UN-backed workshop aims to enable rural poor in Bangladesh overcome poverty

UN-backed workshop aims to enable rural poor in Bangladesh overcome poverty

Aiming to outline a new strategy for United Nations-backed development projects in Bangladesh, more than one hundred national experts and representatives of UN agencies wrapped up a series of roundtables and workshops today in Dhaka the capital, focused on helping the rural population to fight poverty.

Co-sponsored by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Bangladesh Finance Ministry, the gathering of government officials working on topics linked to poverty exchanged views on the importance of infrastructure in the rural poor zones, and the use of micro-financing services in agricultural production, and cooperation with non-governmental and UN organizations.

Since 1978, Bangladesh has received 22 loans from IFAD, more than any other IFAD member state. Findings and recommendations drawn from a nine-project review of the agency’s work in Bangladesh from 1994 to 2004 have been evaluated and were discussed at the meeting. The aim was to develop a common understanding on the building blocks of a new IFAD country strategy in Bangladesh.

The strategy, scheduled to be submitted to the IFAD Executive Board in early 2006, will be in line with the Bangladeshi Government's new National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction, also scheduled for release in 2006.

According to IFAD, results for six of the nine evaluated projects showed that about 3.7 million people were reached – more than 130 per cent of those targeted. Significant household-level impacts on income and asset accumulation were also reported for project participants: one study found a 39 per cent increase in household income for landless people and farmers who had access to microfinance services. At least half of all recorded participants in most projects were women.

The Finance Minister of Bangladesh, Saifur Rahman who made closing remarks at the workshop said, “IFAD has an excellent programme in Bangladesh, with a strong emphasis on innovation with a unique focus on caring for the rural poor.” James Carruthers, IFAD’s Assistant President of the Programme Management Department, expressed his satisfaction with the evaluation finding that IFAD programmes in Bangladesh have been successful in terms of both effectiveness and impact.