SWAPNO aims to fight womens extreme poverty – The Financial Express

Aug 17, 2015

Source: The Financial Express

A public works project aiming to break new ground in terms of design and delivery – ‘Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO)’ project – was launched in Satkhira and Kurigram districts on Sunday, reports UNB.

The most substantial feature of the project is the 18-month employment facility for poor women to help in maintenance of essential public assets and repair of important public works.  SWAPNO is a Social Security project that is helping over 4400 poor women in the rural areas of Satkhira and Kurigram districts of Bangladesh to realize their dreams and potential, according UNDP press release.

Implemented by the Local Government Division of Bangladesh, this five-year project is aimed at the most vulnerable rural poor women, with support from the UNDP, Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF), the Spanish Government and International Labour Organisation (ILO).

SWAPNO was initiated in 72 unions of Kurigram and 52 unions of Satkhira, reaching out to 4,464 women and their families, with a plan for scaling up to 22 districts and reaching out to 65,000 women in future.

The project is promoting employment, and most importantly the building of future opportunities for the extremely poor rural women – specifically the widowed, divorced, abandoned or those living with disabled husbands.

The project provides recipients a daily wage of Tk 200, of which Tk 50 is saved by each worker as part of the project’s administration as seed capital for future productive investment.  Building on earlier successful partnership between the Local Government Division and UNDP, SWAPNO represents a cutting edge approach for the government to combine social safety nets with foundations to move out of poverty.

This includes developing the capacity of local government institutions to deliver pro-poor and gender-sensitive projects.  SWAPNO is also seen as a ‘next-generation’ project drawing on the encouraging poverty reduction experiences of Rural Employment Opportunities for Public Assets (REOPA), an innovative government social safety net project supported by UNDP and with the European Union as the principal donor.

According to the project-end survey of REOPA, the incidence of extreme poverty was reduced by a third and the severity of poverty came down by 60 per cent.

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