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South Asia WASH Results Program: End line Child Survey

Introduction and Objectives

The baseline child survey, measuring the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of children was completed by BIDS at the end of last year before the Unilever ‘School of 5’ campaign was implemented in the schools. The programme aims at promoting sustained use of hygienic household toilets, and the practice of hand washing with soap. The main purpose of the baseline survey was to assess the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of children about water supply, sanitation and hand washing behaviour. 

The Midline Child Survey was conducted by BIDS/Ipsos during March-June 2015. Ipsos is part of a consortium, together with the NGOs Plan and Water Aid. It is a regional study being implemented in Bangladesh and Pakistan by Ipsos. The End line child survey was conducted by BIDS (on behalf of Ipsos) during September-December here for details.


An Evaluation of Primary Education Stipend Project-II

Client: Primary Education Stipend Project (Phase-II)

Research Team: Mohammad Yunus (Study Director), Ms. Siban Shahana (Member)

In this study, attempts were made to assess the final outcomes of major indicators of educational attainment, economic and social development among the households of the students who received stipends under PESP-II vis-à-vis that among the control households. The study was conducted in 125 schools and madrasas in 25 districts, with 1250 student households that received PESP-II stipends and comparable 1250 households that did not receive PESP-II stipends. Thus the aggregate sample stood at a total of 2500 households. In addition, heads of the 125 schools and madrasas were interviewed about attendance, promotion, repetition and dropout rates across grades. The survey employed a mixed-method approach, combining collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. For the qualitative assessment 380 KIIs were conducted with 8 different categories of implementers in order to understand the implementation here for details.



Evaluation of Service Innovation Fund Projects of A2I

Study Team: Dr. Monzur Hossain (Team Leader), Dr. S. M. Zahedul Islam Chowdhury, Mr. Riton Kumar Roy

Executive Summary

Under the Service Innovation Fund (SIF) of the Access to Information Program (A2I), seven projects were launched in 2013 (Phase-I) with an aim to create easier process of accessing and availing public service and to promote innovation within public & private institutions and individuals in order to increase quality of government services.  BIDS made an evaluation (both process and impact) of the following seven projects to understand whether the processes employed in these projects are compliant with the proposed activities and the impact of these projects on end here for details.



Impact of Energy Price Adjustments in Bangladesh: A Macro-econometric Modeling Approach

Study Team: Dr. Monzur Hossain (Team Leader), Dr. Md. Mahbubur Rahman and Atiqur Rahman

Executive Summary:

The domestic price of energy products including electricity, oil and natural gas has long been administered in Bangladesh. The government provides subsidy to all these energy products in various forms. While natural gas is the main source of primary energy (85%-90%), the government supplies it to the people at a subsidized price (after buying it at a higher price from gas companies). On the other hand, although selling price of natural gas to the power (electricity) generation companies is not that much subsidized, the government provides huge subsidies for the power sector as it supplies electricity to the people and others at a rate lower than the market price. Power generation is also dependent on imported diesels or furnace oils, the price of which is also administered—lower than actual price. Therefore, the government of Bangladesh incurs a large amount of expenditures in the form of subsidies every year for the energy sector. click here for details.


Study on gradual reduction of subsidy under IDCOL SHS program

Study Team: Dr. Monzur Hossain (Team Leader) and Dr. Mohammad Yunus


The Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) has been implementing a program on solar home system (SHS) since 2003 with the mission of fulfilling basic electricity requirements in the off-grid regions of rural areas of Bangladesh. Around fifty to sixty thousand SHSs are now being installed every month under the Program. The program is run through 47 Participating Organizations (PO) comprising NGOs/MFIs/Private entities. So far, a total of 3.41 million SHS have been installed. The IDCOL has been providing concessionary credit support and subsidy/grant to the POs for implementing the program and motivating the potential adopters with revisions. When the IDCOL program first started in 2003, the capital buy-down grant was $90 per system. Over time, the subsidy has been gradually reduced to the current level of $20/SHS applicable to only smaller systems (=<30Wp). In the backdrop of subsidies available only for smaller systems, sales of those systems have been increasing very fast at average year on year growth rate 81%. Monthly installation rate of smaller SHS is more than 65% of total installation, implying a strong demand for the smaller sized SHS in the off-grid areas of Bangladesh with the current incentive structure. click here for details.


Impact Assessment of Upazila Fiscal facility Funded Projects

Study Team: Dr. Monzur Hossain (Team Leader), Mr. Moogdho Mim Mahzab

Executive Summary

The study was conducted to assess the short-term impact of schemes implemented under the Upazila Fiscal Facility program under the Upazila Governance Project, implemented by the Local Government Division, LGRD Ministry. The facility has been extended to 14 project upazilas starting from 2013. On average each Upazila receives Tk. 50 lac per year to undertake locally demand driven schemes. A detailed guideline for utilization of UFF funds has been developed. A total of 224 schemes have been implemented in the last two years across various sectors.  For the analysis, this study has randomly chosen 45 schemes across all sectors from all project Upazilas. To compare the results, it also collected information from some similar ADP projects. click here for details


South Asia WASH Results Programme: Baseline and Midline Survey

Executive Summary

The South Asia WASH Results Programme (SAWRP) is being implemented in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It aims to reach over 6 million people across the two countries. The objective is to promote and enable sustained use of hygienic household toilets and the practice of hand washing with soap. The baseline survey of WASH in Bangladesh was carried out to gather information regarding people’s access to sanitation and water hygiene awareness and behaviours, in intervention areas before the intervention takes place. The midline and end line surveys will be conducted after implementation has taken place, to allow measurement of the outcomes here for details


The Impact of Diesel Price Reforms on Transportation Cost of Selected Food Items in Bangladesh

Study Team: Mustafa K. Mujeri and Tahreen Tahrima Chowdhury

Sponsoring agency: 

International Insitute of Sustainable Development (IISD)

The study examines the nature and magnitude of the effect on transportation cost of major agricultural (food) commodities resulting from increases in the administered price of diesel. The evidence from secondary data show that overall inflation in the country tends to rise due to other demand and supply side factors that put upward pressure on the price level despite the fact that diesel price may remain unchanged; but when the diesel price is adjusted upwards, inflation rates seem to exhibit a faster here for details


Quality of Seeds and Pesticides in Bangladesh

Team members: Kazi Ali Taufique (Team Leader), Kazi Iqbal, Emdadul Haque and M. Niamul Naser



This study deals with quality of seeds and pesticides in Bangladesh. The importance of the issue hinges on the role of quality seed in enhancing agricultural output, improving food security and reduction of poverty.

The main objectives of the study are to critically review the current policy and regulatory framework (particularly the role of the Seed Certification Agency) related to seed, identification of the key actors in the seed value chain, assessment of the loss of agricultural productivity due to low quality seed, role of extension agents and suggest policy changes.

Primary as well as secondary data are used for the study. Discussions were also held with the key actors such as the government officials, NGOs, private sector, input dealers, academics and farmers. The key component of the study is a survey carried on 700 farmers selected from seven districts: Thakurgaon, Pabna, Rajshahi, Chuadanga, Jhenaidah, Mymensingh and Netrokona. These farmers were selected from 28 villages (four villages being selected from each upazila). here for details


Food Safety in Bangladesh: Practices, Impact, Policies and Institutions


Research Report prepared for IFPRI under the  Policy Research and Strategy Support Program (PRSSP)

The research was performed by M Asaduzzaman, Nazneen Ahmed, Md. Rokonuddowlah, and Prof. A B M Faroque.


Food safety is a major matter of public health issue in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the concerns so far have not been backed by solid scientific research of the extent of the problems, their root causes, the stages of food chain where the adulteration or willing contamination occurs, the technical, social and economic factors behind such contamination, the health impairment due to unsafe food, and the legal, policy and institutional aspects for minimising or eradication of the problem. Consequently the attempts to ensure safe food had been only sporadic, ad hoc, incomplete and ineffective. The present study tries to put these issues together to get a better perspective of the problem. here for details


Sustainable Social Housing Initiative in Bangladesh: Stakeholders’ Mapping and Assessment Report

Study Team: M.K.Mujeri and Siban Sahana

Executive Summary

Bangladesh is undergoing a rapid urban transformation in recent years and its capital city, Dhaka, has now emerged as one of the fastest growing megacities in the world. It may be mentioned that Bangladesh already belongs to the most densely populated countries in the world having 1,015 people/km. In this context, one of the major policy concerns emerges from rapid urbanization which is mostly concentrated in the country’s two largest cities- Dhaka and Chittagong. The unplanned nature of urbanization, along with the growth of low-income settlements and slums in the urban areas, is raising significant socio-economic and environmental challenges for the country. In this context, social housing programmes (popularly known as low cost housing) are emerging as viable options of meeting the housing demand of the low income households in the country. It is observed that these housing programmes, which are undertaken mostly at government initiative, are often inadequately planned and rapidly constructed with little consideration for durability, sustainability or environmental health. here for details


Baseline Survey Of Safe City Program

Study Team: Dr. M.A.Mannan and Badrun Nessa Ahmed

Executive Summary

Background: Bangladesh urbanized rapidly, post 1971, from a mere 8 % of people living in urban areas to 30 percent now. Urbanization, mostly driven by rural to urban migration saw slums and areas with poor living. While women become vulnerable to violence in these habitations, owing to socio-cultural and religious perspectives, women in general, irrespective of class, faced violence both at home and in public places.  Urban spaces have become increasingly unsafe for women. here for details


