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UNICEF-BBS survey shows huge geographic disparities in reaching the Millennium Development Goals in Bangladesh

Dhaka , January 24, 2010. Despite the overall good progress made by Bangladesh towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a recent survey by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) supported by UNICEF shows huge disparities between the 64 districts of the country. Twenty four social indicators were assessed, but the preliminary report presents the findings for nine indicators. Using a composite index based on these nine indicators, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) ranks each district according to their level of performance.

The five best performing districts are Jehnaidah, Meherpur, Munshiganj, Panchgarh and Narayanganj. The five least performing district are Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati, Sunamganj, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.

These key findings were disseminated today at a workshop chaired by the Minister of  Planning, Air Vice Marshal (Retd) A.K. Khander (BU), MP with UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy, as guest of honour.

A large gap exists between the best and the worst performing districts for those nine indicators related to education, child health, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

For child mortality (children under five), the lowest performing district, Sherpur, records 102 deaths  per 1,000 live births and the best performing one, Pabna, records only 43 per 1,000 while the national average is  67 per 1,000. For the proportion of births attended by a skilled attendant, there is also a huge disparity with 61 per cent for the best performing district, Meherpur, and 8 per cent for the lowest performing, Bandarban, with the national average being 24 per cent.

Regarding the net attendance rate in primary education, the difference is 30 percentage points between the best performing district, Meherpur (91 per cent)  and the least performing , Bandarban (60.6 per cent), the national average being 81.3 per cent with no significant difference between girls and boys. It should be noted that attendance is also very low in urban slum areas with 62.8 per cent.

‘For the first time, this survey provides detailed information not only on the situation of 64 districts, as in past surveys, but also for the 481 upazilas in relation to social sectors comprising the  Millennium Development Goals”, said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative. “This provides a solid baseline for the Government to measure progress on MDGs at all levels, especially as similar surveys will be conducted in 2012 and 2015. It is particularly important to take a close look at those data as the Government is now preparing its 6th National Development Plan and has the opportunity to target the most deprived areas with specific interventions and budget allocations in order to catch up with the rest of the country and achieve MDGs with equity.’
The MICS survey shows also that Bangladesh has made major progress in registering the birth of children under-five, jumping from 10 per cent of children’s birth registered in 2006 to 53.6  per cent. The survey confirms that Bangladesh has reached gender parity in primary education, but not yet in secondary education. Progress is also recorded in the retention rate of pupils at primary school as almost 80 per cent of children, who start grade one reach the last grade of primary school compared to only 63.6 per cent in 2006. 

Access to improved source of water is almost universal with 97.8 per cent, but the report also indicates that 12.6 per cent of the households’ drinking water exceeds Bangladesh standards for arsenic content. When taking arsenic contamination into consideration, access to safe drinking water is reduced to 85.2 per cent of the population.

 The 2009 MICS survey was conducted by BBS. A total of 7,683 interviewers collected data from 300,000 households from April to May 2009.  A total of 13,301 water samples were tested for arsenic.

For more information, please contact:
• Christine Jaulmes,  Chief, Communication and Information Section,UNICEF Tel: 9336701-10, Ext: 209, Email:
• Arifa S. Sharmin, Communication Specialist, communication and Information Section, UNICEF Tel: 9336701-10 Ext:442, Email:

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

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