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Children and women in urban slums worse off than rest of the country, reveals BBS-UNICEF survey

DHAKA, 23 June 2010 – Urban slums have the worst performance regarding women’s and children’s wellbeing and access to basic services compared to rural and non-slum urban areas, reveals a Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS)-UNICEF survey released today.

The complete results of the 2009 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), a national survey on the situation of women and children, were presented today at a public launch presided over by Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) A K. Khander, M.P., Minister of Planning and attended by Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, State Minister of Women and Children Affairs as Special Guest and Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative and  Guest of honour.

For the first time, the 481 upazilas of Bangladesh have been ranked according to their performance on 23 key social indicators. This rich set of data shows clearly the geographical areas which are lagging behind in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals. The survey points at huge disparities between districts and even between upazilas (sub-districts) within a given district. But it also reveals that urban slums are generally worse off than most of the low-performing rural areas. 

For example, the proportion of pupils starting Grade 1 who reach Grade 5 is 48 per cent in slums against 54 per cent in Kushtia – the worst performing district for this indicator – and 79.8 per cent for the national average. The highest drop-out rate from primary school is also recorded in slum areas where it is six times higher than the national level.

“Evidence exists that mitigating socio-economic inequities is a powerful strategy to accelerate both economic growth and poverty reduction.  The survey gives us an exact picture of geographic inequities in Bangladesh which the country needs to address”, said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative.  “Children who do not have access to basic services cannot get out of the vicious cycle of poverty if specific programmes are not put in place to address their basic needs.”

The survey can serve as a very important tool for elected and administrative officials to assess and compare their performance on the human development front, added the UNICEF Country Representative, mentioning that similar surveys will be conducted in 2012 and 2015 in order to assess progress. 

This UNICEF-BBS survey confirms the improvements made by Bangladesh in child survival and education, showing clear progress in timely initiation of breastfeeding, reduction of child and infant mortality, pre-school attendance rate and school retention rate.

A major improvement is found in birth registration with 53.6 per cent of children under five being registered against 9.8 per cent in 2006.

Some 85.2 per cent of households have access to improved sources of water which are arsenic safe according to the Government standard.

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.

The MICS data are available on www.unicef.org.bd

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. For more information about UNICEF and its work please visit: www.unicef.org

For more information, contact:
Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Chief, Communication and Information Section,
Tel: 9336701-10, Ext: 7020, 

Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury, UNICEF Communication Specialist,
Tel: 9336701-10 Ext:7028, 




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