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Bangladesh

Overview of Australia’s aid program to Bangladesh

2013/14 Estimated Outcome: $81.8 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate: $94.2 million

Australia’s development assistance to Bangladesh works in our interests by promoting economic growth, human development and stability in a region that is of growing strategic significance for Australia. Australia is the sixth largest bilateral donor in Bangladesh. Our aid has a strong gender focus, empowering girls by improving the quality of education and increasing economic opportunities for women. Australia also works regionally to reduce barriers to regional trade to accelerate economic growth.

Bangladesh’s development indicators in poverty, education and health are all improving and economic growth remains steady at around 6 per cent annually. Nevertheless severe challenges to inclusive growth and economic development remain. Around 43 per cent of Bangladesh’s population still live on less than $1.25 per day, the highest poverty rate in South Asia. Skill levels are low with one quarter of all children enrolled in grade one not completing primary school. Bangladeshi women in particular are disadvantaged. They have relatively low levels of literacy, limited mobility, are held back from leadership roles and suffer from high rates of domestic violence. Poor trade connectivity between South Asian countries and an inadequate supply of energy are also constraining Bangladesh’s progress toward becoming a middle income country.

Australia's aid program to Bangladesh addresses these challenges by supporting improvements in education outcomes and increasing economic opportunities for the poor, especially women. Australia is working with the Government of Bangladesh on reforms to build the quality of primary education and is widening access so that more children from poor families can attend school. Our support is building resilience in the community by providing humanitarian assistance and income generating opportunities for women and families in isolated areas of the country. At the national level Australia is strengthening the effectiveness of national social safety net programs.

Increased access to improved education services

Australia is funding the Government of Bangladesh’s Primary Education Development Program, which aims to build an efficient, inclusive, and equitable national primary education system. Australia works with the Government and other donors to strengthen the quality of education and through BRAC (one of the world’s largest NGOs) is also ensuring more girls and boys from extremely poor families get the opportunity to go to school. Our assistance is helping to develop a productive and inclusive workforce in Bangladesh that can maintain the country’s strong record of economic growth.

Education assistance in Bangladesh

Fewer women and men living in extreme poverty and vulnerable to economic and natural shocks

Australia is building the resilience of Bangladeshis, especially women and girls, through a range of partnerships. Our work with BRAC, the United Kingdom and the World Food Programme is providing humanitarian and economic empowerment programs directly to Bangladesh’s poor, including in the particularly vulnerable areas of the country. This assistance can take the form of cash transfers, school feeding, access to free health care and training in ways to manage income generating assets (such as livestock). The programs provide a resourcing buffer that helps people meet their basic needs and cope with commonly occurring economic and natural shocks. BRAC’s program is gaining international recognition as an effective means to increase poor people’s income earning capacity, and is being replicated by BRAC and other organisations around the world. Australia is also working with the Government of Bangladesh and the United Kingdom to improve the efficiency of the Government’s national social protection programs.

Resilience to poverty in Bangladesh

Our results

Increased access to improved education

Results in the education program show that working through partnerships with Government and other development partners can produce large scale change. Achievements in the education program linked directly to Australia’s funding, policy advocacy and technical advice have included:

In 2013-14

  • Delivery of over one million primary text books country-wide on time with a streamlined government tendering process
  • Primary education services to over 20 million Bangladeshi children through Government schools, and to over one million children from extremely poor families through BRAC-supported pre-primary or primary schools
  • Completion of the second National Student Assessment, which is providing new information to Government about the quality of teaching
  • Accreditation for a new teaching diploma through Dhaka University, with implementation in 29 primary teacher training institutes in 2013, expanding to 36 in 2014.

Australia also provided 131 Australia Awards, comprising around 72 long-term and 59 short-term awards to Bangladesh for studies in priority areas of social and economic policy.

Resilience to poverty

In 2013-14

Australia provided direct support to extremely poor families and worked with partners to strengthen national social welfare policies. Our partnerships with BRAC and the United Kingdom helped 107,000 extremely poor women and their families by providing them with access to cash transfers, productive assets and training. Australia’s nutrition and food security support through the World Food Programme provided a safety net to more than 700 vulnerable families in Cox’s Bazar district. A draft social security policy developed by the Government of Bangladesh drew from economic analysis funded by Australia, while a study tour to South Africa, led by Australia, further built awareness of the economic benefits of strong social welfare systems among senior Bangladeshi officials.

Related documents

Education assistance in Bangladesh

Overview

Bangladesh has achieved some notable successes in primary education. These include increases in net enrolment rates and achieving gender parity of students attending school. However, critical challenges remain, such as poor completion rates. Only around one quarter of children complete primary school. Children from disadvantaged groups and hard-to-reach areas, and those with special educational needs, often do not have adequate access to schooling.

Australia supports the Government of Bangladesh's Third Primary Education Development Program and BRAC to improve the learning environment and outcomes. This includes supporting reforms to school assessments and teacher training to benefit 20 million children and ensuring greater access to schools for extremely poor children (especially girls) who may otherwise not receive an education.

