The government of Bangladesh and the World Bank on Monday signed a $300 million financing agreement to help about 750,000 poor and extreme poor rural people across 20 districts come out of poverty and build resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and any future shocks.
Through income-generating activities, livelihood and entrepreneurial support, as well as skills development for the poor and extreme poor people, the Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Improvement (RELI) Project will help boost the rural economy in about 3,200 villages.Built on the success of the first and second Social Investment Program Projects and on the Nuton Jibon Livelihood Improvement Project, the RELI project will mobilize, develop, and strengthen community organizations, and finance their community plans provide cash transfers and loans for income-generating activities.
The agreement was signed by Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Fatima Yasmin and World Bank Country Director Mercy Tembon on behalf of the Government and the World Bank, respectively, said a World Bank press release on Tuesday.
“The project is aligned with the 8th Five Year Plan and the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100,” said ERD Secretary Fatima Yasmin.
“Through community mobilization and climate-smart agriculture practices, the project will help rural women withstand any future shocks like the pandemic without falling back to poverty.” she added.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the poor in rural areas particularly women, by limiting their income and economic opportunities,” said Mercy Tembon.
“This project will help boost the rural economy and 90 percent of the beneficiaries will be women. The project will also help with health and nutritional awareness. When a woman earns more, her family and the community are better off,” she added.The project will support further rural entrepreneurs and producer groups with market linkages including e-commerce platforms, partnerships with local governments, and promotional activities.
It will also provide skills development training to the unemployed or under-employed youth and returnee migrants to increase their employability.
The project will provide training to almost 490,000 people on climate risk, adaptation, and resilience building. It will also build 5,120 climate-resilient small-scale infrastructures.
The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. 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.