© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen


Despite the country’s remarkable economic growth, millions of people in Bangladesh still live in poverty. Moreover, the impacts of climate change are threatening the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and endangering the life of entire communities. Helvetas supports families to increase their resilience and secure more opportunities. Furthermore, Helvetas is engaged in emergency response and supports about 1 million refugees from Myanmar in Cox's Bazar.
© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
  • Capital
  • Area
    147,570 km²
  • Poverty rate*
    18% of the population live under the poverty line of $1.90 per day
    Rank: 129 out of 191
  • Population
  • People supported per year
  • Thematic focus
    WASH & Water Governance
    Private Sector Development
    Climate & Disaster Resilience
    Education and Vocational Skills
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    Gender & Social Equity
* Source: UN Data

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet. Two-thirds of the population live in rural areas. The country’s natural resources are becoming even scarcer because of climate change,  driving  many people to migrate to the cities or abroad – mostly to the Middle East – in search of work. To improve access to the market, Helvetas brings together smallholder farmers with market traders and engage with private sector to increase opportunities especially for women and young people.

Service providers and skills development for the disadvantaged 

We support local service providers so they can advise vulnerable small farmers on how to improve their production and get better access to markets. Furthermore, Helvetas in collaboration with private sector provides young people, women and the most disadvantaged with skill trainings to improve their employment opportunities.

Supporting civil society and communal authorities

Helvetas has been active in Bangladesh since 2000, where we advocate for the rural population to participate in the economy and local governance. One focus is on promoting women to take an active part in public and economic life. We encourage and enable them to run for local elections and to join women’s organizations to put their concerns across more effectively at regional and national level. We are also committed to ensure young people are aware of their rights and responsibilitis and have the capacities to raise their voice and participate in the development of their communities. The communal authorities are important partners as well. They introduce democratic decision-making processes, establish professional financial management and lawfully collect taxes to finance public services.

Coping with the risks of climate change

Climate change is only going to make Bangladesh’s challenges worse. Rising sea levels, recurrent flooding and the increasing salinity of the soil threaten the livelihood of small-holder farmers.

To safeguard families’ livelihoods, we support farmers by transferring capacities to adapt agricultural practices and crops, and by providing opportunities to learn new skills and undertake different economic activities.   

We also support communities and local authorities to develop alert people to climate risks by means of early warning systems and information campaigns. In addition, vulnerable communities and extremely poor families are supplied with water filter and pump systems or water storage facilities to guarantee their access to clean drinking water during the dry season. 

Promoting informed and safe migration 

Migration is a key component of Bangladesh’s socio-economic development, and it is an important livelihood strategy for many families.  Nonetheless, many migrants are still leaving the country without being aware of their rights, the risks and the opportunities of working abroad. Helvetas supports aspirant migrant workers by providing the necessary information to migrate safely.  We also work with migrants and their families to promote a productive use of remittances: wives, mothers, siblings are encouraged and accompanied to invest part of the money they receive to raise chicken, grow vegetables, open small shops, thus increasing family’s income stability.  Moreover, we ensure that migrants receive legal assistance, and we promote an improvement of services for migrants with public authorities and private sector. 

Emergency response for Rohingya in Cox's Bazar

Since late 2017, Helvetas has worked with Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar and now live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. To provide for more than 1 million refugees is a huge challenge. Moreover, this massive influx of people has put considerable strain on the host communities that have to cope with limited resources and the high risk of natural disasters such as cyclones and landslides. Helvetas is working with Rohingya and local population to improve their livelihoods, access to food, and capacity to respond to emergencies. We also aim at strengthening social cohesion among the two communities: that’s why, for example, we train local services providers from nearby villages to regularly advise Rohingya families on how to grow organic vegetables, even in small spaces Villages, and in particular schools, are accompanied in their preparation to properly respond to natural disasters, while Rohingya are specifically trained to respond to fire, one of the most frequent emergencies in refugee camps. 

Visit the website of Helvetas Bangladesh.

The country programme in Bangladesh is co-funded by the SDC programme contribution.

Our Projects in Bangladesh

 If you would like to know more about our work in Bangladesh, click on each project for details.

© Helvetas/K M Asad
Bangladesh WASH Services

More resilient communities

© Helvetas
Bangladesh Private Sector Development

A healthy diet for women and children

Bangladesh_CSO-LA_5 | © Julia Thienhaus / Helvetas
Bangladesh Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Strengthening Capacities of the Disadvantaged

Vietnam, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, India Partnership & Capacity Development

Value Chain Capacity Building Network

Bangladesh Private Sector Development

Disability Inclusion in Bangladesh

© Helvetas / KM Asad
Bangladesh Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Improved access to migration systems

© Helvetas / Alim
Bangladesh Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Supporting communities to raise their voice

Bangladesh Skills, Jobs and Income

Feeding new job opportunities

Multimedia Stories from Asia

© K M Asad

Feeding Mothers' Courage

In Bangladesh, women dare to stand up for a healthy pregnancy

Growing medicinal plants in the Chittagong Hills Tracts of Bangladesh

Read how Mujib Chakma’s family increased their income by cultivating medicinal plants in the minorities region of Bangladesh.
© Patrick Rohr / Helvetas

Stateless – the Fate of the Rohingya

In the refugee camp in Bangladesh, Rabeya Begum and Mohamad try everything to enable their little son Mohamad Rizwan to live in dignity.

A Farmer’s Daughter Goes to College

Read how the Chakma family, with the support of Helvetas, has set up a tree nursery and thus freed themselves from poverty.

Protecting fish stocks in Myanmar

The people in the Gulf of Mottama live from fishing. Read how they try to regulate stocks with the help of Helvetas.

Where Tea Grows on Trees

In the mountainous hinterland of Laos, tea leaves are picked at high altitudes.
© Helvetas / Alexa Mekonen

Living with Climate Change in Bangladesh’s Southern Coastal Belt

Nasrin Begum and her family live in one of the most vulnerable coastal districts in Bangladesh. They are among many who are severely affected by water salinity.

WASH & Water Governance

The most vulnerable communities suffer from dirty and scarce water. Annually we help up to 500,000 people get new access to drinking water and basic sanitation.

Climate & Disaster Resilience

Every year, we support over 1,000,000 people in adapting to climate change, reducing the risks of disasters, sustainably managing natural resources, and conserving nature.

Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.

House 30 CWN (A), Road 42/43
1212 Dhaka

Phone:+880 9609 006007 , +880 2 41081527
Fax: +880 2 41081528
E-Mail: infobd@helvetas.org