Strategy for Development of the SME Sector in Bangladesh

Dr. Zaid Bakht 

Dr. Abul Basher 

Summary of the study 

SMEs have been the more dynamic component of the manufacturing sector during 2005/06–2010/11 and  accounted for about 4.5% of total employment (i.e., 35.5% of total manufacturing employment) and 12.4% of GDP (i.e., 69.9% of total manufacturing value-addition) in FY11. However, the demonstrated dynamism conceals two important factors.  First, the heterogeneity of the sector; available research shows that there are significant inter-industry variations in productivity growth within the sector. While some are growing by taking advantage of the liberalized trade regime, some are struggling to thrive in the growing competition. Secondly, despite the demonstrated dynamism during 2005/06–2010/11 the SME sector is facing a number of constraints which needs to be taken care of. Some of these constraints are generic in the sense that they are common to the manufacturing sector and some are specific to the SMEs. here for details


The PEC Report of the Economic Census 2013

Dr. Zaid Bakht

Dr. S.M. Zahedul Islam Chowdhury

Executive Summary

1. The Economic Census 2013 was carried out in two phases during March 31 through May 31, 2013. The main objective of the census was to assess the current size and composition of the Bangladesh economy outside of household based agriculture and examine how the structure of this component of the economy has changed over the past decade.

2. The census was preceded by a complete listing of all households and establishments in the country with information on the type of household and establishment. Economic units were separated from this list and included in the census for data collection leaving out households engaged only in agriculture or activities outside the scope of the census. The census involved 100% count of all such listed economic units and new households and establishments which appeared with non-farm economic activities after the listing. here for details


Improving Access of the Poor to Financial Services

Team Leader: M. K. Mujeri

Executive Summary

Finance is a powerful intervention for economic growth especially in a resource-constrained developing country like Bangladesh. Access to finance especially to the poor is essential for promoting inclusive economic growth and eradicating poverty in the country. The country’s development strategy recognizes that socioeconomic opportunities and development in Bangladesh will be undermined if expanded financial services are not available especially to the poor and other disadvantaged groups who are deprived of access to these services and who need these services. An inclusive financial system provides a number of benefits to the economy. It makes available more resources for investment especially for the promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It creates employment opportunities, ensures economic and financial stability through reducing vulnerability and contributes to poverty reduction. here for details


Improving Land Administration and Management in Bangladesh

Team Leader: Dr. Monzur Hossain, Senior Research Fellow, BIDS

Executive Summary

Land availability as well as its sustainable management has important bearings on overall development in general, and food security, business development and human habitation in particular. Land scarcity relative to demand is showing up in accelerating increases in land prices, especially in urban areas including Dhaka. The development of an organized and efficient land market is a key requirement for achieving the development goals of Bangladesh. The small area and rapid increase of population characterize Bangladesh with the lowest land-man ratio in the world, which is estimated to be 0.06 hectares (ha) per person (FAO, 2013). The situation is likely to deteriorate further with a growing demand for non-agricultural land. As a consequence, the rate of land transfer and land conversion is also very high in Bangladesh. The agricultural land, which is now about 84 percent of total land, has been depleting at a rate of almost 1 percent per annum. A substantial area of farmland is being eaten up every year by new homes, roads, educational institutions, industries, etc. The issues of conversion along with land degradation due to climate change effect give rise to necessity of proper land management for planned use of scarce land, and an efficient land administration is deemed to be instrumental to this here for details


Analysis of Fish Consumption and Poverty in Bangladesh

Study Director: Kazi Ali Toufique

Sponsor: Research Endowment Fund of BIDS

Aquaculture has grown in leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades in Bangladesh. This is welcomed by most as increasing fish production is expected to contribute to enhancing food security in a country becoming more vulnerable by fragile fisheries resource systems where catches from the wild have been steadily declining. This transformation characterised by the domination of non-farmed by farmed fishes is poorly understood in terms of changes in production, consumption and livelihoods and as a result often misguides towards adopting inappropriate strategies. Several questions remain insufficiently answered. What are the major changes in consumption pattern in terms of fish species? Are households increasingly consuming more farmed species? Which ones? Is the growth in aquaculture helping the poor consume more fish? What is the extent and pattern of substitution of non-farmed species by farmed? Some attempts have already been made in the literature to answer these questions but they are limited in scope as they are based either on unrepresentative or on dated or on cross-section data. This report makes an attempt to answer these questions by analysing fish consumption data collected in Household Income and Expenditure Surveys carried out in 2000, 2005 and 2010 in Bangladesh. We have found that rapid expansion of commercial aquaculture pegged down fish prices, resulting in increased rates of fish consumption by extreme poor and moderate poor consumers and those in rural areas. The capture fisheries still play a very important but unrecognised role in terms of consumption although this role is fast declining. Aquaculture has helped the poor households to increase fish consumption although they continue to consume proportionately more non-farmed fishes as compared to the non-poor households. These outcomes are closely linked to the pro-poor nature of national economic growth during this period. However, the impact of this growth in farmed fishes on capture fisheries still remains unclear. Aquaculture growth has been encroaching common fishing rights and perhaps stunting the growth of small-indigenous species (SIS) which are vital source of rich nutrients for the poor. Steps should be taken not only to develop the aquaculture sector in a planned way but also to manage the capture fisheries which are increasingly under threat from several strains.


