Social safety nets can contribute to social inclusion, Research says

Social safety nets that are designed and implemented to meet context-specific needs, help the poor citizens of Chars and indigenous population to get included in the society, said Dr. Ferdous Jahan, Professor of Public Administration in University of Dhaka and Academic Coordinator of BIGD while unveiling a research report conducted by UK based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Studies (BIGD) at the BRAC Centre Inn on April 6, 2014.

Professor Ferdous Jahan was addressing a National Seminar titled Can Social Protection contributes to social inclusion?, jointly organised by ODI and BIGD. She was presenting the research findings, conducted in the Bangladesh part and also explained, how safety net programmes like Char Livelihood Programme (CLP) and Vulnerable Group Development programme are creating linkages to services and programmes to reduce the multiple dimensions of social exclusion and poverty; improve food security, strengthen social networks, combine the transfer of physical assets and income with strengthening women’s knowledge and social networks, and support women’s greater participation in social events.

BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman chaired the seminar.

Dr. A H M Abdullah, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development and Cooperatives welcomed the research findings and said, this research portrayed the true picture of the excluded households of Charlands and CHT area, and social safety net programmes are positively contributing in social inclusion process of these poor citizens. However, he also suggested the researchers to be more careful on research planning as there are differences between CLP and VGD programmes.

Professor Dr. Zohir Ahmed, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University commented that social safety net is a great theme where issues like helping each other are important and though these things are common in rural areas for decades, the poor citizens couldn’t get helped just because the programmes have been disorganized and lacked of design. To formulate sustainable safety net policy, he advised to give importance on three levels, intervention, prevention and transformation.

In the concluding remarks, BIGD Head of Research Dr. Minhaj Mahmud said, although 2.2% of our GDP is spent for social safety net programmes, nearly above 60% of poor and vulnerable population do not receive such benefits. Through human development, social safety net programmes can help to achieve higher economic growth. Beside poverty reduction objectives, strategy for social safety net programmes should take into account causes like risks and exclusions. In order to evaluate the impact of safety net programmes, he stressed on careful research design.

Among others, Research Director of Ministry of Food Mr. Hazikul Islam; UK Based ODI Research Fellows Dr. Rebecca Holmes and Jessica Hagen-Zanker, representatives of Research and Academic institutions, Government organizations, Donor Agencies, NGOs, international organizations and civil society members.