Speakers at a webinar held yesterday, said that, social and economic interventions alone may not sustain the outcome of any poverty reduction program. The webinar was organized by CARE Bangladesh in association with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). A study commissioned by CARE Bangladesh on social and economic integration in market systems was presented in the online discussion.
While commenting on the study outcome Rubaiyath Sarwar, the lead researcher of the study said, ‘the poor and the disadvantaged face two types of systemic challenges- on one side, the dysfunctional economic systems mean that they have income poverty; on the other side, the governance challenges in the local community and the local governance systems mean that they are deprived of social services that they are entitled to. Economic only approach may not solve all the social challenges; a social first approach may not lead to economic wealth. Furthermore economic first may lead to a new generation of wealthy taking advantage of the weak social governance systems. This further creates discrimination; affects inclusivity. The SDC funded CARE Shomoshti project provided important insights and evidence that could be used by economic development programs in the future to design more inclusive and sustainable interventions that have deeper impact by ensuring both social and economic impact.
‘Market systems work has huge potential to help addressing poverty at a scale. Among others, understanding and addressing challenges around contextual systemic constraint on market system is critical. Also, in an effort of ‘Making Markets Work for Poor’, it is important to look into the contexts of multidimensional aspects of poverty, disaster, marginalization, gender and social norms aspects. Understanding market eco-system and unpacking issues that limit poor and marginalized communities’ and most importantly women’s active participation in different value chains along with stakeholder’s limitation and strength and ability to quickly adapt evolving changes is what probably we need in the sector. The learning from CARE’s SHOMOSTHI project can offer some insights to the practitioners’, said Prabodh Devkota, Deputy Country Director- Program of Care Bangladesh
Fouzia Nasreen, Senior Technical Adviser, Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation said, ‘we cannot solve all socio-economic problems by adopting a single approach. We need to focus on the incremental changes at the life and livelihood of the poor and the disadvantaged. A gender transformative outlook is also required to shift the power imbalance in the society’
Shakeb Nabi, Country Director, ICCO Bangladesh said, ‘the discourse around resilience got new connotation in Bangladesh; it encompasses natural disaster, poverty and COVID. Due to COVID 30% people are at risk of falling back to the poverty line. We need to check how far existing models of market development could able to safeguard smallholder producers from this kind of emerging crisis irrespective of social and economic’.
Anowarul Haq, Social Development Adviser of DFID said, ‘approaches and interventions to eradicate poverty is not linear, we need to understand the root causes of poverty from the perspective of people living in poverty and the stakeholders associated with them including the implementing NGOs and local market actors’.
Market development practitioners both from the NGOs/ INGOs and private sector took part in the open discussion and suggested measures to address the gaps in various approaches to poverty. Among others Walter Mwassa, Chief of Party of Shouhardo III, Mehrul Islam, Director of PEARL team, Gias Uddin Talukder, Senior Team Leader, Shomoshti, Sajadul Hasan, GM-ADC, Pragati Life Insurance Ltd, Mr. Masum from Bengal Meat, Mr. Asif from Brac Bank and team members of Shomoshti also spoke in the discussion. Aamanur Rahman, Director, Extreme Rural Poverty Program of CARE Bangladesh moderated the session.
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