Creating more nonfarm income opportunities at rural growth centers can make a huge difference, BIDS seminar told
People in Bangladesh who migrate from rural to urban areas for better economic opportunities mostly end up in Dhaka and Chittagong, thereby bringing these two cities to choking points, according to a research.
Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka and premier port city Chittagong have to absorb an overwhelming 84% of out-migrated population.
Expanding nonfarm income opportunities at the union and upazila levels can reduce the influx of the rural people to the urban areas, said Dr Kazi Iqbal, senior research fellow of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), at a seminar.
He said: “The multiplier effect on growth and poverty of an RMG factory in rural areas, where most of the workers are from, will be much higher than the one in Dhaka city, if adequately incentivized.”
The seminar titled “Local Nonfarm Opportunities and Migration Decisions: Evidence from Bangladesh” was held at the BIDS office in the city on Wednesday as part of BIDS fortnightly seminar initiative with its Director General Dr Binayak Sen chairing the session.
Researchers say development of secondary towns closer to villages and public investment in rural and semi-rural areas such as development of small industrial estate in every union, for example, can make a huge difference.
They emphasize on development of infrastructures such as roads, bridges, culverts, etc. and development of local markets, Dr Kazi Iqbal stated.
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Referring to the sufferings that migrant workers endured during the Covid-19-induced lockdowns, the BIDS researcher said such a crisis occurred only because a huge number of people work far away from their home.
“This did not happen in developed countries. Creating opportunities for work closer to the places where workers live can only avoid such disasters in the future,” Dr Kazi Iqbal observed.