Multidimensional poverty in Bangladesh far outstrips the current income-based estimation, shows a study that puts the rate at 25.87 per cent, as of immediate pre-pandemic period.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and a UK university jointly conducted the survey on the country's poverty situation, sans the picture in a changed context now when poverty took deeper dimensions.
Now 25.87 per cent of the total population of the country is poor measured under multidimensional poverty index (MPI), says the study report of the BIDS and the University of Bath, released Thursday in Dhaka.
In terms of income poverty, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in its HEIS 2016 showed 12.9 per cent of the population living in extreme poverty while 24.30 per cent people live under the upper poverty line.
Meanwhile, government's General Economics Division (GED) in a simulation showed that Bangladesh's poverty in 2019 was nearly 20 per cent (upper poverty line).
The duo of BIDS and Bath University conducted the study, titled 'Extreme Poverty: the Challenges of Inclusion in Bangladesh', taking data up to the year 2019 when the Covid-19 pandemic did not affect the country. The study is conducted for the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission.
The study has failed to provide any latest data on the poverty spectrum after the impact of the pandemic.
The report says that the MPI is prepared considering 10 indicators in addition to income of the people and households.
The indicators include gender, marginalisation, religion identities, ethnic identities, access to credits, shocks, electricity access, major illness, and land distribution.
According to the study, Mymensingh division is on top of the list in terms of MPI poverty as some 37.90 per cent of people there are poor, while Dhaka Division is in the best position with 20.47 per cent.
Sylhet Division is in the second position with its 36.67-per cent poverty rate, while Rangpur Division in the 3rd position with 29.71 per cent, Rajshahi Division in the 4th position with 28.01 per cent, Chittagong Division in the 5th position with 23.07 per cent and Khulna in the 6th position with 21.31 per cent.
Meanwhile, the study also reveals a rural-urban divide: 28.99-per cent people in the rural areas are poor and 14.13 per cent in the urban areas as per the MPI.
The study finds that the Hindus in Bangladesh are less poor than people in any other religion with only 20.89-per cent poverty rate while the Christians are in the highest level with 30 per cent.
The Buddhists are in the second position with 27-per cent poverty rate, followed by Muslims at 26.36 per cent.
Director-General of BIDS and poverty expert Dr Binayek Sen said, "Although Bangladesh's poverty rate increased for the Covid-19 impact, now it reverted to the pre-Covid level, which was estimated at HIES 2016."
He said that they had to find out the reasons for the non-upgrading of the poverty situation in the high-poverty-incidence districts like Kurigram and Sherpur although the government had created many facilities there.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said wealth redistribution needs to be ensured "in a fair manner for reducing poverty as well as inequality in society".
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam pointed out climate shocks as a key reason in the river-basin districts as it affects people to throw into poverty.
BRAC Executive Director Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said, "Urban poverty is a new dimension in Bangladesh which needs to be addressed soon."
Senior research fellow of BIDS Zulfiqur Ali and Ms Mathilde Maitrot of the University of Bath presented the findings of the study report.