Institution building: SDF uses Institutional Development Fund (IDF) for establishing institutions for the project beneficiaries and aims to support the networking and aggregation of the village-level community institutions created. These second-tier institutions, called Nuton Jibon Community Societies (NJCS) are to take over the support and development function for their village institutions. The vision for these institutions is to network the village institutions and support and monitor their performance while also seeking other potential options for economic growth and service provisions for the village institutions or groups of beneficiaries. These second-tier institutions are intended to take over most of the community support currently provided by SDF. A phase-out plan has already been prepared for all SIPP-II villages. At the end of an initial support period by SDF to these newly created societies of around two years, SDF is expected to withdraw its support in these districts and only provide occasional guidance as may be required.
Youth Employment One of the core objectives of SDF is to provide access to employment opportunities to the unemployed youths (18 – 35 years) and equip them with necessary technical trainings. Finding jobs in rural areas for the youngsters is challenging due to various reasons, among them (i) lack of opportunities to start businesses (ii) lack of information on potential employment opportunities (iii) social norms and constraints that make it either difficult for youths to leave their villages and seek employment elsewhere or lack of exposure and experience that makes youth reluctant to venture from their villages. In order to address those problems SDF has developed partnerships with the service sector, telecommunications, technology, garments, and agribusiness sectors, and linked with key GoB training, vocational and job creation initiatives. SDF has set-up a youth data base that is being maintained. SIPP-II has also supported the formation of youth groups. These groups meet once a week to discuss common problems and identify options to be useful and participate in the local community. Counseling is also provided for the youths and their parents that have the option to obtain a job away from home but may be reluctant to leave. The youth groups also serve as a platform to enroll youth in existing employment programs from the government or other partners. This activity has managed to support more than 36,000 youth and has been achieved with minimal costs under SIPP-II.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning MEL is an integral part of SDF’s internal control mechanism and is used as a management tool to track inputs, outputs, processes and constraints. This unit provides support to SDF’s development programs, supporting departments. In order to ensure transparency, the unit conducts periodic analysis, enabling the management to determine whether the key activities are being carried out as planned, and whether they are having the expected outcomes. MEL System analyzes the strength, weakness, bottlenecks and outcomes of the overall processes of the project activities. The field level monitoring and learning elicits emerging operational issues and bottlenecks at the villages in participation of the community people and resolve the problems.
The village level project implementation progress is captured through MIS where Village Matrix (VM) is the key information source of the village. SDF-MIS is producing key outputs like Project Beneficiaries Information, Key Milestones Monitoring Matrix, Village Matrix, Component-wise Progress Reports etc.
Governance and Accountability SDF has an internal audit team as well as a governance team that oversees governance issues, trains the village social audit committees, assesses functioning of the governance mechanisms on a regular basis, and institutes SDF’s recently approved exit policy.
Nutrition Awareness and Support SDF aims to raise awareness, improve attitudes and practices to accelerate nutritional outcomes for targeted beneficiaries Increased household income does not necessarily translating into improved nutritional outcomes and therefore can only partially address the under and malnutrition challenges in Bangladesh. Activities proposed under NJLIP (Notun Jibon Livelihood Improvement Project) would focus on awareness building, behavioral change for personal hygiene, food preparation, food choices and mainstreaming nutrition sensitive actions, particularly in selected income generating activities of beneficiaries. The target group for the nutrition related activities comprises largely a sub-set of project beneficiaries that are among the core focus group for nutrition interventions – pregnant and lactating mothers and young children. Behavioural change campaigns and awareness building would be facilitated by SDF using the established community mechanism, while the activities would be outsourced to experienced players/NGOs in the intervention areas. The project would contract agencies to train community professionals in the project areas and support village nutrition groups that will be formed by project beneficiaries. Areas to be covered under the support would be: (i) improved kitchen gardens; (ii) nutrition practices; and (iii) hand-washing. Additional support would be sought from Government institutions such as clinics and line agencies for continuous community training on nutrition related issues and improved agricultural practices. It is also expected that the recently negotiated Bank project on Income Support for the Poorest would reach out to some of the target group on nutrition.
