The Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Improvement (RELI) Project will help boost the rural economy in about 3,200 villages
The World Bank will provide $300 million to the government of Bangladesh as loan to implement a five-year project on livelihood improvement scheduled to begin from July next.
The government will chip in $40 million for the project titled, "Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Improvement (RELI) Project", raising its total cost to $340 million.
The signing ceremony of the Financing Agreement between the Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, and the World Bank; and the Project Agreement between the World Bank and Social Development Foundation (SDF), the implementing agency, was held on June 27 last.
Fatima Yasmin, Secretary of the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance, and Mercy Miyang Tembon, the World Bank’s Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, signed the Financing Agreement on behalf of their respective sides.
Tembon also inked the Project Agreement on behalf of the World Bank while AZM Sakhawat Hossain, Managing Director of the SDF, signed the per procurationem for the implementing agency.
SDF Chairperson Md Abdus Samad, also a former Senior Secretary, was also present at the signing ceremony, according to a SDF media release.
Built on the success of the first and second Social Investment Program Projects and the Nuton Jibon Livelihood Improvement Project, the RELI project will mobilize, develop, and strengthen community organizations, and finance their community plans to provide cash transfers and loans for income-generating activities.
The project will provide training to almost 490,000 people on climate risk, adaptation, and resilience building. It will also build 5,120 climate-resilient small-scale infrastructures.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the poor in rural areas, particularly women, by limiting their income and economic opportunities,” said World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Mercy Tembon.
“This project will help boost the rural economy and 90 percent of the beneficiaries will be women. The project will also help with health and nutritional awareness. When a woman earns more, her family and the community are better off,” Mercy Tembon added.
The project will support rural entrepreneurs and producer groups with market linkages including e-commerce platforms, partnerships with local governments, and promotional activities, said a WB press release.
It will also provide skills development training to the unemployed or under-employed youth and returnee migrants to increase their employability.
Economic Relations Division Secretary Fatima Yasmin said: “Through community mobilization and climate-smart agriculture practices, the project will help rural women withstand any future shocks like the pandemic without falling back to poverty.”