Support to Fight COVID-19
Within three weeks of the detection of the first COVID-19 case in Bangladesh, in March 2020, the World Bank approved $100 million to help Bangladesh ramp up testing and treatment as well as strengthen the public health system. In March 2021, the World Bank approved additional $500 million to support the national vaccination program. The financing helped Bangladesh vaccinate 46.5% of the total population with 68 million doses of vaccines and 110 million syringes. In addition, the project helped set up liquid medical oxygen system at 30 public hospitals across the country, which is vital for treating COVID-19 cases; installed 300 ventilators at public hospitals; set-up 220 beds for the intensive care units at the Dhaka North City Corporation COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital; and created additional technical capacity through hiring of around 1,200 staff (doctors, laboratory consultants, medical technologists, data operators) who have been placed at public health facilities dealing with COVID-19 cases. The financing also made available large quantities of personal protective equipment for the frontline workers and COVID-19 testing machines and kits used by laboratories dealing with COVID-19 samples.
In addition to $600 million financing to the health sector, the World Bank have committed over $3.3 billion for Bangladesh to help create quality jobs, improve water and sanitation services, develop skills, accelerate economic recovery, and build resilience to future crises, support reforms to create jobs and build economic resilience.
IDA is the largest external funder in the education sector covering the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, paired with technical and vocational education and training, as well as education for the hard-to-reach children and youth not in education, employment, or training.
These funds have gone a long way towards preparing children and youth to become competent citizens. Almost all children today step into a classroom. In 2022, the country’s net enrollment rate at the primary school level reached above 97.6 percent, and that at the secondary school level, above 73 percent.
With nearly 6.9 million girls in secondary schools (Grade 6-10) in 2022, Bangladesh is among the few developing countries to achieve gender parity in school enrollment and has more girls than boys in secondary schools. To realize Bangladesh’s aspirations of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2031, improving school to work transition and producing higher skilled professionals toward a green and sustainable economy remain a challenge.
The World Bank is supporting the government all levels to create a green, inclusive and resilient education system through new and existing operations.
Health, Nutrition and Population
Since the mid-70s, the World Bank supported the country’s health sector. The statistics speak for itself: Assisted deliveries by skilled birth attendants increased from 13% in 2001 to 31.3% in 2020. The total fertility rate declined from 5 births per woman in 1990 to 2.04 in 2020. The successes in these factors have helped reduce maternal mortality rates from 574/100,000 live births in 1990 to 173/100,000 live births in 2017. The under-five mortality rate reduced from 273/1,000 live births in 1970 to 29.1/1,000 live births in 2020. Today, nearly 80% of Bangladeshi children receive vitamin A supplements and over 89% are fully immunized, setting Bangladesh on the pathway to achieving some targets of Sustainable Development Goal 3, for example reducing maternal and under-5 mortality. A Bangladeshi born today is likely to live a quarter of a century more, than a child born in 1972.
Despite the remarkable progress made, there remains a significant unfinished agenda with regards to essential maternal, child health, and nutritional services. At the same time, as Bangladesh aspires to become an upper-middle income economy, the country needs to address the rapid increase in non-communicable diseases and be prepared for emerging infectious diseases such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For tackling these challenges, the country’s health system needs to be strengthened for both quality and equity of health services through an increase in public spending on health, improvement in governance and stewardship, enhancement in human resource and embracing multisectoral approaches to address social determinants of health. The World Bank is aligning financial and technical support to Bangladesh to meet these challenges. The Bank supports the government’s fourth Health Nutrition Population sector program and has been preparing two new operations in order to strengthen both urban and rural health systems in the country under the 5th Health, Nutrition, and Population Sector Program.
The World Bank has $2 billion of ongoing support in the energy sector to enhance capacity, generate clean energy, improve efficiency in generation and transmission and system operation, reduce technical losses, improve transmission and rural distribution network as well as increase access to both grid and renewable electricity.
The access to electricity in Bangladesh has reached to 100% (grid and off-grid) and the current installed generation capacity is 27,834 MW including captive power and renewables. IDA support has so far added 2,634 MW of electricity to the national grid, and 176 MW through renewable energy sources, including solar home systems, solar irrigation pumps, solar mini-grids, and grid-tied rooftop solar. Currently, the World Bank has an ongoing commitment of $524 million in renewable energy to help Bangladesh scale up the use of renewable energy, including 310 MW of grid-tied renewable energy capacity.
