Although Bangladesh has witnessed significant economic growth and socio-economic development over the past decade, the growth has not been geographically uniform. Hard-to-reach areas, such as the waterlogged haor basins in north-eastern Bangladesh, have had high levels of poverty and are significantly lagging in social indicators such as schooling, healthcare, women empowerment, etc., compared to easy-to-access areas with similar demographics. To alleviate the above-mentioned problems associated with hard-to-reach areas, BRAC has been running both Integrated Development Programmes (IDP) and Non-Integrated Development Programmes (Non-IDP) in haor areas of Sylhet and Mymensingh.
IDP and Non-IDP differ in development approaches – IDP delivers development services in 10 key areas, in an integrated approach through one single program organizer (PO), a common platform village development organization (VDO), which consists of local women from the beneficiary areas. Non-IDP, on the other hand, delivers individual development services in a siloed approach. LightCastle Partners was hired to conduct an Impact and Cost-Benefit Analysis of IDP in haor regions of Sylhet and Mymensingh. The Impact Study assessed the impacts of the IDP program over the last 5 years by comparing data on socio-economic indicators with that of Non-IDP and a Control Region. Analyses of socio-economic indicators for the Impact Study were then used to calculate the Benefit-Cost ratio of each IDP Programme component for the Cost-Benefit Analysis segment.
To undertake a comprehensive assessment, LightCastle Partners collected and analyzed household data from more than 1,463 Households in the 3 groups – 708 from IDP, 426 from Non-IDP, and 329 from No Intervention or Control. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) – 8 in the IDP area and 4 in the non-IDP area – were conducted with beneficiaries to evaluate the progress of female empowerment and power dynamics in the intervention areas. In addition, Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with multiple stakeholders – POs, community members in study areas, BRAC Field Staff, BRAC Employees from the IDP Team, and other teams – provided insight into operations and impact of IDP and Non-IDP interventions. The quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed to compare the current socio-economic conditions in the IDP area, compared to that of Control, Non-IDP, and Baseline (2015), and to establish the success of the IDP.
The analyses from the Impact Study were used to conduct a robust Cost-Benefit Analysis of selected IDP and Non-IDP Programme components. The Cost-Benefit Analysis calculations incorporated the positive and negative externalities associated with each intervention. The Cost of each IDP and Non-IDP Intervention was calculated as the summation of the cost to BRAC and the cost to the beneficiary. In all cases, the cost to the beneficiary was the opportunity cost of attending the program. The benefits of each program component were calculated often as additional income or savings that have resulted from being part of the program. The ratio of Benefits to Cost demonstrated the benefit of each unit of investment in a program and is an indicator of the cost-effectiveness of the program.
The results of the Impact Study and Cost-Benefit Analysis of IDP conducted by LightCastle Partners may be used to plan the expansion of IDP to areas in Bangladesh with high rates of ultra-poor. Using the results of the Impact and Cost-Benefit Analysis, LightCastle partners have also recommended modifications that may result in greater success of IDP, including potential partnerships with the government.