UNDP has long championed innovations in social protection delivery, most notably with the Rural Employment Opportunities for Public Assets (REOPA) project. Local Government Division has together with UNDP developed a proposal for a next generation project called Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO), which builds on the experience and lessons learned from REOPA.
SWAPNO provides opportunities for downstream application of a host of innovative delivery approaches at local level, which are also scalable and replicable throughout Bangladesh. A separate Project Document for a 5-year SWAPNO project has been prepared, of which it is proposed that a 2-year pilot in two districts is implemented as a third component, offering a means of promoting and testing innovations of the other two components. The aims would be both to test innovative approaches but also act as a catalyst for delivery improvements elsewhere in the system. Piloting would be carried out in two poverty and disaster challenged districts (reflecting the need to operationalize climate adaptive social protection measures). This would include a single round of cash transfer plus training support delivered to some 4,500 households (19,000 beneficiaries) over an 18-month period, followed by initial ‘graduation’ assistance. The key GoB partner would be the Local Government Division (LGD) and the participant LGIs.
Drawing on the experiences of REOPA and other innovative public works programmes aiming at permanently lifting extreme poor people out of poverty, SWAPNO will be a works-based ‘graduation’ programme with cash transfers to women representing ultra poor and vulnerable households. They will be engaged mainly in maintaining or rehabilitating important community assets but also in community service public works.
Women will within the employment tenure receive life skills and livelihoods skills training to ensure that the project serves purposes of both protection and promotion, making use of the transformative potential of social protection in reversing social exclusion and economic marginalization. Beneficiaries’ graduation from the project to gainful future employment with diversified climate change resilient livelihoods options is a cornerstone of the project’s graduation strategy. Women will be intensively counselled and supported to invest their cash transfer savings and expand the household asset base.
The project will also contribute to developing capacity of local government in managing social safety net projects and enhance good governance through pro-poor service delivery in support of livelihoods.
The pilot’s activities would encompass new IT based channels of social cash transfers, PPP arrangements (e.g. apprenticeship training), an M&E database, micro-insurance delivery and climate adaptive measures. Downstream application would also embrace means to enhance local government accountability and transparency. SWAPNO offers a nationally-owned model intervention aimed at guiding and influencing GoB schemes and it is worth noting LGD has committed to resourcing 25% of the costs. Catalytic benefits would be sought through promotion, advocacy, research briefs and cross fertilization with other programmes.