The World Bank supports promoting power sector policies and institutional capacity building within the Government, power and gas utilities, and Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission to improve the financial health, investment, and service quality.
Despite the high population density, decreasing arable land, and frequent natural disasters, Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in achieving food security. Almost half of the population are employed in the agriculture sector. Agriculture has also been a key driver in poverty reduction in Bangladesh over the past two decades although the growth of sector has slowed down since 2011. The sector is highly vulnerable to climate change and is under pressure to cater to an increasing population and changing diets. There is potential to increase inclusive economic growth for millions of smallholders, women, youth, and educated entrepreneurs, particularly as value addition and diversification become more dominant.
The World Bank is supporting the Government of Bangladesh in ushering in a new wave of reforms and investments to continue the agriculture transformation process towards higher crop productivity and diversification, as well as higher income earning potential for Bangladesh's 22.7 million rural households through a comprehensive sector-wide program. A new project is helping drive diversification, food safety, entrepreneurship, and climate resilience across agri-food systems.
The World Bank also supports two million farm households, as well as small and medium-scale agro-entrepreneurs in improving livestock production sustainably, with higher productivity and better market access. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it helped business continuity for 680,000 most vulnerable households in the livestock sector.
The World Bank is helping Bangladesh build a modern food grain storage by constructing modern steel silos in eight strategic locations with a total storage capacity for 535,500 Metric tons of rice and wheat. Further, the World Bank supported 500,000 households to increase grain reserves to meet their post-disaster needs and is helping the country improve the quality and efficiency of grain storage management.
Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management
The Global Climate Risk Index ranks Bangladesh as the world’s seventh most climate-affected country over the period 2000-2019 (Germanwatch 2021).
The World Bank continues to help Bangladesh address climate change impacts and disaster risk management. The country has built stronger disaster-coping mechanisms which helped to reduce cyclone related deaths by 100-fold since 1970.
IDA has an ongoing portfolio of $1.8 billion supporting Bangladesh to build resilience against natural disasters and climate change impacts. Key interventions so far include: 1,547 repaired or newly constructed multi-purpose disaster shelters that operate as primary schools during normal weather; 452 km of all-weather climate-resilient roads built for last-mile connectivity; rehabilitation of 880 km of embankments; restoration or construction of 532 hydraulic structures for sustainable water management; and 700 hectares in 10 coastal polders afforested with 1,755,200 seedlings, following a social afforestation approach. All of these are benefiting 6.3 million people in climate-vulnerable coastal Bangladesh. Furthermore, cropping intensity increased from 140 percent to 186 percent with the improved water resource management and reduction of saline water intrusion from storm and tidal surges in the selected project polders.
Since 1980, the World Bank helped Bangladesh to conserve nature and prevent environmental degradation.
The Bank is supporting the government of Bangladesh to implement its green growth strategy through afforestation, regeneration, and deforestation prevention. World Bank projects have helped improve 255,000 hectares of forest land in Bangladesh. Around 2.4 million beneficiaries from 46,000 forest-dependent households from 815 forest villages, including ethnic communities, have received alternative livelihood support, to reduce their dependencies on forest. The World Bank is also helping improve productivity of marine fisheries and helped 54,000 poor climate vulnerable coastal fisher families in 450 fisher villages to seek alternative livelihoods. The Bank is providing training and competitive conditional grants to 7,500 farmers under 300 shrimp farming clusters for further business development and growth. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it mobilized funding for cash transfers to 77,826 coastal fish and shrimp farmers.
The Bank is also supporting 54,472 microenterprises (of which 84% are female led) to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. About 29,905 micro-entrepreneurs have improved their environmental and occupational practices.
Water and Sanitation
IDA support has helped build piped and non-piped water sources that provided safe water to nearly 1.5 million beneficiaries. In Chattogram, the second largest city in Bangladesh, almost 780,000 people now have access to water supply, including those in the urban slums.
A total of 20,475 deep tube wells, rainwater harvesting structures, pond sand filter and ring wells were constructed. In addition, 540,000 people received improved sanitation access from 120,000 new latrines.
Additionally, 48,991 beneficiaries have so far been provided with access to improved water sources (piped water supply) and about 7,100 people have been benefited with improved sanitation services, across 30 municipalities.
