Series No.36 Small Scale Old Age and Widow Allowance for the Poor in Rural Bangladesh: An Evaluation

This study was done to explore the process of targeting, selection and benefits distribution and the use of the allowances, satisfaction, and the association of old age and widow allowances with various factors (e.g., expenditure on food and food intake behaviour, self-reported illness and health-related quality of life). This allowances are provided by the government of Bangladesh to poor widows and the elderly persons (¡Ý65 years).

A cross-sectional quantitative survey was conducted in 10 districts of Bangladesh where BRAC RED has been maintaining a demographic surveillance system since 1995 in 52 villages. All evermarried single women irrespective of socioeconomic status and age, and all elderly persons (¡Ý60 years) were sampled for this study totalling 5,524participants. Of these 4,824 could be interviewed. Non-response rate was 13% for the overall sample (including single women and elderly persons) and 15% among the elderly persons.

The findings are organized into two sections: the first section deals with targeting, selection and benefits distribution process while the second section deals with the use of the allowances, their satisfaction with it, and association of the benefit with various socioeconomic factors.

Findings reveal that the vulnerable people were more likely to benefit than the poor, but both groups benefit significantly more than the nonpoor. In practice, selection processes appears to be dominated by UP members and chairmen. Most of the respondent population actively lobbied to be selected as beneficiaries, suggesting a far greater willingness to engage politically among an elderly and marginal population than would necessarily have been expected. Beneficiaries appeared to be in a better position to access valuable information about government assistance programmes from UP representatives compared to those who did not benefit. Beneficiaries were more likely than non beneficiaries to believe that the selection process was fair, and poor non beneficiaries were most likely of all groups to believe process was unfair and to have grievances with the process.

However, a similar proportion of both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries went to the lengths of actually making a complaint, most to the UP representatives. There was some evidence of corruption in the process of beneficiary selection and in the distribution of benefits. Implications of these preliminary findings include that wider access to unbiased public information about eligibility, the selection process, and the beneficiary list are likely to help improve targeting to the poor and vulnerable, and may reduce leakage and corruption. NGOs currently appear to play a negligible role in promoting the rights of the poor and vulnerable in the areas studied.

Related information

  • Published Date: Wednesday, 02 July 2008
  • Country: Bangladesh