Promoting Financial Services for Poverty Reduction (PROSPER)
Programmed Initiatives for Monga Eradication (PRIME)
PKSF launched Programmed Initiatives for Monga Eradication (PRIME) in 2006 to address the distress of people affected by Monga and Monga-like situations. The programme was designed to be implemented in the north-western region of Bangladesh which faces acute hunger during the pre-harvest months of October-December. This period locally known as Monga is characterized by minimal access to food and a dearth of earning opportunities for the landless and wage labourers in the region. From 2010, PRIME started working in the natural disaster-prone south-western region which were earlier hit by cyclone and other calamities and had been suffering from water salinity and acute poverty. The primary focus of PRIME is to create wage-employment and self-employment opportunities for the monga-affected people to ensure their income throughout the year. Therefore, the objective of PRIME is to fight the adverse consequences of Monga in the north and Monga-like situations in the south as well as to enhance the capability of the ultra poor to cope up with its economic hardships in short-term while help alleviate poverty in the long term. PRIME delivers holistic package of financial and non-financial services through seven components; namely group formation; provision of Flexible Microcredit (FMC); provision of Emergency Loan (EL); technical services; skill development/vocational training; primary health-care services and disaster management.
PRIME working areas
The working area of PRIME comprises35 upazilas of Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Kurigram and Gaibandha districts of northern region; 12 upazilas of Satkhira, Khulna and Barisal and Barguna of south-western region and 3 upazilas of Jamalpur of north-eastern region. 24 Partner Organisations (POs) were selected for the implementation of PRIME, 13 POs from northwest region and 14 POs from southwest & northeast region. PRIME is being operated through 202 branches in the north and 107 branches in the south of Bangladesh and at Jamalpur.
PRIME ends this year
The extreme poverty focused PRIME programme completed its 1st phase in June 2016 covering 0.51 million ultra poor HHs in the north-western, south-western and north-eastern region of Bangladesh. Both field-level observations and independent evaluations revealed that over the last nine years, PRIME has made significant positive impact on employment, income, food-security, social integration and resilience to different kinds of shocks of the ultra poor households. Longitudinal impact studies on PRIME by the Institute of Microfinance (InM) also show that PRIME model is an effective tool for reducing both economic and multi-dimensional poverty of extreme poor living in the most vulnerable location of the country. PRIME has resulted increase in annual income of the targeted households from Tk. 37,000 in 2008 to Tk.1,42,638 in 2016; food security remarkably increased from merely 4% only in 2007 to 99% in 2016 during Monga period; monthly working days during the Monga period in 2007 was virtually non-existent but now increased to average 20 days/month (269 days/year) for each household; and the total family assets (savings and physical assets) also increased significantly by 240% from Tk.61,700 in 2008 to Tk.211,000 in 2016. PRIME has a significant contribution in Monga eradication in Rangpur Division. It has also reduced the vulnerability of AILA and SIDR affected extreme poor of south-western coastal areas. The Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of PRIME households was 40% less (0.25 Vs 0.41) than that of non-PRIME extreme poor. Women from PRIME HHs were significantly more empowered (0.96 Vs 0.39) than the non-PRIME control extreme poor. Human dignity was significantly higher (latest score 4.19 Vs 3.65) in PRIME HHs than those of non-PRIME. Nutritional status of under-5 children and women of child bearing age of PRIME HHs were quite comparable to that of the national data. Recent study by the DFID showed that PRIME is the least costly and yet most effective extreme poverty programme of Bangladesh.
Lessons learned from PRIME
- Extreme poor should be properly targeted with standard key elements of extreme poor characteristics.
- Extreme poor are not homogenous group in their characteristics; they differ in their human capacity, financial/asset base, access to market, geographic/climatic vulnerability and social capital. The programme should response to this aspect of extreme poor characteristics.
- Financial services alone are insufficient for the extreme poor they need sustained financial, technical and generic human capital investments.
- Extreme poor need long term (at least 4-5 years) programme support for sustainable graduation out of extreme poverty.
- Farming related, more specifically livestock based intervention should get priority as livelihood option. Enterprise development should be the aim.
- Extreme poor should have diversified income sources (both farming and non-farm) so to reduce their vulnerability and increase their resilience especially in climatically challenged conditions.
- Helping extreme poor to make markets work better for them is a big challenge due to accessibility and quality compliances.
- Extreme poverty programme should not target threshold graduationrather it should aim for family based sustainable graduation programme.
- Extreme poverty programme not necessarily have to be very costly but at the same time costs should be considered as a component of public social service provision for extreme poor up to a ‘sustainable graduation’.