Across rural Bangladesh, 834,435 beneficiaries now have access to safely managed sanitation facilities both at household level and public places, in addition to 506,000 handwashing stations. Through piped water 7,584 beneficiaries now have access to clean water in rural areas.
The World Bank has supported the Government of Bangladesh to transform the entire procurement process to online through an electronic government procurement (e-GP) system. The country’s e-GP system has so far contributed an average annual savings of $1.4 billion with an overall investment of only $70 million. It has also significantly increased accessibility, efficiency, and transparency of the public procurement system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the e-GP system worked as the backbone to continue day to day development operations in the country and enabled procuring agencies to process all procurement activities from procurement planning to contract management including payment. The citizen portal has been launched for public procurement and contract implementation monitoring. In addition, citizen engagement in contract implementation monitoring is taking place in 48 sub-districts with positive feedback. The less tangible but an important impact of the reform has been a shift in mindset. Through extensive training, capacity building, awareness raising and dialogue, the relationship between the government procuring entities and private sector bidders has been carefully nurtured.
Since 2006, IDA has been supporting a nationwide program that augments the government’s block grants provided to all 4,561 Union Parishads (the lowest tier of elected local government). The block grant enables Union Parishads to decide and spend on local priorities. Since 2006, the discretionary funds that a Union Parishad receives annually have grown by more than ten-fold and have benefited 130 million people.
Hundreds of community schemes generating employment for the poor have been implemented, including construction or rehabilitation of rural roads, culverts, drainage, and embankment systems; water and sanitation facilities; and schools and clinics. Thirty percent of the schemes are women-preferred schemes. Under the current project, the third of the three consecutive projects, IDA is assisting to institutionalize the block grants with the government’s own resources and supporting a pilot for an urban fiscal transfer system in 16 municipalities, to be scaled up across all Urban Local Bodies through future World Bank operations.
Social Protection and Jobs
The Bank has been a long-time partner, providing financing and technical support to help Bangladesh enhance its social protection and jobs programs.
The Bank uses a combination of policy and investment lending, to improve efficiency, transparency, and shock-responsiveness in the sector, and has helped establish and adopt common digital platforms to enhance service delivery of social assistance programs across three key ministries in the sector. Bank financing has supported the full-scale adoption of digital payments for over 11 million poor and vulnerable elderly, widows, and persons-with-disabilities, with the collaboration of local-level public-private partnerships, agent banking services, and Bangladesh’s vast network of mobile money agents.
Under its shock-responsive agenda, Bank financing supported continuity of social assistance for over 4 million poor and vulnerable households during the COVID-19 crisis, enabled short-term employment for 100,000 households affected by climatic and forced displacement shocks, and provided self-reliance opportunities for 175,000 displaced Rohingya persons.
To address the large working age population in low productivity jobs, the Bank is helping the Government improve access to services to enhance livelihoods of over 350,000 low-income urban youth and returning migrants through tailored economic inclusion programs. To promote similar economic inclusion opportunities for more vulnerable populations, the Bank is supporting innovations to several major cash transfer programs in the country aiming to reach 10,000 elderly, widows, and persons-with-disabilities.
Investing in early childhood development to improve nutrition and cognitive development leads to healthy, productive adults, and can help prevent the intergenerational transmission of poverty. The Bank will support the expansion and strengthening of the nationwide Mother and Child Benefit Programme to reach up to 2 million pregnant women and mothers of children under four years, including improved field outreach and monitoring systems, to create opportunities for all children to grow up with adequate nutrition, good physical health, and cognitive development, as well as nurturing care for their human capital development.
Support to Address Challenges Created by Influx of Displaced Rohingya Population
Bangladesh has generously provided shelter to more than 1.1 million displaced Rohingya population (DRP) fleeing from violence in Myanmar. Through $590 million grant financing in five projects, the World Bank is helping the Bangladesh government to support both the DRP — until their safe and voluntary return to Myanmar — as well as the host communities in Cox’s Bazar.
