Economic and Social Empowerment of the Extreme Poor (ESEP)

PBK is implementing the Economic and Social Empowerment of the Extreme Poor (ESEP) project in two upazilas namely Mithamoin and Austogram of Kishoreganj district. The project is funded jointly by Bangladesh government and DFID through SHIREE and supported by Concern Worldwide Bangladesh. It commenced in December 2012 and will be winded up in 2016. The goal of the project is to move 7,500 extremely poor households (HH) out of poverty.


- Extreme poor HHs sustainably engaged in cultivation of tested cropping patterns on small holdings using new technologies.

- Extreme poor HHs sustainably operating other income options.

- Local government institutions (LGI) and departments are responsive to the needs of the extreme poor in resource allocation and other services.

- Apex bodies of Self-Help Groups (CBO) to be facilitated and made operational.

Major Implementation Strategies

- Per capita per day income less than BDT 30.00                                                             

- Homestead land less than three decimals and cultivable land below five dicimals.

- Net productive asset less than BDT 5000.00 No access to microfinance

Asset distribution

Income generating activities (IGAs) that are suitable for the HHs of Haor Area were selected. Three types of IGA namely vegetable cultivation, agriculture production, livestock rearing and off-farm activities were facilitated. Leasing land and introducing two crops based on proven pilot (with Bangladesh Agriculture University) of shorter-maturing rice (BR28) and Challisa Potato/vegetables with inputs and technology were provided under agricultural IGA to 1,553 HHs. Cow, Sheep, Goat, Duck, Geese, Chicken and Pigeon were provided for rearing to other 4,304 HHs. Local Service Providers (LSPs) were trained and provided equipment to ensure regular vaccination and counselling of the distributed livestock. Finally, 1,643 HHs received various non-farm IGAs like puffed rice production, net boat, tailoring, van/rickshaw, pushcart, bamboo/cane products making and small shops. In total, 7,500 HHs received these IGAs so that they could establish alternative sources of income and most of them have successfully graduated.

Self-help group development

To support the IGAs and to enable the beneficiaries to make maximum utilization of the resources, various IGA based trainings were provided. Besides, beneficiaries are organized into 344 self-help groups (SHGs) who then formed apex bodies like CBOs. SHGs functioned as the vehicle of the project implementation and therefore specialized trainings were provided to the group members and CBO leaders. Moreover, LSPs and Community Pusti Karmis (CPKs) received training from the experts of their respective field.

Savings and investment

Every SHG fixed certain amounts of money that the members deposit regularly when they meet once a week. The total amount of money thus accumulated is redistributed among the members in turn with the condition of reinvestment. This method proved to be useful as it dissolves the issue of regular banking and micro financial management. Besides, the members opened accounts in local microfinance institutions (MFIs) for savings and getting loan. However, these groups of people were deemed avoidable by the MFIs beforehand.

Nutrition-related activities

Nutrition is another component of ESEP. Under this component, 75 CPKs were trained to help families having children under 5 years, pregnant/lactating mothers and adolescent girls aged 10-16 years. They counsel mother/caregiver of children (0-23 months) especially on exclusive breast-feeding and complementary feeding, hand washing, proper dietary intake and other health related issues. Time to time, different kinds of micronutrients are distributed among the target beneficiaries.


ESEP is working towards improving access to government services, unifying groups to negotiate with officials/elites for accessing safety-net schemes for vulnerable (physically challenged/elderly) and to common-resources of the extreme poor and marginalized. Especially local government officials, departments and elected representatives are sensitized to ensure access of the landless HHs to khash land and to fishermen groups. In addition, 5904 beneficiaries enrolled for government’s social safety net programs under this project.


Besides the conventional monitoring system, ESEP uses the unique Changed Monitoring System (CMS) developed by Shiree. This system uses an innovative real time methodology based on a quick snapshot questionnaire administered by front line field staff via Smart phones. The data is uploaded to the Shiree server and instantly translated into meaningful information via a visualization tool. The tool also provides data mapping and for the implementing agencies, allows analysis of status and trends all the way down to household level.

Achievements (as of June 2016)

- 7,500 beneficiaries received different assets

- Agricultural input: 1,553 BFs, livestock input: 4,304 BFs and non-farm input: 1,643 BFs

- The main transferred assets are cow, goat, sheep, duck, geese, poultry, pigeon for rearing and puffed rice, bamboo/cane made materials, net boat, tailoring, van/rickshaw, pushcart, small business for business startup and also land leasing for practicing new cropping patterns

- 6,541 BFs received training on the IGAs which they are practicing and Project Staff also received various training

- The beneficiary groups accumulated total BDT 12,061,690 as savings of which BDT 11,724,490 was invested by them in various IGAs

- Regular vaccination and de-worming of existing livestock to prevent loss by the local service providers is ensured

- Total 3,383 BFs gained access to Government’s social safety net program e.g. VGD, VGF, widow disable allowance etc.

- Through ESEP’s Health and Nutrition component

- 7,221 mothers having under 5 years old children and/or pregnant/lactating mothers received counselling

- 3,865 10-16 years old adolescent girls received counselling by trained Community Pusti Karmis