Looking Ahead: Microcredit in Bangladesh
December 1, 1998
On Bangladesh Economic Association
January 1, 2000

A Preliminary Assessment of Kishoreganj Sadar Thana (KST) Project

Sajjad Zohir, Abul Basher, Shafiqur Rahman
Prepared for the World Bank, Dhaka

Following the recommendation endorsed in the 1993 Dhaka summit of SAARC Heads of State or Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiated and sponsored a sub-regional project titled “Institutional Development at the Grassroots for Poverty Alleviation”. A demonstration pilot project was started in Kishoreganj Sadar Thana (KST) of Kishoreganj district, in October 1994. The project, now in its second phase, is expected to end in 2000, and has been renamed as “South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme” (SAPAP). Several studies have been undertaken on the KST project, most of which have however been of rapid appraisal type. The mid-term evaluation report (UNDP 1998), drawing upon a number of studies of the early years, provides a good benchmark understanding about the project’s successes and limitations. Of late, there had been a microfinance review by Nina Nayar and others (Nina et al. 1998), and appraisals by in-house staff (Hasle 1999) and UNDP consultants (Sen and Ahmed 1999). All the studies cited above do not provide unanimity in assessing project achievements. Nor is it quite clear as to how the KST approach differs from other approaches to poverty alleviation and rural development. With a view to better understand the operation of KST and its impact on the local economy and formation of social capital, the Dhaka office of the World Bank commissioned the present stud.

The study was administered during August-September, 1999. Keeping in view of the particular concerns expressed in the terms of reference, the study aimed at conceptualizing the phenomenon embodied in the KST project1 and assessing the project impacts. Attempts have also been made to assess sustainability of the project and the prospect for replicating it elsewhere in the country. Finally, the study aims at drawing lessons for future actions for poverty alleviation and rural development strategies.

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