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Results Briefs May 7, 2019

Economic Empowerment through community driven development: The Experience of Bangladesh

The Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement “NUTON JIBON” Project in Bangladesh supported the improvement of livelihoods of extremely poor households and strengthened community institutions in selected districts. The Project strengthened pro-poor institutions and provided funding for village and livelihood-related investments, as well as supported inter-village development and sustaining investments generated at the village level through capacity building, support to income generating activities, and links to employment.

Challenge

At the time of project appraisal (10/28/2002), Bangladesh’s poverty rate was approximately 40 percent (down from 60 percent in the early 1990s); however, of the 56 million people remaining in poverty, 85 percent lived in rural areas, and their income opportunities and access to basic services were severely constrained. The Government of Bangladesh’s (GOB) social safety nets intended for the left-out poor faced serious challenges in establishing clear targeting criteria and reached only about 15 percent of the population in rural areas and 5 percent in urban areas. Evidence at the time suggested that inequality and regional disparities in the country were increasing and that addressing the needs of the poorest was critical to enable more equitable, faster-paced, sustainable growth. Amongst the critical and cross-cutting strategies that were identified as essential to achieve the ‘strategic blocks’ of pro-poor economic growth, reduced vulnerability and human development, were participation and inclusion, good governance and improved service delivery.

Approach

The International Development Association (IDA) has been a longstanding supporter of Bangladesh, and its financing has contributed to the achievement of results across a range of sectors, including jobs and economic transformation. The Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement “NUTON JIBON” Project, also called Social Investment Program Project – SIPP II, was conceived on the success of SIPP-1 and international experience from South Asia and Latin America. It followed a Community Driven Development (CDD) approach to identify beneficiaries in a participatory manner, ensured village organizations functioned according to transparent rules and were led by the target beneficiaries, to be tracked through a village grading system. The Project instituted a grievance redressal mechanism to flag and manage issues with delivery of benefits to targeted communities. Thus, the Project focus was on human development through poverty/vulnerability reduction by introducing community led livelihood programs in an engendered manner. Project innovation to establish the’ Shabolombi Fund’, allowed vulnerable households who were considered most destitute and un-bankable, with one-time grants that gave them the break through to easy and affordable credit. It   thus played a critical role to allow for meeting the financial needs of Nuton Jibon Group members engaged in income generating activities, eventually recording an increased income for 432,919 for those members who took loans.

Results

Under the Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement “NUTON JIBON”:

  • 41,849 direct jobs were created;
  • 30% – 50% increase in income of 432,919 members who took loans from village revolving loan fund;
  • 90,527 producers were mobilized into 5,561 Producer Groups accessing input and output markets;
  • 92 percent of village institutions met the criteria of transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability;
  • Of the 3.4 million direct beneficiaries, 94 percent were women;
  • 99 percent of male and 98 percent of female unemployed youth were gainfully self- employed after receiving skills training;
  • 92 percent of targeted households benefitted from improved community infrastructure or social services sub-projects;
  • 89 percent of completed community infrastructure subprojects were operated and maintained by communities;
  • 10 major business partnerships were established through public/private partnerships with communities.

Bank Group Contribution

IDA contributed US$115 million.

Partners

Social Development Foundation (Program Implementing Agency)

Moving Forward

The project substantiated that increased income contributes to significant change in overall food consumption and dietary diversification. The impact evaluation suggested that increased income may be leading to improvements in the quality of food consumption, as measured by increased diversity in diets. Average household consumption increased by 39 percent for milk and dairy products, and by 49 percent for meat and egg. This evidence was fully conceptualized in the next operation called “Nuton Jibon Livelihood Improvement Project” 3 by linking livelihood angle with quality food consumption. The Nuton Jibon Livelihood Improvement Project (SIPP3) includes a sub-component on “Nutrition Awareness and Support”, allocating a budget of US$ 3.7 million within the funding envelope of US$ 220 million.

Beneficiaries

Ms. Parul Begum, a Nuton Jibon Group member since SIPP-I, started a bakery in Boiddo Para Gram Samiti, Nilphamari district, Rangpur Regionon December 17, 2012 with an initial funding loan from SIPP-II. Securing all the licenses required to legally operate the business, she has employed 25 persons since 2014. According to Ms. Parul Begum, ‘Today her economic solvency and ability has enabled her to compete in the male dominated society. Now she has control over her life and family and can effectively exert influence in the society’.