the people, for the planet and
for long-term prosperity across countries and population groups.
The goals articulated in this transformational and universal agenda
aim to end poverty and fight inequality, ensure healthy lives, build
prosperous, inclusive and resilient economies, and restore and
sustainably manage natural resources. The goals integrate the three
intertwined dimensions of sustainable development: economic,
social, and environmental.
Social protection is recognised as an integral tool for attaining the
SDGs (UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development, 2016). In
the SDGs framework, social protection can be directly identified
under three goals related to poverty reduction (SDG 1), gender
equality (SDG 5) and reduction of inequality (SDG 10). More
specifically, social protection is explicitly mentioned in three targets
under the aforementioned three goals. At the same time, social
protection can be indirectly linked to SDG 3 (good health and well-
being) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). Universal
health coverage mentioned in target 3.8 under goal 3 is a key social
protection measure and one of the four aspects of social protection
floor (Cabinet Division and GED, 2019). Similarly, social protection
is one of the pillars of decent work and hence, can be linked to goal 8,
particularly target 8.5 (UNDP, 2016a). Examples of where social
protection features in the SDGs framework can be discerned from
Table 2.1.
Although social protection can be aligned, either directly or
indirectly, to five of the 17 SDGs, their role in attaining the SDGs is
not limited to these specific goals. As UNDP (2016a) argues,
alignment of social protection with the 2030 agenda points towards
considering this from an equity viewpoint. Social protection can be
perceived as a tool which has the potential to simultaneously
address various drivers of exclusion and deprivation. If social
protection measures are designed and conceptualised from this
perspective, these will contribute to the implementation of the 2030
agenda in its entirety. In fact, UNDP World Centre for Sustainable
Development (2016) asserts that social protection programmes can
serve as critical tools capable of contributing to the attainment of all
three dimensions of the sustainable development agenda. Cabinet
Division and GED (2019) elaborated how social protection may act
as both driver and enabler to attain the SDGs. Giribabu et al. (2019),
based on their assessment of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programme, has
illustrated that the programme is directly or indirectly contributing
towards the attainment of all 17 SDGs in India.
While social protection can contribute towards the delivery of all
the SDGs, an exhaustive examination of how it can help achieve the
different goals and targets may prove to be an unwieldy exercise. In
view of this, the present study attempts to focus on the impact of
social protection on a number of key areas which are central to the
current development discourse, particularly in the context of the
SDGs.
34 35
Reducing poverty and inequality
Empirical findings suggest that social protection can be an effective
tool for combating poverty (SDG 1). A study by Soares and Satyro
(2009, cited in UNDP, 2016a), based on the National Household
Survey in Brazil, found that the conditional cash transfer (CCT)
programme titled Bolsa Familia (family grant) was able to explain
about 18 per cent of the reduction in the poverty gap and a quarter of
the reduction in the squared poverty gap in the country. Similarly,
the Oportunidades programme of Mexico was able to reduce the
number of persons living below the poverty line by 10 per cent and
the poverty gap by 30 per cent (Skoufias and Parker, 2001). A social
protection programme such as universal cash transfer could have
an even greater impact. In Tanzania, for example, ILO conducted a
simulation exercise and found that the basic universal old age
pension benefits and child benefits to school children under the age
of 14 had the potential to reduce the overall poverty rate by about
one-third (Cichon, Hagemejer and Woodall, 2006). Social
protection also helps people avoid falling back into poverty, thus
reducing the risk of the poverty trap (Cabinet Division and GED,
2019).
