DHAKA, Bangladesh – Recent reports from the World Bank suggest that poverty is sharply declining in Bangladesh. The economy in the South Asian country has grown consistently by six percent per year in the past decade. This is especially remarkable considering the global economic downturns in 2007 and 2008.
In the same amount of time, poverty has dropped by a third, with more than 15 million people moving out of poverty since 1992, and the literacy rate and average life expectancy have both increased significantly. Now, the country is the fourth largest garment producer in the world.
Despite these victories, however, Bangladesh isn’t completely satisfied. The government has set the goal of becoming a middle-income economy by 2021. This will take an enormous amount of further effort, consisting of strengthening insufficiencies in energy and infrastructure, improving the skills of its workforce, and preparing to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Much of the Bangladeshi economy is based on the exportation of manufactured goods, and the report predicts that the nation will continue to be an export “powerhouse” in the coming years. For a long time the health and safety of many of the country’s factory workers have been international concerns. June will mark seventh months since a factory fire that killed 117 people near the capital of Dhaka, and two months since over 900 people were killed following a factory collapse in the same general area in April.
Because they have realized that they too have a stake in protecting lives abroad, as well as in the textile industry, the United States Labor Department has given $2.5 million to assist in fixing dangerous factories. Hopefully, as the economy of Bangladesh continues to thrive, so will the wellbeing of the workers that helped make it so.
– Samantha Mauney