Baseline Study of the Project for Integrated Development of Upazilas

In order to mobilize official development assistance from Japan under the Project for the Integrated Development of Upazilas in Bangladesh, JICA initiated a study to analyze the current situation of Upazilas and local governance in Bangladesh. In this connection, JICA and IDCJ (International Development Corporation, Japan) requested BIDS to conduct a baseline survey in selected 25 upazilas on various aspects of Upazilas. BIDS conducted the survey in selected twenty five (25) Upazilas during September-November, 2014 in order to collect the latest information on local government finance and socio-economic status of the selected Upazilas. The survey collected information on some indicators like socio-demographic status of selected Upazila Parishads, annual budget and income of the Upazilas and Union Parishads, status of donor’s fund, status of donor funded projects in Upazilas and Unions, rural infrastructure status, needs of infrastructure and capacity building at the local govt. level, etc. The Team from BIDS consists of Dr. Monzur Hossain (Team Leader) and Moogdho Meem Mahzab.


Climate Change, Agriculture and Migration: Evidence from Bangladesh

Team member: KaziIqbal, Paritosh K. Roy

Changes in climatic variables influence households’ decision regarding livelihood options and strategies to mitigate income shocks. Among others, migration is one the most frequently adopted coping strategies the affected people use. This paper studies how the changes in climatic variables such as temperature and rainfall impact migration through agriculture. Using district level data (64 districts) for 3 inter-census periods (1974-1980, 1981-1990 and 1991-2000), Fixed Effect and IV results show that about one standard deviation decrease in real per capita revenue increases net out-migration rate by 1.4  to 2.4 percent, controlling for unobserved effects for district and year. Using our estimates and the available forecasts in the literature, we predict that the net out-migration rate will be about 22 percent higher in 2030 than in 1990, assuming the variability of temperature will be stable and there will be no behavioural response from the farmers. 

This study is funded by The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE)


Evaluation Study of Second Small Scale Water Resources Development Sector Project

Executive Summary

The broad purpose of the LGED implemented subprojects under Second Small Scale Water Resources Development Sector Project (SSWRDSP-2) was to improve water management, flood management, drainage improvement, water conservation and command area development, benefiting a net area of up to 1,000 hectares in each subproject with a view to increasing production in agriculture and fishery, and generating more income and employment, thereby contributing to the overall reduction in poverty. The SSWRDSP-2 was funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB), Government of the Netherlands (GON) and Government of Bangladesh(GOB) here for details


Impact Evaluation Study of “National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP)-Phase I”

Study Team: Dr. M. Asaduzzaman (Team Leader), Dr. S. M .Zahedul Islam Chowdhury (Study Director), Dr. Asif Reza Anik (External Consultant), Dr. Md. Ahiduzzaman (External Consultant)


The Project National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP), a five year project in the Phase-1 with the financial support of the World Bank and IFAD was approved on February 07, 2008 and became effective from March 25, 2008.The NATP comprises four major components: (i) agricultural research support; (ii) agricultural extension support; (iii) development of supply chains; and (iv) project management and coordination.The project is launched to increase agricultural production, productivity and income of here for details


Evaluation of relative importance of different products in the transmission of the impacts of euro zone crisis into Bangladesh economy


The external sector has been playing a prominent role in Bangladesh since the beginning

of the meaningful trade liberalization in early 1990s. Total exports of the country as a share of its GDP increased from 6.35 percent in FY1992 to 27.6 percent in FY2012. Recent escalation of GDP growth of the country to 6 plus percent is accredited to the growth of export and remittances (WB 2012). Bangladesh has been identified as one of the here for details


Evaluation of Technical Training Centers/IGA Institutes in the Districts of Bangladesh under Different ADP funded Projects of Various Ministries

Executive Summary

There are about 3290 formal technical and vocational training institutes of which 519 are training institutes affiliated with different Ministries and rest 2771 training institutes within the purview of basic educational program in which the SSC (vocational), HSC (vocational) and business administration course are here for details.


Bangladesh integrated water resources assessment project- major findings

[BIDS component of the research was conducted by K M Nabiul Islam, M Asaduzzaman, M K Mujeri, Moogdho M. Mahzab, Morshed Alam, Quazi Shahabuddin and Md Nazrul Islam]

Climate change, increasing population and economic growth are expected to increase the demand for water resources in Bangladesh. However, the quantity and quality of its surface and ground water resources may also be negatively affected by climate change and economic development. There is a real risk of reduced access to safe drinking and irrigation water, and of induced contamination of groundwater by saline intrusion and ingress of polluted surface waters. 