Social protection may also serve as an effective tool for bridging
development gaps and reducing inequality in all its forms (SDG 10)
by tackling poverty and enhancing human capacities. For example,
ILO (2014a) found that a universal child allowance programme
(Asignación universal por hijo), introduced in Argentina in 2009, was
able to reduce inequality by approximately 5 per cent. The
aforementioned Bolsa Familia programme in Brazil has contributed
to the reduction of income inequality by 16 per cent between 1999
and 2009 (Soares, Ribas and Rafael 2010). Based on a quasi-
experimental impact evaluation, Siddiki et al. (2014) found that
social safety nets can have a positive impact on reduction of social
exclusion faced by certain groups, particularly by way of
supporting livelihood activities, enhancing food security, and
strengthening community participation and social relations. In
addition, social protection programmes imbued with gender-
sensitive features can function as efficient tools to empower
women. Horizontal inequalities can be mitigated via cash transfers
which focus on traditionally underprivileged groups (UNDP,
Goal
Goal 1. End poverty
in all its forms
everywhere
Goal 3. Ensure
healthy lives and
promote well-being
for all at all ages
Goal 5. Achieve
gender equality and
empower all women
and girls
Goal 8. Promote
sustained, inclusive
and sustainable
economic growth, full
and productive
employment and
decent work for all
Goal 10. Reduce
inequality within and
among countries
Relevant target
Target 1.3. Implement nationally
appropriate social protection
systems and measures for all,
including floors, and by 2030 achieve
substantial coverage of the poor and
the vulnerable
Target 3.8. Achieve universal health
care coverage, including financial
risk protection, access to quality
essential health-care services and
access to safe, effective, quality and
affordable essential medicines and
vaccines for all
Target 5.4. Recognise and value
unpaid care and domestic work
through the provision of public
services, infrastructure and social
protection policies and the
promotion of shared responsibility
within the household and the family
as nationally appropriate
Target 8.5. By 2030, achieve full and
productive employment and decent
work for all women and men,
including for young people and
persons with disabilities, and equal
pay for work of equal value
Target 10. 4. Adopt policies,
especially fiscal, wage and social
protection policies, and
progressively achieve greater
equality
Source: Authors' compilation from UN (2015).
Table 2.1 Social protection in the SDGs framework
36 37
Reducing poverty and inequality
Empirical findings suggest that social protection can be an effective
tool for combating poverty (SDG 1). A study by Soares and Satyro
(2009, cited in UNDP, 2016a), based on the National Household
Survey in Brazil, found that the conditional cash transfer (CCT)
programme titled Bolsa Familia (family grant) was able to explain
about 18 per cent of the reduction in the poverty gap and a quarter of
the reduction in the squared poverty gap in the country. Similarly,
the Oportunidades programme of Mexico was able to reduce the
number of persons living below the poverty line by 10 per cent and
the poverty gap by 30 per cent (Skoufias and Parker, 2001). A social
protection programme such as universal cash transfer could have
an even greater impact. In Tanzania, for example, ILO conducted a
simulation exercise and found that the basic universal old age
pension benefits and child benefits to school children under the age
of 14 had the potential to reduce the overall poverty rate by about
one-third (Cichon, Hagemejer and Woodall, 2006). Social
protection also helps people avoid falling back into poverty, thus
reducing the risk of the poverty trap (Cabinet Division and GED,
2019).
Social protection may also serve as an effective tool for bridging
development gaps and reducing inequality in all its forms (SDG 10)
by tackling poverty and enhancing human capacities. For example,
ILO (2014a) found that a universal child allowance programme
(Asignación universal por hijo), introduced in Argentina in 2009, was
able to reduce inequality by approximately 5 per cent. The
aforementioned Bolsa Familia programme in Brazil has contributed
to the reduction of income inequality by 16 per cent between 1999
and 2009 (Soares, Ribas and Rafael 2010). Based on a quasi-
experimental impact evaluation, Siddiki et al. (2014) found that
social safety nets can have a positive impact on reduction of social
exclusion faced by certain groups, particularly by way of
supporting livelihood activities, enhancing food security, and
strengthening community participation and social relations. In
addition, social protection programmes imbued with gender-
sensitive features can function as efficient tools to empower
women. Horizontal inequalities can be mitigated via cash transfers
which focus on traditionally underprivileged groups (UNDP,
Goal
Goal 1. End poverty
in all its forms
everywhere
Goal 3. Ensure
healthy lives and
promote well-being
for all at all ages
Goal 5. Achieve
gender equality and
empower all women
and girls
Goal 8. Promote
sustained, inclusive
and sustainable
economic growth, full
and productive
employment and
decent work for all
Goal 10. Reduce
inequality within and
among countries
Relevant target
Target 1.3. Implement nationally
appropriate social protection
systems and measures for all,
including floors, and by 2030 achieve
substantial coverage of the poor and
the vulnerable
Target 3.8. Achieve universal health
care coverage, including financial
risk protection, access to quality
essential health-care services and
access to safe, effective, quality and
affordable essential medicines and
vaccines for all
Target 5.4. Recognise and value
unpaid care and domestic work
through the provision of public
services, infrastructure and social
protection policies and the
promotion of shared responsibility
within the household and the family
as nationally appropriate
Target 8.5. By 2030, achieve full and
productive employment and decent
work for all women and men,
including for young people and
persons with disabilities, and equal
pay for work of equal value
Target 10. 4. Adopt policies,
especially fiscal, wage and social
protection policies, and
progressively achieve greater
equality
Source: Authors' compilation from UN (2015).
