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     Volume 4 Issue 64 | September 23, 2005 |

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Flickers of hope for children
It's no secret that children are the worst sufferers of government and societal apathy. The number of children dying every day due to the most trivial reasons is very high.
Three hundred and forty two children die EVERYDAY of diarrhoea and other pollution-related diseases due to lack of proper sanitation. This was announced at a discussion on sanitation organised by LGRD and Co-operatives Ministry in the city.
There are more staggering statistics. Every year over 65 million incidents of diarrhoeal diseases occur among children under five. An average child suffers 3-4 incidents of diarrhoeal disease every year. About 3.23 crore people use unhygienic latrines, while 5.43 crore people don't use any latrines at all, revealed Professor Md. Mujibur Rahman of BUET. Only thirty 33 percent or 4.26 crore people have access to hygienic means of excreta disposal.
It is strange that at this point in time when the government has spent crores of taka on the so-called 'beautification' project, it has failed to provide an adequate number of latrines! Especially when something as basic as this can save so many children's lives.
But, there are other available causes of child deaths in our country. According to a national survey, 2,600 children are injured EVERYDAY and of them 80 die from their injuries.
These injuries are caused by road accidents, drowning, animal bite, fall from different places, accidental poisoning, cut by sharp objects and suffocation.
The good news is that a pilot programme to prevent child injury will be launched by the government in collaboration with UNICEF, Centre for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh and a US organisation called TASC. The programme will address home safety, school safety and community safety for children.
Meanwhile, there are efforts by some organisations to champion the cause of street children. Aparajeyo Bangladesh, an NGO working for poor children, organised a workshop recently to point out that many sections of society could reach out to their children. The organisers appealed to the ward commissioners, NGOs and well off citizens to support their children so that they can lead decent lives.
Efforts like these are certainly commendable. It is up to the government to prove their sincerity in making the lives of children safer, disease free and a whole lot happier than they are today.

Celebrating Rank 5
Bangladesh has, once again, been marked in the world as the fifth worst among 125 countries in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set in 2000 to eradicate poverty, says a report of a global civil society group.
Bangladesh was placed next to Ethiopia, Rwanda, Niger and Madagascar, the first four worst countries, by the Citizen's Global Progress Report on Poverty Eradication and Gender Equity.
Social Watch, who prepared the report and presented it in the United Nations meeting held from September 14-16 attended by heads of government and leaders from all over the world, said that Bangladesh should have reduced poverty by 2.2 percent a year to attain the target of poverty eradication by 2015. However, its achievement is only .52 percent a year, Social Watch's Bangladesh chapter Chairperson Dr Atiur Rahman said on the occasion of the report publication last week.
The gap between the rich and the poor has also widened over the period, said the report, which is of course not a breaking news for any of us living here in the country.
It will take 40 years to attain MDG target if Bangladesh moves forward at this pace, Dr Rahman added.
According to the Basic Capabilities Index (BCI), countries have been placed in five categories critical, very low, low, medium and high -- starting from the lowest performing ones to the best performing ones, where Bangladesh belongs to the "critical" category.
Bangladesh scores a little more than 30 out of a 100 on gender equity scale, which means Bangladesh has quite a poor performance in this area.
From 1990 to 2004, Bangladesh achieved significant progress in some areas like food security, education, environment and reproductive health in terms of attaining MDG goals.
In case of reducing morbidity and mortality rates, Bangladesh has made slight progress while remaining stagnant in the fields of information, science and technology, and public expenditure.
From 1995 to 2004, however, the picture looks a little brighter. In the fields of education and economic activities Bangladesh has made significant progress, and in case of empowerment it has suffered slight regression.

Khulna BNP leader killed in bomb attack
Sarder Munjir Ahmed, 46-year-old BNP president of Ward no. 4 was bommbed to death last week, by unidentified assailant in Khulna City.
Headmaster of Atra Srinath High School in Khanjahan Ali thana of Khulna city, he was attacked at Atra Jubo Sangha club around 10:30pm. He was also the general secretary of Phultala Upazila Teachers' Association.
According to witnesses, it seems that the criminals hurled three bombs at him, one of which hit his back, while the other two exploded a few yards away from him.
He was admitted to a clinic at Sonadanga and later taken to Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH). He died on the operation table in KMCH within an hour of the attack.
According to sources, Munjir received several death threats in the last one year for taking a firm stand against zealots and drug traffickers..
Political leaders including leaders of Khulna Awami League blamed the law enforcement agencies for failing to stop bomb blasts in the city and capture the zealots moving at large.

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