Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Hon’ble President of the World Bank Group, paid a visit to Dakhkhin Rakudia village of Babuganj upazila under Barisal district on October 18, 2016 of ‘Nuton Jibon Livelihood Improvement Project (NJLIP)’ being implemented by the Social Development Foundation (SDF). The purpose of the visit was to understand the socio-economic changes in terms of lifting the extreme poor and poor out of poverty through implementation of integrated programs that include establishment of sustainable village institutions, empowerment of women, infrastructure development, employment creation, and above all inclusive and appropriate financing for planned economic activities.
The Hon’ble President was received by Mr. M. I. Chowdhury, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Social Development Foundation (SDF). At the beginning of the meeting the Chairperson delivered welcome speech and provided a brief description of SDF and its contributions in alleviating poverty in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A. Z. M. Sakhawat Hossain, Managing Director, SDF explained the programs in his speech and facilitated the discussions of the beneficiaries. This included implementation strategy in terms of how Community Driven Development (CDD) approach is contributing to economic upliftment of the extreme poor and poor of the village institutions including their elevation to next higher economic levels and how they are taking over the charges of their village institutions establishing 2nd tier institutions being managed by the beneficiaries etc.
One of the beneficiaries, Moni Rani unfolded their story of transformation and their venture with the help of SDF since 2012. SDF’s financial and technical support enabled them to embark on a number of income generating activities such as cow rearing, fish culture, cultivation of crops and vegetables, small business etc. in conjunction with infrastructure development and skill development training for the un/under employed youths along with creation of employment opportunities. These activities helped them enormously to scale up their life skills for livelihoods development and bridging the gap between their aspiration and action that resulted in reducing the number of extreme poor in their village to 35 from 60. Conversely, 75 poor households out of 121 have graduated to lower middle income cohort.
The Hon’ble President lauded the program’s unique niche by reaching the uncovered, most vulnerable, and the poorest and appreciated SDF’s spectrum of innovations that consists of a collaborative network of development programs. This has enabled the women to build, secure, and use social assets to improve their well-being, and play a more active role in the society. Before their inclusion in this project, they were barely capable to run errands with no assets.
The Hon’ble President was highly impressed to see the transformation of the underprivileged women along with their endeavors in alleviating poverty leading to turn the country into a middle income one by 2021 as envisaged by the Govt. of Bangladesh. He added, ‘I am very happy to see the positive changes in the lives of the poor women who were unskilled in the past and now have changed their socio-economic conditions with the help of the project. We have been continuing our support to SDF to build confidence, skills, structures and knowledge to open windows of opportunity for the poorest section of the societies.’ He further added, ’I am very glad to talk to the beneficiary women. They are self confident, can take advantage of new opportunities, exercise their rights and enjoy their entitlements.’
Mr. Jim also visited the dairy farm of Sheuli Begum and Kohinoor Begum, and the preparation of compost fertilizer and their fish cultivation sites and engaged himself in discussions with them to know how they are implementing such income generating activities and their future plans to improve quality of life in terms of increasing income, consumption and housing.
He was accompanied by the Executive Director, Senior Vice President, Chief Economist of World Bank and Country Director of World Bank for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. The Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division of Ministry of Finance also accompanied the Hon’ble President and his distinguished team during the visit.