80,000 ultra poor women lifted out of extreme poverty: VGDUP
DHAKA, Dec 11 (BSS) – A donor-funded development project today claimed to have brought smile on the faces of some 80,000 ultra poor women in less than three years in the country’s southwestern part, thanks to a generous grant of 202 euros per woman from the European Union.
Endorsed by both the government and the donor, the implementers of the Vulnerable Group Development for Ultra Poor (VGDUP) project said they have been able to bring substantial improvement to hunger and dire poverty to the poorest women and their dependants, who now eat minimum of two meals a day and earn higher incomes.
“I myself travelled to several project areas including Sirajganj and saw that a large number of ultra poor women have increased their incomes and strengthened their livelihoods, while moving towards self-reliance with VGDUP support,” State Minister Dr Shirin Sharmin Choudhury said at the formal winding up of the programme in the city.
Shirin Sharmin said the women and their dependants were now consuming a minimum of two to three meals a day and could avail eggs, fish and meat in a week in their diets under an improved food security condition. She said the government would pursue identical projects in future, one of which is now under scrutiny of the ECNEC.
Project Director of VGDUP Dr Mohammad Ali said the initiative was launched in January 2009 amid high food price globally, in order to lift the poorest of the poor women from the bottom of poverty, empower them with income generating activities, and help them get access to food and nutrition.
Each of the 80,000 women received a direct cash benefit of Taka 19,000 or equivalent to 202 euros throughout the 33 months of project operation and result was amazing in true sense, added Wyn Davies, technical assistance team leader of the project.
Dr Ali said the VGDUP is the fourth consecutive social safety net and vulnerable group development programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the Department of Women Affairs (DWA), with technical assistance from German GFA Consulting Group.
Beneficiaries of the project from Kurigram, Nilphamari, Mymensingh and Netrakona delivered appealing description of the benefit of the VGDUP and said the (little) support they received has made a big difference to their lives.
“I used to pretend to my children of cooking food in empty bowl until they fell asleep in hungry stomachs. Now I can provide them at least some food every day,” said Shefali Begum, 30, of Kishoreganj upazila of Nilphamari district. Echoing her other colleagues, she said, “We are still poor but not the same that we saw for decades.”
Head of European Delegation Ambassador, Willam Hanna, who also attended the programme, said the EU delegation has been trying to support those who really need the help in developing economies. He said “I am very happy that with only a modest support package (Euro 200 per woman) these ultra poor women were able to significantly improve their livelihoods.”
The ambassador hinted that a new policy of EU might increase investment in social sectors in Bangladesh, but said European taxpayers were keen to see their tax money was spent for right causes and for the right people in need.
Meeting sources said after success from all four projects – FADEP-1, IFADEP-1 Bridging, FSVGD and VGDUP – the government is set to continue the fifth project in Chapainawabganj, Natore and Naogaon districts from early next year.
The new project titled “Food and Livelihood Security (FLS)” would focus on 50,000 ultra poor women and 30,000 marginal farmers in three districts at an investment of 24.8 million euros.