What We Do?

Project snapshot


  • Time-frame: 2014-2019
  • Coverage: 1030 Unions in 106 Upazilas of 22 districts
  • Primary beneficiaries: 65,000 ultra-poor women headed households
  • Implementing agency: Local Government Division, MoLGRD&C
  • Local implementation: 1030 Unin Parishads, with development of institutional capacity
  • Development partners: SDG-F, UNDP, ILO and others
  • Overall budget: USD 110,000,000
  • GB contribution: USD 27,500,000
  • SDG-F contribution: USD 1,500,000
  • UNDP contribution: USD 4,500,000



Income poverty in Bangladesh has been reduced from 59% in 1991 to 31.5% in 2010 and extreme poverty reduced from 42.7% in 1991 to 17.6% in 2010, indicating that the country is on track in achieving MDG 1 of halving poverty. However, there are still around 25 million people living in abject poverty. Bangladesh aspires to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 – a target that is also drawing very broad international consensus in ongoing consultations to establish the forthcoming SDGs – but many, if not most, of the remaining poor in Bangladesh are caught in poverty traps, which will make further poverty reduction more challenging. Drawing on the encouraging poverty reduction experiences of the earlier UNDP assisted REOPA project implemented in partnership with Local Government Division, the next-generation SWAPNO project intends to assist extreme poor women representing vulnerable households to move out of poverty.


SWAPNO approach



SWAPNO is a social transfer project for ultra-poor women  engaged in public works essential for the economic and social life of poor local communities. It promotes employment, and most importantly future employability, of extreme poor rural women.

  • The entry point is cash-for-work and building human capital of women engaged in public works essential for the economic and social life of poor local communities.

  • Saving a portion of wages assists households to move out of poverty, providing seed capital for self-employment, basic household needs (linked to resilience) and further training and educational development. Women will be counselled and supported to invest these savings in productive assets.

  • A state-of-the-art ‘graduation’ strategy aims at smoothening the transition from safety net employment to market-driven employment by vocational skills training, job placement and diversified climate change resilient livelihoods options, ensuring market linkages and access to essential public services and by social and economic inclusion for these women.

  • In addition to assisting women to start and operate self-employment, micro-enterprises, SWAPNO focuses on facilitating linkages with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Public-Private Partnerships. Local SMEs in the rural non-farm and off-farm sector are encouraged to absorb women trained by the project, with training designed based on private sector demand for skilled workers. This is done in UNDP partnership with ILO.

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