Since gaining independence in 1971, Bangladesh has increased its real per capita income by more than 130 per cent and cut poverty by more than half. Yet it remains a low-income country with substantial poverty, inequality and deprivation.
Almost one third of the population lives below the poverty line, and poverty is highest in rural areas. Half of all rural children are chronically malnourished and 14 per cent suffer from acute malnutrition.
Although agriculture now accounts for less than 20 per cent of gross domestic product, the farm sector still employs about 44 per cent of the labour force. However, the amount of farmland is shrinking as the country urbanizes, and most rural households have little if any cultivable land. Rice, wheat, jute, fruits and vegetables are the main food crops, but farmers lack access to critical agricultural inputs such as high-yielding rice seeds.
With two thirds of its territory less than five metres above sea level, Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Poor people are hit hardest as they often live in poorly constructed housing and on land that is vulnerable to extreme weather.
IFAD has been investing in poor rural women and men in Bangladesh for almost 40 years. Our current approach is aimed at:
- enabling poor people in vulnerable areas to better adapt their livelihoods to climate change;
- helping small producers and entrepreneurs benefit from improved value chains and greater market access;
- empowering marginalized groups, including poor rural women, both economically and socially.
IFAD invests in infrastructure that benefits extremely poor people in Bangladesh, especially women. We also invest in value chains that support landless and marginal farmers, smallholder producers and rural entrepreneurs. Participatory tools help to ensure the inclusion of women and indigenous peoples.
IFAD also has a number of research and grant-funded activities in Bangladesh, including partnerships with the International Rice Research Institute, WorldFish, World Food Programme, World Bank and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Over the last 40 years, cyclones and floods have affected more than 400 million people in Bangladesh.
Although agriculture accounts for less than 20 per cent of gross domestic product, the farm sector still employs about 44 per cent of the labour force.