Making children's needs priority in Bangladesh
Children under age 15 make up 36 percent of Bangladesh’s almost 140 million people. With trends that show 40 percent of children under age 5 are malnourished, and just over 50 percent of children reaching school Grade 5, it is imperative that improving child development indicators become a priority for Bangladesh.
From 1994 to 1995, the Bangladesh UNICEF country office sponsored the application of the Threshold 21 model for Bangladesh. The project’s goal was to develop and institutionalize a national model that, in addition to the usual economic issues, includes analysis of children’s issues, especially healthcare, nutrition, and education.
Stakeholders, including UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, Bangladesh ministries of health and planning, Bangladesh Institute for Development Studies, and International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, participated in consultations that led to the development of the model. In addition, 25 local experts were trained to use the model to change policies, run scenarios, remove, modify and replace sectors, and construct dynamic models of their own.
From scenarios explored with the model, it became clear that it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to find a successful long-term development path for Bangladesh that does not give priority attention to the needs of children.