Well-designed safety nets can improve child health and nutrition outcomes, while contributing to poverty reduction goals. In spite of spending over 16 percent of its budget (or 2.5 percent of GDP) on over 100 safety net programs, only a small portion supports programs that aim to improve maternal and child nutrition and cognitive development. The Government’s National Social Security Strategy 2015 recognizes that more investment is required towards this vulnerable target group.
The sector also faces implementation challenges, with over 20 line ministries implementing multiple programs, resulting in lack of coordination and overlap. Union Parishads, responsible for implementation at the field level, also face administrative and financial capacity issues. The Project will help set up common administrative platforms at the local level for safety net beneficiary identification, enrollment and payment which has the potential to improve service delivery across programs.
Ensuring adequate nutrition prenatally and in the first two years of a child’s life is critical for health and brain development. With a combined focus on cognitive development up to five years of age to maximize intelligence and children’s abilities can lead to boosting earning capacity in later years, and thereby preventing intergenerational transmission of poverty. The ISPP Project will provide income support to the poorest mothers against their utilization of services aimed at improving their children's nutrition and cognitive development.
Pregnant women and mothers of children below 5 years, from extremely poor households, will be eligible for social assistance under the Project. By fulfilling their co-responsibilities, beneficiaries will receive cash transfers. The Project also helps improve the coordination among safety net programs at the local level by building common administrative and service delivery platforms, in partnership with the Directorate General of Health Services, the Postal Directorate, and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.