On Bangladesh Economic Association
January 1, 2000
Prospects for rice exports in Bangladesh
September 25, 2000

Bangladesh’s Food- for-Work Program and Alternatives to Improve Food Secutity

Akhter U. Ahmed, Sajjad Zohir, Shubh K. Kumar, and Omar Haider Chowdhury

Pervasive poverty and undernutrition are fundamental problems in Bangladesh. About one-half of the country’s 112 million people cannot afford an adequate diet. There is a close relationship among poverty, landlessness, and unemployment. The rural landless, constituting about 50 percent of rural households, depend mainly on agriculture for employment. Since demand for labor in agricultural production is seasonal, during the slack season, the landless remain virtually unemployed. Even for most farmers, it is difficult to eke out a respectable living from the limited land that the average Bangladeshi farmer owns. Landless and marginal farmers must often resort to self-employment. But self-employment is often not profitable enough to allow them to step out of poverty.

It is therefore logical to expect that the public development strategy in Bangladesh would include programs designed to generate employment, particularly in rural areas, to reduce poverty. In fact, over the years, Bangladesh has accumulated extraordinarily rich, diverse experience in poverty-reduction efforts, many of which involve employment generation schemes.


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