Things that make you to Think
Abid Azad investigates the ignominious irregularities in the implementation of the UPPR programme which reveals how the poor people are deprived from the opportunities of being developed from this largest programme in Bangladesh….
One of the most debatable topics in our country is, perhaps, whether poverty is a blessing or a curse.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) are jointly running one of the biggest development projects in Bangladesh, titled ‘Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction’ (UPPR) which began in 2008. The local and international associates in this project are the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, the Bangladesh government, UN-Habitat, ILO, UNICEF and CARE.
It is a well-known fact that, in the name of poverty alleviation, some of the influential people line their bottom-less wallets by exploiting the uneducated poor. Investigations by this reporter revealed that acts of sheer corruption are taking place in the name of this project, under which the poor has become a tradable commodity for the influential quarters. From what it seems, the project implementation authority is not committed to reducing poverty; rather reproducing the malady.
DFID and UNDP have contributed $117 million and $3 million respectively to the UPPR project. Besides this, some Tk 8.26 billion are being contributed by the Bangladesh government. The aim of this project is to improve the living conditions of three million urban poor and extreme poor, especially women and girls. During the implementation period of the project, they are being provided with basic sanitary and water facilities, adult education centres, educational funds for their children, development training on self employment, health services andcommunity development.
According to the UPPR fact sheet, approximately 35 per cent of the population in the six largest cities of the country live in slums; among them, 20 per cent are poor, while 23 per cent live well below the poverty line.
Initiatives such as these always look good on paper; however, when gross ‘irregularities’ are found at the grassroots levels, it is a matter of utmost anxiety to all stakeholders as well as observers. The majority of such irregularities usually occur in the various categories of training programmes, such as Economic Development for Business Management (EDBM), APEX, block boutique, jute diversified products, homestead gardening, etc. The community development committee (CDC) members, who are responsible for distributing the allocated budget to these training programmes rarely act in the interest of the poor people; it is an open secret that they incise undisclosed amounts from the allotted budget in the name of food and trainers’ costs.
Read the full story here