The World Bank (WB) today approved US$600 million for two projects in Bangladesh to help over 1.75 million poor and vulnerable populations, including youth, women, disadvantaged groups, and returnee migrant workers, improve employability and livelihood opportunities, and build their resilience against future shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Bangladesh, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly, female workers, youth, and returnee migrant workers,” said Dandan Chen, Acting World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
He said these two projects will help empower and mobilize rural poor people, prepare them for the future job market and support entrepreneurial opportunities, especially for women and disadvantaged groups.
The $300 million ‘Accelerating and Strengthening Skills for Economic Transformation (ASSET) Project’ will equip more than 1 million youth and workers with skills needed for the future of work. The project will particularly support youth, women and disadvantaged groups, including people with disabilities to become skillful and to connect them to labor market. The project will also support industries to retrain their workers during and after the pandemic and thus accelerate recovery.
“Building on the success of earlier projects, ‘STEP’ and ‘NARI’,’ the project will help modernize and build resilience of the technical vocational education and training sector of Bangladesh. It will set up an international standard model polytechnic in the country,” said Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, World Bank Team Leader for the project.
“Further, the project will benefit the informal sector workers through expanding the ‘Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)’ program,” he added.
The $300 million Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Improvement (RELI) Project will help improve the livelihoods of about 750,000 poor and vulnerable rural people across 3,200 villages in 20 districts.
“The project will provide immediate and tailored livelihood support to rural poor people for responding to urgent needs such as the COVID 19 pandemic, improve their ability to cope with future shocks and help them come out of poverty through income-generating activities and skill development,” said Jean Saint-Geours, World Bank Team Leader for the project.
The project will help organize village groups, build their capacity and finance community plans for savings and micro-loans, as well as climate-resilient infrastructure, giving priority to the poor and extreme poor, women, and youth. With over 90 percent female beneficiaries, the project will also support entrepreneurship and encourage crop diversification, good nutritional practices, while raising awareness of climate risk adaptation and mitigation, the spread of diseases, and gender-based violence.
Both projects have a maturity of 30 years including a grace period of 5 years.
The World Bank is among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Bangladesh currently has one of the largest IDA programs totaling over $14 billion. Since independence, the World Bank has committed more than $35 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country.