WASHINGTON — Last week, the World Bank announced its plan to give $1.1 billion toward development programs in Bangladesh. The money will be used for three development projects and will improve the quality of life for over 36 million people nationwide.
Bangladesh is a low-lying country and is therefore subject to extreme flooding, cyclones and rising sea levels. In 2004, residents experienced some of the worst flooding in the country’s history; 800 people were killed, millions were left homeless and over 20 million were left without food and water.
The World Bank aims to contribute $375 million for the Multipurpose Disaster Shelter Project in order to protect against future flooding and other natural disasters. The initiative includes building 552 new disaster shelters as well as improving 450 pre-existing structures. Workers also plan to develop roadways and communication networks for improved mobility in 9 coastal areas.
“The project will benefit 14 million people among the coastal population living in the front line of climate change,” said World Bank Task Team Leader for MDSP, Anna C. O’Donnell. “The project will introduce steel shelter designs for the first time in Bangladesh for improved construction quality and durability.”
The World Bank contribution will also go toward improving the quality of primary education in Bangladesh. $400 million will help finance the country’s Third Primary Education Development Program. The program intends to raise enrollment levels to 98 percent as well as primary completion rates to 80 percent. The education project also works to provide merit-based teacher recruitment and to equip schools with proper textbooks each year.
Financing provided by the World Bank will bring an additional 19 million Bangladeshi children to school, assuring them quality instruction and guaranteeing that they complete their primary school studies. The program will also establish pre-primary education and improve school facilities, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
“Directly and indirectly, these operations help ensure that even the poorest children in Bangladesh can achieve their full potential,” said Johannes Zutt World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has made significant progress in diminishing poverty throughout the last three decades, though high numbers of citizens living in extreme poverty still pose a threat to the country’s development. Leaders recently established the Income Support Program for the Poorest, or ISSP, project in order to assist those living in extreme conditions.
The project will help 2.7 million people, approximately 10 percent of the nation’s poorest citizens. ISSP will also provide income assistance for over 600,000 impoverished mothers in exchange for their participation in children’s nutrition and cognitive development activities. ISSP will provide monthly cash transfers to mothers in the program 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,” World Bank Task Team Leader of ISSP, Iffath Sharif, said.
The country of Bangladesh has many resources to offer, which leads economists to consider it one of the “Next Eleven” tier of developing nations. Economists state that foreign investments in the country could provide great returns in the coming years.
– Meagan Douches
Sources: BBC News, World Bank, Yunus Centre
Photo: World Bank