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29 March, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Stipends for seasonal migration help rural families overcome lean season: Study

STAFF REPORTER

People from northern rural areas of Bangladesh can overcome lean season if they are provided with stipends for migration to work seasonally in urban centers, according to a research work by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, think tank that researches and publishes solutions for the world's biggest problems by cost-benefit.
New research by Mushfiq Mobarak, a Yale University economist, and Agha Ali Akram, a postdoctoral fellow with Evidence Action, suggests that helping people from rural areas migrate to work seasonally in urban centers can help families overcome the lean season. Spending on these programs can provide social benefits of four takas for each taka spent.
The Copenhagen Consensus project Bangladesh Priorities aims to identify the best policies for Bangladesh.
In northern rural Bangladesh, the autumn lean season is the most difficult time of year, especially in Rangpur, where close to half of the 15.8 million residents live below the poverty line. The landless poor primarily work as day laborers on neighboring farms, but while waiting for crops to mature in the fields, there is no farm work to be done. Wages fall, and at the same time, food becomes scarce because harvest is still months away, so the price of rice goes up.
 Migrating to the city is costly and risky. Migrants have to pay for the travel itself, and take the risk that they may fail to find a job and waste their money.
"Pre-harvest lean seasons during which agricultural wages fall and prices rise is a structural characteristic of agrarian economies,” said Mushfiq Mobarak.
“Instead of trying to create employment in the rural areas where people currently are, we have studied sending them to work temporarily in urban areas only for that lean period."
The research is based on six years of studying more than 100 Bangladeshi villages, randomly assigning various strategies across the communities. In the first set of villages, participant households received a stipend of about Tk 1,000 to pay for a round-trip bus ticket and a few meals to allow people to migrate.
In other villages, households received information about seasonal work opportunities but no money. And still other villages were randomly chosen to be controls—they received no information or money.
When families received information only, few people migrated. But the benefits that came from a stipend for a simple bus ticket during lean season were significant.
The economists found that spending about Tk 2,700 per household in the project—which pays for the temporary migration and also covers other program costs—gave each household over Tk 10,900 in economic, health, and social benefits.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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