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‘Increase rate, coverage of maternity allowance’
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‘Increase rate, coverage of maternity allowance’

(Staff Reporter)
Speakers at a roundtable on Tuesday urged the government to implement Social Assistance Programme for Non-Asseters or ‘SAPNA’ package, a maternity allowance programme, at state level to eradicate poverty from the country and ensure social security.
Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Development Organisation of the Rural Poor (DORP) jointly organised the roundtable titled “Graduation Challenges of 1st time Poor Mothers: Presentation of Findings and roundtable on Impact Assessment of SAPNA” at BILIA auditorium in the capital.“The SAPNA programme should be implemented across the country like four upazilas to reduce poverty and empower the women and to alleviate poverty from the country,” said AHM Nouman, secretary general of DORP.
Former Advisor to the Caretaker Government Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman chaired the meeting, with member of parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Food Akram H Chowdhury, MP, as the chief guest.
Bazle Mustafa Razee and Syed Ziauddin Ahmed, PPRC, presented the findings of the Impact Assessment of SAPNA and Prof Shamsul Alam, member of GED Planning Commission was present, among others.
Akram H Chowdhury said the women should know about their rights and they get all facilities from the government by the law.
We have been sincere about the all mothers’ rights and after all, mothers can change a country, he added.
He said successful intervention and awareness could ensure women’s development.
Speakers said that the families of beneficiaries of the government’s maternity allowance would be entitled to the SAPNA package.
They requested the government to set aside the allocation in the next national budget for the pilot implementation of the package in 10 upazilas.
But Akram H Chowdhury said the government was aware of the SAPNA package but due to lack of resources it was not easy to increase the number of beneficiaries in each union or maternity allowance.
Prof Shamsul Alam said, existing social security measures are unable to meet the needs of vulnerable people, and the scope of these programmes urgently needs to be widened, but the social security indicator shows a development.
The maternity facilities would be included in the policy of social security, he added.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman suggested the government to boost stress on social security to overall development and ensuring structural development.
The government should include the SAPNA package with the government development plan, he added.
AHM Nouman said that the SAPNA package programme has been successfully implemented in four upazilas, resulting in reduction in poverty, disability rate and child marriage.
He demanded that the government include SAPNA package programme in the next budget to implement it in seven divisions of the country as a pilot project, increasing maternity allowance from Tk 50 to 500 for mothers in each union parishad (UP), forming of a poverty alleviation authority in national level, formulating a policy on Public Private Poor Partnership to strengthen local government and nominate at least five mothers of ‘Ma Sangsad’ as parliament member.
AHM Nouman said maternity allowance is now given to a beneficiary mother for 24 months at the rate of Tk 350 only once, either at the time of the first or the second delivery under the government’s safety net programme to develop the health and nutrition status of poor mothers and their children.
The government, he suggested, ought to increase the allowance per mother to Tk 500 a month and the number beneficiary mothers from 18 to 50 per union under its social safety programme to develop the health and nutrition status of poor mothers and their children.
They said that the families would be given SAPNA cards to draw health, education, shelter, livelihood and savings related helps worth a total of Tk one lakh over 20 years.
The ‘Maa Sangsad’ was formed in a bid to ensure the rights of mothers across the country, especially the poor and underprivileged mothers of the rural areas.
The members of the ‘Maa Sangsad’ will discuss their problems at the sessions of parliament at union, upazila and national levels and will place their problems to the policymakers for their solution.
The parliament also will conduct advocacy related activities and lobby to implement the activities under SAPNA Package at national level in a bid to attain the rights of mothers.
At the meeting, mothers were informed about the importance and activities of their parliament as well as their role as members of parliament.
In his speech, Nouman said SAPNA is centered on maternity allowance programme of the government in a bid to alleviate poverty in the country. It has five development pillars-Health, Nutrition and Birth Control, Education and Culture, Housing and Livelihood Development, Seed money or materials and Development of Micro-credit lending.
The gender-based SAPNA that is centered in maternity allowance program of the government is being implementing by DORP with the financial support of Spanish Agency of International Co-operation for Development (AECID).
SAPNA package beneficiary mothers, local government representatives, government representatives, civil society members, NGO leaders and media personalities were also present at the meeting.

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