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Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) in Bangladesh
Description/achievement of initiative

In Bangladesh, women are often employed at the lower end of the productivity scale. Labor force participation of rural women in Bangladesh is only 36.4% against 83.3% of men. Creating employment and income generating opportunities for women and enhancing women’s access to social protection will help to reduce gender inequality and women’s poverty and vulnerability. The SDG Fund JP is being implemented in the regions of focus in the Kurigram district in the Northwest and Satkhira district in the coastal belt, regions strongly affected by seasonal hunger and high incidences of extreme poverty due to natural disasters and climate change.

Implementation methodologies

The SWAPNO JP offers a scalable, government-owned model aimed at participants’ lasting exit from poverty. The women will be employed for 18 months in maintaining or rehabilitating important community assets, public works, and community service.The programme is being implemented through the Community Based Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (CB-TREE) approach which has been piloted by ILO in Bangladesh. The model combines a community based survey of skills demand and development of training to fill the identified skills gaps. Individuals are trained with the in-demand skills for subsequent work in either established SMEs or in their own micro-enterprises.Field application of the CB-TREE model includes the following steps:1. Select a village, mobilize target group2. Apply TREE planning tools and process3. Implement approved training proposals (3 types: i. skills training alone, ii. skills with enterprise training, and iii. enterprise training alone)4. Beneficiaries access finance, establish common facilities, organize enterprise (value) chains5. Beneficiaries trade with other communities or adjacent urban centres6. When ready and willing-the individual, group or community enterprises can be linked with the formal financial and market systemsFurther, in accordance with the code of practice, an employer or instructor must:- train the apprentice or nominate a skilled tradesperson to train the apprentice to the best of their ability;- provide apprentices with the opportunity to learn all the skills of the trade as listed in the CSLB;- provide the apprentices with the opportunity & sufficient time to practice the skills listed in the CSLB in order to become skilled workers;- complete the employer/instructor section of the CSLB as required in an honest & accurate manner;- provide ongoing feedback and encouragement to the apprentice;- treat the apprentice fairly and as an important member of the workplace;- provide a safe work/learning environment.In addition to some 10,000 members of direct beneficiary households, local communities with a population of around 1.1 million living below the poverty line will be indirect beneficiaries of public works undertaken in the SWAPNO programme.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

Local government has the capacity to implement social transfer programmes in an accountable and transparent manner, following a gender sensitive and pro-poor approach.Activities include:• Development of an Operational Manual• Development of Internal Control Framework• Training needs assessment• In-country and cross-country training for 72 Union Councils and 9 Sub-district councils, engaging National Institute of Local Government• On-the-job coaching• Peer training by best practitioners / horizontal learning• Financial monitoring with parallel knowledge transfer of good practices• District workshops• Advocacy, knowledge management and visibility activities• Baseline and endline surveys• Monitoring of the development of Union Council capacitiesThe capacity of Union Councils will be developed so that they can perform the following key tasks:(a) Arrange for selection of primary beneficiary women and guide formation of crew groups;(b) Assist in selection of roads and other public works;(c) Monitor task assignment and performance of crews through a Standing Committee; solve criticalproblems; prepare reports; ensure management, supervision and payment;(d) Facilitate cooperation between the Union Council and service delivery departments for effective servicedelivery to programme beneficiaries; establish contact between women and service providers;(e) Identify priority service needs and manage service delivery block grants for essential needs;(f) Facilitate cooperation from participating banks and other payment agents and assist in account opening for primary beneficiary women;(g) Provide graduated women with follow-up and counselling for sustainable livelihoods;(h) Maintain all records, registers, accounts, etc. prescribed.Capabilities of local government institutions will be developed in terms of accountability, transparency, pro-poor planning, gender sensitiveness and participatory M&E. To enhance sustainability prospects, capacity development training will be imparted through National Institute of Local Government (NILG), with technical assistance from the programme in the development of training modules, training of trainers and so forth. This will at the same time develop NILG capacity to impart similar capacity development training in other Unions of the country. Strengthening local government capacity not only supports effective programme implementation but also strengthens a range of service delivery mechanisms. Effective capacity for pro-poor and gender sensitive service delivery requires both capability and commitment, and the programme will work on both.

