What is shiree?
EEP/shiree is a Challenge Fund supported by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to lift 1 million people out of extreme poverty by 2015. Harewelle International Ltd and PMTC Bangladesh Ltd manage the fund in consultation with EEP/shiree consortium partners including the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Bath University, the British Council and Unnayan Shamannay. EEP/shiree is one in DFID’s portfolio of projects designed to reduce extreme poverty and vulnerability in Bangladesh.
The EEP/shiree Challenge Fund is worth £65 million British Pounds (around USD$130M) and is being disbursed over a period of 8 years (2008-2015). It is also referred to as shiree (the Bangla word for steps and an acronym for “Stimulating Household Improvements Resulting in Economic Empowerment”) reflecting the aim of providing households ways out of extreme poverty.
What does shiree do?
EEP/shiree provides resources to national and international NGOs working in Bangladesh through two main funds: the Scale Fund and the Innovation Fund. The former provides NGOs opportunities to increase the outreach of existing programmes and the latter to design innovative approaches to reducing extreme poverty in urban and rural areas in Bangladesh.
The EEP/shiree Challenge Fund works with NGOs which both have good ideas and demonstrate the skills and abilities needed to implement these ideas. In addition, we network with other relevant actors within Bangladesh to develop learning platforms on extreme poverty.
Who are the extreme poor?
The Bangladesh Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) defines the extreme poor as those households for whom total expenditure falls at or below the lower poverty line, what this means is that the extreme poor are unable to meet even their basic dietary requirements. Most SHIREE households fall within the poorest 5% of Bangladeshi population.
Often, these households suffer from multiple deprivations and have limited or no assets (such as land, livestock or shelter), secure employment opportunities, social or political capital, ability to withstand or recover from shocks, access to health, education and other services.
The per capita expenditure lines for 2011 can be seen below:
Regional Definitions of Poverty and Extreme Poverty
Household per capita expenditure
Based on HIES 2010 updated for inflation to 2011 Tk per day ($ per day)
|Extreme poor||Tk 48
1 USD = 81.49 BDT
The levels above are updated annually to take into account inflation and are to be revised at the time of the next HIES.
What is a Challenge Fund?
While the concept of a Challenge Fund is relatively new to Bangladesh, there are several being operated within the broader development sector. The shiree Challenge Fund offers competitive funding to NGOs, with an Independent Assessment Panel selecting the most appropriate projects designed by the NGOs themselves. Those NGOs that are able to show that they have the best ideas, skills mechanisms and proven track records in lifting (and keeping) households out of poverty will be provided grants to implement their ideas. For other civil society sector challenge funds, see the DFID website.
What is the Innovation Fund?
SHIREE provides resources to NGOs via two funds. The Scale Fund supports larger projects which apply proven methods to reducing poverty and the Innovation Fund supports smaller projects using innovative approaches.
The Innovation Fund considers novel, undocumented and un-tested approaches which address the socioeconomic needs of the extreme poor. This includes innovative ideas, processes, systems and technologies which are likely to generate assets, improve incomes, decrease dependency and vulnerability, increase food security and provide sustainable pathways out of poverty.
An example of a technological innovation includes the cultivation of a new variety of seed. A ‘process’ innovation could be the improvement in marketing channels which transfer a product or system innovation which may serve to enhance women’s participation in decision making.
What types of initiatives are supported by the Innovation Fund?
The Innovation Fund supports initiatives which i) promote the sustainable economic empowerment of the extreme poor; ii) enhance sustainable livelihood options for the extreme poor including female-headed households; iii) work with adivasis and people located in geographically remote or environmentally vulnerable areas; iv) apply action research findings to inform their project; v) increase resilience and adaptability to climate change; vi) develop pathways out of poverty that are clearly attributable to the project and replicable on a larger scale.
What is the purpose of the Innovation Fund?
The Innovation Fund contributes to achieving shiree’s goal of lifting 1 million people in rural and urban areas out of extreme poverty and achieving sustainable livelihoods by 2015. This fund is designed to finance smaller scale projects that develop creative, innovative and largely untested approaches to lifting people out of extreme poverty.
Is there a micro-finance component to shiree?
Many NGOs in Bangladesh apply a micro-finance component and are largely self-financing. There has been much debate to as whether micro-finance helps the poorest and DFID is supporting efforts which try to make this approach more appropriate for this group (such as via PKSF and BRAC.) To avoid duplication with other efforts, as well as to try and assist the most excluded and marginalised, shiree has been designed to apply non-micro-finance approaches to poverty alleviation.