DHAKA, December 04, 2011 — The Government of Bangladesh today signed a US$29 million financing agreement with the World Bank for the Northern Areas Reduction of Poverty Initiative (NARI) project. The project will support employment of poor and vulnerable women coming from the Monga prone districts in garments sector. The project will help the vulnerable women to overcome the difficulties of migration and to get a chance to successfully adapt to a new life.
NARI project would facilitate employment and successful migration of around 11,000 poor women from five northern Monga prone districts, namely Gailbandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, and Rangpur. These women would receive technical and life-skills training, transitional housing, counseling and job placement services. Migration of poor women from the impoverished northwestern districts to formal employment in the garment sector is substantially lower than that of poor women from other parts of the country.
“The NARI project is the first World Bank financed operation in South Asia with a specific focus on the empowerment of vulnerable women through employment in a formal sector,” said Ellen Goldstein, Country Director, World Bank Bangladesh. “It has the potential of fundamentally changing the lives of thousands of poor rural women, and possibly many more once the pilot is scaled up to other parts of Bangladesh and other sectors, if successful.”
The project will also undertake awareness raising activities in the pilot districts. The candidates, selected through a screening process will be helped to find employment in the Dhaka, Karnaphuli, and Ishwardi Export Processing Zones (EPZ). Training centers and dormitory for transitional housing will be constructed in these EPZs.
The training centers will accommodate 300 trainees at a time. The dormitories attached to the training center will accommodate 600 women for a transitional period of six months. The graduates will also get assistance for finding permanent housing.
“The project directly contributes to the Government’s “pro-poor growth”vision,” said Mr. Iqbal Mahmood, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh. “NARI project would support linking the lagged behind northern region to country’s growth poles in eastern region along with enhancing women participation in work force.”
The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary arm, has 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period; it carries a service charge of 0.75 percent.