Food security is an integral part of human security framework and individual access to food is a substantial human right (Sepúlveda et al., 2004).  In Bangladesh, both human security of farmers and human right to food are often compromised due to a mixture of political, economic and environmental factors. Livelihoods of farmer communities are threatened by natural disasters, salinity intrusion and arsenic contamination (Faisal & Parveen, 2004). Given the reliance of rural households on ecosystem services, the consequences of climate change are likely to further exacerbate existing food security risks. At the same time, Bangladesh is one of the top receipts of remittances in South Asian region. In 2013, remittances in Bangladesh accounted for 77% of country’s reserves and 76% of country’s exports (World Bank, 2014). Examining the association between remittances and food security in rural Bangladesh is thus crucial for policy and planning.

The summary analysis conducted here is based on the data from 2010 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES). The graph below shows the predicted probabilities by household remittances. More specifically, households have been divided into those who have been receiving remittances (either from abroad or internal remittances) and those who have not. As can be seen, remittance receiving households are more likely to be food secure as compared to households without remittances. This relationship was found to be statistically significant when the following two aspects of food security were considered: 1) access to food (measured by food expenditure) and 2) food availability (measured by per capita energy intake). Further analysis is required in order to investigate how these associations change when controlling factors are accounted for. These results are likely to have important policy implications for this still predominantly rural country facing a number of economic and environmental challenges.

Figure 1: Households receiving remittances are significantly more likely to be food secure.
Note: FS denotes “food security”, HH denotes “household”.

References:
FAISAL, I. M. & PARVEEN, S. 2004. Food security in the face of climate change, population growth, and resource constraints: Implications for Bangladesh. Environmental Management,  vol. 34, no. 4, 487-498.
SEPÚLVEDA, M., VAN BANNING, T., GUÐMUNDSDÓTTIR, G., CHAMOUN, C. & VAN GENUGTEN, W. 2004. Human rights reference handbook. 3rd ed. Ciudad Colon: University for Peace. Available:www.hrc.upeace.org/files/human%20rights%20reference%20handbook.pdf.
WORLD BANK. 2014. Migration and Development Brief 23. Migration and Remittances: Recent Developments and Outlook. Available:http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1288990760745/MigrationandDevelopmentBrief23.pdf [Accessed 03/01/2015].

This post first appeared on The World Bank’s People Move Blog. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Sylvia Szabo, PhD is a Research Fellow in the division of Social Statistics and Demography at the University of Southampton. Her current research, part of the Belmont Forum funded DELTAS project, focuses on the interlinkages between ecosystem services and poverty in vulnerable delta regions. 

Image: A boy pours water on himself for respite from the heat beside a roadside tap in Dhaka. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman