Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The government has signed a US$29 million financing agreement with the World Bank for the Northern Areas Reduction of Poverty Initiative (NARI) project recently.

The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary arm, has 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period; it carries a service charge of 0.75 percent, a World Bank statement said on Wednesday.

The pilot project will support managed migration, skills training, and access to employment for around 11,000 poor women from five northwestern Monga prone districts, namely Gailbandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, and Rangpur.

The Bangladesh government and the World Bank plan to scale up the project to other parts of Bangladesh and other sectors if the pilot becomes successful.

The government has already started project preparation activities, including finalization of the Development Project Proposal (DPP) and is aiming for ECNEC approval before the end of 2011.

NARI will offer a managed system of transition to employment opportunities in the garment industry for poor and vulnerable women from the Monga prone areas, which ensures fairness, efficiency, and safety along the labor supply chain. The project will improve the odds for successful migration through an orientation course for young women before they migrate so they can make an informed decision about their migration.

The project will also undertake awareness raising activities in the pilot districts. The candidates, selected through a screening process, will be helped to find employment in the Dhaka, Karnaphuli, and Ishwardi Export Processing Zones (EPZs). Training centers and dormitory for transitional housing will be constructed in these EPZs.

The training centers will accommodate 300 trainees at a time. The dormitories attached to the training center will accommodate 600 women for a transitional period of six months. The graduates will also get assistance to find permanent housing.

BBN/SSR/AD-11Jan12-12:50 pm (BST)