Bangladesh has around 700 rivers flow through the country, sustaining life and making it one of the most stunning landscapes of the world. It is home to over 156 million people and is the most densely populated country in the world. However, the country’s low-lying geography makes it particularly vulnerable to flooding and erosion during the monsoon season, cyclones and other extreme weather events. Natural disasters have a profound impact on the country’s economic and social development.
Most of Bangladeshis are living in rural areas with few basic facilities. Poverty is deep and over half of the population survive on less than USD $1 a day.
Poverty causes many families to send their children to work. Approximately 4.9 million children between the ages of 5-14 work, often in hazardous and low-wage jobs, such as brick-chipping, construction and waste-picking. Children are paid less than adults, with many working up to twelve hours a day. Full-time work frequently prevents children from attending school, contributing to drop-out rates. There are 16.5 million primary-school-aged children (6 to 10 years old) in Bangladesh, and currently almost half of adult Bangladeshis can’t read or write.
Bangladesh has approximate 40,000 children are blind, of which 12,000 are due to cataract and can be cured by a simple surgery. However, a poor diet, especially one lacking in vitamin A, being afraid of surgery and a lack of awareness that cataract blindness is preventable and treatable, and heavy cost associated with a simple cataract surgery in Bangladesh have made high percentage of children unnecessarily become and remain blind. The main cause of the high cost is that 80% of these children live in rural areas whereas 90% of the eye care services are based in towns and cities.
A huge proportion of Bangladesh children are orphaned, many are abandoned by their families who cannot afford to feed them. They have to beg on the streets just to get their next meal, and are often thrown into jail for small crimes. They are also exposed to all sorts of dangers – from pimps to people involved in criminal activities. They are being forced into this desperate and tragic lifestyle through no fault of their own.
The lucky ones get taken into orphanages. The majority of orphanages are overcrowded and do not have the capacity to take in more children. For those orphanages that do exist, more often than not are underfunded, and lack the basic of facilities such as clean water supplies or basic sanitation. UNICEF estimates 250,000 to 400,000 children live on the streets of Dhaka.Among these children, half are under the age of 10.
Women education and employment
A key determinant of a child’s poverty is the level of the mother’s education. The benefits of educating girls have reached far beyond increasing individual opportunity. Few skills and the lack of opportunities contributed to high fertility patterns, which contributed to the malnourishment and generally poor health of children,
A UNICEF study shows that almost 1.5 million primary school-age girls unenrolled themselves from primary education due to poverty, social pressure, and other issues. As long as women’s access to education remains limited, prospects for them to break the poverty cycles are dimmed.
Only a third of women in Bangladesh can read and write, and a significant portion of the female population marries between the ages of sixteen and nineteen,
This is why we care
Population: 152.4 million
Population living below the poverty line:49.8%
Life expectancy (average):60.25 years (total population)
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write):54% (men), 41.1% (women)
Number of blind people: 750,000
Number of ophthalmologists: 900
Average births per woman: 2.45
Source: Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook2009 ; The National Blindness and Low Vision Survey of Bangladesh, 2000 & UNDP Human Development Report 201; WHO; World Bank