bangladesh week of action against debt and ifis october 17 2011Poverty is the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material property or money. Destitution refers to being unable to afford basic human needs which commonly include nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. Relative poverty refers to a lack of socially acceptable level of resources or income as compared with others within a society or country. Poverty is usually measured as either absolute or relative poverty (the latter being actually an index of income inequality.) Absolute poverty refers to a set standard which is consistent over time and between countries.

As a part of the 2011 Global Week of Action vs. Debt and IFIs and in observance of the International Day of Poverty Eradication 2011, SUPRO organized a Human Chain and Street Theatre show today, October 17, 2011, at Shahbag, Dhaka. In the Human Chain demonstration, the speakers demanded the eradication of poverty to ensure sustainable development for all. Poor people are fighting continuously against climate change, adverse situations and increases in the prices of commodities that make their lives miserable. Sustainable and inclusive development is the way out of this crisis. We have to respect poor peoples' rights and address their needs as well as ensure their participation in decision making processes and initiatives..

During the demonstration, speakers criticized the 'neoliberal economy' formulated in the 1980s according to the prescription of World Bank and IMF's 'Washington Consensus'. In line with the neoliberal economy, a Structural Adjustment Programme is being implemented promoting privatization, commercialization and market liberalization. All these circumstances reduce government's support for food, education and health while encouraging private sector profit, poverty and deprivation.

Along with representatives from various organizations and the Dhaka Campaign Group, SUPRO National Council member Motiur Rahma, SUPRO secretariat staff Kazi Shafiqur Rahman-Coordinator, Saif Uddin Ahmed-Coordinator, Farhana Akter-Associate Coordinator, Shariful Islam-Associate Coordinator and Md. Tariq-Ul-Hassan Khan – Associate Coordinator participated in the human chain activity. They stated that there seems to be a number of structural factors behind the prevailing nature and dynamics of poverty. The major reasons are the unequal distribution of productive assets, inequitable distribution of income, massive underemployment, low levels of human resource development and imperfect local markets. These economic factors, together with the unjust social system, low level of law and order and lack of good governance, reinforce each other and create critical obstacles for human development. While the percentage of people living in poverty has decreased, the absolute number of poor people has increased.

In the Human Chain demonstration, SUPRO demanded the following:

  • The agricultural sector has to be prioritized and subsidy must be increased. Increase agricultural production in order to achieve food sovereignty. Food prices have to be kept within the reach of the people.
  • Towards sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty, farmers ownership have to be ensured and conversion of agricultural lands into commercial lands have to be stopped.
  • Fruitful and development-friendly policies have to be made in the sectors of agriculture, education, health and industry. The prescriptions of WB, IMF and ADB must be rejected.
  • Establish access to information and stop privatization of education.
  • Stop privatization of health service sector.
  • Include sustainable and honorable employment in social safety net programmes.
  • Stop unjust intervention of International Financial Institutions in national policy and decision making process
  • Proper implementation of Annual Development Programme.
  • Developed countries have to provide 0.7% of their national income as unconditional development aid in accordance with their promise.