The situation of children

UNICEF in Bangladesh

Goals and commitments


Challenges facing the children of Bangladesh

© UNICEF/BANA2011-01326/Siddique
Anik, 14, works in a metal workshop, where he cuts metal pipes for a living at Hawker Market, Koshai Khana, Barisal. It is a hazardous work for children of his age.


  • Twenty-six million children live below the national poverty line, typically deprived of four out of seven of the following basic services: water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health, information, and shelter.
  • 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.
  • Thirteen 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.
  • An estimated, 79.5 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 to help prepare children for school. 
  • High drop-out rates and poor quality teaching and learning are serious problems for primary schools. 
  • Forty-six 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. 
  • 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.
  • Under-nutrition contributes to child mortality. Around 18 per cent of infants are born with low birth weight and 36 per cent of children under-five are underweight. 
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition is currently at 4 per cent which affects an estimated 600,000 children  in Bangladesh.
  • In Bangladesh, the rate of initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of life is 47 per cent while the exclusive breastfeeding rate is 64 per cent. However, only 21 per cent of 6-23 month old children have the Minimum Acceptable Diet (MAD).

© UNICEF/BANA2010-00824/Hossain
"I used to sleep here at the Barisal river port. Now I live at a drop-in centre. This child also has the right to live a better life." Photo and quote by Dulal Hossain, 12, Barisal river port, Barisal, Bangladesh.

Water and sanitation

  • About 55 per cent of the population use improved sanitation facilities.
  • 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.
  • In the Chittagong Hill Tracts (south-eastern Bangladesh), ethnic minorities 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.



 Email this article

For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection