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This is a study about rural social problems in Bangladesh. As a rural area covering country,
the issue of rural social problem is a very important concern. This study includes the recent
aspects of changing patterns of livelihoods in rural areas & the lifestyles of people. There also
included the land fragmentation & its effects on rural people. This discussion also includes
the inclusion of various urban social problems in the context of rural society.
Key Words:
Livelihood Vulnerability Landscape Infrastructural
ousehold !iversification !ivergence "acro#level
$omplex olistic $onvention %pectrum
&xploitation $ensus 'ragmentation Inheritance
$orruption !o(ry a)ard $omplexity
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%ociety is made (ith people. And people al(ays go through various problems. *o society or
state can+t be gro(n up (ithout problems. These problems have various classifications, such
as individual problems, social problems, cultural problems, rural or urban problems etc. ,ural
areas are very much important for any country beside urban areas. ,ural areas also consist
(ith various problems. As the life patterns & standard of life is changing in rural areas, there
are also raveling many problems. And in recent days, the inclusion & effects of urban
problems is an important factor to rural problems.
What is livelihood:
Livelihoods approaches are based on holistic multi#disciplinary analyses of poor people+s
livelihoods. They explore the vulnerability context in (hich people live, the assets they have
access to, the strategies they adopt, the policies and institutions that shape their decisions and
the outcomes they aspire to. -&ncyclopedia Britannica Inc../001
Changing rural livelihoods & rise of social problems in
The landscape of Bangladesh has changed dramatically over the last decade. Infrastructural
development has significantly changed the physical landscape in rural areas. In response to
improvements in mar2ets, communications and transport, people have forged ne( types of
3rural+ livelihood and, in doing so4 have changed the 3human+ landscape too. Livelihoods are
adapting to ta2e advantage of the ne( opportunities afforded by improved infrastructure and
communication. "any village households are no( sufficiently connected to district
head5uarters, to(ns or bigger cities, to have created 3rural livelihoods+ that are dependent on
incomes derived in urban areas. Villages can therefore no longer be vie(ed as physically
isolated or 3economically discrete+ communities.
The rural economy is in transition: Appearances are not deceptive. Villages are not
only more urban in appearance, but are more urban in character as (ell. The role that
rural areas play in the national economy is changing. ,ural areas no longer 6ust serve
a food#production function but are also important sources of labour for urban areas.
Agriculture has traditionally formed the heart of rural livelihoods. o(ever, this is
changing fast. *ationally, agriculture (as the slo(est#gro(ing sector during the
077/s and, overall, declined in importance from .7 percent to .8 percent of 9!:. In
contrast, over the same period, the industrial sector increased in importance from .0
percent to .; percent of 9!:, (ith real 9!: in this sector increasing by an
impressive <; percent -=orld Ban2 .//.1. !espite its poor performance relative to
other sectors, the agriculture sector did still continue to gro(, if some(hat erratically.
o(ever, the type of gro(th has been different from the rice#led gro(th of earlier
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times $rop diversification, farm at one time directly or indirectly related to
agriculture, the changes that have s(ept through rural Bangladesh have spa(ned ne(
livelihoods that are completely independent of agricultural activities. Today, rural
people are migrating to to(ns and cities for (or2 connected (ith the creation and
maintenance of ne( infrastructure, or (ith trading that are lin2ed to national and
international mar2ets, even though they may live in villages. !ivergence in the
relationship bet(een the t(o sectors at the macro#level, ho(ever, should not obscure
the fact that important relationships remain at the micro#level. The livelihood
strategies of many of the rural poor continue to straddle both agricultural and non#
agricultural activities. The critical conclusion to be dra(n is thus not a sectoral one
parse, but of the need to adopt a holistic vie( of the local economy and its changing
mix of livelihood opportunities.
