WFP works with govt to lift rural women out of extreme poverty

Woman and child with bag of fortified rice
Woman and child with bag of fortified rice

The World Food Programme (WFP) is working with the government of Bangladesh to lift rural women out of extreme poverty through a ground-breaking programme. With an investment of US$72 million, the government, with technical assistance from WFP, is set to reach 100,000 women with livelihood training, behaviour change education, as well as food assistance, according to a WFP press release.

The participants of the Investment Component for Vulnerable Group Development (ICVGD) programme come from all 64 districts of the country, residing in remote areas prone to natural disasters, such as floods and cyclones. They face high poverty levels with low employment opportunities.

“WFP applauds the government for its commitment towards empowering women and achieving food security in Bangladesh,” said Richard Ragan, WFP representative and country director in Bangladesh. He said such commitments have rural women the chance to transform their lives and that of their children through skills and knowledge.

Currently in its second phase, the programme consists of training in entrepreneurship, financial management and life skills, as well as behaviour change education in the areas of nutrition, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene. Each participant will receive a start-up grant of Tk 15,000 (US$180) and a monthly ration of 30 kg of fortified rice during their training period.

During the first phase of this programme, which started in 2015, a total of 8000 rural women were provided with similar support. An evaluation of the first phase showed improvements in income, food security and dietary diversity of these women and their families. A positive change in their decision-making ability was also observed.

Run by the women and children affairs ministry, ICVGD is part of the Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme, which is the largest safety net programme targeting extremely poor and vulnerable women and their households in Bangladesh.