Social Protection

Building social protection floors
and comprehensive social security systems

Bangladesh

SDG 1.3.1 Effective coverage
28.4 %

2019 ILO - World Social Protection Report 2017-2019

Public expenditure on healthcare
0.4 %

2017 WHO - THE GLOBAL HEALTH OBSERVATORY

Public expenditure on social protection
0.7 %

2016 IMF - Government Finance Statistics (GFS) - Expenditure by Functions of Government (COFOG)

Situation and Priorities
Social protection situation
Social protection in Bangladesh is embedded in Article 15 (d) of the country’s National Constitution (1972). It is also the cornerstone of the National Social Security Strategy (2015) and its accompanying Action Plan (2018), which both cite plans to introduce a National Social Insurance Scheme (NSIS) covering sickness, maternity pay and protection, old-age pensions, workplace accidents and unemployment benefits for workers in the formal economy.

The development of the NSIS is still pending. Currently, Bangladesh has 114 disparate social protection programmes, primarily centred around food distribution and cash transfers. The majority of these are non-contributory, with social insurance extremely limited. These programmes need to be better coordinated and integrated under a coherent institutional framework to ensure inclusive coverage of vulnerable populations to reduce social economic risks, food shortages and related hardships.
COVID-19
The pandemic has highlighted the gaps and limitations of Bangladesh's fragmented social protection system. The vast majority of the 64.4 million Bangladeshis in informal employment have been significantly affected by the crisis, with poverty expected to increase substantially, eliminating much of the progress made over the past few years.

Measures taken by the government to mitigate the effects of the pandemic include providing interest-free loans to employers to pay worker wages, facilitating access to credit for micro and small businesses, providing food assistance to vulnerable people, and increasing the coverage of cash transfer programmes from 15 million to 39.8 million people. Many international actors have provided substantial support in the form of loans and grants, including wage subsidies for garment sector workers. Although there is political will to develop an integrated social protection system, significant legal and institutional reform will be required.
Government priorities
As of November 2020, the government is currently preparing the Eighth Five-Year Plan for 2021-2025. The draft plan is set to prioritize GDP growth, new job creation, and rapid poverty reduction. The plan should also include a strong emphasis on the need for a universal healthcare system, which it identifies as a policy area to reduce inequality, as well as: universal access to education, early childhood development and nutrition interventions, rural infrastructure, cash transfer to poor families, and progressive taxation.
Results
The ILO has had a limited engagement in the area of social protection over the 2016-2020 period. Before this, the ILO had provided inputs to the design of the National Social Security Strategy which was adopted in 2015. The ILO had also provided independent technical and advisory support for the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, including a feasibility study on an employment injury scheme.
Funding gaps / Support the ILO
  • US$150,000: Conduct awareness raising campaign on social insurance.
  • US$3 million: Implement pilot programme on Employment Injury Insurance in the RMG sector, improve capacities on delivery, financial governance, monitoring and evaluation, infrastructure system, evaluate and draw lessons learned and advocate for broader implementation.
  • US$2 million: Establish an unemployment fund and build capacity of local stakeholders to effectively administer the programs.
Videos
ILO Experts
  Alexius Chicham
National Programme Coordinator
Syed Saad Hussain Gilani
Project Manager
Mariko Ouchi
Senior Specialist, Social Protection
Noushin Shah
National Programme Coordinator
  Chayanich Thamparipattra
National Project Officer