Effectiveness of Social Safety Net Programs in Poverty Reduction

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SSNP has immense impact on reducing poverty especially crisis time, when people do not have any option or choice. During this time, their income fall greatly, even they lose their jobs and their crops land and living houses by the devastating floods and other natural disasters. SSNP has great positive role and impact in these (Rahman, H. Z., Chawdhury, L. A., &Khondoker, S. A. 2011). However, this paper also mentioned about the all SSNP not especially Old Allowance more specifically, it did not mention anything about the selection procedure of the beneficiaries of SSNP. Nevertheless, selection procedure is very important. Because political influences mainly occur during the selection procedure. Local political leaders, from the political parties who govern the country, try to include their supporters in the SSNP. Central leaders also influence the process through government officials who are responsible for implementing the SSNP (Uddin, 2013). As a result, some time, non-eligible people get the benefit. However, even in some cases, beneficiaries have to give bribery to the official concern as well local political leaders for including their names in SSNP (Mohiuddin, 2015). In the study of Effectiveness of Social Safety Net Programs (SSNPs) in Poverty Reduction suggested involving the civil society in the selection procedure. Therefore, it is a time befitting issue to study and find out all the related answers (2015).

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SSNP is one of the important commitments of the present government. The beneficiaries can invest their allowance to income generation activates for reducing their poverty. In some cases, old age allowance ensures the status of its beneficiaries in the society they are living, even within their families, so children get some kinds of rewards for not abandoning their parents in their old age which ultimately addressing the issue of reviving traditional family system (Morshed, 2009). As a result, government is increasing its budget allocation on social safety net programs particularly on old age allowance (Ministry of Finance).

This is why we need to address some issues to ensure the impact of SSNP such as cash transfer program instead of food program, regional based emphasize program and especial program for disaster prone areas etc. though SSNP achieved huge success in the country (Ahmed, 2013). The same study also mentioned that over the last 15 years national level poverty has declined roughly one percent per year because of the role of SSNP but the study did mentioned scrutiny the impact of old age allowance separately.

As a result, some new programs have incorporated along with the on-going social safety net programs by the government. Not only that allocation of social safety net programs have been significantly increased during the global economic crisis in 2008-9 for facing that as part of immediate steps (Microeconomic Wing 2016). Uddin, (2013) in his study Social Safety Nets in Bangladesh: An analysis of Impact of Old Age Allowance Program mentioned that this program was introduced in 1998 to protect the vulnerable old people. He also found the positive impact of the program when the selection procedure was right and unbiased. This study gave the researcher fruit for carrying out the current study since it mentioned that it is effective when selection procedure was right and unbiased. Therefore, one of the importance objectives of the present study is, to see the selection procedure and to find out how to make this program more effective.

According to Bangladesh: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper , Bangladesh has a robust portfolio of SSNPs which addresses various forms of risk and vulnerability and attempt to reduce poverty through direct transfer of resources to the poor. For this reason, emphasize has been given on SSNP for achieving the vision 2021(IMF, 2012).

The government is working for the unprivileged, unemployed and the physically challenged people for the improvement of their life strata. To implement this mission Social Welfare Ministry of Bangladesh is mainly responsible. Through this ministry, mainly, government is being implemented most the Safety Nets program. On the other hand, NGOs are also playing a significant rule to implement SSNPs. However, lacks of coordination have observed among these NGOs as well as between the government and NGOs (Rahman, H. Z., & Choudhury, L. A. 2012).

On the other hand, though consistently, government of Bangladesh increasing the budget of SSNPs but the evaluation of impact has not carried out yet on the specific program base and its sustainability. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake a study for evaluating the implication status of SSNP so that it would be understandable to us whether SSNP has positive impact to reduce rural poverty in a sustainable manner or something else based on Old Age Allowance.

Bangladesh has an ample range of SSNPs. The Government of Bangladesh is directly operating numerous specifically designed social safety net programs (Ministry of Welfare). At present as many as 144 different SSNPs, the Government is implementing programs, under different categories. However, this piece of research is focusing only one special type of SSNP program among the 127 and that one is OAAP.

The government of Bangladesh has initiated OAAP in financial year 1997-98 to ensure a better and secure life for the elderly people of the country especially for the rural poor. Since the inception of the program, it has implemented through the Department of Social Services under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Bangladesh (Department of Social Services).

There are some specific objectives of OAAP. Among them the most mentionable objectives of OAAP are:

  1. ensuring social security and socio-economic development of elderly people;
  2. increasing the dignity of the poor old people in their family as well as in the society;
  3. taking care of their health and basic medicine for the poor elderly people (Department of Social Services, 2018). The beneficiary selection, for this program, depends on some criteria.

The important criteria for selecting beneficiary under this program are:

  1. requirement age is 65 and 62 years and above for poor male and female respectively;
  2. economically vulnerable such as asset less and landless will get priority;
  3. priority will be given to widow, divorce, person having no children and separate from family;
  4. elderly person who have only 0.50 acre or less land with get priority for getting the allowance under this program. However, important and mandatory documents for getting this allowance are Birth registration/National ID number (Ministry of Social Welfare).

Concerned committees such as Union Committee, Upazila Committee are responsible for selecting beneficiary primarily and approved (GOB, 2013). Government is giving much priority on this program; therefore, every year government is increasing the budget of OAAP along with its beneficiaries and monthly allowance (Department of Social Services, 2018).

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