Despite Bangladesh’s rapid economic growth, in 2010, about 32% of the population (about 47 million people) still lived under the poverty line. Many of these people were those living in the rural areas. They made up 71% of the country’s population (about 150 million people) and experienced a poverty rate of 35%, which is 10% higher than their urban counterparts. To combat poverty in the rural areas, the local governments need to play a central role in pushing for development initiatives aligned with the needs and priorities of the local population. However, due to the lack of financial capital, personnel, expertise and established mechanisms to assess the needs of their citizens, Upazilas, which are the local government institutions of Bangladesh, struggled to lift their citizens out of poverty.
The objective of the project was to increase the administrative capacity of the Upazilas to promote need-based rural infrastructure development and provide better service delivery to their local communities. As part of the initial phase of a six-year project to strengthen the governance of Upazilas, IC Net worked on the Special Assistance for Project Implementation (SAPI) project which laid the groundwork of the project.
The project consisted of three components. First was to develop a guideline for project implementation and gain consensus on the process of operation. Second was to organize information and training sessions for relevant central and Upazila government officials. Seminars on corruption and fund management were included in the sessions to improve governance and reduce inefficiencies in carrying out the program. Third was to develop indicators for financial performance to assess the baseline performance of the Upazilas to screen for those that can participate in the first phase of the program based on preconditions and performance indicators.