[Anglican Alliance] The Anglican Alliance’s initiated economic empowerment programme funded by the Commonwealth Foundation has concluded successfully with the formation of a cooperative for low-income women in the remote village of Kanaynagar in Bangladesh.
It is the first time that such a cooperative has been formed comprising women from across the parish – Christian and Muslim together. Kanaynagar Parish is situated in a coastal area of the country and has been significantly impacted by climate change.
A total of 160 women from low-income families were brought into the cooperative since November 2013. They have started savings accounts, taken part in training. The training has included: organization building, leadership development, promoting alternative livelihoods, preventive health care, mother and child-care, food security, nutrition management, and adapting technologies to combat climate change.
The women and young people have saved BDT 50,000 (USD 641/UKP 417) and mobilised BDT 100,000 (USD 1,282/UKP 834) from external source for investment in different economic activities learned through livelihood improvement trainings given by the project through the Anglican Alliance.
Anglican Alliance Asia regional facilitator Michael Roy said: "This is a good thing. It is the first time a group with Christians has registered as a cooperative with the government. There have been struggles, but finally it is done and the community are close to the government and the mainstream."
Additionally, this cooperative will work as a “laboratory village” for Bishop Paul Shishir Sarker of the Church of Bangladesh - an Anglican Communion “eco-justice bishop” - to learn and share the knowledge on climate issues through observation of the impact of the methods used in the community.
The advocacy by the project has significantly built the interrelation between different departments and institutions to act together to encourage and support the women and young people for their entrepreneurial skill development.
Hopefully the success of this cooperative would inspire other communities of different parishes to form cooperatives within low-income communities, particularly for women and vulnerable young group. A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) set up has been established in the Church of Bangladesh to monitor the learning of the cooperative so that the best practices of it can be documented and disseminated to other parishes for more effective results.