The World Bank on 16 December, 2014 approved some $1.1 billion for three projects in Bangladesh that would benefit almost 36 million people.
The three projects are aimed at improving the quality of primary education, building coastal communities’ resilience to natural disaster, and increasing the nutrition and cognitive development of children from the poorest households.
The funds approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in Washington are $400 million in additional financing for the ‘Third Primary Education Development Program’; $375 million for the ‘Multipurpose Disaster Shelter Project’; and $300 million for the ‘Income Support Program for the Poorest Project’.
The credits are from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm, having 38 years to maturity with a six-year grace period and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent, said a WB press release.
“These three projects weave a strong story of complementing the World Bank’s efforts to create opportunities for the poor — by using cash transfers for mothers to promote better nutrition at home, helping children take advantage of pre-primary education under the primary education program and providing school infrastructure in vulnerable coastal zones,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh.
“Directly and indirectly, these operations help ensure that even the poorest children in Bangladesh can achieve their full potential,” he added.
The additional financing for the ongoing US$300 Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDP3) would continue to improve the primary education sector by increasing net enrollment to 98 percent and the primary completion rate to 80 percent.
The project would also continue efforts to ensure merit-based teacher recruitment and fill in vacant school positions. The project will ensure textbook delivery to 90 percent of the schools within the first month of the school year.
“The additional financing for the Government-led program will contribute to bring 19 million Bangladeshi primary school age children to school, provide them quality learning, and ensure they complete the primary school cycle,” said Ayesha Vawda, World Bank Task team Leader for PEDP3.
In addition to bringing in more children into the primary cycle, the program would continue the introduction of pre-primary education, especially in disadvantaged areas and enhance quality of the school facilities and infrastructure.
The Multipurpose Disaster Shelter Project (MDSP) aims to make the coastal population less vulnerable to natural disasters. The project will construct 552 new multipurpose disaster shelters, improve 450 existing shelters, and build connecting roads and communication networks for easy accessibility in 9 coastal districts.
“The project will benefit 14 million people among the coastal population living in the front line of climate change,” said Anna C. O’Donnell, World Bank Task Team Leader for MDSP. “The project will introduce steel shelter designs for the first time in Bangladesh for improved construction quality and durability.”
The Income Support Program for the Poorest (ISPP) project will benefit 10 percent of the extremely poor population, or 2.7 million people in 42 of the poorest upazilas in the country. The project will provide income support to about 600,000 poorest mothers in exchange for participating in activities aimed to improve their children’s nutrition and cognitive development.
Monthly cash transfers will be electronically disbursed into these mothers’ post office accounts using smart cash cards.
“Ensuring adequate nutrition prenatally and in the first 2 years of life helps to maximize a child’s brain development and health. Helping a child’s growth and cognitive development in the initial 5 years is critical to boost the earnings capacity in the later years of life and to prevent the transmission of poverty across generations,” said Iffath Sharif, World Bank Task Team Leader, ISPP.
The project will also focus on strengthening the local governments’ delivery of safety net programs.