A $600 million fund has been approved by the World Bank for two projects in Bangladesh to assist over 1.75 million poor and vulnerable people to improve employability and livelihood opportunities and build their resilience against future shocks like coronavirus pandemic.
The two projects are meant for youth, women, disadvantaged groups and returnee migrant workers, based on the statement released by the World Bank on May 21.
Dandan Chem, the acting World Bank country director in Bangladesh, stated “In Bangladesh, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly, female workers, youth, and returnee migrant workers.”
“These two projects will help empower and mobilise rural poor people, prepare them for the future job market and support entrepreneurial opportunities, especially for women and disadvantaged groups.”
The Accelerating and Strengthening Skills for Economic Transformation Project, worth $300 million, 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 more skillful and to connect them to the labour market. The funded project will also support industries to retrain their workers during and after the pandemic and thus speed up the recovery.
Md Mokhlesur Rahman, the World Bank leader for the project, stated that “Building on the success of earlier projects, ‘STEP’ and ‘NARI’,’ the project will help modernise 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.”
“Further, the project will benefit the informal sector workers through expanding the ‘Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)’ programme.”
Another project worth $300 million is named Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Improvement Project, which will help to enhance the livelihoods of about 750,000 poor and vulnerable rural people across 3,200 villages in 20 districts.
Jean Saint-Geours, the World Bank team leader for the project, stated “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.”
The project will help organise 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 per cent 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.
Loans under both projects have a maturity of 30 years including a grace period of five years.