Table 2.1 Social protection in the SDGs framework
36 37
2016a). Based on the experience in South Africa, Plagerson (2018)
showed the significant impact social protection had in reducing
vertical, horizontal and spatial inequalities.
Enhancing human capital
The design features of many social protection programmes took
cognisance of the fact that enhancing the long-term productive
capacity of households contributes importantly towards decreasing
and forestalling extreme and persistent deprivation. A large
number of studies corroborate that social transfers can serve as
effective tools for enhancing human capital through positive impact
on nutritional status and health and schooling of children
belonging to the poorest households (Barrientos and Nino-
Zarazua, 2011).
Cross-country evidence indicates that social transfers have long-
term effect in improving nutritional status (SDG 2) of children,
particularly in improving their weight and height. Aguero et al.
(2007), in their study on the Child Support Grant in South Africa,
found that beneficiary children are expected to be 3.5 cm taller as
adults compared to non-beneficiary children. Based on their impact
evaluation study of Mexico's Progresa-Oportunidades, Neufeld et al.
(2005, cited in Barrientos and Nino-Zarazua, 2011) found that
beneficiary children of the programme gained 1 cm in height for age
compared to a control group, two years after the programme had
started. This gain was of about 0.65 cm six years after the
commencement of the programme. Another study by Ponce and
Bedi (2010) showed that recipient households of Bono de Desarrollo
Humano programme in Ecuador were able to increase their food
expenditure by 25 per cent, eventually leading to improvements in
their nutritional status. In Colombia, height of 12-month-old boys
increased by about 0.44 cm as a result of participation in Familias en
Acción compared to comparable cohort of children who were not
recipients of the transfer. This was possible as the recipient
households were able to consume more protein-rich food and
vegetables (IFS, Econometria and SEI, 2004). Integrated poverty
reduction programmes are also reported to have significant impacts
on nutrition. For example, in the case of targeting the ultra poor
programme of Bangladesh, malnourishment of beneficiaries was
reduced to 27 per cent from 97 per cent after just two years of
participation in the programme (Rabbani et al., 2006). Further,
Rahman (2014), in his study on a number of SSNPs in Bangladesh,
found that households' per capita daily calorie consumption
increases by 37 per cent, on average, after being included in these
programmes.
Some transfer programmes, by design, aim to improve access to,
and utilisation of, health services as direct means of improving the
health status (SDG 3) of the programme beneficiaries. Other
programmes, however, through income supplementation and
associated improvements in consumption, may impact the
household health indirectly (Barrientos and Nino-Zarazua, 2011).
An evaluation of Colombia's Familias en Acción by Attanasio et al.
(2005) reported that share of children aged below 24 months
attending health care check-ups increased from 17.2 per cent to 40
per cent. In the case of children aged between 24 and 48 months, this
share rose from 33.6 per cent to 66.8 per cent. Similar instances of
improved healthcare utilisation were also found in Mexico, Peru,
Chile and Nicaragua. In Mexico, per capita health care visits were
doubled in rural communities due to the Progresa-Oportunidades
programme (Coady, 2003). In Peru, Juntos is associated with a 30 per
cent and 61 per cent increase in immunisation among children
under age one and children aged one to five years respectively. A
study of Chile Solidario by Galasso (2006) reported an improvement
of four to six percentage points in preventative health care amongst
children living in rural areas. Likewise, in Nicaragua, Red de
Protección Social led to an 18 per cent increase in immunisation
amongst children aged 12-23 months (Maluccio and Flores, 2004).
