BD Post Desk
The Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) is a social security project of the government that is helping as many as 8,928 poor women in the rural areas of Satkhira and Kurigram districts to realize their dreams and potentials.
The Local Government Division is implementing the five-year project from April 2015 to December 2019, with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF) and BSRM.
“A total of 4,464 widows, divorcees, and wives of disabled men are leading better life than before after completing the first phase of the project,” Training Specialist of the SEAPNO project Kajal Chatterjee told BSS here today.
After successfully completing the first phase, he said, the project has already selected another 4,464 extreme poor women of the same districts for the second phase and they are working for maintenance of the union level government assets.
He informed that SWAPNO has also launched e-payment system in the 112 unions of the districts.
According to a survey report of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the beneficiary women were employed from 16 August 2015 to 15 February 2017 for a tenure of 18 months in the first phase and each beneficiary received a total of Taka 66,450 as cash wage payments along with the amount of Taka 22,150 as a ‘graduation bonus’, which was built up from the mandatory savings scheme of the project.
The project contributed about Taka 40,000 to increase income which has led to a drastic reduction of poverty, both moderate and extreme. They are now more food secured as the share of households skipping one or two meals has dropped. The increase in income has resulted in increase in both food and non-food expenditure, particularly, education expenditure. Livestock is now the main asset of the beneficiaries. Not only the amount, but the composition of asset has changed – livestock constitutes about 43 percent of total asset which was only 13 percent before SWAPNO.
The graduation bonus has also helped the beneficiaries’ access to agricultural land market as they are leasing in land. This shift of occupation from a wage labor to a mix of farmer and wage labor has tremendous impact on their self-esteem and social status.
All the indicators of the project indicate that the beneficiaries now aspire to live a better life and they will continue to do so in the absence of the project, the survey report added.