Evaluating the Impact of Development Program for Improving the Living Standard of the Hijra, Bede and Underprivileged Community
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) organized a seminar as part of the BIDS Fortnightly Seminar 2021-2022 on February 23, 2022 at 2:30 pm. Dr. Mohammad Harunur Rashid Bhuyan, Research Fellow of BIDS presented his research titled as “Evaluating the Impact of Development Program for Improving the Living Standard of the Hijra, Bede and Underprivileged Community”. Dr. Binayak Sen, Director General of BIDS chaired the event. The seminar was conducted in a hybrid format from BIDS Seminar Room.
To improve the living standards of the generally neglected and mistreated Hijra, Bede and Underprivileged communities the Department of Social Services (DSS) of Bangladesh Government initiated a program in 2012-2013 fiscal year in seven districts in the country, which has been extended to 64 districts in 2015-16 fiscal years. To evaluate this program, questionnaire survey data have been collected from 501 beneficiary respondents and 495 non-beneficiaries in 36 districts for Hijra community. Questionnaire survey data have also been collected from 492 beneficiary respondents and 489 non-beneficiaries in 28 districts for Bede community and questionnaire survey data from 497 beneficiary respondents and 491 non-beneficiaries in 33 districts for Underprivileged community have been collected. In addition, qualitative data have been collected through Focus Group Discussion (FGDs), Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and case studies from respective beneficiaries and program related personals.
This study found that DSS training has failed to significantly improve the respondents’ income, number of days in employment and working hours for the Hijra community. The study also showed that, DSS stipend program has positive impact on increasing the attendance of students from the Bede community and therefore, the study suggested to focus on the quality improvement of the students in the future. Furthermore, the DSS training program targeted for the underprivileged communities has succeeded in providing the participants with quality skills which has enabled them to work less in a day and even in a yearly basis and accumulate assets over the years. Overall, the DSS allowance program has significant and positive impact on health condition regarding activity for the Underprivileged community. Following policy suggestions came out from the study and seminar:
1. First of all, a legal framework needs to be formulated by the government to resolve the definitional ambiguity and to ensure all types of rights (i.e. property, personal, family, community, society etc.) of the Hijra community and then needs to complete a census immediately to determine the actual number of the Hijra population.
2. To improve the quality of education more money is needed for the students to address the reality of the current demand.
3. Even to start a tailoring shop or small handicraft business in a market or suitable place is needed more than 10,000 Tk. That is why it would be better if this amount could be increased up to 50,000 Tk. to start a small business or cottage industry after training.
4. Need to ensure follow up IGA training.
5. Govt. can arrange residential estate or cluster village for the Hijra, Bede and Underprivileged community under this program, where residential arrangement will be made like Asrayan projects. Small cottage or small-scale industries could be set up surrounding those cluster villages, which would help to create employment of Hijra, Bede and Underprivileged people.
6. Govt. can initiate new program, where media will play a vital role to change the mindset of the people and social stigmatism against Hijra, Bede and Underprivileged communities.
The seminar was attended by BIDS researchers, civil society, journalists and the wider community.