Round the clock health, nutrition, and family planning services are being provided in the healthcare facilities to both DRP and host population. Fifty-four percent of the Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazar District were vaccinated with the Pentavalent 3 vaccine, which was less than 4 percent prior to their arrival in Bangladesh making these children more vulnerable to infectious diseases, as illustrated by the diphtheria outbreak. These contagious diseases pose a risk of spreading to the host population. In addition to water-borne diseases such as cholera, there are seasonal risks of dengue and malaria. The diphtheria outbreaks was successfully contained within the camps. Nearly 100,000 (92,751) antenatal care services were provided at different tiers of health facilities during the last six months (January to June 2023). The uptake of institutional deliveries has also increased significantly with the engagement of 600 community health volunteers, resulting in 64,563 pregnant and lactating women being counselled to ensure optimal infant and young child feeding practices for the well-being of Rohingya children aged 0-23 months, ultimately contributing to improving their nutritional status.
The project has also strengthened the referral system allowing health posts and primary health care centers located within the camps to refer patients to the upazila health complexes located near the camps and to the District Sadar Hospital offering secondary care services. Kutubdia and Moheshkhali are two remote islands in Cox’s Bazar, with difficult and limited access for referrals. These two upazila health complexes are being supported to provide 24/7 comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care and the first caesarean section was conducted after 30 years. Two water ambulances were also provided to Moheshkhali and Kutubdia upazillas for emergency referral of patients. As Bangladesh is a high tuberculosis burden country, support was provided to increase case detection and treatment.
Community health workers have reached 376,131 households in the preceding six months to provide different sexual reproductive health, nutrition and gender-based violence (GBV) information. Mental health and psychosocial support services are being provided through the different health facilities. Gender-based violence response services have been introduced in the health facilities in all the tiers and through the expansion of one-stop crisis cells in the two island upazillas and two others in Ukhia and Teknaf upazilla. Deployment of midwives in the women friendly spaces have helped increase the utilization of reproductive and sexual health services.
As part of COVID-19 response, Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machines were established for case detection through testing; vaccination program was supported and 76% of those eligible were fully vaccinated. For suspected of COVID-19 patients a severe acute respiratory infection centre and treatment centers with 100 beds were established. Standard infection control measures were undertaken by setting up handwashing with soap facilities, and dedicated maternity wards were established for deliveries.
About 15,009 local women and girls and 551,351 displaced Rohingya women and girls utilized GBV response services from Women Friendly Spaces in Cox’s Bazar district. Furthermore, 72,985 women and adolescent girls received psychosocial support from the 35 women friendly spaces and some health facilities. The GBV prevention and response program has supported 24,000 women and girls through 16 women friendly spaces, and out of these, three are outside DRP camps serving 4,500 women and girls from the host community.
More than 1,300 learning centers provided learning to 112,000 Rohingya children and psychosocial support to 350,000 children and adolescents. During COVID-19 movement restrictions, around 100 thousand children, about half of whom were girls, received home-based caregiver supported learning within the Rohingya camps. Youth in the host communities received vocational and enterprise development training through mobile training centers.
Furthermore, to date, 530,776 people among the DRP and host community have access to improved public infrastructure. Solar powered mini piped water schemes throughout the camps are helping more than 227,320 DRP and host community get safe water through 1,772 tap stands across 102 km of pipe network and 584 deep tube wells. Furthermore, over 104,243 DRP and host community have access to improved sanitation with around 9,620 household toilets, 568 bio-fil toilets, 70 community latrines and 30 community latrines with composting biogas plants constructed. A total of 155.3 km roads were improved under the project so far of which 16.53 km roads are inside the DRP camps and 138.8 km roads are access roads to the camps from the host community and host community roads. Installation of 375 Lightning Protection Systems has been completed, which has protected around 423,555 DRP. The DRP have also benefited with the installation of 2,250 solar streetlights and construction of 10 climate resilient bridges to drain the stormwater. Firefighting and search and rescue equipment valued at $12.6 million were delivered to the Fire Service and Civil Defense Cox’s Bazar, Ukhiya, and Teknaf fire stations, and satellite fire stations in the camps and was put to use in recent fire events in the DRP camps. This equipment is also being used outside the camps for host communities in Ukhiya, and Teknaf. Furthermore, 318 hectares of afforestation completed with 573,000 seedlings in Cox’s Bazar.
The national Employment Generation Program for the Poorest Plus (EGPP+) provides temporary work opportunities for 40,000 poor and vulnerable households in host communities, while 85,000 Rohingya households are being provided social assistance under a community service and works program.
Last Updated: Oct 04, 2023