It is not at all surprising that persistent poverty is often linked with
insufficient investment in schooling. The strong correlation
between schooling and increased labour productivity and income
demands closer attention from the perspective of assessing the
impact of social transfers for schooling (SDG 4) (Barrientos and
Nino-Zarazua, 2011). Evaluation report of Chile Solidario suggests
that, compared to non-participants, enrolment in primary
education by participants improved in the order of seven to nine per
cent. As public schools are free of cost in Chile, this impact indicates
a reduction in the indirect costs of schooling (Galasso, 2006). In the
case of Brazil, a study found that school attendance amongst poor
38 39
2016a). Based on the experience in South Africa, Plagerson (2018)
showed the significant impact social protection had in reducing
vertical, horizontal and spatial inequalities.
Enhancing human capital
The design features of many social protection programmes took
cognisance of the fact that enhancing the long-term productive
capacity of households contributes importantly towards decreasing
and forestalling extreme and persistent deprivation. A large
number of studies corroborate that social transfers can serve as
effective tools for enhancing human capital through positive impact
on nutritional status and health and schooling of children
belonging to the poorest households (Barrientos and Nino-
Zarazua, 2011).
Cross-country evidence indicates that social transfers have long-
term effect in improving nutritional status (SDG 2) of children,
particularly in improving their weight and height. Aguero et al.
(2007), in their study on the Child Support Grant in South Africa,
found that beneficiary children are expected to be 3.5 cm taller as
adults compared to non-beneficiary children. Based on their impact
evaluation study of Mexico's Progresa-Oportunidades, Neufeld et al.
(2005, cited in Barrientos and Nino-Zarazua, 2011) found that
beneficiary children of the programme gained 1 cm in height for age
compared to a control group, two years after the programme had
started. This gain was of about 0.65 cm six years after the
commencement of the programme. Another study by Ponce and
Bedi (2010) showed that recipient households of Bono de Desarrollo
Humano programme in Ecuador were able to increase their food
expenditure by 25 per cent, eventually leading to improvements in
their nutritional status. In Colombia, height of 12-month-old boys
increased by about 0.44 cm as a result of participation in Familias en
Acción compared to comparable cohort of children who were not
recipients of the transfer. This was possible as the recipient
households were able to consume more protein-rich food and
vegetables (IFS, Econometria and SEI, 2004). Integrated poverty
reduction programmes are also reported to have significant impacts
on nutrition. For example, in the case of targeting the ultra poor
programme of Bangladesh, malnourishment of beneficiaries was
reduced to 27 per cent from 97 per cent after just two years of
participation in the programme (Rabbani et al., 2006). Further,
Rahman (2014), in his study on a number of SSNPs in Bangladesh,
found that households' per capita daily calorie consumption
increases by 37 per cent, on average, after being included in these
programmes.
Some transfer programmes, by design, aim to improve access to,
and utilisation of, health services as direct means of improving the
health status (SDG 3) of the programme beneficiaries. Other
programmes, however, through income supplementation and
associated improvements in consumption, may impact the
household health indirectly (Barrientos and Nino-Zarazua, 2011).
An evaluation of Colombia's Familias en Acción by Attanasio et al.
(2005) reported that share of children aged below 24 months
attending health care check-ups increased from 17.2 per cent to 40
per cent. In the case of children aged between 24 and 48 months, this
share rose from 33.6 per cent to 66.8 per cent. Similar instances of
improved healthcare utilisation were also found in Mexico, Peru,
Chile and Nicaragua. In Mexico, per capita health care visits were
doubled in rural communities due to the Progresa-Oportunidades
programme (Coady, 2003). In Peru, Juntos is associated with a 30 per
cent and 61 per cent increase in immunisation among children
under age one and children aged one to five years respectively. A
study of Chile Solidario by Galasso (2006) reported an improvement
of four to six percentage points in preventative health care amongst
children living in rural areas. Likewise, in Nicaragua, Red de
Protección Social led to an 18 per cent increase in immunisation
amongst children aged 12-23 months (Maluccio and Flores, 2004).