Learning and Innovation Fund to Test New Ideas (LIFT)
LIFT project is being implemented since 2006 to encourage and patronize innovative financial and non-financial initiatives intended to benefit the poor through the improvement of their livelihood, generation of sustainable environment and development of health and education and help develop new tools for poverty eradication. LIFT fund is open for both Partner and non-Partner Organizations in order to experiment and implement the pro-poor innovative ideas on a large scale.
PKSF uses an innovation matrix to classify innovation and evaluate LIFT proposals. LIFT fund has been disbursed among the project implementing organisations both as loans and grants on the basis of the different nature of projects.
Up to November 2016, LIFT has supported a total of 51 innovative initiatives across the country through 65 organisations (47 Partner Organisations-POs and 18 non-POs). An amount of BDT 1146.36 million has been sanctioned for these projects as of November 2016, of which BDT 908.85 million has been allocated as loan and BDT 237.51 million as grant. As of November 2016, a total of BDT 971.44 million has been disbursed as loan and grant. By this time BDT 487.97 million has been recovered against the disbursed amount of loan.
Some of the LIFT initiatives have remarkable impact on sustainable economic growth of the extreme poor. It has helped promote land leasing loan products for the extreme poor of the char and remote areas. It has strengthened the capacity of ultra poor people by ensuring self-employment opportunities and food security. Introduction of scientific rearing of black Bengal goat is another specialized loan system introduced by LIFT. Currently 15 POs throughout the country are implementing this initiative in a sustainable basis.
The char land lease loan product for the extreme poor of the char and remote areas is another success story of LIFT. It has strengthened the capacity of the ultra poor to fight against extreme poverty by ensuring self-employment opportunities and food security. PKSF successfully disseminates the eco-friendly Urea Super Granule (USG) technology among the farmers (approximately 60 thousand) of Dhamrai upazila of Dhaka through LIFT. This technology has increased the productivity of rice (by 20%), decreased the cost of production (especially fertilizer by at least 25%) and also reduced environment pollution. LIFT has helped gain the access to financial services to a large number of extreme poor in the haors of Kishoreganj and Netrokona. This project has yielded a specialized loan-product that brought over 15 thousand ultra poor beneficiaries under financial service.
Development of poor-friendly and craft-based enterprises for the extreme poor is another successful Monga mitigation measure of LIFT. Production and marketing of export-oriented Omanian cap have created wage-employment for thousands of Monga-affected households at Gaibandha and cyclone AILA and SIDR-affected coastal region of Bangladesh.
LIFT has also introduced specialized contract dairy farming project among the farmers of 4 POs and a non-POs, where high yielding native and crossbred lactating dairy cows (with calves) are distributed among poor and ultra poor households on contract-farming basis. This has yielded a sustainable dairy production model, potential for farther replication in the other POs of PKSF across similar agro-ecological conditions of the country. Beneficiaries pay back value of animals along with its benefits to POs in terms of milk and cow dung in 100 installments spread over two years. In addition to milk and cow dung buyback, POs also provide technical counseling on day-to-day farm management, feeds & feeding management, fodder production & conservation technology, veterinary care and breeding support (through artificial insemination), farm-waste management and training on scientific dairying to the contract farmers.
LIFT has introduced saline-tolerant rice seeds among the farmers of coastal areas. This initiative showed remarkable progress in ensuring quality saline-tolerant rice seeds to the coastal-farmers. In view of the impact of this project, PKSF has recently taken an initiative to expand drought-tolerant variety of rice seeds among the farmers of Chuadanga.
LIFT has introduced inclusive financing, capacity building and social awareness advocacy programme for the disable poor in Shitakunda of Chittagong. It also introduced a programme titled ‘Improving elderly People’s livelihood through community initiative’ in Munshiganj. Under this initiative, poor elderly people are being provided financial services, capacity building training and health care services.
Besides, PKSF has taken a number of new initiatives on cluster-based indigenous fish culture, integrated alternative occupation of ethnic community, skill and capacity development of under-privileged girls in hoar area, modern technology-based integrated farming in the hilly area, waste-management in dairy cluster through commercial vermi-compost production, expansion of turkey farming technology for poverty reduction etc. These projects are now in the process of design and implementation.
At present, PKSF has taken special initiative to ensure potable water to the coastal poor. In this regard, PKSF already distributed 2000 rain water harvesting tanks among the coastal poor through 9 POs. Besides, PKSF has taken initiative to establish 19 desalination plants through 12 POs for the continuous supply of low-cost potable water among the coastal poor. Some of these plants are already in use for potable water supply.