DHAKA, Bangladesh 

The World Bank Wednesday approved $200 million to help Bangladeshi urban youths and involuntary home returnees improve their earning opportunities and resiliency in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The financing through the project called “Recovery and Advancement of Informal Sector Employment” will help about 175,000 poor urban youth and low-income micro-entrepreneurs enhance their access to employment and productivity.

It will also help them access services such as life skills training, apprenticeship programs, counseling, microfinance, and self-employment support, according to a World Bank statement.

“To help about 200,000 eligible migrants who had been forced to return since January 2020 either sustainably reintegrate into the domestic labor market or prepare for re-migration, the project will provide cash grants, counseling, and referrals to relevant services based on their needs and aspirations,” it read.

“International migration and the urban informal sector have played a central role in Bangladesh’s remarkable success in reducing poverty over the years. However, both sectors were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.

The project will support both groups of workers to overcome structural barriers to employability and facilitate resilient post-pandemic growth, Tembon added.

To provide these services, the project will set up 32 district welfare centers, and it will also support upgrading and integration of information systems that will streamline social protection service delivery for aspiring, current, and returning migrants.

The credit is from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides concessional financing and has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA program, totaling over $13.5 billion.

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