UNDP, UK support poverty reduction in Bangladesh

24 Aug 2009

For the millions of people who live in Bangladesh’s crowded urban centres, life can be very hard. The everyday challenges of poverty are compounded by a number of other problems, including over-crowding, poor sanitation and a highly competitive labour market. However, in the district of Narayanganj, in central Bangladesh, as well as in 22 other towns and cities, change is taking place through the support of the United Kingdom-funded, UNDP-supported Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction programme.

The programme, which began in 2007, works by putting development in the hands of ordinary people. Through community development committees, savings groups and community planning groups, the programme is steering funds and opportunities toward the initiatives that local people deem the most important, such as pre-primary education, apprenticeships and job-training that is linked to the garment industry. The programme is also supporting the poorest of the poor by contributing to micro-businesses like roadside cake selling.

From beginning to end, it is the communities themselves that are deciding what gets done. The people of Narayanganj decide which drains they want covered, where new wells are needed and which latrines should be replaced. By linking human development efforts to local community institutions, the programme is ensuring their sustainability and long-term viability. For the estimated 10 million poor living in urban areas in Bangladesh, this is translating into more opportunities, a better living environment and a steadier start to life.