Geography of poverty
And yet, far too much poverty remains.
Which parts of Bangladesh are the most poverty stricken, and why?
Updating Poverty Maps of Bangladesh, a joint publication
by the World Bank, World Food Programme and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics,
attempts to answer the question.
The key finding is presented in the map. Three regions mark the highest
prevalence of poverty:
– regions on the banks of Jamuna-Teesta-Brahmaputra in greater Rangpur and
– coastal regions of greater Khulna and Barisal division; and
– regions bordering Myanmar in the southeast of the country.
The report stresses that ‘where poverty is’ and ‘where the poor are’ aren’t the same. For example, even though Dhaka has proportionately far less poor, because of the large number of people living in Dhaka, it ends up having a lot more poor people than Bandarban of the coastal areas of the Sundarbans. The upazillas of greater Rangpur are notable for both having high prevalence of poverty and the number of poor.
The report has maps that try to explain the prevalence of poverty. Unsurpisingly, areas of high poverty also have lower educational attainment and lower wage levels. travel time from Dhaka seems to be a strong correlate of prevalence of poverty — this is a very underappreciated point. Interestingly, natural disasters don’t seem to be a strong explanator –while coastal regions are subject to tidal surges, it’s not clear why Rangpur and Jamuna adjoining areas should have more poverty than areas like Faridpur which suffer more severe floods.
Two points not in the report. First, apropos an earlier discussion about the economic impact of migration to India: the border regions of North Bengal — whence anecdotally the most emigrants originate, and the regions that see the most BSF shooting — are prone higher poverty than rest of the country. Second, 15 to 20 seats where Jamaat has consistently polled strongly in the past four elections are all in the regions showing high prevalence of poverty.