Rural populations on the move: "igration and mobility are of critical importance in
constructing livelihood strategies in modern rural Bangladesh. :atterns of mobility are
diverse and complex. They range (idely, from commuting at one end of the spectrum,
to temporary absence from the home for a couple of days to several years, to regular
seasonal migration or permanent relocation>
Approximately three million Bangladeshi nationals (ere employed
abroad bet(een 07?;#77, all of them temporary migrants.
"igrating in order to secure seasonal agricultural (or2 is an important
livelihood strategy for many poor men and (omen in the more
deprived areas of Bangladesh.
!aily commuting from village to urban centers, upa)illa and district
head5uarters for (or2 is a gro(ing phenomenon.
The option of adopting migration as a livelihood strategy is not open to everybody.
"any %ociologists notes that, in the case of international migration@
:oor households cannot afford to ma2e the necessary initial
The process of migration ta2es place through middlemen, (hich
exposes poor households to additional ris2s of various types of
The migration process may be lin2ed (ith the problems of traffic2ing
of girls from poorer families.
lobali!ation and diversification: %ince the capitalist system has little regard for
3traditional+ gender roles and endemic rural poverty provides a strong incentive to
(or2, globali)ation has opened up many opportunities for (omen enabling them -or
forcing them1 to move out of previously restricted proscribed roles.
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The institutional rule boo" is changing: The livelihood choices that people ma2e
are governed by institutions@ the rules, norms and conventions that shape human
behavior. The institutional frame(or2 or 3rule boo2+ is a result of an interaction of
formal and informal influences. 'ormal influences are the policies and organi)ations
governed by statute, la( or other transparent, accepted and legitimi)ed systems. The
informal influences are the covert social norms and deep structures -e.g. class, caste
and communal relationships, gender and other po(er relations4 shalish, samaj and
other traditional decision#ma2ing systems1 that inform personal and institutional
behaviors of actors at all levels. ABa)i Ali Toufi5ue & $ate Turton, The Bangladesh
Institute of !evelopment %tudies -BI!%1C
#ragmentation of land in rural Bangladesh:
'or the purpose of the agricultural census, a parcel has been defined as a piece of land
physically separated from other land in the same holdings. A parcel may consist of one or
more ad6acent fields. The total numbers of parcels (as estimated to be 0/,</;./ thousand in
0770D7. and 0/,7?E.8 thousand in .//0D/., an increase of 0.;0 percent in a period of 0/
years. *umber of parcels in the country does not sho( a particular trend. It has been going
up and do(n from census to census. o(ever, in a span of E/ years, (hich is from the first
agricultural census in 07<0D<. to that of .//0D/., the number of parcels has increased from
0/,F0<.. thousand to 0/,7?E.8 thousand parcels, an increase of ;.E percent. The average si)e
of parcel too has been changing erratically bet(een censuses. The average parcel si)e (as
/.0; hectares in 07<0D<.. It declined to /.0F hectare in 07?0D?. and then increased to /..;
hectare in 07<0D<.. The average area of a parcel in 0770D7. (as /..E hectares. It remained
the same in .//0D/. also. The average number of parcels per holding has been declining.
There (ere ;.< parcels per holding in 07<0D<. (hich declined to E.E in 07<0D<.. In 0770D7. it
further declined to E./ and finally to F.F in .//0D/.. The average holding si)e (as 0.00
hectares in 07<0D<.. It decreased to /.< hectares in .//0D/..
*umber of parcels@ 'or agriculture census purposes, a parcel in an agricultural
holding is any piece of land entirely surrounded by other land, (ater, road, forest, of
other holdings, etc. not forming part of the holding. A parcel may consist of one or
more ad6acent fields. The census parcel should not be confused (ith the term
GparcelH used in cadastral survey (or2. In general, land holdings become smaller in
area because of the brea2ing up of holdings through inheritance and other factors. In
Bangladesh, the average si)e of the holding has been decreasing every census year
since 07<0D<. but the number of parcels did not really increase considerably from
0/.</; million in 0770D7. to 0/.7?Emillion parcels in .//0D/., or an increase of only
0.;I in ten years. In fact in07<0D<. the total number of parcels (as only 0/.F0<
million, an increase of only;.EI (ithin E/ years. 'ragmentation of parcels, therefore,
in Bangladesh is not a problem because the average si)e of a parcel remained the
same bet(een 0770D7.and .//0D/. at /..E hectare or about .E//s5uare meters.
