Nearly 50 per cent of children are denied education in the country’s disadvantaged areas like monga-prone region and Chittagong Hill Tracts, according to a recent study.
The study revealed that some 44.2 per cent of household members had no schooling in the monga-affected region while the number is 55.2 per cent in the CHT. More than 41 per cent children had primary and 13.3 per cent secondary education in the monga-hit region, but only 26.7 per cent and 16.6 per cent respectively in the CHT.
Principal investigator, Rezai Karim Khondker, of the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, conducted the study titled ‘Food Poverty and Consequent Vulnerability of Children: A Comparative Study of Ethnic Minorities and Monga-Affected Households in Bangladesh’.
The study was carried out with technical support of the National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme under the FAO and the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management with the financial support of EU and USAID.
The survey targeted two types of households - monga-affected ones and ethnic minorities. An area was chosen from the northern region of Bangladesh (four of the five districts of greater Rangpur) situated in the Teesta and Jamuna basin, which was known to be monga prone. The other area - CHT region - was selected on the basis of the density of ethnic minority population.
A total of 1012 households were surveyed - 502 in monga area and 510 in the CHT. Roughly 50 per cent of the sample was drawn from the north (monga-affected area) and the remaining 50 per cent from the south (CHT).
The study said majority of households (57 per cent) in the north reported that from August to October (Bhadra, Ashwin and Kartik) was the worst time of the year for them, whereas all households (100 per cent) opined that the months from June to August (the monsoon period) was the worst time of the year for them.
Flood and consequent river erosion was the main cause of the worst time for majority (57.4 per cent) of households in the north.
About 43.3 per cent of ethnic minorities in the south identified the main causes for the worst time as problems of transportation and communication (during monsoon), torrential rain, crop destruction by rats. About 24.3 per cent also reported lack of employment opportunity and 22.2 per cent said the landslide was the main cause.
During the monga period, only 13 per cent of household members in the north worked as agricultural labourers either as paid workers or for the family without a wage.
Only 11.4 per cent worked as day labourers and about 15 per cent worked in a wide range of occupation as barber and rickshaw van-puller, according to the study.
In the south, the primary occupation during the ‘worst time’ of the year was ‘jhoom’ (slash and burn) cultivation in the hills for 48.4 per cent of all household members.
The study revealed that the fever and diarrhea were reported to be the leading causes of illness in both the regions. Incidence of these two types of illness was widespread both in terms of the number of people suffering and in frequency.
The study found about 79 per cent owned some land (mostly homestead) in the north whereas the number was only 59.5 per cent in the south.