A Bangladesh – Australia collaborative research project (CSIRO from Australia and WARPO, BWDB, BIDS, IWM and CEGIS from Bangladesh) has conducted integrated water resources assessment and socio-economic impacts of water in Bangladesh. The project was supported by Australian Aid. 

The research developed an integrated water resources / socio-economic study to provide a national overview of the resource, the impacts of development and climate change on both surface and ground water resources. It assessed the way that impacts affect the poor and vulnerable, the amount of water available for and used by different economic sectors such as agriculture, industry and households in order to promote economic growth and improve livelihoods of local people. 


1.    The project identified key issues and challenges for Bangladesh in future water use and management. 

2.    The project identified potential hotspots for future detailed local assessments. Hotspots included where there is high risk of contamination by saline intrusion or polluted surface waters, and where there is high risk of lack of access to safe drinking water and irrigation water in rural areas.

3.    The project undertook capacity building in Bangladesh organisations on integrated water resources assessment including assessment of socio-economic impacts of climate change and future water demand due to population growth. 

Key findings, issues and challenges.

•    Food security is achievable – though there will be challenges. Closing yield gaps between high and low performing crop areas and continued crop variety development which is making available crops with yields greater than those currently planted will help meet the challenge. These developments do not necessarily require more water or land than is used today. However, the challenge is to continue to improve varieties and farm performance.

•    Water is crucial to food security but land may be more limiting in the future. Of great concern is the reduction in the land available for agriculture: about 1 % of agricultural land is being converted to other uses each year. If this continues unchecked to 2050, the land available for rice production would probably be insufficient to meet the national rice demand. 

•    Groundwater use is unsustainable in some areas, and a concern in many areas. The areas of greatest concern are the Barind area, where the pumping of groundwater for irrigation is excessive, and Dhaka, where the pumping of groundwater for municipal use is unsustainable. 

•    Sustainable levels of groundwater use, and the exchange of groundwater and surface water, are generally not known: this is a key knowledge gap. How can Bangladesh develop sustainable water management if the volume that may be sustainably used is not known?

•    Increased flooding and salinity intrusion is a key climate change risk. As well as the risk to lives and property, the combined effects would limit the area of land available for crop production.

•    Climate change is a key concern, and for many water related issues coping with climate variability is likely to enable coping with climate change. Bangladesh should (as it already is) prepare for climate change, and coping with climate variability such as the extreme floods, storm surges and droughts already experienced is likely to prepare the country for climate change at least to 2050. The World Bank point out that investments in the last fifty years have increased the resilience of Bangladesh to climate related hazards, and significantly reduced damages and losses from extreme climatic events: notwithstanding, the events still cause large economic losses and slow progress in reducing poverty.

•    Water use in Dhaka is unsustainable; returning to sustainable use will include solving water quality problems.

•    Economic development overall is unlikely to be much affected by water related climate change but the structure of the economy may be. Climate change is projected to slow agricultural growth, which (all other things being equal) will bias the economy to industry and services, and increase agricultural imports. 

•    The poor are very vulnerable to floods, droughts and other water-related hazards. Development is the main factor in future poverty reduction and a key mechanism for reducing vulnerability to water hazards. Growth in non-agricultural employment and improved education are likely to be the greatest positive influences. Nutritional outcomes are also likely to be positively influenced by general economic development leading to greater level of household workforce participation in paid employment. This suggests that poverty reduction policy should be directed towards accelerating growth in non-agricultural activities.


Support to Parliamentary Standing Committees on Oversight of Budget Implementation

In order to support four Parliamentary Standing Committees (PSC) on the oversight of budget implementation, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) entered into an agreement with the UNDP to provide necessary consultancy services during May-June, 2014. As per the contract, research team will produce high quality budget analysis research reports and conduct seminars to disseminate those reports to Members of Parliament (MPs). The goal of the research reports was to explain topics on budget for respective ministries and the national economy in an easy and user-friendly way, so that the members of parliaments could utilize them during the budget session of the parliament and also in monitoring the implementation of the budget. 

The budget-related interventions will be provided to the following Parliamentary Standing Committees:

- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs

- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs

- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Women and Children Affairs

- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment and Forest

The team consists of the following: Dr. Monzur Hossain (Study Director), Dr. Zaid Bakht, Dr. M. K. Mujeri, Dr. Zulfiqar Ali and Dr. Nazneen Ahmed.

The project is funded by UNDP, Bangladesh.


