Bangladesh's progress in reducing poverty and achieving food and water security will be threatened by the outbreak of Covid-19.
Other crises such as climate change may also make the country's progress vulnerable.
The statements came via a research paper titled "Global Events Pose a Threat to Food and Water Security in Bangladesh" published by Future Directions International – an independent and not-for-profit strategic research institute, on May 28.
Bangladesh has witnessed remarkable progress in reducing poverty over the last two decades. In 2000, around half of the population of the country lived below the poverty line. In 2010, the figure had reduced to 31 percent.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data, in 2018-19, 20.5 percent lived below the poverty line, and the extreme poverty rate was 10.5 percent.
A recent projection of the World Bank shows that extreme poverty may rise to 21.8 percent, and poverty may rise to 58.3 percent this year due to the adverse effects of Covid-19.
Bangladesh is situated in the lower riparian of the second largest river drainage basin, the Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna Basin. So, the water flow is highly dependent on upper riparians.
Although 92.5 percent of flows originate from outside of the country, around 97 percent of country people have access to water.
However, water resources are heavily polluted. As a major polluter, the industrial sector discharges around 15,000m³ of effluent into water bodies.
Over 1,000 industries – including those involved in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, metal industries, and tanneries – have dumped untreated wastewater into over 200 rivers in 2017. Moreover, 80 percent of tap water samples in Dhaka were found to be polluted with feces.
Another study stated groundwater level fell by 32 percent during 2003-2013, threatening the country's main source of drinking and agriculture water.
The research paper explained Bangladesh's success story in improving food security. It mentions that the country no longer carries chronic food deficiency.
Bangladesh's rate of stunting, low height for weight, had fallen to 36 percent in 2014 from 55 percent in 1997. However, the stunting reduction is concentrated on higher-income households. The top 60 percent of wealth distribution has reduced stunting by 20-40 percent.
In 2017, 31 percent of children were stunted, according to the World Health Organisation. With the current rate of progress, the threat of stunting will no longer exist by 2037.
From 1997 to 2014, maternal undernutrition has fallen from 52 to 17 percent.
Some 42 percent of women aged 15-49 suffer from anemia and 50 percent are of pregnant women.
The research paper highlighted that every year between 30 and 50 percent of the country experiences some form of climate shock. Around 10 million people were recently affected by Cyclone Amphan.
The paper also mentions the forecasting result of the World Bank that Covid-19's economic fallout could push around 49 million into extreme poverty in Bangladesh.