In Bangladesh, Migrant Workers Can Dream of a Better Life with Access to Better Resources

Challenges Boarding a plane from Dhaka’s ShahJalal International Airport is almost never complete without encountering uniform clad, wide-eyed, anxious young men, and sometimes women, lining up with belongings for possibly their first ever journey to anywhere outside Bangladesh. Elsewhere around the airport, there are emotionally charged scenes with children clinging to their fathers, teary eyed mothers, and sometimes entire villages coming to see off their next of kin. Going to a new country without the certainty of returning is daunting to say the least. In order to reach their aspirations, Bangladeshi migrant workers put a lot at stake. Leaving behind their families and children unattended in a predominantly male-dominated society is only part of the story.  Nevertheless, migration continues to be a major pillar for the economy of Bangladesh.  Therefore, the numerous challenges must be addressed to promote safe migration and dignified jobs.  In cognizance of that, the Safe Migration for Bangladeshi Workers (SMBW) Project was conceived to enable informed decision making of vulnerable, young and semi-skilled Bangladeshi migrant workers through improved access to information and services. Approach Implemented by BRAC, financed by the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) and administered by the World Bank, the Project focused on building institutional capacity at the grassroots level through 77 strengthened Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in 80 Upazilas across 20 districts in Bangladesh. Essence of core activities: Using courtyard sessions and various forms of infotainment which appealed mainly to women, CBOs helped convey key messages and information to aspiring migrant family members. Communication was also targeted at schools and through community radio which led to the youth advocating for safe migration in some areas. Pre-departure preparation was facilitated by the project by identifying aspiring migrants, and helping them with information and services at the pre-decision stage.Partnership with Public Authorities: Often, CBOs were also found helping migrants and their families to fill out application forms and complete documentation to avail Government services and schemes that they are eligible for. In doing so, CBOs have bridged the gap between migrants and Government services in many unions. The CBOs’ involvement added a layer of accountability on behalf of and a source of verification for the Government and has been well appreciated by many District Employment and Manpower Offices (DEMOs). Fostering innovations: The Project facilitated an ‘innovation fund’ for competitively selected CBOs to test low cost- high impact interventions on improved awareness of safe migration, encouraging women’s empowerment and migration, referral linkages for skills development, arbitration support in case of fraudulence and supporting migrant workers’ families through the transition period. The innovation fund interventions yielded insightful and potentially high impact initiatives that are scalable and replicable.  

from World Bank Search – NEWS


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