A $200 million (Tk 1,695 crore) project has been approved by the World Bank to help Bangladesh provide support and services to the low-income urban youths impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
A project, titled ‘Recovery and Advancement of Informal Sector Employment (RAISE)’ will help to enhance the opportunities of earning and resiliency of the involuntary returnee migrants. The project is intended to help 1.75 lakh (175,000) poor urban youths and low-income micro-entrepreneurs which will better their chances of employment and productivity.
On March 17, the World Bank stated that the project would assist them with services such as life-skills training, apprenticeship programs, counseling, microfinance and self-employment support
It will help around 200,000 (2 lakh) eligible migrants who had been forced to return since January 2020 by either sustainably reintegrating into the domestic labor market or preparing for re-migration. Cash grants, counselling and referrals will be given to such migrants to relevant services based on their needs and goals.
“International migration and the urban informal sector have played a central role in Bangladesh’s remarkable success in reducing poverty over the years. However, both sectors were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mercy Tembon, WB country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
“The project will support both groups of workers to overcome structural barriers to employability and facilitate resilient post-pandemic growth.” the WB country director added.
The project will support an economic inclusion program that will be tailored to fit the individual needs of eligible beneficiaries. It will be directed to the low-income urban youths and microentrepreneurs whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.
The services include the likes of life-skills and socioemotional counselling, on-the-job learning through apprenticeship programs, business management training, and microfinance for self-employment and informal micro-enterprises.
The project will assist the low-income migrants, many of whom have returned with a high-debt burden, by providing the necessary counselling to help determine immediate needs and aspirations.
A set of supports to be provided to the migrant workers will include –Socioemotional counselling to support their reintegration into the community, referrals to technical, vocational or business management training to upgrade their skills and enhance their ability for self-employment and cash grants.
32 district welfare centers has been set up to provide these services. The project will also help support the enhancement and integration of information systems that will streamline social protection service delivery for aspiring, current and returning migrants.
“While the project will focus on the immediate needs of migrants who have returned due to COVID-19 impacts, through the systems development and capacity building, it will also benefit outgoing and voluntarily returning migrants, their families and communities, over the longer term,” said Syud Amer Ahmed, WB senior economist and team leader for the project.
It will also focus on the needs of female returnees, including psychosocial counseling and referrals to gender-based violence related services, as well as ensuring specific outreach activities to support their economic reintegration, the WB economist mentioned.
The credit is from the World Bank’s International Development Association which has provided concessional financing, which has a 30-year term and 5 year grace period.
Currently, Bangladesh has the largest ongoing IDA program, amounting to over $13.5 billion (Tk 1.14 lakh crore). The WB was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed more than $33.5 billion (Tk 2.84 lakh crore) in grants, interest-free and concessional credits to the country since its independence.