Strengthening Resilience in the Face of Covariate Shocks

Bangladesh is a country that is susceptible to large-scale crises, such as floods or droughts. Furthermore, there is the risk of being affected by global crises, such as the food and fuel crisis and global recession of a few years ago. It is essential that the social protection system is used to build the resilience of Bangladeshi families and provide support in the face of shocks.

Once the Government implements the proposals in this Chapter, a high proportion of the citizens will be much more resilient than at present. By expanding the coverage and value of transfers of priority schemes, the poor and vulnerable population will be in a significantly stronger position, with an important buffer against shocks.

Once the Government has established strong management information systems and electronic cash delivery channels (which are outlined in Chapter 6), it will also be able to use the priority social protection schemes to deliver emergency payments if a crisis hits. The Government will be able to increase – on a temporary basis – the value of transfers to recipients, providing them with important additional support. The Government expects this support to reach beyond recipient households given the practices of informal sharing and support between kin. The Government will establish mechanisms to identify geographic areas most hit by crises, so that it knows when and where to increase payments. The Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief will work together and produce proposals for these mechanisms by mid-2015.

The proposed review of the current disaster relief schemes will produce proposals that will also enable the Government to establish short-term humanitarian assistance schemes, either in the form of food or cash, as well as other inputs such as clothing, temporary housing and medicines.

Additionally, the Government’s programmes to address climate change and disaster prevention will be further strengthened as a part of its broader development effort. Agricultural research, embankment and reforestry programmes, disaster preparedness etc are already making important inroads in lowering the vulnerability of the population to climate change and natural disasters. Longer-term programmes such as the planned Delta Region Development can be of further benefit in this regard.

While the Government cannot promise to provide effective cover to everyone in the case of a major crisis, it is confident that, by the end of the five-year period of the NSPS, the majority of the citizens – in particular the most vulnerable – will be in a much stronger position than at present. Bangladesh will be well on the way to providing an effective and comprehensive social protection and disaster relief system by 2030, with improvements happening year on year.