:arcel si)e@ The average area of the parcel (as /.0; ha in 07<0D<., (ent up to /..; 07<0D<. then reduced a little bit to /..E ha in 0770D7.. This average area of the
parcel remained the same in .//0D/.. The small si)e of the parcel is understandable
since farming in most part of Bangladesh is terrace type due to the topography of the
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land. This situation is reflected in the data for the ecological belts. The "ountain
holdings registered the highest average number of parcel at E but yielded the lo(est
average si)e of /.0< hectare or 0<// s5. m. compared (ith /..0 hectare for ill and
/.F/ for cultivable land. -Banglapedia, Asiatic %ociety Jf Bangladesh publications,
Inclusion of $rban %ocial &roblems in Rural areas:
'e( dysfunctional existing systems
Lac2 of public securities
Lac2 of 6ob opportunities for everyone
:eoples are sub6ect to insecure hospital care & facilities
!o(ry system are being moderni)e
Insufficient reliable & lo( cost institutions for education & self development
$omplexity in income sources
&ducational ha)ards
%mo2ing randomly in public place
$hild Labour
$hild Traffic2ing
These problems ho(ever, are recently & ne(ly emerging in rural areas of Bangladesh. These
are actually originated in urban areas. But these issues are affecting the social context &
situations of rural areas. These problems are creating obstacles to the development process of
rural areas of Bangladesh. 9ovt. should ta2e immediate steps to remove these problems.
-,K,AL LIV&LIJJ! !IV&,%ITL I* !&V&LJ:I*9 $JK*T,I&%@ &VI!&*$& A*!
:JLI$L I":LI$ATIJ*%, 'ran2 &llis4 "acgra( ills $orporation1
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,ural social problems are really is a burning 5uestion for Bangladesh. As the livelihoods &
lifestyles are changing & peoples are adopting (ith ne( life styles & connecting &
intimating more & more (ith urban areas, there are problems (hich are including from rural
social contexts & lifestyles in the aspects of rural social livelihoods & society. The land
tenure system & land fragmentation are also an important factor to rural social livelihoods &
various problems. o(ever, (hat (e saying about rural social problems, the city or urban
areas are definitely playing an important role behind various rural problems. %o there should
be immediate steps to reducing the inclusion of various urban social problems & the facilities
of urban areas (ould be include rather than problems.
&ncyclopedia Britannica Inc../00.
Ba)i Ali Toufi5ue & $ate Turton, The Bangladesh Institute of !evelopment %tudies
Banglapedia, Asiatic %ociety Jf Bangladesh publications, ./00.
,K,AL LIV&LIJJ! !IV&,%ITL I* !&V&LJ:I*9 $JK*T,I&%@ &VI!&*$&
A*! :JLI$L I":LI$ATIJ*%, 'ran2 &llis4 "acgra( ills $orporation.
!rivers of &scape and !escent@ $hanging ousehold 'ortunes in ,ural Bangladesh4
Binaya2 %en, Bangladesh Institute of !evelopment %tudies.
&ncarta :remium ./00.
$omplementarities bet(een urban and rural areas in promoting employment and
social inclusion, $atherine de Borchgrave, ead of Knit, &uropean Association for
Information on Local !evelopment -A&I!L1.
K,BA*I%ATIJ*, "I9,ATIJ* A*! !&V&LJ:"&*T I* BA*9LA!&%@
,&$&*T T,&*!% A*! &"&,9I*9 I%%K&%' :rofessor *a)rul Islam4 $entre for
:olicy !ialogue.
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