Phase 1 of the project began in October 2015 in areas adjacent to Chevron Bangladesh’s gas fields in Sylhet, including Sylhet, Moulvibazar, and Habiganj, and phase 2 was implemented from May 2019 to April 2022. Through this project, 110 VDOs are now fully registered as independent organizations in alignment with government of Bangladesh compliance measures, and are run fully independently by their members.
These cooperatives have improved the economic well-being of their members, resulting in increased inclusion of marginalized groups, specifically women and youth, and improved incomes and livelihoods across their communities. This has also developed the capacity of local service providers (LSPs) by creating social safety net services for VDO members. This, in turn, increased the community’s demand for government and private services. Together, these activities have contributed to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG-1 (Eradication of poverty), SDG-5 (Gender equality), and SDG-8 (Decent work and economic growth). The second phase of the Jibika project further invested in the VDOS’ capacity development, fund growth and their members, with the vision of developing sustainable cooperatives by 2022 despite the challenges associated with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
For strengthening the VDOs’ governance, multiple capacity development initiatives such as new member enrolment, training, learning visits and amenities support to the VDOs were undertaken. Training on cooperative compliance, leadership and account management developed high- potential VDO members to better carry out compliance and efficient administrative activities. Additionally, conducting annual general meetings (AGMs) with dividend distribution among members and attaining 24 awards at the National Cooperative Day celebration increased members’ enthusiasm and confidence in the project’s overall goals. VDO members also received practical guidance through learning visits at external cooperatives and during visits from government stakeholders and the donor.