with supports from
Sara Zabeen, Papon Dev, Sujan Ghosh, Hosne Ara Munni
An improvised version of value chain analysis was adapted to identify potential economic activities in the coastal southern Bangladesh that may meaningfully engage poor. The exercise undertaken for ERG was meant to assist Save the Children UK to develop their targeted employment generation programs.
Providing livelihood options to rural poor has been the major concern amongst development practitioners engaged in poverty alleviation programs. It has been so amongst the early actors in microcredit who tried to lock credit with income generating assets. Similar philosophy prevails amongst those keen on transferring assets to the extreme poor free of cost with the intention to improve their livelihood. All such initiatives continue to be largely confined to self-employment activities, which are known to have greater potential in areas better connected with growth centers and/or have vibrant local markets. Large parts of coastal south lack both these attributes – the communication is slow and the local habitats are sparsely distributed, often distanced by unfriendly rivers. And the frequent devastations caused by the cyclones raise the risk of investment. Moreover, the closest urban centers (such as, Khulna) have been financially stagnant or on decline over a decade or more; and Bagerhat and Satkhira hardly picked up1. The coastal areas have however experienced major transformation to cash economy with significant increases in demand for fish cultivated or captured in the area in both domestic urban and export markets. Thus, in spite of early social resistance, shrimp cultivation has shaped the physical, financial and social canvass of the area over more than last two decades. The villages facing the Sundarban have also been influenced by the various legal and extra-legal options of livelihood through extraction of forest and mangrove resources.