Country profile: Bangladesh
An orphan from the streets of Bangladesh, at the moment he is studying in order to acquire the skills for adulthood.
Photo: Mashrur Shafat
Bangladesh lies in the Ganges/Brahmaputra river delta in south east of Asia, it is surrounded by India on all sides and the Bay of Bengal to the south. The
Ganges, Jamuna and Meghna rivers all unite in Bangladesh and finally empty into the Bay of Bengal, these rivers bring with them alluvial soil which makes bangladesh soil some of the
most fertile in the world, this is then reflected in the population as the majority of the people rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
Lying in the Tropic of Cancer Bangladesh is prone to severe floods and cyclones almost every year, in 2006 Cyclone Sidr affected more than 8 million people.
The floods also bring with them diseases and water is polluted in fishing areas as a result of commercial pesticides.
Bangladesh is particularly prone to global climate change and is believed that a 1m rise in sea level would submerge 10% of the whole country.
In 1998 heavy rainfall in the monsoon season, and very high levels of water melt from the Himalayas caused the major rivers to burst their banks causing the
most severe flooding in modern history with over 30 million people being affected. Land erosion is also leaving many landless who are forced to cultivate land with a severe flood threat.
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with a population of 158 million, of these just over half are below the age of 15.
A huge proportion of these children are orphaned without at least 1 parent, this means that they have to work to earn money to support themselves and their families.
The population is also constantly on the rise with more than 3 million births per year, and the average life expectancy is 67 years.
For most orphans, their future is bleak. Schooling for Bangladeshi orphans is more or less non-existent. Opportunities available to most of us are just a dream for these children. For many orphans, a life of disease, destitution and danger lies ahead.
Photo: M. Hasan
Poverty is also rife with the majority of people living on less than $1 per day, with the majority of these relying on agriculture to support their families.
In Bangladesh more than 170,000 children under the age of 5 die each year from malnutrition, disease and poverty, that is the equivalent of a child dying every 3
minutes of treatable causes.
The literacy rate in bangladesh is 47.9% of the population and most children will leave school by the age of 8, this may be partly due to the small government
expenditure on education which is only 2.4% of GDP.
Leaving school early is a direct result of poverty as children must work to support themselves and their families.
Approximately 4.9 million children between the ages of 5-14 work, often very long hours in hazardous conditions on very low wages. Orphans and street children
in Bangladesh often are thrown in jail for petty crimes, or they are abused and subjected to the most atrocious violence; the majority of orphanages are overcrowded and do not have the
capacity to take in these children, therefore they are forced to rummage through landfills for food and plastics to sell.