OAAPis one of the important factors in reducing rural poverty in a sustainable manner. Since elderly people, especially rural poor cannot work, risks and vulnerability is very common phenomena for them. The negative effects of risks are more dangerous for the elderly poor people as in that age they are vulnerable in terms of income, physical and mental. Old age allowance program under SSNPs is very important and time befitting initiative for those people. The present study tried to assess the impact of SSNP on reducing rural poverty based on OAAP. Different researchers see the impact and effectiveness of the SSNPs and OAAP some of which were discussed in the concerned chapter have already carried out different studies. The study reveals that overallfood intake in terms of daily food intake pattern; food items in each meal, taking anyother foods other than rice of the respondents hasincreased significantly. On the other hand, based on the finding, it is exposed that borrowing tendency of the rice, staple food, has decreased suggestively. Form this piece of research; we have found that OAAP has positive impact to reduce the poverty and vulnerability of its beneficiaries. It has also observed that the beneficiaries take more food items after receiving the allowance than before.
Since the country’s main economic goal is to alleviate poverty and ensure growth, the policy makers consider OAAP under SSNPs as a vehicle to this goal and engine of development. The data shows that both the qualityand quantity of food of the beneficiaries has improved by the program. This implies thatbeneficiary households could spend more money purchasing food items.From the findings, it is clear that the beneficiaries of the program can fulfill theirminimum requirement of necessary medicine during illness from the allowance. The studyalso reveals that status of the beneficiaries has also increased in terms of decision making in the family.Therefore, we can say that the quality of life of the respondents has improved considerably. All of the respondents mentioned the positive impact of the OAAP except some procedural problems related to selection of beneficiary. Though the amount is very small but its impact is very high in terms of ensure the social status of the beneficiary within and outside of their families. As a result, it could say that though the amount of allowance is small, ithas significant impacts on the beneficiaries. Moreover, it is also observed that a number of factors such as interference of localgovernment and political representatives, wrong selection of beneficiaries andoperational difficulty in bank accounts by the beneficiaries negatively affect thesuccessful operation of the program. The old age allowance therefore is such a safety net program that can relieve the old people from the unbearable sufferings and the pain ofnegligence.
From the data and other relevant studies, the following recommendations can be forwarded for ensuring the effectiveness of the old age allowance program.
i) Increase of allowance amount:Now beneficiaries are receiving 500 taka, which is very small compared to the minimum necessary requirement. Therefore, most of the respondents including the concerned officials, representatives and potential non-beneficiaries have suggested increasing the amount by at least by 1000 taka. Previous researchers also found the relevancy to increase the allowance (Uddin, 2013 &Ahmed and Islam 2011). For example the Old Age Allowance Program Implementation Manual (Revised) 2013, indicates that every year the government has planned to increase the amount along with the coverage of the program.
ii) Increase of coverage: From the field data, it has been evident that to ensure the effectiveness of the program, the government should increase the coverage of the program whichprevious studies also concluded (Uddin, 2013 &Ahmed and Islam 2011). The government in its policy guideline and relevant documents acknowledge this. Therefore, every year the government increases the coverage of it. For instance in 1997-98 beneficiaries of OAAP was 0.40 million where as it was 3.00, 3.15 and 3.50 in the year 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively (Ministry of Finance, 2017).
iii) Fair selection: The main objective of the OAAP program is to protect poor elderly people from risks and vulnerability in their old age period. Therefore, correct beneficiary selection is the crucial issue for ensuring the maximum effectiveness of the program. Uddin (2013) in his study found that because of selection biased this program could not attain its maximum objective.
iv) Withdrawal of allowance: Currently beneficiaries,receive their monthly allowance through bank account. Therefore, most of the respondents especially beneficiaries face some problems such as operational difficulty in bank accounts, scariness, complications and transport cost during withdrawal of allowances. If theallowance money disburses through mobile banking, then the beneficiaries couldbe relieved from such problems.
v) Reduce the complexity and administrative procedural:Presently three to four committees are responsible to select the beneficiariesand implement the program. Even members of the parliament of the concern constituency are involved with the procedure of implementing the OAAP. Respondents mentioned that this procedural complexity lingers the implementation of the program. For ensuring the effectiveness of the program, it is better if government reduces the administrative complexity.
vi) Community participation: Community participating is another important factor to improve any program especially involving the stakeholders during the selection procedure. It could ensure the overall implementation of the OAAP (Uddin, 2013).
vii) More awareness programs and initiatives related to OAAP: In most cases, potential non-beneficiaries, especially, were not aware of the program. They do not know, particularly, how, when and to whom they should apply for getting the OAAP benefit. Therefore, the government as well as concerned committees and officials should carry out some awareness programs by using print or electronic media even through local meeting (World Bank, 2006 and Uddin, 2013).
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