SME Loan Default in Bangladesh

Conducted by: Wajid Hasan Shah

Research Fellow, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS)

Executive Summary:

Small and medium enterprise (SME) financing in Bangladesh is witnessing many problems. While access to financing is among the major highlighted issues for SMEs, issues such as lack of product diversification and problems associated with marketing are also commonly cited. Access to SME financing is a major concern; however, the problems associated with implementation of SME projects in cases where financing is accessed do not seem to attract warranted attention, even though this is apparently responsible for the high level of default loans witnessed in cases of SME financing. This project explores the economic challenges encountered by SME loan recipients, a study that had not yet been done in Bangladesh.

The main research questions revolve around problems in accessing SME financing and problems in implementation of SME projects. Key person interviews were conducted in all seven divisions of Bangladesh, i.e. Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Khulna and Barisal, in one urban and one rural area of each division. In some cases, the two sites were chosen from the same district of the division, while in others, they were in different districts, depending on the high SME loan default ratio. This study provides better insight into the various problems faced in both SME financing and conducting SME activities across the country. Areas with have higher default rates on SME loan repayments were targeted for this purpose. 

The findings indicate that while political turbulence (hartals/general strikes and blockades) was the major factor in a high rate of SME loan default, issues such as willful default (most often due to rough behavior by credit relations officers), fund diversion (to other/new businesses, for buying land, for investing in the share market, etc) were also major factors, and that more adequate supervision was required in observing fund utilization. Providing SME bank officials high loan targets was also responsible for default, as previous SME loan recipients who had not defaulted on several SME loans were often given a higher loan sanction than they could subsequently handle, resulting in misuse of funds and ultimately loan default. Lack of awareness regarding high rates of various charges and even very high rates of interest among loan recipients was also observed.

*A project funded by the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) under the Partnership Development Grant supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under ADB TA 8003.


Integration of Women into Grameen Shakti’s Clean Energy Program in Bangladesh.

Research Team: Mohammad Yunus, Senior Research Fellow, Kazi Ali Toufique, Senior Research Fellow, Nazneen Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow and Moogdho Mim Mahzab, Research Associate.

Sponsor: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Through 

Development & Training Services, (dTS), Arlington, USA

Rationale and Objectives

In the 2000s an opportunity opened for a USAID intervention in Bangladesh which would jointly pursue two objectives in a complementary manner: the extension of renewable energy technology (RET) on a significant scale would be achieved through the concurrent economic empowerment of rural women. Funding was provided through the Rural Empowerment through Renewable Energy project to Grameen Shakti, the leading renewable energy company in the country, to carry out a decentralized technology transfer to rural towns through building Grameen Technology Centers (GTC), recruit women engineers, and train hundreds of rural women from poor households. It was envisaged that these women would be integrated in and around these GTC to contribute to the Grameen Shakti target of installing 1 million Solar Housing Systems (SHS) by 2012. Grameen Shakti, a for profit company and a constituent of the Grameen Bank subsidiaries, stood to benefit but so also would the many hundreds of women economically emancipated through integration into the renewable energy sector. This initiative could help rural communities, which have little expectation of being reached (or reliably serviced) by the Bangladesh electricity grid which is poorly resourced and managed. In addition rural women would generally benefit by their homes being lit with solar powered lamps and by accessing modern communications through powering television sets and recharging cell phones.

In two phases from 2006-2010, 35 Grameen Technology Centers (GTCs) were established and provided 15 days of training to a total of 2,797 rural women in the technical skills required to assemble components, install, and maintain the SHS. They also gained the capability of promoting the SHS to the public, to train users (often rural women based at home) in their use, and many gained business skills as well. This training took place across all seven of Bangladesh’s administrative divisions in small rural towns with an added focus on GTCs in the cyclone vulnerable coastal areas.

Main aim of this study was to review the objectives, social environment, and achievements of the above mentioned USAID intervention. More specifically the aim was to assess the progress made and obstacles encountered in training and empowering women in Renewable Energy Technologies. Research employing a survey of all trainees employed by Grameen Shakti and interviews with regional and high-level management was conducted. It was found 35 GTCs had been established, more than 100 women engineers employed and trained in solar technology and, in turn, they trained the rural women as technicians. The training was regarded by the trainees themselves, the engineers, and managers as good or excellent. A good proportion of women who had not completed secondary education benefitted considerably and were awarded commendations.

Findings from the study

Outputs were achieved but outcomes, however, not realized. Despite this considerable training achievement, very few (3%) of the trainees were employed or engaged as entrepreneurs in the renewable energy sector. Those 86 employees have benefitted considerably from their training, they have come from poorer families and fewer have graduated from high school but now they have work in rural areas which would otherwise not be readily available. They do not experience demanding hours, earn, and contribute significantly to their household income, have gained in confidence, and advanced in social and political participation. Although their hours are fairly modest they earn more for time worked than trainees who have found work elsewhere.

