World Bank provides $300m in biometric-enabled cash cards to poorest mothers in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh government signed a $300 million financing agreement with the International Development Association (IDC), the World Bank’s concessional arm that helps developing countries, under the Income Support Program for the Poorest Project.

The IDC will provide monthly payments in the form of biometric-enabled Bangladesh Post Office cash cards to about 600,0000 of the poorest mothers in the country.

The payments are intended to lower the women’s poverty with the end goal of boosting their children’s nutrition and cognitive development.

Additionally, the program will reinforce local governments’ delivery of safety net programs by establishing administrative platforms at Union Parishads to biometrically identify and enroll beneficiaries and ensure timely payments.

Pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of five will be provided with monthly payments to facilitate regular visits for antenatal care services, child nutrition and development awareness sessions and monitoring of the child’s weight and height.

“Ensuring adequate nutrition prenatally and in the first two years of life helps to maximize a child’s intelligence and brain development and enables higher level of learning through childhood and into adulthood,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank country director for Bangladesh. “The project will help poor mothers to learn how to improve the nutrition of their young children and also provide an income supplement to enable them better to act on that learning.”

Covering 42 of the poorest Upazilas in northern Bangladesh that significantly lack in nutrition indicators, the project is expected to benefit a total of 2.7 million people.

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