International humanitarian charity, Muslim Aid, has secured $3.5 Million (£2.7 million) in institutional funding for a new livelihoods initiative titled ‘The Integrated Rehabilitation Program for Ultra-Poor Slum Dwellers in Mohammadpur and Mirpur in Dhaka City and Saidpur in Nilphamari District for Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET) in Bangladesh. The grant comes from the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), which is based in Saudi Arabia. It will provide consistent funding, with the total amount spread over a period of five years, through annual instalments.
The urban slums within the project areas are home to hundreds of thousands of people, with huge numbers living in extreme poverty. The slum population is vulnerable, resource-poor, and has little opportunity for education and employment. This has been compounded by the pandemic, which has seen a loss of employment, particularly among people with a low income. Muslim Aid has already been providing assistance for basic needs such as food, medicine, and hygiene items. However, there is a significant need for a long-term solution.
The ISDB grant will cover the cost of skills training across a number of trades, including tailoring, electronics, maintenance, welding, and more. Over five years, a total of 22,100 people will receive the training given through Muslim Aid’s Institute of Technology in Bangladesh, which will create sustainable livelihood opportunities for those taking part. Beyond the skills training, the participants will be assisted with finding employment opportunities through job fairs or engagement with employers. Those who will be self-employed will receive start-up support for their businesses. Additionally, 1000 people will be given emergency response training, which will be focussed on response to fires and earthquakes to enhance the communities’ resilience to natural and man-made disasters.
As Muslim Aid’s Bangladesh branch has the best understanding of the challenges their population face, they are best positioned to make decisions regarding the project, and will take control of its implementation. Rabeya Sultana, Bangladesh Country Director says: “Through the Muslim Aid Institute of Technology (MAIT), this project will ensure youth empowerment through adequate training in technical areas. This will equip them with the right skill set to set up their own businesses and have a sustainable income to support their families.”
This sustainable approach will see thousands of people in the slums gaining skills and engaging themselves in secure jobs where they can apply their vast knowledge of their trade. Family income will increase as a result, and vulnerability will be reduced. This will set a precedent within the community, and as the Bangladesh field office will have control of all aspects of the project, they will be able to foster increased awareness within the local governments on the importance of developing skills among low-income individuals.
Muslim Aid will continue raising awareness of issues by championing causes and engaging with corridors of power here in the UK. By supporting the strengths of their country office, Muslim Aid can ensure that this new project is implemented in the best interests of the beneficiaries.