Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. About 170 million people live in this country of 147,000 square kilometers. Moreover, the agricultural land is decreasing gradually. Once it was a big problem to feed all people of this country. The reminiscence of widely used word 'monga', which means food insecurity during Bangla months of Ashwin and Kartik, has not yet faded. But it is a matter of satisfaction that people of this country no longer starve to death. There is hardly any incident of suffering from food crisis, unless there is a devastating natural calamity.
The latest good news is that Bangladesh has advanced 13 notches up in world hunger index in fighting the eradication of hunger. National dailies published this news quoting the joint report by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
According to Global Hunger Index (GHI) website, Bangladesh ranks 75th among 107 countries. Bangladesh ranked the 88th among 117 countries last year. In this area, we are ahead of India and Pakistan.
Another good news is that Bangladesh is set to surpass India in per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Monitory Fund (IMF) said per capita GDP will be 1,888 dollars in Bangladesh in 2020 while 1,877 dollars in India. India's economy will shrink to a great extent during the coronavirus pandemic while in comparison to that, there will be positive growth in Bangladesh.
In the current year, Bangladesh will register 3.8 per cent growth while India's GDP will decrease by 10.3 per cent. If the forecast of IMF remains accurate, not only India, Bangladesh will exceed Pakistan and Nepal. However, IMF forecasts GDP of India will shoot up largely in the following year.
When the world economy is badly damaged by COVID-19, these achievements of Bangladesh indicate that our people have achieved resilient power to tackle adversities, which is inspiring. Although we have gone 13 notches up in the hunger index before the outbreak of the pandemic, it is notable that the devastating food crisis of poor and marginal jobless people could be tackled during the coronavirus. Alongside the government, non-government organisations have also distributed relief. The rich people have stood by the helpless.
There is no doubt that it is a big achievement to advance 13 notches up in eradicating hunger. On the basis of the score in world hunger index, it is said the level of hunger in Bangladesh is still at alarming stage. So there is no scope to be complacent thinking that we have achieved a lot in the fight against hunger. We have to go a long way in this fight.
COVID-19 has created additional pressure on the poor. There is a fear that their life standard will deteriorate further. There is concern that the situation of nutrition of women and children will also deteriorate and in this regard initiatives at the public and private levels should be taken to tackle it.
If the pandemic is prolonged further, special food nutrition programmes will be needed. Many issues including level of malnutrition, child mortality and stunted growth have been taken into consideration in determining the level hunger in world hunger index. We have to give emphasis to nutritious food for poor people to ensure improvement in this sector.