DHAKA, May 27, 2012 – A new pilot on Cash Transfers for Human Development through Local Government named 'Shombhob', launched today in Narayanganj, is introducing innovative mechanisms to provide income support through local governments to 14,127 extreme poor households to improve their children’s nutrition and education.
The US $ 2.1 million pilot will be implemented by the Local Government Division (LGD) in both rural and urban areas of Hatibandha and Jaldhaka Upazilas and Narayanganj City Corporation.
“The pilot shows how the Honorable Prime Minister’s vision of a Digital Bangladesh is not just for the most educated or well-off citizens. Through this program, information technology is used to reach the poorest of households and empower them to create a better future for their children,” said Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Honorable Advisor to the Prime Minister, Government of Bangladesh.
The pilot has a strong focus on testing a transparent and objective mechanism to identify the poorest families and offering income support to them so that they can ensure regular school attendance and better nutrition for their children. Beneficiary households will receive bi-monthly transfers.
“The pilot has a number of innovative elements. First, it will use statistical modeling to help correctly identify the poorest households. Second, it will rely on a computerized Management Information System to ensure timely cash payments and track whether beneficiaries are sending their children to school and improving their nutrition. Third, the program will use electronic cash cards to make payments,” said Ellen Goldstein, Country Director, World Bank Bangladesh. “These are all examples of a new generation of “smart” safety net programs, which combine global best practice with home-grown innovations such as the payments mechanism developed by the Bangladesh Post Office.”
A partnership among the Government and World Bank officials, an NGO, a private enterprise and the Bangladesh Post Office was able to receive applications from over 40,000 households, enter this data within 20 days, develop the list of potential beneficiaries, enroll over 14,000 beneficiaries and prepare and distribute cash cards for all of them within a span of three months.
The pilot will be implemented for one year, after which the Government will assess its impact. If successful, the pilot presents an opportunity for the Government to develop a national level program to achieve key Millennium Development Goals.
The Launch was attended by Government representatives, civil society representatives and the media among others. Dr. Selina Hayat, Honorable Major of Narayanganj City Corporation and Ms. Ellen Goldstein, Country Director, The World Bank Bangladesh were present as Special Guest. Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Honorable Advisor to the Prime Minister, Government of Bangladesh graced the event as the Chief Guest.