It is not at all surprising that persistent poverty is often linked with
insufficient investment in schooling. The strong correlation
between schooling and increased labour productivity and income
demands closer attention from the perspective of assessing the
impact of social transfers for schooling (SDG 4) (Barrientos and
Nino-Zarazua, 2011). Evaluation report of Chile Solidario suggests
that, compared to non-participants, enrolment in primary
education by participants improved in the order of seven to nine per
cent. As public schools are free of cost in Chile, this impact indicates
a reduction in the indirect costs of schooling (Galasso, 2006). In the
case of Brazil, a study found that school attendance amongst poor
38 39
children rose by four per cent as a result of participation in Bolsa
Familia, with an average effect of three percentage points among
boys. Since school enrolment rates in Brazil are already high, this
improvement is quite remarkable (Cardoso and Portela Souza,
2003). Schady and Araujo (2006) estimated that participation in
Bono de Desarrollo Humano increased school enrolment for
Ecuadorian children aged between 6 and 17 years by about ten
percentage points. In rural areas of Mexico, the number of children
entering the first grade of secondary school rose by 85 per cent, and
in the second grade by 47 per cent, as a result of participation in
Progresa-Oportunidades (Molyneux, 2007). Dropout rates decreased
by 24 per cent, with a corresponding rise in completion rates of 23
per cent for rural secondary schools in Mexico (Skoufias and di
Maro, 2005). Reviewing Bangladesh's female secondary education
stipend programme, Shamsuddin (2015) found that, for the
beneficiaries, exposure to the 5 years programme has resulted in a
one-year increase in completed education level.
Achieving gender equality
Contribution of social protection in achieving gender equality (SDG
5) is evident from a number of studies. ILO (2017a) contends that
this type of contribution can be distinguished especially with
regard to recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work.
They also assert that social protection can play a significant role in
redistributing care responsibilities. Barkat-E-Khuda (2011)
mentioned that social protection programmes in Bangladesh
contributed towards increasing school enrolment and attendance,
particularly for girls, at the secondary level, and helped to close the
gender gap. Shamsuddin (2015), based on her study on the female
secondary education stipend programme in Bangladesh, found that
five years of programme participation can be linked to one-year
increase in education level completed and a six percentage points
increase in female labour force participation. De la O Campos (2015)
argues that apart from reducing poverty, social protection can
contribute significantly towards the promotion of women's
economic empowerment and reduction of gender inequalities.
However, the impact of current social protection schemes in
achieving these objectives is still limited. Holmes and Jones (2010)
found that, for women at the individual level, social protection
programmes have resulted in increased opportunities to engage in
economic activities, improved knowledge, skills and confidence
and greater mobility. At the household level, increased income and
access to credit have contributed towards income and consumption
smoothing and augmented the ability to spend more on health,
nutrition and education. However, intra-household dynamics
between men and women exhibited mixed results as a consequence
of receiving social transfers. At the community level, the ability for
informal borrowing increased as guaranteed income from social
transfers signals that loans will be repaid. Rahman and Choudhury
(2012) state that social protection programmes have resulted in
enhanced status of women within their families. These
programmes were also able to increase female mobility and
economic participation. Cabinet Division and GED (2019) asserts
that gender-responsive social protection programmes can meet
both short-term practical gender needs and long-term strategic
goals. They also state that social protection helps dismantle social
barriers and restrictive norms concerning the traditionally assigned
roles of women.
Fostering economic growth and decent work
Social protection schemes play a positive role in fostering economic
growth and decent work (SDG 8) through enhancing access to
healthcare, education and income, which, in turn, improves labour
productivity, labour market participation and entrepreneurial
activities. Social protection can also contribute to the structural
transformation of an economy via redistributing economic
activities across sectors (Samson, 2009). Social protection can act as a
stabiliser in times of economic disruptions. It can help arrest a sharp
fall in aggregate demand, maintain a minimum level of purchasing
power and keep unemployment from having an adverse impact on
human and productive capital accumulation (ILO, 2014b). This is
clearly demonstrated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Cabinet Division and GED (2019), social protection
can contribute towards mitigation of consequences of uninsured
risks that compel people to be involved in low-risk, low-return
activities and deter them from opportunities of productive
investment. Business performance, particularly that of the small
and medium enterprises (SMEs), can significantly benefit as a result
40 41
children rose by four per cent as a result of participation in Bolsa
Familia, with an average effect of three percentage points among
boys. Since school enrolment rates in Brazil are already high, this
improvement is quite remarkable (Cardoso and Portela Souza,
2003). Schady and Araujo (2006) estimated that participation in
Bono de Desarrollo Humano increased school enrolment for
Ecuadorian children aged between 6 and 17 years by about ten
percentage points. In rural areas of Mexico, the number of children
entering the first grade of secondary school rose by 85 per cent, and
in the second grade by 47 per cent, as a result of participation in
Progresa-Oportunidades (Molyneux, 2007). Dropout rates decreased
by 24 per cent, with a corresponding rise in completion rates of 23
per cent for rural secondary schools in Mexico (Skoufias and di
Maro, 2005). Reviewing Bangladesh's female secondary education
stipend programme, Shamsuddin (2015) found that, for the
beneficiaries, exposure to the 5 years programme has resulted in a
one-year increase in completed education level.
