It was a bolt from the blue for Dildar Begum, a resident of Teknaf's Majherpara village in Cox's Bazar, when her husband died at a young age leaving behind three children. She had no idea how she would manage the living and education for her children.
Thanks to the Gender-inclusive Pathways out of Poverty (GPOP) project directed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia and World Vision Australia, she found a lifeline.
Dildar started rearing chickens and goats under the project which saw her through the tough times to financial freedom
She began with nine chickens and two goats and currently, she has 60 chickens and 11 goats on her small farm. She also applies vaccines to chickens or goats on other farms, which is another source of her income.
"I do not have to worry about the education of my children," she said.
Like Dildar Begum, the GPOP project has helped 2,880 extreme-poor people of Teknaf and Ukhia, whose income is below Tk5,000 per month. The project gave them options to choose two items from a list of four including goat rearing, chicken farming, commercial vegetable production and small shop.
These small ventures have already transformed their impoverished condition and some of them are even being able to save some money for the future.
The project, which started in 2019, aimed to work on four basic criteria for the extreme poor people – increasing income, ensuring food availability, saving money to survive disasters, and ensuring gender equality.
After the Rohingya influx in 2017, the refugees stayed in Cox's Bazar and started to work as day labourers locally, creating a scarcity of jobs for local poor communities. World Vision took up the project to elevate the people from poverty.
The mid-term evaluation of the GPOP project conducted on 1,440 people showed that their economic condition has improved and 72% of them came out of the ultra-poor category, fulfilling 13 criteria. Besides, all of them managed to meet 10 criteria. All the families have a bank account and a certain amount of savings.
The report also says that all of them have two sources of income, 98% have productive assets for increasing earnings, 97% can afford three meals a day and 96% of family has no school dropout children.
Women form area-based groups with each group comprising 18-25 members, and every woman deposits a certain amount of money every week. The amount is later deposited in a bank.
The project is being implemented in eight unions of two upazilas in Cox's Bazar.
Yusuf Ali, the project manager of the GPOP project said the project helped the families find a permanent way of earning. contributing to the development of their standard of living.
"It is helping to improve their quality of life," he said.