Impact Evaluation Of The 1st Phase Of 'Swapno'
Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities, also known as SWAPNO is a typical public works based ‘graduation model’ targeting only the distressed and vulnerable rural women. Since it is a so called ‘graduation model’, it not only aims at lifting the poor out of poverty during the project period, but also helps them sustain with the higher income level in the absence of the project. While the first part is relatively easy due to high wage income, the second part of sustainability of project outcome after the project requires additional interventions. SWAPNO, following the global best practices, complements public works with mandatory savings, participation in ROSCA, trainings on life skill and livelihood and linkages with local markets and potential employers. The idea is that the set of skills learnt from training will help beneficiaries invest their savings in productive purposes which will yield a stream of income in the absence of project. We found that guaranteed wage employment has increased their household income substantially, lifting a large share of beneficiaries from abject poverty during the project life. This has also led to an improvement of their social status, self-esteem and confidence as well as their aspiration for a better life in future. These non-income outcomes are also believed to help beneficiaries sustain their high income and living standard beyond project.
The beneficiary women were employed from 16 August 2015 to 15 February 2017 for a tenure of 18 months and each beneficiary received a total of BDT 66,450 as cash wage payments along with the amount of BDT 22,150 as a ‘graduation bonus’, which was built up from the mandatory savings scheme of the project. Along with employment, the SWAPNO women also received seven basic life skill and livelihood trainings. The purpose of this study is, thus, to assess the impact of these interventions on the well-being of the beneficiaries. To this end, we conduct an end-line survey on the same treatment and control groups that were in baseline sample. The baseline survey was conducted in August 2015 on a total of 1200 households (HHs) which included 800 intervention HHs and 400 control HHs in Kurigram and Satkhira districts. The baseline HH survey utilized the Randomized Control Trial (RCT) design which allows us to evaluate the impact of the interventions with proper counterfactual.