‘Monga’ eradication, one of the biggest successes of the immediate past government, has been taking a permanent shape following notable macroeconomic development of the poorer section people in Rangpur region. The present government has been conducting massive development and social safety-net activities as follow-up measures with a view to close the window for re-arrival of the seasonal curse of ‘monga’ once for all in the region. Talking to BSS, social and development experts, NGO executives, public representatives and commoners said ‘monga’, would never come back again in future, though it appeared in the pasts during lean periods of Aswin and Kartik months. Head of Programme Coordination of RDRS Bangladesh Monjusree Saha said ‘monga’ has been eradicated following comprehensive government steps like social safety nets, creation of employment, self- employment, income generation opportunities etc. “The decades-old curse of seasonal ‘monga’ has disappeared due to improvement of macroeconomic condition of the poor and there is no evidence of any starvation during the past five years following various effective steps of the government,” she said. Executive Director of Northbengal Institute of Development Studies Dr Syed Samsuzzaman said life standard of the poor has improved significantly in recent years because of their engagements with various income generating activities. The easy-term and interest-free loans, allowances, training for unemployed youths and women for income generations, assistances of government, NGOs, donor agencies and development partners also played important roles in eradicating ‘monga’, he said. Social experts Sharmin Sultana and Shahidul Islam said thousands of the poor have achieved self- reliance through small-scale enterprises, cottage industries, micro-credit activities, rearing poultry birds, animals, cooperatives and other ventures. Noted rice scientist and Associate Director Agriculture of BRAC International (South Asia and Africa) Dr MA Mazid said expanded cultivation and early harvest of short duration rice adopting newer cropping pattern has played key role in ‘monga’ eradication. “Thousands of the farm-and day-labourers get huge jobs in crop fields following large-scale farming of short duration Aman rice as its harvest continues throughout the peak monga hours of Aswin and Kartik creating adequate jobs,” he added.
District Relief and Rehabilitation officer of Rangpur Abdus Salam said the government implements comprehensive social safety-net programmes like special employment generation, allowances, VGF, VGD, TR, FFW etc those eradicated the seasonal curse. “As a result of successful implementation of these social safety-net programmes, the poor did not experience any ‘monga’ following continuous improvement of their socioeconomic condition during the past five consecutive years,” he added. Legendary freedom fighter Taramon Bibi, Bir Pratik said the poor have started enjoying the fruit of hard-earned independence as none of them, including those living in poverty- prone char areas, had to stave for a single day during the past five years. She specially thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for translating her words into reality through realizing her pre-election pledge of freeing the poverty-prone people of Rangpur region by eradicating ‘monga’ permanently. “I feel happy when I see children of the poor families are now going to schools following huge change in their socioeconomic condition following effective government steps though they had to live under abject poverty even a decade ago,” she added. Chairman of Ostomirchar union under Chilmari upazila in Kurigram Sohrab Hossain said the poor have been leading normal life without facing any ‘monga’ during the past five years.