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Dignity, choice raised with economic growth of rural population: Study

03 February 2023

News Desk  :
A study was conducted for 13 years, to assess the effectiveness of the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation's (PKSF) development program "Samriddhi" or ENRICH.
The ENRICH program covers 1.3 million households of 197 unions in Bangladesh.
Survey findings indicate that the average income and the food intake of program participants have increased significantly.
The number of people earning more than Tk10,000 also went up to more than 50% during the end-line, as opposed to 15% during the baseline.
The findings show, the average monthly income per capita in ENRICH unions was Tk1,435, during baseline and it increased to Tk1,871 during the end-line.
The study also revealed the most significant changes in terms of food intake took place in the Saghata, Durgapur, and Simanto unions, where the number of people who eat three meals a day increased to 98%. The intake of animal protein also saw a rise during this period.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the ENRICH program, the study was conducted by the University of Sussex's Professor Dr Martin Greeley, Associate Professor at the Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka Dr Asif M Shahan, and Assistant Professor of the same department, Dr Shubhasish Barua.
Based on the results of the research, a book titled "Sustainable Development, Human Dignity and Choice: Lessons from the ENRICH Programme, Bangladesh" was published by the international publishing house Springer Nature.
The research book was unveiled at PKSF Auditorium in Dhaka's Agargaon on Thursday. Prime Minister's economic adviser Mashiur Rahman was present as the chief guest.
PKSF Chairman Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, and Managing Director Dr Nomita Halder were also present.
According to the assessment survey, seven out of 10 unions, where the scheme was implied, saw an improvement in toilet availability.
Health card holders also received all the services delivered under the health component of ENRICH. The end-line survey reports that 53.6% of the surveyed households have a health card now. During baseline, this number was 1.6%, which is very low.
Dr Asif M Shahan said the dropout rate among primary school children in ENRICH unions has come down to 0.9%, whereas the national average is 4%.
The school performance of 90% of students who attend the ENRICH educational assistance centres also improved.
PKSF Managing Director, Dr Nomita Halder, said the main objective of this program of PKSF is to alleviate poverty through employment.
"The project also aims to improve the dignity of the village people. This assessment study will give an idea of how that is happening and the evaluation situation of the project results, which are new things for us," she added.
Emphasizing various aspects of the program, she further said PKSF has allocated Tk80 crore in the current financial year for the implementation of several welfare-oriented activities, where 16 million families have been supported with multifaceted activities such as health, education, and economic independence.
After unveiling the book, Mashiur Rahman said the concept of dignity is not often highlighted in discussions related to the economy or growth.
He said this study considers human dignity as an indicator of development, which is novel. He also expressed hope that the program will be expanded in the future.
PKSF Chairman Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said under the "Samriddhi" program, necessary services and support are provided at every stage of a person's life so that they can make the maximum use of the existing opportunities in view of their current capabilities. It will also help them to sustainably ensure the prosperity of themselves and society.  
ENRICH started working in 21 unions in 2010. The program has expanded over the years and covers millions of people now in 2023.

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