Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely-populated nations. Much of the country is a low-lying river delta that floods annually during the monsoon season and is vulnerable to erosion and extreme weather. Caritas Australia is working in Bangladesh to improve health care for mothers and their babies, advance women’s rights, and help with urgent environmental problems.
Why do we work in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh’s geography is dominated by a large delta where three rivers – one of them the Ganges – meet the Indian Ocean. The country’s low-lying geography makes it particularly vulnerable to flooding and erosion during the monsoon season, cyclones and other extreme weather events.
With most Bangladeshis living in rural areas and the country’s economy based heavily on agriculture, weather, climate and natural disasters have a profound impact on the country’s economic and social development.
- Though Bangladesh’s economy has been growning steadily in recent years, in 2012 it ranked 191st out of 228 countries in terms of GDP per capita.
- Almost half of adult Bangaldeshis can't read or write.
- Life expectancy at birth is just 69 years. In Australia, life expectancy is 82 years.
Corruption is also a factor that inhibits Bangladesh’s development. In 2012, the country was ranked 144th out of 176 countries on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be.
Malnutrition, unsafe drinking water and population density have contributed to the spread of diseases such as malaria, measles, dysentery and pneumonia. People in rural areas are also at high risk of a condition called arsenicosis, which is caused by drinking groundwater contaminated by naturally-occuring arsenic. Many people in rural areas rely on bore holes for their household water, but are unaware that this water is contaminated by arsenic.
Our work in Bangladesh
Caritas Australia is supporting 6 programs in Bangladesh with one local partner. The programs cover issues such as basic health, climate adaptation, women’s rights, and mitigating the effects of arsenic contamination.
Examples of our recent work
In 2010/11, midwives trained through the Safe Motherhood Project in Bangladesh performed 10,653 antenatal checks, provided postnatal care to 7,356 mothers and infants, conducted or assisted in 4,984 deliveries, and referred 432 women suffering from complications during labour to hospital. See our featured program below for more on how this program helps mothers and babies.