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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Nov. 9, 2012) – Heifer International is extending its agricultural community development model in South Asia by expanding its work into Bangladesh and opening a country program office there.
The Human Development Index (a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices used to rank countries according to human development) ranks Bangladesh as one of the poorest countries in the world. Heifer’s Nepal country office began to work with Bangladeshi nonprofit partners in 2006, but due to the country’s widespread poverty, Heifer decided to increase its efforts by opening a country program to oversee project planning and implementation.
The first project in Bangladesh will assist 4,000 families by working through women’s groups to organize savings and credit programs, which have been proven to effectively increase participants’ incomes. Additionally, the project will assist participants with cattle farming, provide technical training and empower the community.
“We have recognized that when the women receive this kind of training, the family benefits a great deal,” said Mahendra Lohani, Vice President of Asia/South Pacific Programs. By the end of the project, participating families will have quality food to eat each day, be able to pay their children’s school fees and earn enough income to access health care.
The project will also pilot a program to determine whether additional training in community organization and civic engagement can make small loans more effective. Bangladesh is the epicenter of microfinance, also known as microlending, in which small, affordable loans are made to the poor to help them expand family businesses. Project managers will compare the performance of microloan beneficiaries with and without the training. If group organization is shown to improve results, Heifer’s model could benefit the rest of the microlending industry in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, a country approximately the size of Iowa, supports the eighth-largest population in the world with 162 million people. More than 43 percent of its population lives on less than $1.25 per day.
About Heifer International:
Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 40 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit www.heifer.org, read our blog, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or call (800) 696-1918.