The research report presents findings from a rapid assessment that was done on specific aspects of BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme (IDP) for the haor region. The haor region in the North-eastern part of the country consists of large bowl shaped floodplains that have unique hydro-ecological conditions. The area is under water most of the year and is subject to flash floods and other geographical conditions that have made it very isolated and largely excluded from mainstream socioeconomic development initiatives. Consequently, the presence of government and NGOs is very low in the area, making it
one of the most underdeveloped regions in the country. BRAC’s first development initiative in the 1970s started off in the haor area and for decades very little has changed in the region. Therefore, BRAC has decided to return to take an integrated development approach with its IDP for haor.
IDP in BRAC is essentially a package that has taken a holistic approach to household development and is offering BRAC’s ten major development programmes. Since January 2013 BRAC has started working in 10 branches in Baniachong Upazila of Hobiganj District and 5 branches in Derai Upazila in Sunamganj District of the Sylhet Division with a target of 80 per cent coverage of eligible households in programme areas. The IDP is a pilot initiative that is trying out different management and operational approaches with a number of programme innovations. These are constantly being researched and developed by the programmes own onsite action research team. The major programme innovation includes the testing of both the ‘coordination’ and the ‘combination’ programme delivery approaches. In the coordination approach, ten of BRACs programmes are coordinated centrally in each of the branch offices, overseen by a single Area Development Coordinator (ADC). In this approach, which is being carried out in 13 of the 15 branch offices, there is no difference in programme delivery at the household level. In other words, the service delivery of the programme at the household level is done just as it is done in sectoral programmes.
However, all the different programme components are integrated at the management level through a single ADC from IDP who leads all the Branch Managers (Targeted Ultra Poor Programme, BRAC Education Programme, Community Empowerment Programme, Health, nutrition and Population Programme, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, Agriculture and Food Security Programme, Microfinance Programme, Human Rights and Legal Aid Services, Gender Justice and Diversity and the Safe Migration Programme) in the IDP Branch Offices.
Considering the new nature of the programme and the difficulties of the geographic location, BRAC management was interested in understanding certain aspects of the IDP haor programme. The key concerns were the coverage of the programme in the coordination and combination areas, the perception and practice of integration by the staff in operational management and implementation, the barriers to programme implementation and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the coordination and combination approaches. BRAC research and Evaluation Division formed a multi-disciplinary team and conducted a quick assessment using mixed methods. A quantitative survey using structured random sampling was used to get an idea of the coverage of IDP under the two approaches and a qualitative study using focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, informal interviews and direct observation of the programme staff and beneficiaries were used to address the other questions.