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure

The SDG Fund relies on the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) to facilitate collaboration between Participating UN Organizations to ensure that the programme is on track and that promised results are being delivered. The Resident Coordinator exercises his authority over the programme by being entrusted with leadership of the overall programme design, ongoing programmatic oversight of the Fund’s activities by co-chairing the National Steering Committee meetings. To ensure proper checks and balances of programme activities the RC is called upon to establish committees at two levels:A National Steering Committee (NSC), and Programme Management Committee(s) (PMC).The NSC consists of the Resident Coordinator, a representative of the national government in the role of Co-Chair and a representative of the AECID or in its absence from another sponsoring partner entity, according to the SDGF ToR.The responsibilities of the PMC will include:1. Ensuring operational coordination2. Appointing a Programme Manager or equivalent thereof;3. Managing programme resources to achieve the outcomes and output defined in the programme;4. Establishing adequate reporting mechanisms in the programme;5. Integrating work plans, budgets, reports and other programme related documents; and ensuring that budget overlaps or gaps are addressed;6. Providing technical and substantive leadership regarding the activities envisaged in the Annual Work Plan;7. Agreeing on re-allocations and budget revisions and making recommendations to the NSC as appropriate;8. Addressing management and implementation problems;9. Identifying emerging lessons learned; and10. Establishing communication and public information plans.


UN Lead Agency: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) UN Participating Organizations: International Labour Organization (ILO) Local Partners: Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperative, Government of Bangladesh; District Administration, Sub-District Councils, Union Parishads (lowest administrative tier of local government), Partner NGO-Eco-Social Development Organization and Local Small and Medium Enterprises
Progress reports
Goal 1
Goal 5
Goal 8
Goal 10
Beneficiary households are able to protect their post-programme food security and livelihoods. Activities include: • Selection of 2,600 extreme poor women in Kurigram district as primary beneficiaries • Employment of 2,600 extreme poor women in public works for an 18-month tenure • Skills training of 2,600 extreme poor women in Kurigram district for economic opportunities and post- programme employability (the JP vocational training model will subsequently be rolled out to 1,900 women in Satkhira district based on demonstrated effectiveness in Kurigram district) • Promotion of expanded household asset base for sustainable livelihoods development • Deposit of end-of-employment bonus • Promotion of savings habits amongst beneficiary households • Counselling of graduated women in selection and operation of a sufficiently large and diversified business portfolio that can protect future livelihoods • Job placement arrangements with local SMEs (which would also include Satkhira district, subject to demonstrated effectiveness of the model in Kurigram district) • Creation of social capital in support of graduated women and their post-programme livelihood activities
Beneficiaries and their dependents have improved their human capital in terms of nutrition, health, education and voice. Activities include: • Life skills training of 2,600 extreme poor women • Nutrition awareness campaigns • Reporting and redressing violence against and abuse of women
Beneficiary households have access to public services essential for their livelihood activities and family wellbeing. Activities include: • Participatory identification of needs for services • Establishment of linkages between service providers, in particular Upazila service providing departments, and SWAPNO beneficiary households and other poor households in participating local communities • Enhancing cooperation between the Union Councils and service delivery departments • Provision of saving deposit facilities with participating banks/bank agents or post offices • Provision of special funds to 72 Union Councils for priority basic services requested by beneficiary households and other poor households • Affiliation with local NGOs • Provision of micro-insurance through Microfinance Institutions
Public assets promoting local economic regeneration, improving social conditions, enhancing environmental conditions are maintained and developed for the benefit of the poor of participating rural communities. Activities include: • Selection of priority public assets and other public works through community consultations • Maintenance/creation/rehabilitation of public assets selected • On-the-job training to women crew groups on techniques of quality maintenance work • Payment of wages • Provision of supplies for public works (tools, work uniforms, tree saplings, cell phones, etc.) • Monitoring and supervision of work and its quality
Financing (in USD)
4,613,000 USD
Staff / Technical expertise
A joint UNDP-ILO programme harnesses comparative advantages of both organizations. UNDP Bangladesh has the experience of working with the Local Government Division (LGD) on implementation of a public works cash transfer project targeting extreme poor wome

Basic information
Time-frame: 02/2015 - 12/2016
UN Lead Agency: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) UN Participating Organizations: International Labour Organization (ILO) Local Partners: Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperative, Government of Bangladesh; District Administration, Sub-District Councils, Union Parishads (lowest administrative tier of local government), Partner NGO-Eco-Social Development Organization and Local Small and Medium Enterprises
Contact information
Samant Veer Kakkar, Knowledge Management Consultant, samant.veer.kakkar@undp.org
United Nations