The minority who have been employed could be considered to be working in “green jobs” (in environmentally beneficial work) but not necessarily in “decent work” (in work conditions meeting conventional international standards of quality). While there are not long hours and pay per day is above that in alternative sectors, the work is atypical or irregular. Payment is by piece rate and earnings reported to be uneven and dependent on work available; there are no additional benefits. The average daily earnings of 141 taka per day ($1.80 at the current rate of exchange) is below the international norm for poverty at the personal income level of $2 a day. This is also low by national benchmarks: the earning level per day is just over 17% of the minimum daily wage in the Bangladesh garment industry ($10.45) which is regarded as the lowest internationally. 

Although there has been visible evidence in the past of trainees engaged as entrepreneurs in assembling components outsourced from the GTCs and the activity of these entrepreneurs appears frequently in reports, no substance was found of such entrepreneurship. Interviews with regional managers confirm that outsourcing is not being practiced on any scale. In particular the niche activity of women entrepreneurs servicing, maintaining, and repairing SHS after installation was not found. Grameen Shakti branches provide warranties on products and undertake servicing and repairs rather than engaging women entrepreneurs in this activity. While a high proportion of trainees who were not employed have promoted and serviced SHS at one time or another, there is thin evidence that they have earned from this activity.

This study is not intended to evaluate Grameen Shakti or the project itself but to understand and draw lessons from the experience. Since the purpose of the project was to integrate the trainees into the renewable energy sector, the overarching question is the low level of integration achieved. Since most of the human capital formed through the project was not put to use there has been a considerable skill loss to trainees, the sector, and to Bangladesh. It is unlikely that further sales of SHS will absorb the majority of trainees in the supply chain as technological changes have occurred in the sector.

The following reasons were found for low incorporation:

•    No plan for incorporation of trainees was agreed.

•    The key outcome of incorporation, either as “entrepreneur” or “employee” was not defined. 

•    No indicators for entrepreneurship or employment were included in the work plans and no systematic reporting made of incorporation.

•    Since the evolving low level of incorporation was not apparent, no corrective action was taken when it was possible to do so.

•    Despite record levels of installation, the GTC model of decentralized technological transfer appears to have declined over time as fewer components are now assembled at the GTCs.

•    Grameen Shakti board and management is overwhelmingly male and no company gender-equity policies are evident which would have accelerated the incorporation of women.

•    Finally the Grameen Shakti SHS supply chain is gender segmented and the trainees were incorporated at the weakest point and not included in the growing aspect of installation.

The following lessons could be learned through the project and its outcomes:

•    A comprehensive understanding and agreement should be reached between funder, implementer, and final employer on all aspects of integration.

•    Gendered segmentation in supply chains or production lines should be identified prior to human capital formation projects.

•    Human capital development has complex outcomes and projects require reporting systems to provide regular up-to-date feedback to allow achieved incorporation to be measured.

•    Training should be appropriate to the context and prepare for more than a single outcome. 

•    Training alone does not guarantee entrance and integration into renewable energy supply chains; this will similarly be the case in other sectors.

•    Complementary or even alternative strategies such as apprenticeship, subsidized employment or gender quotas in employment need to be considered.

•    In planning for green jobs and economic activity, training should include knowledge and awareness of issues of climate change.

•    Training can and should have the objective of improving women’s self-confidence and social and political emancipation. This should be planned for in the curriculum.

•    Since lags and losses can be anticipated between training and deployment other methods of integration such as apprenticeships (with block release training) and subsidized employment for more skilled activities (to provide incentives to ensure women gain quality experience) should be considered.

•    Future initiatives in this field will need to have sufficient flexibility for remedial corrective action taken to respond to unanticipated changes such as unfavorable market conditions.



Study Team: Monzur Hossain (Team Leader), Kazi Iqbal, Tata Zafar 


The present study is conducted to evaluate the impact of Nuton Jibon project, a program for livelihood development of the poor and hardcore poor households, which was initiated in 2007 and previously known as Social Investment Program Project (SIPP). The broad objective of this project is to lift the rural poor, hardcore poor and vulnerable people out of poverty through a participatory approach popularly known as Community Driven Development (CDD) in 16 north-western districts. The Phase-II of the project, also called SIPP-II, became effective since December 2010 and is expected to be closed in 2016.

The project broadly aims at improving livelihood, quality of life and resilience to climate vulnerability, natural hazards and other shocks of the rural poor, especially the left out poor and vulnerable households. The specific objectives are: (i) empowering the poor and strengthening local governance by developing sustainable, participatory and accountable rural community institutions; (ii) reducing vulnerability of the poor to risks, in particular those associated with natural hazards and climate variability, (iii) increasing employment opportunities by enhancing skills, supporting the start up or expansion of income generating activities and strengthening access to markets and financial institutions; and (iv) supporting small-scale demand-driven community investment sub-projects that are prioritized, implemented and managed by the rural poor. The aim of this impact assessment study is to assess how much the project objectives are fulfilled.

