The government and the World Bank jointly launched the Jawtno Program on Sunday, a cash benefits programme which aims to improve children's nutrition and cognitive development, according to a World Bank press release.
The programme aims to provide financial support to 600,000 of the country’s poorest mothers and pregnant women in exchange for their participation.
At the launch, 51 poor mothers received their first payment through biometrically-secured post office cash cards.
These women will receive quarterly electronic cash transfers for utilizing services related to their children’s health and development, including antenatal care visits, child growth monitoring and early learning activities for children under the age of five at the community clinics.
“The World Bank places a high priority on supporting Bangladesh to improve the nutrition and cognitive development of children in their early years. The Jawtno Program focuses on prenatal care, and young children’s nutrition and cognitive development, and these efforts help poor children to do better in adult life,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
The beneficiaries of the Jawtno Program will be selected using the National Household Database being developed by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
An automated Management Information System will help monitor beneficiary enrolment, attendance, payments and grievances.
Minister for Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said: “The Jawtno Program will contribute to the empowerment of women, which will help Bangladesh achieve Sustainable Development Goals and reduce poverty.”
The project will also strengthen the capacity of the Union Parishads to administer the conditional cash transfer program; community clinics to deliver nutrition counseling, growth monitoring and child cognitive development services; and the Union Post Offices to use biometric technology for cash transfers.
The programme will be implemented in 43 upazilas with a high prevalence of poverty and malnutrition in seven districts, namely, Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Sherpur, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, and Nilphamari.