Vol. 5 Num 130 Sun. October 03, 2004  
Front Page

Quality of life indexed miserably low
Bangladesh ranks 164th among 173 countries, 5th in South Asia

Bangladesh ranks 164th among 173 countries and fifth in South Asia in the Quality of Life Index (QLI), according to a report of Social Watch, an international network of citizens from different countries across the world.

Poor performance in education, food security, reproductive health, public expenditure and science and information technology sector has placed the country to the bottom of the list, just ahead of Pakistan, Nepal, Laos and some African countries.

Australia is at the top of the list in 'The Social Watch 2004 Scorecard' securing 99 out of 100 points while Bangladesh bagged 56 points thanks to above-average performance in water and sanitation and lower morbidity and mortality.

The report titled 'Fear and Want: Obstacles to Human Security' formally released in Dhaka yesterday also includes a separate index on gender development, ranking Bangladesh 94th among 111 countries surveyed.

"Absence of efficient bureaucracy and rampant corruption are holding back the progress of Bangladesh," Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed, chairman of Bishwa Shahitya Kendra, said launching the report at a discussion at Cirdap auditorium.

Social Watch Bangladesh in collaboration with Manusher Jonno and Unnayan Samunnoy, two non-governmental development organisations, organised the function.

"Failure in good governance accompanied by pressure of globalisation, poverty, unemployment, outdated legal system and lack of political commitment are specific threats to human security," says the report about Bangladesh.

Among the South Asian countries, Sri Lanka ranks the highest but it has been placed in 85th position among all the countries surveyed. Sri Lanka is followed by the Maldives (107th), India (163rd), Bhutan (142) and Bangladesh.

The report rated Bangladesh's performance in education, food security, reproductive health and science and information technology sectors to be in 'worst situation' while public expenditure in 'below-average' situation.

The report says 35 percent of Bangladesh's total population is suffering from undernourishment and the percentage remains unchanged for last one decade.

In the field of education, Bangladesh has made a significant progress in primary school enrolment with 90 percent in last one decade but only 64 percent complete primary education and illiteracy rates among 15-24 years hover around 50 percent.

According to the report, Bangladesh has also achieved progress in lowering infant mortality in last one decade but under-5 mortality still remains 77 per thousand.

About food security, the report says the recent widespread cases of starvation in northern region of the country indicates that food sovereignty has not yet been achieved due to an inefficient official distribution system.

Health security has improved for most of the population but the government's overall health expenditures are not directed at securing poor people's health. "The marginalised people continue to face strong barriers to access the corrupt public healthcare system and are forced to attend private clinics," mentioned the report.

Criticising the failure to ensure good governance, Prof Abdullah Abu Sayeed said, "Our bureaucracy is busy serving their own interest, not the people."

"There are some good people both within the bureaucracy and government who want to do something for the country but they are unorganised," he observed.

He also said the civil society is divided on political ideology.

Dr Atiur Rahman, president of Social Watch Bangladesh, said misgovernance and lack of transparency are two main obstacles to the development of Bangladesh. Absence of social security is also holding back the process, he said.

Team Leader of Manusher Jonno Shaheen Anam said a right-based movement is very much needed for establishing rights of marginalised people. "We have to look into the data of various reports for the sake of taking action-oriented programmes."

Rasheda K Chowdhury of Campaign for Popular Education ( Campe), Sanjib Drong of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum and NGO activists took part in the discussion.