The impact assessment study was conducted during July-September, 2013. A total of randomly selected 1636 households (1134 program households and 502 control households) were interviewed across six districts of Nuton Jibon project: Barguna, Bagerhat, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Jamalpur and Mymensingh. A mix of both quantitative and qualitative analysis has been applied to assess the impact.

It is observed that the project has made decent progress in achieving its development objectives, some of the performance indicators have been already achieved, while others are in the right track. Using the national poverty line (BBS, 2010), it has been observed that 27 percent of the “hardcore poor” and 31 percent of the “poor” who were classified as poor are  now above the poverty lines more likely due to project interventions.

About 35 percent of the households have been able to increase their incomes by 40 - 50 percent which is very close to the project target  i.e. 50 percent at the end of the project as mentioned in the Project Development Objectives ( PDOs).  About 83 percent of village institutions are functioning in a transparent, inclusive and accountable manner against the project target of 75 percent at the end of the project that means the PDOs are fulfilled. Major sources of income of the households are livestock and poultry, business, agriculture, and salary/wages, which accounts for about 90 percent. Incomes from businesses and livestock and poultry are significantly higher in project areas than control areas, and this higher income is attributed to project interventions. This is confirmed by both mean difference tests and multivariate regressions. Income inequality is higher in control areas than project areas. The results show that both membership and length of participation have positive and significant impact on household food and non-food consumption expenditures.  Project beneficiaries are now more capable of buying protein/nutrient food.  It has been observed that about 56 percent of vulnerable households from SIPP-I and 40 percent from SIPP-II  have graduated to hard core poor and have been able to start savings and undertake small  scale IGAs. 

The community financing programs of ‘Nuton Jibon’ project are an integral part of its holistic development approach. The  project  has  four  community  financing  programs--‘Shabolombi’,  ‘Avvontorin’, skill development loan and youth employment loan. ‘Shabolombi’ is the main loan component. About 80 percent of the number of total Shabolombi loans and 76 percent of the number of total Avvontorin loan are found to be used for income generating activities. About 97 percent of the respondents reported that they did not encounter any problems in taking the loan. This is a significant feature of the community financing programs of ‘Nuton Jibon’ as these two most important loans are mostly used for productive purposes. Close monitoring by the fellow group members who are most likely to be her neighbours might have resulted in higher productive use of loan. The rate of return from livestock and poultry and small businesses was estimated to be more than 50 and 60 percent, respectively which is very much comparable to the national statistics.

Almost 100 percent of target households save money against about 64 percent for control households, of which about 90 percent of the households in the project areas save in the Nuton Jibon project. It is observed that the amount saved last year (about Tk. 730 on average per household) is higher in project areas than in control areas. 

The borrowers take loan and invest, their income increases, and they become capable in handling larger loan and investment in larger project. This is an indication of some kind of graduation from smaller-loan- handling capacity to larger-loan-handling capacity.

The use of other two loans, namely skill development loan and youth employment loan is also found to be well targeted.  About  90  percent  of  skill  development  loans  are  used  for  various  training purposes, such as sewing/tailoring, driving, motor mechanic etc. About 10 percent loans diverted to other purposes. About 56 percent of the youth respondents entered into regular employment process with a start- up capital ranging between 5000 - 7000 taka. This estimate would have even been higher, had the team be able to interview the youth who left the village for wage employment. 

Most of the infrastructural works are earth works, building culverts, setting up tube wells and repairing school building. About 50 percent of the respondents mentioned that earthwork and culvert construction improves roads/transportation system in their localities. Perception and works done are found to be highly correlated with Participatory Vulnerability Analysis (PVA). This is an important progress towards infrastructure related PDO. More than 50 percent HHs are now taking advantages of infrastructure built by the project as against the project target 80 percent at the end of the project as mentioned in the PDO.

Members of the NJG are found to be more empowered than the non-participant, especially women. The results suggest that 89 percent of women have role in decision making upon joining NJGs against only 48 percent at baseline. Women are not only taking loans, they are also the decision makers even on issues related to investment such as livestock and poultry. Results also indicate that women of NJG are more connected to markets than the non participants primarily because of their greater involvement in market. Econometric analysis also corroborates these findings. A large number of participant women reported that now their husbands and relatives valued their opinions, suggestions, decisions and comments more than before. They have now some ‘say’ in family matters such as buying and selling properties, schooling decisions of children, medical treatment, etc

About 18 percent of the households with NJG members took initiative to motivate the villagers to meet to resolve any problem and the similar percentage of households provided voluntary labor for the development of the village. This indicates the success of development of leadership and group based solution to individual problems. The corresponding figures for control are only 3 and 2 percent respectively. It has found that Nuton Jibon Group (NJGs)

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