Utilising targeted social safety net programs for poverty reduction: The case of Bangladesh

Author: Mousumi Sarkar Rakhi

Rakhi, Mousumi Sarkar, 2021 Utilising targeted social safety net programs for poverty reduction: The case of Bangladesh , Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law

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Social protection mechanisms such as social safety net programs are generally understood to be powerful instruments for achieving a number of SDGs including eradication of poverty and reduction of different forms of inequality. Social safety net programs (SSNP) make up the major component of social protection in the developing countries. SSNPs refer to the non-contributory social assistance delivered to poor and vulnerable in the form of cash or kind. There are other types of SSNPs including income generating workfare programs and conditional cash transfers to encourage human capital building. While direct transfer protects the poor against risks or shocks which can increase lifetime poverty, they create the opportunity of additional income from the productive investment or employment generating programs. However, there is a debate whether social protection should be universal or targeted. It is often argued that, countries with less fiscal resources should implement the targeted programs for poverty reduction. Although the objective of targeting is to improve the efficiency of the programs through distributing benefits disproportionately to the poor, they often exclude the poor who really need the benefits most. Along with improving the targeting mechanisms, efficiency of these programs can be improved by increasing the share of budget, consolidating small programs into larger programs, use of information and communication technologies and enhancing accountability mechanisms. Bangladesh, has been conducting a large number of SSNPs to address poverty and vulnerability. In spite of their significant contribution in poverty reduction, the SSNPs exclude many extremely poor people. The limitations of the targeting process, absence of effective coordination mechanism, lack of transparency, accountability and responsiveness of local government contribute to the inefficiency of the SSNPs. This project considers how examples from countries including Brazil, Indonesia, India demonstrate efficiency of the SSNPs in Bangladesh can be improved through improving the targeting process, adopting the Joined-Up Government approach, developing integrated data and information management system, utilising the existing NID database and strengthening the accountability mechanisms.

Keywords: SDG, Social Protection, Social Safety Net, Poverty, Bangladesh, Coordination

Subject: Social Administration thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Business, Government and Law
Supervisor: Dr Jodie Curth-Bibb