LGED: Urban partnerships for poverty reduction project

--Abdur Rashid Khan, Project Director

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Bangladesh is getting urbanized rapidly, yet this growth is not being matched by a corresponding growth in services. Bangladesh’s urban population is growing at an estimated 3.6 per cent per year and at this rate, almost 68 million people, representing more than one third of the entire population, will live in urban areas by 2015. Whilst poverty reduction efforts are making some progress and urbanisation rates are slowing down, the sheer number of rural poor migrting moving to the cities and towns makes urban poverty an increasingly important issue. It is estimated that about 35 percent of the population in the six largest cities live in slums, 20 and 23 percent of whom are poor and extreme poor, respectively.

Action

The Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPR) is implementing strategies that aim of improving the livelihoods and living conditions of three million urban poor and extreme poor people, especially women and girls, during the period 2008-2015. Fundedfoind by the UK Department for International Development, UNDP and beneficiary communities, it is the largest urban poverty reduction initiative in Bangladesh, and one of the largest in the world.

Partnerships are at the core of UPPR. It is nationally executed by the Local Government Engineering Department LGED and implemented by UNDP, and works with urban local governments to have linking  with the programs of other development  donors, government  and NGO partners to improve the  effectiveness in urban poverty reduction. The project’s approach is to build up long term sustainable relationships among  the urban poor communities, the local government and service providers for lasting development outcomes.

UPPR seeks to mobilize and build the capacity of the urban poor and extreme poor to manage and improve livetihordway of living. Using following  the proven approach of supporting communities to decide on their own way of  development path, the project supports the formation of primary groups, community development committees (CDC), clusters of CDCs and town level federations. At least 90% of the leaders of these groups are women. With technical support from the project, these groups are building mutual trust within their communities, developing their financial management capacities, and planning and managing community contracts to construct basic infrastructures as tube wells, latrines, drains, footpaths and multi-purpose centers.

The project also aims of increasis  employments through its apprenticeship and vocational training programmes targeted towrds the urban extreme poor, vulnerable and marginalized. Education stipends for vulnerable, high-school age girls encourage them to stay in school and deter early marriage whilst block grants are given to those extreme poor households with the inspiration to start micro-businesses or urban forming. Besides assisting in settlement and livelihood improvements, UPPRP also assists communities to address the social issues most pressing  by forming linkages with local governments, NGO and civil society service providers.

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IMPACT

UPPR influences pro-poor policies by: (i) engaging with policy makers in central and local government and the donor community; (ii) designing and implementing methods to identify, measure, and target urban poor communities, households and individuals, including the homeless; (iii) advocating a policy focus on urban poverty, land tenure issues, anti-eviction and community-based programming (iv) intervening rapidly in cases of eviction and eviction threats; and (v) raising awareness on urban poverty and related issues.

By 2012, UPPR has  formed over 28,000 primary groups with over 600,000 members to plan and implement physical improvement activities for their healthy and secured living environments. By 2012, over 166,000 households had access to improved water sources while over 143,000 households had access to improved latrines. Over 47,000 people, including 34,000 women, had received apprenticeships while 88,00 women received block grants which enable them to run small businesses Furthermore over 70,000 girls and boys have been supported towards achieving their primary and secondary school certificates.

With the groing  Bangladesh’s urban population in  UPPR is forming the partnerships that will support urban poor communities along the way.

Key Results

  • Over 3 million people, especially women and children, are benefiting from better living standards across 24 towns
  • Over 2,500 CDCs have been mobilized and have managed over 15,000 community contracts worth over USD 42.5 million (SIF-25.8m & SEF-16.7m)
  • More than 90% of all office bearer posts in community-led committees held by women
  • Over 166,000 households benefit from access to improved water sources while 143,000 households have access to improved latrines
  • More than 70,000 girls and boys have been supported towards obtaining their primary and secondary school certificates