Related initiatives

BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement

$180 million, 2012-2015

BRAC is one of the largest non-government organisations in the world, and affects the lives of 110 million people in Bangladesh alone. Australia’s Strategic Partnership Arrangement with BRAC and the UK Government is an innovative approach to delivering aid through non-government organisations. It allows BRAC to decide how to allocate pooled funds from development partners for its programs. Through this partnership BRAC delivers non-formal basic education to approximately 180,000 students annually (60 per cent female) in rural and urban areas. These students are from extremely poor families who without this support may well not have access to an education.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
QAE BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement 2011 Plan and design
BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement Terms of Engagement 2011 Plan and design
2011 Bangladesh Annual Program Performance Report 2012 Implementation and performance management
2012-13 Bangladesh Aid Program Performance Report 2014 Implementation and performance management

Government of Bangladesh’s Third Primary Education Development Program

$49 million, 2012-2015

Bangladesh’s Third Primary Education Development Program is a sector-wide program designed to deliver an efficient, inclusive and equitable primary education system that delivers effective learning to all Bangladesh’s children from pre-primary to grade five. The program focuses on learning outcomes, participation, reducing gender and social disparities, decentralisation, effective use of budget allocations, and program planning and management. The Government of Bangladesh’s Third Primary Education Development Program builds on previous programs with an increased focus on improving learning outcomes and increasing school completion rates.

The program is financed by the Government of Bangladesh and nine development partners: Asian Development Bank, World Bank, UNICEF, European Union, and the governments of Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and Sweden.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
QAE Support to Bangladesh Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDP3) 2011 Plan and design
Bangladesh Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDP3) – Program Documents (Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Government of Bangladesh) 2012 Plan and design
2011 Bangladesh Annual Program Performance Report 2014 Implementation and performance management
2012-13 Bangladesh Aid Program Performance Report 2014 Implementation and performance management

South Asia Scholarships Program (Australia Awards)

$10 million (approximately), 2013-2014

The South Asia Scholarships Program aims to improve capacity in priority fields, disciplines and organisations in South Asia via increased access to higher professional and technical knowledge and linkages with individuals and institutions within the region and Australia. It is part of a program operating in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal and is a key South and West Asia Regional initiative.

Resilience to poverty in Bangladesh

Overview

While poverty rates are falling steadily, the number of poor people in Bangladesh remains high with more than 43 per cent of the population still living in extreme poverty. This group is extremely vulnerable to natural and economic shocks, such as sudden increases in global food prices. Australia is helping women and their families to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. We are also helping extremely vulnerable families living on remote river islands with assistance to reduce flood risks and provide them with employment opportunities, productive assets and training.

Related initiatives

BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement

$180 million, 2012-2015

BRAC is one of the largest non-government organisations in the world, and affects the lives of 110 million people in Bangladesh alone. Australia’s Strategic Partnership Arrangement with BRAC and the UK Government is an innovative approach to delivering aid through non-government organisations. It allows BRAC to decide how to allocate pooled funds from development partners for its programs. These programs deliver basic education services and livelihoods assistance to build resilience amongst the poorest and most marginalised communities in Bangladesh, particularly women and children.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
QAE BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement 2011 Plan and design
BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement Terms of Engagement 2011 Plan and design
2011 Bangladesh Annual Program Performance Report 2012 Implementation and performance management
2012-13 Bangladesh Aid Program Performance Report 2014 Implementation and performance management

Chars Livelihoods Program

$15 million, 2009-2015

Almost 2.5 million people live on the remote and isolated island chars in the north-west of Bangladesh. Access to employment opportunities, schools, markets, and financial and medical facilities is extremely limited in this region. The Chars Livelihoods Program (now in its second phase) helps extremely poor people in these areas by improving livelihoods, incomes and food security in these areas and helping to reduce their vulnerability to environmental shocks such as flooding and cyclones.

In addition to having a direct impact on communities, the Chars Livelihoods Program, together with the BRAC extreme poverty program, has provided Australia with an opportunity to engage in policy dialogue on social protection. Australia is supporting the Government of Bangladesh to develop a national social protection strategy.

The Chars Livelihoods Program is jointly funded by the UK and Australia and supports the Government of Bangladesh’s poverty reduction strategy, which aims to improve social protection policy and implementation.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
QAE- Bangladesh Chars Livelihoods 2010 Plan and design
Chars Livelihoods Program Logframe 2014 Implementation and performance management
2011 Bangladesh Annual Program Performance Report 2012 Implementation and performance management
Independent impact Assessment of the Chars Livelihoods Program Phase 1 2012 Review and evaluation
Independent Impact Assessment of the Chars Lifelihoods Program Phase 1 – management response 2013 Review and evaluation
2012-13 Bangladesh Aid Program Performance Report 2014 Implementation and performance management

Last reviewed: 15 December, 2014