Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated and disaster-prone countries in the world. With a population of 160 million people – 80% of whom live in rural areas and depend largely on agriculture for their livelihoods – it was ranked 146 out of 187 countries in the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index 2012.
There is substantial poverty – 80% of people survive on less than £1.30 a day (US$2).
Alongside corruption, poor governance and an over-dependency on natural resources, tackling poverty in Bangladesh has become increasingly difficult due to the impact of climate change.
Extreme temperatures, erratic rainfall, and an increasing number of floods, cyclones and droughts pose considerable challenges. Especially because the country is already highly vulnerable to natural hazards due to its geographical location, land characteristics, many rivers and monsoon climate.
Natural disasters are invariably accompanied by a heavy loss of life, property, income and household belongings. These events serve only to push vulnerable groups and communities further into a cycle of poverty.
It is a small group of elites with vested interests who hold power in Bangladesh – a trend that is evident even at the local level. Often people lack any meaningful opportunity to contribute to the governance process and in rural areas citizens' participation in democracy has been further narrowed by traditional power structures.
Among the marginalised groups in Bangladesh, women are the most vulnerable and lack most forms of power: political, social or economic. Even though the government is committed to protecting the rights of minorities, discrimination against some groups is often shown by their low involvement in the decision making that ultimately affects their lives.
Marginalised and vulnerable groups
Accessing resources, rights and having your voice heard is difficult for poor people in Bangladesh.
There are some groups that are even more vulnerable and marginalised due to their gender, religious or ethnic identities: these groups struggle hard to meet their basic needs, face discrimination, and in many cases have no awareness of their service entitlements from relevant government departments and local institutions.
Making government and public institutions more accountable to communities for the services they provide is vital.
Christian Aid partners in Bangladesh are committed to improving the lives and livelihoods of marginalised people and communities. Whether that is, for example, supporting dairy farmers to improve their yields, training communities on growing crops in areas affected by climate change or ensuring women participate fully in vital decisions that shape their lives.
Our programme promotes access to just and equitable resources and supports the creation of resilient and thriving livelihoods.