World Bank Provides Bangladesh $600 Million to Improve Skills and Livelihoods for Poor and Vulnerable Population

WASHINGTON: The World Bank today approved $600 million for two projects in Bangladesh to increase the employability and livelihood opportunities of more than 1.75 million poor and vulnerable people—including youth, women, disadvantaged groups, and returnee migrant workers—and build their resilience to 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. “These two projects will help empower and mobilize rural poor people, prepare them for the future job market and support entrepreneurial opportunities, especially 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 jobs of the future. The project will help youth, women and disadvantaged groups, including people with disabilities, learn skills and connect them to the labor market. The project will also help accelerate recovery from the pandemic by supporting industries to retrain their workers.

“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 in 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.”

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 to respond 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 and build the capacity of village groups, and finance climate-resilient infrastructure and community plans for savings and micro-loans, 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 and 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.