Achieving gender equality
Contribution of social protection in achieving gender equality (SDG
5) is evident from a number of studies. ILO (2017a) contends that
this type of contribution can be distinguished especially with
regard to recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work.
They also assert that social protection can play a significant role in
redistributing care responsibilities. Barkat-E-Khuda (2011)
mentioned that social protection programmes in Bangladesh
contributed towards increasing school enrolment and attendance,
particularly for girls, at the secondary level, and helped to close the
gender gap. Shamsuddin (2015), based on her study on the female
secondary education stipend programme in Bangladesh, found that
five years of programme participation can be linked to one-year
increase in education level completed and a six percentage points
increase in female labour force participation. De la O Campos (2015)
argues that apart from reducing poverty, social protection can
contribute significantly towards the promotion of women's
economic empowerment and reduction of gender inequalities.
However, the impact of current social protection schemes in
achieving these objectives is still limited. Holmes and Jones (2010)
found that, for women at the individual level, social protection
programmes have resulted in increased opportunities to engage in
economic activities, improved knowledge, skills and confidence
and greater mobility. At the household level, increased income and
access to credit have contributed towards income and consumption
smoothing and augmented the ability to spend more on health,
nutrition and education. However, intra-household dynamics
between men and women exhibited mixed results as a consequence
of receiving social transfers. At the community level, the ability for
informal borrowing increased as guaranteed income from social
transfers signals that loans will be repaid. Rahman and Choudhury
(2012) state that social protection programmes have resulted in
enhanced status of women within their families. These
programmes were also able to increase female mobility and
economic participation. Cabinet Division and GED (2019) asserts
that gender-responsive social protection programmes can meet
both short-term practical gender needs and long-term strategic
goals. They also state that social protection helps dismantle social
barriers and restrictive norms concerning the traditionally assigned
roles of women.
Fostering economic growth and decent work
Social protection schemes play a positive role in fostering economic
growth and decent work (SDG 8) through enhancing access to
healthcare, education and income, which, in turn, improves labour
productivity, labour market participation and entrepreneurial
activities. Social protection can also contribute to the structural
transformation of an economy via redistributing economic
activities across sectors (Samson, 2009). Social protection can act as a
stabiliser in times of economic disruptions. It can help arrest a sharp
fall in aggregate demand, maintain a minimum level of purchasing
power and keep unemployment from having an adverse impact on
human and productive capital accumulation (ILO, 2014b). This is
clearly demonstrated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Cabinet Division and GED (2019), social protection
can contribute towards mitigation of consequences of uninsured
risks that compel people to be involved in low-risk, low-return
activities and deter them from opportunities of productive
investment. Business performance, particularly that of the small
and medium enterprises (SMEs), can significantly benefit as a result
40 41
of social protection programmes. A study by Lee and Torm (2017)
on Vietnamese SMEs found that, SMEs that raised social security
coverage of workforce by 10 per cent enjoy a revenue gain per
worker of 1.1 to 2.6 per cent and a profit increase of between 1.3 and
3 per cent. Alderman and Yemtsov (2012) identified three broad
channels through which social protection can influence growth. At
the macro level, social protection can positively impact growth
through promoting social and political cohesion, enabling reforms,
deepening capital markets, and stimulating aggregate demand. At
the meso level, social protection can influence growth via creation
of productive assets and infrastructure at the community level,
mobilisation of surplus labour and creation of local spill-overs from
increased demand which, in turn, stimulates investment and
productivity. At the micro level, social protection can have a
positive effect on growth by way of accumulating and protecting
assets, increasing entrepreneurial activities and boosting human
capital and productivity.
