Since independence, the growth of Bangladesh economy has been dominantly rural oriented where agricultural and infrastructural accomplishment have been contributing a major section. Additionally, slowed population growth reduced dependency burden and increased resource available for the rest of the family members, leading to improvement in quality of life. Despite such achievement, the economic development has not been uniform all across Bangladesh. Among 491 upazilas in Bangladesh, 50 have been identified to be lagging behind in terms of economic and social development (UNICEF 2010).
To address the inequality of development, BRAC started a pilot programme titled Integrated Development Programme (IDP) in the depressed basins of Bangladesh. The first phase of the IDP was initiated in Derai and Baniachong upazilas of Sunamganj and Habiganj districts respectively in 2012 and 2013. The IDP is comprised of ten BRAC programmes. They are (i) Health, Nutrition and Population Programme; (ii) Education Programme; (iii) Community Empowerment Programme; (iv) Human Rights and Legal Aid Services Programme; (v) Gender, Justice and Diversity Programme; (vi) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme; (vii) Targeting the Ultra Poor Programme; (viii) Microfinance Programme; (ix) Adaptive Agriculture, Fisheries, Livestock and Poultry Programme; and (x) Safe Migration Programme.
The aim of the pilot programme was two-fold: on one hand it aimed to deliver services in a more integrated fashion in the remote haor basin; and on the other hand it aimed to address the sustainbility issue of large scale micro level interventions by replicating the integrated service delivery approach to other parts of the country. The uniqueness of the IDP is that under this programme, all services are managed and delivered by one single Programme Organiser (PO) through a common platform known as Village Development Organisation (VDO).
This paper provides an impact assessment of the IDP to understand the extent to which it has been successful in improving the lives of haor dwellers. Given the extensiveness of the intervention outreach we have specified the outcome indicators down to the level of asset holding, employment and income, food security and nutritional status, health and hygiene, education, crisis and vulnerability and women empowerment.
This study is based on the data from census conducted in 2012-2013 prior to initiation of the IDP, and follow-up survey conducted in January-February, 2016. Census information is available for intervention areas only while the household survey conducted after the intervention covers both intervention and non-intervention areas. Programme impacts were estimated by comparing outcomes at follow-up between the households from intervention and non-intervention areas.
Results show that the intervention increased self-employment noticeably among working-age groups while decreasing causal wage employment to some extent. These results are perhaps derived by asset transfers and access to BRAC loans provided through the IDP because, the IDP has increased the holdings of productive assets such as goat/sheep. Since the IDP transferred productive assets to the selected ultra poor households, the increase in productive asset is expected. The agricultural practice has also been positively influenced by the intervention. Overall, we find that, the area under cultivation and total production have increased substantially in intervention areas compared to non-intervention ones. Furthermore, the IDP has been successful in improving homestead vegetation as well.