Sarah Cooke, DFID’s Country Representative in Bangladesh, reflects on what CLP 2 has achieved during the last six years

Posted on: 11 February, 2016 Posted in:

The second phase of CLP is drawing to an end. During the last few months we’ve been putting together an attractive, summarised final document which pulls together some of the Programme’s achievements (we at CLP refer to it as an ‘uber glossy’!)

We asked Sarah Cooke, DFID’s Country Representative in Bangladesh, to prepare a Foreword. Here’s what she had to say:

“The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is extremely proud to have co-funded the Chars Livelihoods Programme, Phase 2 (CLP) with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign A­ffairs and Trade (DFAT).

The Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives has been a strong partner, while Maxwell Stamp PLC has provided excellent management agent services, thereby allowing the Programme to help reduce extreme poverty in the chars of north-west Bangladesh.

Prior to the Programme, extreme-poor households living on the chars faced many obstacles: they had limited livelihood options and were heavily reliant on selling their labour. What little assets they had were at risk of being swept away during the annual floods. Women had little say in household decision-making and were not respected in the wider community.

CLP2’s integrated and sizeable package of support was transformative for the 78,026 extreme-poor households (known as core participant households) that participated, benefitting around 312,000 people. The asset transfer project allowed households to diversify their livelihood options and accumulate assets. By raising homesteads on earthen plinths above the highest-known flood level, households and their assets were protected throughout the year. Weekly group meetings for the female heads of the households helped build confidence and greater awareness of important issues about health and hygiene, laws related to dowry and marriage, what their rights were, as well as being the forum for livelihoods capacity-building. During my visits to the Programme’s working areas, I was always impressed by the new-found confidence of the households, particularly the women.

Importantly, the Programme also provided a range of support to the wider community (i.e. to non-core participant households) benefiting about 1 million people in some way. For example hygienic latrines for the whole village helped to reduce open defecation; the cash-for-work

project alleviated the e­ffects of seasonal under-employment; and the successful Village Savings and Loans groups were opened up to participants that were not directly benefitting from CLP2.

In addition, supporting the poor to access markets for their produce by organising them in collective business groups and facilitating linkages with markets has shown great potential in meat and milk sectors.

Making markets work for the poor is strengthening outcomes already achieved by the char people. More generally, the Programme generated much learning about working with the extreme-poor in remote areas. This learning has been captured and is informing future programming in Bangladesh and in other countries.

I would like to congratulate the Government of Bangladesh for implementing a successful programme and helping to reduce the incidence of extreme poverty on the chars of north-west Bangladesh.

Sarah Cooke, Country Representative for DFID Bangladesh. “

You can find a copy of our summarised final report here.