Since social protection is one of the four pillars of decent work, it can
contribute towards promoting the cause of employment, fostering
higher labour productivity and investing in human capital and
capabilities (ILO, 2014b). In the backdrop of disquieting trends
concerning unemployment, underemployment and informality
observed across the globe, social protection systems could play a
positive role in ensuring protection of livelihoods and enabling
access to health, education and decent employment, particularly for
those in insecure and informal employment (ILO 2013, 2016, 2017b).
Social protection measures such as unemployment insurance may
lead to more favourable job matching results by way of ensuring
income security for unemployed workers when they search for jobs
and help them link up with employment services (Tatsiramos,
2014). Barriers to labour mobility and female employment can be
overcome through social insurance mechanisms that are based on
the principle of risk pooling in the areas of unemployment,
maternity, health and employment injury protection (ILO, 2014a).
Coordinated employment and social protection policies can
contribute to increasing employment in the formal sectors which
are generally associated with higher productivity and better
protection for workers (ILO, 2013).
To take advantage of the prevailing demographic window of
opportunity in Bangladesh, i.e. translating this to 'demographic
dividend', social protection could play an important enabling role.
A healthy and skilled workforce is a prerequisite to realise the full
potentials of the demographic dividend. The crucial part that social
protection can play in this regard has already been discussed above.
Citing the case of Bangladesh, Rahman, Khan and Amin (2014)
mentioned that demographic dividend can only become an
advantage if timely and appropriate policy steps are taken. The
authors also emphasised the need to prepare for a higher
dependency ratio in the future. A 'universal pension scheme' can be
particularly relevant in this context (see Rahman, Khan and Sabbih,
2020). Similarly, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic also
emphasises a renewed need for developing a universal health
insurance system in Bangladesh. It may be pertinent to remind here
that these two initiatives have already been put on the development
agenda of the incumbent government.
42 43
of social protection programmes. A study by Lee and Torm (2017)
on Vietnamese SMEs found that, SMEs that raised social security
coverage of workforce by 10 per cent enjoy a revenue gain per
worker of 1.1 to 2.6 per cent and a profit increase of between 1.3 and
3 per cent. Alderman and Yemtsov (2012) identified three broad
channels through which social protection can influence growth. At
the macro level, social protection can positively impact growth
through promoting social and political cohesion, enabling reforms,
deepening capital markets, and stimulating aggregate demand. At
the meso level, social protection can influence growth via creation
of productive assets and infrastructure at the community level,
mobilisation of surplus labour and creation of local spill-overs from
increased demand which, in turn, stimulates investment and
productivity. At the micro level, social protection can have a
positive effect on growth by way of accumulating and protecting
assets, increasing entrepreneurial activities and boosting human
capital and productivity.
Since social protection is one of the four pillars of decent work, it can
contribute towards promoting the cause of employment, fostering
higher labour productivity and investing in human capital and
capabilities (ILO, 2014b). In the backdrop of disquieting trends
concerning unemployment, underemployment and informality
observed across the globe, social protection systems could play a
positive role in ensuring protection of livelihoods and enabling
access to health, education and decent employment, particularly for
those in insecure and informal employment (ILO 2013, 2016, 2017b).
Social protection measures such as unemployment insurance may
lead to more favourable job matching results by way of ensuring
income security for unemployed workers when they search for jobs
and help them link up with employment services (Tatsiramos,
2014). Barriers to labour mobility and female employment can be
overcome through social insurance mechanisms that are based on
the principle of risk pooling in the areas of unemployment,
maternity, health and employment injury protection (ILO, 2014a).
Coordinated employment and social protection policies can
contribute to increasing employment in the formal sectors which
are generally associated with higher productivity and better
protection for workers (ILO, 2013).
To take advantage of the prevailing demographic window of
opportunity in Bangladesh, i.e. translating this to 'demographic
dividend', social protection could play an important enabling role.