Livelihood Development SDF is determined to increase livelihood opportunities of poor and hardcore poor by organizing them in producer groups, cooperatives or federations and improving their market and business orientation and forward and backward linkages in the market systems. Various models of joint actions of small-scale individual producers working as organized producer groups would aim to raise the attractiveness of poor and hardcore poor as market partners, reduce market transaction costs and align their production decisions with business and market opportunities. These producer organizations would also facilitate services provisions to their members and act as economic entities and business partners in the down- and up-stream value chains and create additional opportunities for added value to their products. Specific objectives would be to: (i) build and strengthen producer organizations as market partners and commercially oriented entities; (ii) organize and align skill development and training in response to the specific labor market requirements; (iii) facilitate interaction between producers and traders/processors of products in the down- and up-stream value chains; and (iv) support market/business oriented investment to solve bottlenecks in the market chains and/or adding value to the products (e.g. poor and hardcore poor capturing a higher share in the value chain). Under this group of activities the SDF would support: (a) a scanning and studying of priority value chains linked to livelihood investment priorities of the project beneficiaries; technical and business related bottlenecks would be identified and areas of further support would be defined (e.g. improved technologies, product quality requirements, market and business understanding, etc.); (b) annual stakeholder round table meetings at national and district levels, which would bring together project beneficiary producer groups and relevant interested business operators; these stakeholder meetings would provide an opportunity for producers and market operators to meet, exchange interests, and develop forward and backward linkages; and (c) various stakeholder thematic meetings and workshops as well as special subject meetings for an in-depth exchange of producer groups and business operators in priority value chains (e.g. different livestock products value chains, garment or handicrafts, etc.); these meetings will foster understanding market and technology requirements and proved and exchange forum for new and advanced technologies.
Appraisal and Monitoring : An independent appraisal and monitoring teams (AMTs) is the heart of SDF’s quality assurance and fund disbursement mechanism who independently review community submissions for release of fund installment. Appraisal and monitoring teams not only appraise community readiness to receive funds but also check compliance issues with on the basis of COM (Community Operations Manual) guidelines.
Communication: SDFs overreaching vision of communication is flexible enough to accommodate diverse national and regional circumstances. SDF exhibits success stories and achievements to strengthen government and Development partner’s perception and mobilize resources on a regular basis through various means like media campaigns, website updates, press releases, quarterly newsletters and annual reports. Apart from that SDF has developed a detailed IEC (Information, Education and Communication) strategy in consultation with the national and international experts for making connections with the rural communities. SDF is generating awareness through dissemination of information leading to adequate program literacy regarding entitlements and processes.
Capacity building: Focusing on human resource development, SDF is building capacities of staff and beneficiaries through training oriented comprehensive program. SDF is very much aware of developing the knowledge, attitude and practice of its community members through capacity building on the basis of proper management of financial records as well as selecting and implementing IGAs on the basis of COM guidelines. As a consequence, the community people have become able to manage their groups, select borrowers, manage savings, and select viable IGA.
Information and Communication Technology SDF is planning to pilot the proposed ICT application under SIPP- II and then carry it over to NJLIP. Total 30 villages from Rangpur, Mymensingh and Barisal districts have been identified for the test run. Each community will be provided with one laptop and 3G internet connection facility. SDF in collaboration with Data Soft Company has developed an additional module for recording the financial transactions of the village credit organizations. This module does not have facilities to track all of the village expenses and as such it needs some modifications. SDF conducted training on this software to relevant staff at cluster, district, region and headquarter level. Thirty beneficiaries at community level for basic computer operation and Bangla software training have been identified; of which majority of them are youth member of Gram samiti and have completed higher secondary school certificate.