Challenges facing the children of Bangladesh
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Mahmud
Children living on the streets of Dhaka face multiple challenges for health, education and protection.
- Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child-marriage in the world. 66 per cent of women (aged 20 to 24) were married before they turned 18.
- 13 per cent of children are involved in child labour. Child labourers are frequently denied an education and are vulnerable to violence and abuse.
- Bangladesh has one of the lowest rates of birth registration in the world. This makes it difficult to protect children from trafficking, child labour and child marriage.
Health and nutrition
- Only 80 per cent of students enrolled in grade one complete primary school.
- While many parents do play with their youngest children, they have little or no understanding of how play and other informal learning helps prepare children for school.
- High drop-out rates and poor quality teaching and learning are serious problems for primary schools.
- Only 46 per cent of boys and 53 per cent of girls attend secondary school.
- Neonatal death and maternal mortality rates remain high, primarily because most deliveries take place at home without access to proper medical care.
- Health facilities lack qualified staff and suffer from shortages of supplies.
- Under-nutrition contributes to child mortality. 22 per cent of infants are born with low birth weight. Up to 46 per cent of children under-five are underweight.
- Drowning and injury is the leading cause of death among children older than one year.
- Major prevention efforts are needed to keep HIV prevalence rates low.
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2006/Noorani
Safe water is a problem throughout rural Bangladesh. Chittagong division.
Water and sanitation
Emergencies and conflict
- Only 53 per cent of the population use improved sanitation facilities.
- Only 80 per cent of the population has access to safe drinking water, primarily because of naturally occurring arsenic contamination of groundwater in some areas.
- Safe hygiene practices, especially proper hand washing, remain a challenge in the fight against disease.
- Development is hampered by annual floods and other natural disasters, including cyclones and tornados. Bangladesh is also susceptible to earthquakes.
- Avian influenza continues to threaten lives and livelihoods in Bangladesh.
- Low-lying Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
- The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in south-eastern Bangladesh, where ethnic minorities make up half the population, have suffered a slower development rate than the national average, due primarily to a history of civil conflict and the difficult terrain.
- The health and wellbeing of Rohingya refugee children, whose families fled from Myanmar to the south-eastern part of Bangladesh following internal conflict, remains a concern.