A healthy and skilled workforce is a prerequisite to realise the full
potentials of the demographic dividend. The crucial part that social
protection can play in this regard has already been discussed above.
Citing the case of Bangladesh, Rahman, Khan and Amin (2014)
mentioned that demographic dividend can only become an
advantage if timely and appropriate policy steps are taken. The
authors also emphasised the need to prepare for a higher
dependency ratio in the future. A 'universal pension scheme' can be
particularly relevant in this context (see Rahman, Khan and Sabbih,
2020). Similarly, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic also
emphasises a renewed need for developing a universal health
insurance system in Bangladesh. It may be pertinent to remind here
that these two initiatives have already been put on the development
agenda of the incumbent government.
42 43
3
An introduction to social
protection in Bangladesh
3
An introduction to social
protection in Bangladesh
3. An introduction to social protection in
Bangladesh
3.1. Evolution of social protection in Bangladesh
The current social protection system in Bangladesh has evolved
over many years. It started during the 1970s with the focus on relief
and vulnerable group feeding while during the 1980s it evolved
around disaster response and associated relief operations. During
the 1990s, new programmes were introduced to extend support to
specific groups such as old age, widows and people with disability,
often supported by development partners and the NGOs. Cash
transfer programmes were also promoted during this period.
Several SSNPs were taken up to support a wider range of risks and
vulnerabilities in the 2000s when the 'graduation' approach started
to inform the discourse. The coverage increased significantly with
the global food crisis followed by global financial crisis during the
latter years of the decade. NSSS was developed in 2015 with a view
to transforming the prevailing SSNPs into lifecycle-based social
security programmes. These programmes are clustered in five
groups: (i) social allowances; (ii) social empowerment; (iii) social
insurance; (iv) food security; and (v) labour/livelihood
interventions. However, the action plan for the strategy could not
be fully implemented in time. Indeed, the SSNPs in Bangladesh had
continued to suffer from leakages, overlapping, under-coverage,
duplication, and fragmented implementation. Indeed, both
'exclusion error' and 'inclusion error' are critical challenges affecting
SSNPs implementation in Bangladesh.
It is to be conceded, however, that the coverage of households
under SSNPs over the years has improved significantly. In 2005,
only 13.1 per cent households received some assistance from at least
one SSNP (Figure 3.1). The corresponding figure improved
47
3. An introduction to social protection in
Bangladesh
3.1. Evolution of social protection in Bangladesh
The current social protection system in Bangladesh has evolved
over many years. It started during the 1970s with the focus on relief
and vulnerable group feeding while during the 1980s it evolved
around disaster response and associated relief operations. During
the 1990s, new programmes were introduced to extend support to
specific groups such as old age, widows and people with disability,
often supported by development partners and the NGOs. Cash
transfer programmes were also promoted during this period.
Several SSNPs were taken up to support a wider range of risks and
vulnerabilities in the 2000s when the 'graduation' approach started
to inform the discourse. The coverage increased significantly with
the global food crisis followed by global financial crisis during the
latter years of the decade. NSSS was developed in 2015 with a view
to transforming the prevailing SSNPs into lifecycle-based social
security programmes. These programmes are clustered in five
groups: (i) social allowances; (ii) social empowerment; (iii) social
insurance; (iv) food security; and (v) labour/livelihood
interventions. However, the action plan for the strategy could not
be fully implemented in time. Indeed, the SSNPs in Bangladesh had
continued to suffer from leakages, overlapping, under-coverage,
duplication, and fragmented implementation. Indeed, both
'exclusion error' and 'inclusion error' are critical challenges affecting
SSNPs implementation in Bangladesh.
It is to be conceded, however, that the coverage of households
under SSNPs over the years has improved significantly. In 2005,
only 13.1 per cent households received some assistance from at least
one SSNP (Figure 3.1). The corresponding figure improved
47
significantly to 24.6 per cent in 2010 and to 27.8 per cent in 2016. The
coverage is higher for rural households. While 34.5 per cent of rural
households were covered with at least one SSNP, the corresponding
number for urban households was only 10.6 per cent in 2016.
No doubt, effectively designed and implemented fiscal policies
and/or government budgets could significantly accelerate the
process of poverty reduction in Bangladesh (Khatun, Khan, & Nabi,
2012). However, present