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Population Dynamics and Food Security: Perspectives on Sustainable Development in Bangladesh. A K M Nurun Nabi, PhD Professor and Project Director Department of Population Sciences University of Dhaka firstname.lastname@example.org. Most Populous Countries with Density, 2010 & 2050.
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A K M Nurun Nabi, PhD
Professor and Project Director
Department of Population Sciences
University of Dhaka
Source: PRB, 2010 World Population Data Sheet, BBS 2011, and Mabud 2009
Bangladesh, one of the largest delta in the world, has a population size of about 150 million in an area of 147,570 sq. km.
Close to 1000 people live in one square kilometer area.
Each year, the population increases by 1.8 to 2.0 million.
The population is likely to grow up to 226 million around 2050.
The population will stabilize at 250 million by 2081, even if replacement level fertility is achieved by the year 2015.
It will happen due to the population momentum inherent in the young age structure.
Infant Mortality : 52/1000 live Birth
Neonatal mortality : 37/1000 live Birth
-9.3% per year
Deaths per 1,000 live-births
-6.0% per year
-2.6% per year
Source: Bangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys, 1993-4, 1996-7, 1999-2000, 2004, 2007
Source: BDHS 1997, 2000, 2004, 2007
The demographic structure of Bangladesh population suggests that its population will continue to grow for decades to come due to the population momentum inherent in the young age structure, even if replacement level fertility is achieved by the year 2015.
However, this young population is a blessing in the sense that it implies strength, energy, vigor, pool of work force and a full potential for future leadership. For Bangladesh, this is a demographic bonus.
This demographic bonus could bring a huge dividend, if this raw capital is converted into circulatory capital. This window of opportunity opens for a population only once.
If we fail to grab this opportunity immediately, this young population could create a disastrous hazard for the nation.
Sources: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1994 and 1999 and 2006
Distribution of Population by Age and Demographic Window of Opportunity in Bangladesh, 2005-2050
Source: Data analysis
Malnutrition – a serious public health & socio-economic development problem.
About 35% and 21% women suffer from CED (BMI <18.5) in rural and urban areas respectively.
36 % of children are underweight (low weight-for-age).
12 % are severely underweight.
Percentage of underweight children increases sharply with age and peaks at 47% among children aged 36-47.
Birth weight is very low (30%).
Among U-5 children 36% are stunted.
Food Security refers to accessibility and availability of foods by all groups of people all over the year in a country.
Food and agriculture in Bangladesh:
A success story
Bangladesh has increased its food grain production substantially since its independence. From 11.8 million metric tons in 1974 to 34.5 million metric tons in 2011.
34.5 million metric tons (mmt) in which the contributions of aus, aman, boro and wheat were 2.13 mmt, 12.79 mmt, 18.6 and 0.97 mmt respectively.
Foodgrain production target for FY2011-12
35.73 mmt which is 3.56% higher than last year's actual production.
Total foodgrain import in the FY2010-11
5.31 mmt of which 1.56 mmt was rice and 3.75mmt wheat.
Even though Bangladesh is now a self-sufficient in rice production, food security remains an illusive goal.
Agriculture provides jobs for 80% of the total population but contributes to only 22% of the gross domestic product.
Only 37% of Bangladesh’s total area is arable land but natural disasters can affect 30% of this land.
30% of the population consumes fewer than 1800 kcal per day.
Women eat last and eat less. They are the most malnourished group in Bangladesh.
The average Bangladeshi diet lacks diversification with 75 percent of calories consumed coming from rice.
A key uncertainty for the hunger situation in Bangladesh is the impact of the latest round of food price increases
By early 2011 the cost of a standard bucket of food had risen by 36 percent in 12 months, with the price of rice edging ahead of its 2008 peaks.
Although importing only about 5 percent of its total need, the exposure to world markets forces up local prices, disproportionately affecting poor household which spend the majority of their incomes on food.
Only one percent of the country’s farms comprise more than 3 hectares.
Most of the poverty and hunger in Bangladesh is found on the 86 percent of farmswhich are less than one hectare.
Furthermore, 1 percent of cultivable land is lost each year to encroachment of urban settlements, industry and infrastructure - pressures which are unlikely to diminish.
Food grain production in Bangladesh has more than trebled over the last 30-40 years but soil quality has been degraded and groundwater resources depleted.
Despite significant achievements in poverty reduction, Bangladesh faces considerable challenges:
Women still lag a lot behind men in educational attainment, literacy, employment, earnings and control over cash, freedom of movement, autonomy and status. They lack full participation and partnership in productive and reproductive lives.
Women in Bangladesh have little say over household decision-making. When it comes to making independent decisions on matters other than daily household purchases, things are even worse.
While only one-third currently women decide independently on daily household purchases, only 9 to 19% make independent decisions on other matters.
The growing evidence on climate change suggests that Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, resulting from the cumulative action of developed and emerging economies, would have serious deleterious effects in near future, unless effectively contained.
It is predicted that Bangladesh will be adversely affected by climate change in the form of melting of Himalayan glaciers, global warmings and rising sea level, intensified natural calamities, and greater water scarcity leading to loss of livelihood, rising unemployment and poverty.
Furthermore, a rise in the sea level, leading to coastal, submergence (i.e. 17 % of Bangladesh) would cause large-scale displacement of people.
A few of the challenges are presented above as food for thought for all of us.
To face the population challenges, we need to take the population issue as a central point for national development.
On the backdrop of the global canvas of 7 billion people, what prognosis could be suggested for Bangladesh to meet the need for people’s welfare?
For now, the transition from basic traditional subsistence food consumption to modern non-food consumption through rapid reduction of poverty is one precondition for appropriate national development strategy for population management and planning.
Bangladesh has made significant progress in increasing agricultural productivity and output. To translate these achievements into higher food security, a more strategic multi-sectoral approach is needed.
To improve the availability of food, investments are needed to:
intensify and diversify food production and increase its sustainability;
support adaptation to climate change; and
develop agricultural marketing and infrastructure.
Investments to eradicate income poverty, with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable groups, and improved risk management, will help increase and stabilize access to food.