I. ENVIRONMENT AND ASSESSMENT OF FLOOD IMPACTS
D. Related population and socio-economic setting
1. Population and socio-economic conditions
The population of Bangladesh was estimated at 118 million in 1994. The average annual growth of population was 2.6 per cent during 1965-80 and for 1980-90 it was 2.3 per cent. The projected growth rate of population during 1989-2000 is 1.8 per cent. Forecasts of population growth vary but suggest a figure of between 141 and 151 million by the year 2010. The population density measured is already very high (798 persons per km2 in 1994) and is one of the highest in the world. Data on major socio-economic indicators of Bangladesh is presented in Table 1. The proportion of landless households is very high (about 50 per cent). As can be seen from this table, small farm households (0.05 to 2.49 acres) represent more than 70 per cent of the farming community.
According to the 1991 population census, the average annual growth rate of the urban population was 6.2 per cent during 1980-90. At the current rate of urbanization, about a third of the population will move to urban areas by 2010. With about 85 per cent of the population living in the rural areas, the absolute number in 2010 is expected to be around 100 million which is an increase of about 35 per cent over the present level (BBS, 1996b).
Development challenges facing Bangladesh remain formidable despite some achievements in population planning, food grain production and macro-economic reforms. Economic growth appears to be stagnant (4.5 per cent) and there is insufficient employment generated to alleviate poverty and hunger. Women are the most disadvantaged group. There exists a sharp inequality in terms of income distribution. The income of the bottom 40 per cent of the population was only 17.53 per cent in 1989, while the top 5 per cent was earning 20.51 per cent of the total income. Poverty and poor rural infrastructure leave large parts of the population exposed to natural disasters.
The occupation pattern is also responsive to agro-ecological conditions. Hence, the professional concentration like the artisans, fishermen, potters etc. is greatly influenced by variations in agro-ecological conditions, leading to changes in living culture of the localities. Once the local indigenous culture flourishes, it again becomes susceptible to changes resulting in shifts in occupation of the indigenous people due mainly to natural disasters like large floods and river erosion or programmes for protecting against flood damages.