Around 75 million Bangladeshis either live in poverty or are at risk of falling into poverty. This means it is difficult for large parts of the Bangladesh population to develop the skills or assets needed to get decent jobs or to safely access funds to invest into the market. Being excluded from these opportunities perpetuates the poor's isolation from the economy and constrains growth as a result.
Australia is assisting extremely poor women to find pathways out of poverty, building on the lessons and successes of our previous investments. Livelihoods programs provide people with cash transfers, productive assets, training and access to free health services. This package of support has been proven to increase income-earning capacity amongst the poor.
BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement
$95 million, 2016-2020
BRAC is one of the largest non-government organisations in the world, and affects the lives of 110 million people in Bangladesh alone. Australia's Strategic Partnership Arrangement with BRAC and the UK Government is an innovative approach to delivering aid through non-government organisations. It allows BRAC to decide how to allocate pooled funds from development partners for its programs. These programs deliver basic education services, skills training and livelihoods assistance to build resilience amongst the poorest and most marginalised communities in Bangladesh, particularly women and children.
Chars Livelihoods Program and Strengthening Government Social Protection Systems for the Poor in Bangladesh
$9.2 million, 2014-2018
Funding under these initiatives provides support for the extreme poor to build pathways out of poverty and promote economic inclusion. The Chars Livelihood Program is improving the livelihoods, incomes and food security of approximately 68,000 families living on the isolated 'chars' (river islands) of north-western Bangladesh – a pocket of extreme poverty.
Strengthening Government Social Protection Systems will contribute to policy reform that promotes poverty reduction and economic empowerment in Bangladesh. International evidence shows that effective social protection programs contribute to poverty reduction and the growth of a productive middle class.
In addition to having a direct impact on communities, these programs have provided Australia with an opportunity to engage in policy dialogue on social protection. Australia has supported the Government of Bangladesh to develop a national social protection strategy.