Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries, with half the population of the U.S. (about 170 million) living in a country about the size of the state of Illinois.
Poverty is deep and widespread. The population in Bangladesh is predominantly rural, with almost 80% of the population living in rural areas. Many people live in remote areas that lack services such as education, health clinics and adequate roads, particularly road links to markets.
An estimated 36% of the population in rural areas lives below the poverty line. They suffer from persistent food insecurity, own no land and assets, are often uneducated and may also suffer serious illnesses or disabilities. Another 29 % of the rural population is considered moderately poor. Though they may own a small plot of land and some livestock and generally have enough to eat, their diets lack nutritional value. As a result of health problems or natural disasters, they are at risk of sliding deeper into poverty.
Women are among the poorest of the rural poor, especially when they are the sole heads of their households. They suffer from discrimination and have few earning opportunities, and their nutritional intake is often inadequate.
Children suffer the most with 40% of children severely malnourished and 25% of these children not living past the age of 5.