7: Reasons for the progress
There are many different factors that have influenced the development:
- Migration income . Around 1980, many Bangladeshis began to find work in the Middle East. The workers were largely unskilled and wages were low. Still, many could send one to two thousand kroner a month home to the family. In 1985, approx. one billion US dollars home to Bangladesh. By 2009, the amount had increased to $ 10 billion. Bangladesh now has 6-7 million guest workers working in the Middle East, various countries in Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States. As many as 30 of the 100 families in Shushunda have, or have had, family members abroad for many years.
- Industrialization. Around 1980, the export-oriented textile industry began to grow. Today, about two million people work in the industry, most of them young girls from poor families in the countryside. At the same time, a number of subcontractors to the textile industry and associated companies have also emerged over the past 20 years. The textile industry and its suppliers today employ millions of people. In 2010, 12 families in Shusunda have members with income from the textile industry and related industries.
- Mechanization in agriculture. Also on a national basis, agriculture has become far more mechanized and modernized. Crops have more than doubled since 1980, and Bangladesh has become self-sufficient in rice. At the end of the 1970s, Bangladesh received 2-3 million tonnes of food grain from abroad every year. The population has increased from 100 to 160 million from 1980 to 2010.
- Active civil society. NGOs (NGOs) play an important role in development in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank has 7.5 million members and BRAC about the same. In Shusunda, 52 women are now active members of Grameen Bank, while 40 are members of BRAC. Microcredit and various types of education give women the opportunity for their own income, and they have thus become more independent.
- Better education. A lot has also happened in education. 97 percent of the children start in the five-year primary school, and the vast majority complete. Especially among the girls, the change has been great. Many girls receive scholarships and start high school.
- Better infrastructure. The infrastructure both in Bangladesh and in our village has visibly improved. By the end of the 1970s, few in Shusunda had visited Dhaka. The district capital, Manikganj, 6 km away, was also a place few visited during the year. With asphalt roads and bridges, the trip to Manikganj now takes 15 minutes by scooter taxi or 20-25 minutes by bike. 30-40 people from the village work in the craft and small industry in and around Manikganj. All families have a mobile phone, which means a lot both socially and financially.
- According to BARBLEJEWELRY.COM, the health situation has greatly improved. Both maternal and child mortality rates have fallen in Bangladesh. All children in the village are now vaccinated as infants and receive their own vaccination books. The health nurse says that about 80 percent of married couples in Shusunda and the neighboring villages use various forms of family planning.
So what role has development aid played in the progress of these various areas? There is little doubt that development assistance has contributed to education, health, agriculture and infrastructure. However, the scope of development assistance has fallen sharply in recent decades. In the mid-1980s, Bangladesh received approx. $ 2.5 billion in aid . In recent years, development assistance has not been more than $ 1 billion per year.
8: An island in the sea of distress?
Is Shusunda just one random sunshine story from an emergency Bangladeshi? By no means: More than a third of Bangladesh’s population is still living below the poverty line. But the reduction in poverty, both in share and actual number, has been significant . In the 1960s, it was estimated that over 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.
Corruption still permeates Bangladesh. Transparency International shows that the country is among the most corrupt in the world. Despite the fact that the state apparatus is characterized by corruption, there is still no doubt that the authorities have managed to create the conditions for growth. Among other things, they have made room for the large development organizations, the private sector and by facilitating the conditions for the many millions of migrant workers from Bangladesh abroad.
How representative is Shusunda of the approximately 70,000 villages in Bangladesh? Shusunda is probably fortunate to be so close to the district capitals of Manikganj and Dhaka, but we find much of the same development we have described for Shusunda, in most of the villages in Bangladesh.
Grameen Bank founder Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus is optimistic about the future of Bangladesh. He believes Bangladesh will be one of the few countries that will achieve the millennium goal of halving poverty by 2015.
And in Shusunda, one thing is clear: No one in the village carries nostalgic memories of the quiet, slow but poor life for more than 30 years ago. Mosum Ali’s son is in no doubt: “My children will be even better off than we are now.”
Bangladesh 2010 – some facts
- Area: approx. 144 000 km 2
- Median age: 23.5 years (population divided into two equal parts)
- Annual population growth: 1.3%
- Life expectancy: 60.6 years, K: 63.4; M: 58
- GDP by value creation: agriculture: 19%; industry 29%, services: 52%
- GDP by employment: agriculture: 45%; industry 30%, services: 25%
- Readers of all: > 15 years: 48%. M: 54; K: 41
- Ethnic groups: Bengali (98%)
- Religion: Muslims close to 90%, Hindus close to 10%
- Geography: Most of the country is located at the mouth of large rivers coming from the Himalayas: Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna
- Languages: Bangla and English