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In Bangladesh, Empower Youth for Work will improve decent employment and climate-friendly entrepreneurship for young people in rural, poverty-stricken areas that are vulnerable to climate change. We want to enable young women to improve their economic opportunities and claim a role in decision-making at all levels.

Oxfam Bangladesh assists people in rural and urban areas to improve their livelihoods and make them more resilient. We have been doing this since 1971, by supporting innovative flood insurance schemes, impact investment and market systems change, among others. Oxfam’s Bangladesh team consists of experts on climate change, gender, market development, employment skills, influencing, and sexual and reproductive health rights. We work side-by-side a large number of partners from various sectors: civil society organisations (local and national), private sector organisations (banks and micro-finance organisations) and government departments (Disaster management, Women and Children Affairs, Housing and a building research institution). Key donors such as DFID, EU, ECHO and SDC support our work.

Empowering Youth to Work focuses on four districts, where 85% of the population lives in rural and semi-rural areas. The two targeted districts in the north, Rajashi and Rangpur face drought, cold waves, and a ground water crisis. On top of this they belong to the most poverty-stricken regions of Bangladesh. Over 31% (Rajshahi) and 46% (Rangpur) of the total population of 34 million people live below the poverty line. Both Rangpur and Rajshahi are well known for their agricultural products, such as rice, tobacco, maize, mango, litchi, and silk.

Barisal and Khulna, the two districts targeted in the South, are exposed to cyclones, storm surges and salinity. Poverty rates are very high, with 54% of the population in Barisal and 38% of the population in Khulna living below the poverty line. The total populations in these two districts are 8 million and over 15.5 million, respectively. Both areas are renowned for salt, fisheries and vegetable production, while horticulture is an emerging sector.

To identify the economic sectors best suited to empower youth, we have looked for sectors that: provide opportunities to reach large numbers of young people; have good economic prospects (i.e. expanding markets); support climate-resilient practices and adaptation. Based on these criteria, we selected agricultural processing, in particular jute and paper bag making, and the processing of chili, maize, wheat, mushroom and horticulture & vegetables. The growing informal sector (e.g. fashion, trading) with its increasing demand for a qualified labour force is also very relevant, especially for young women. We will take a final decision on which sectors to incorporate into the project after further consultations with potential private sector partners and training institutes.

Our project aims to have a lasting impact for young rural people: increased employment, reduced vulnerability to climatic risks, improved sexual and reproductive health rights and increased influence and participation in decision-making.

  • Achievements till year 4 (July 2017 - March 2020)

    In Year 4 of the Empower Youth for Work program in Bangladesh, the lives of many young women in particular were transformed through training, business support and the Gender Action Learning System. Young people used their increased influencing skills to secure space for Youth Hubs, and several EYW youth bodies registered as formal youth organizations that will continue to drive positive change for young people and their communities in the future.   

    • The EYW program has reached till the end of year 4:
    • 51,752 young people (69% female participation) aged 15-29 through soft-skills training.
    • 4,244 young people have received technical skills training.
    • 2,469 young people have received entrepreneurship skills training.
    • 174 young people have received technical skills training through dual-apprenticeship mode.
    • 1,442 young people have jobs in relevant industries (mostly technical) and 1,771 have become self-employed.
    • 364 youths have received financial support from microfinance institutes/NGOs and banks.
    • 876 young entrepreneurs have received financial support from EYW project to start-up or expand their existing business.
    • 20 young men and women formed the first National Youth Advisory Board, representing 3,600 rural youths from 204 youth groups (union to district level).
    • 8 youth groups got Government registration under Department of Youth Development.
    • The Ministry of Youth and Sports has accepted the guideline to form National Youth Council.
    • A youth-led ‘climate-smart village’ model is piloting with various climate-friendly practices. An existing manually operated PSF (Pond Sand Filter) has been renovated as solution of safe drinking water. Now this PSF is operated by solar energy. 


Read the latest news, personal stories, research and other information from the Empower Youth for Work programme in Bangladesh.


For more information about Empower Youth for Work in Banladesh please contact:

Shamima Nawsin, Senior Programme Officer-EYW Bangladesh