Bangladesh, which has a dense population of more than 162 million, is rapidly urbanising. The country achieved considerable success on its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda, but many people still live below the poverty line. Bangladesh is vulnerable to climate change. Economic growth, currently solid at 6%, is in jeopardy due to a high dependency on Ready Made Garment (RMG) exports and revenues. Approximately 10 million Bangladeshi work abroad and recently the surge of undocumented Bangladeshi migrants arriving in Europe increased. Bangladesh itself is dealing with a Rohingya influx. Aspiring to become a middle-income country by 2021, infrastructure, corruption and ease of doing business must improve. Pressure to improve labour and safety conditions is still necessary and is receiving extensive support from the Netherlands. With a drift towards a one-party system, democratic legitimacy is an issue and respect for human rights is under pressure. Authorities are actively combating terrorism, yet the threat level remains high.

Featured project

Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (PROOFS) in Bangladesh

A particular success story is the export of organic shrimp, as well as pest-free and safe mango. The SaFal project assisted Bangladesh in developing EU-compliant guidelines.

The video highlights the work of Profitable Opportunities for Food Security (PROOFS), which aims to improve the food and nutrition security, as well as the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation of 80,000 households in seven districts in Northwest and Southwest Bangladesh.

Key results of the embassy in Bangladesh

Food & Nutrition Security

Indicator Score Progress

Number of people with improved food intake (direct)

615,143 On track
Number of people with improved food intake (direct)
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

In recent years food intake has improved due to three reasons: (1) Technology transfers in agriculture have spread very quickly and have had a rapid positive impact on food intake; (2) Social safety nets are quite extensive in Bangladesh; and (3) Overall economic growth is contributing to greater purchasing power for better diets.

Number of farm holders (male/female) with improved access to markets (direct)

199,198 On track
Number of farm holders with improved access to markets (direct)
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

In 2016, access to markets improved due to: (1) Market-based approaches producing very good results due to quite efficient markets (with many competing buyers); (2) Farmers quickly taking up group-based commercialisation; and (3) Intermediaries (with rapidly developing ICT tools) can easily expand their commercial networks.


Indicator Score Progress

Total polder area in ha. with increased protection against floods

148,472 On track
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

The polder area almost doubled in 2016, thanks to long-running projects like the 'Char Development and Settlement Project IV' (CDSP-IV) and 'Blue Gold' completing infrastructural works in a number of polders. Efforts to increase protection against sea and river flooding and improve polder water management were successful. The number of people living in protected polder areas increased due to a combination of long-standing programmes on participatory water management (through Water User Organisations) in the aforementioned projects. CDSP-IV aims to stabilise newly accredited land through physical infrastructure development and afforestation, to establish land rights for eligible poor people, to connect with mainstream service structures, to engage the community in participatory water and land management and to build the capacity of people to improve the quality of their lives and livelihoods. On the other hand, the Blue Gold programme establishes and empowers community organisations to sustainably manage their water resources and delivers services based on their priorities, .

Number of people reached by NL water management projects

1.5 million On track
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

The number of people targeted (and reached) by Dutch water management projects increased by almost 40% in 2016. This is largely thanks to the Blue Gold project effectively extending its operational area from 12 to 22 polders and the fact that the number of inhabitants and water users in these polders is substantially higher than originally estimated. The Blue Gold programme establishes and empowers community organisations to sustainably manage their water resources and delivers services for which those community organisations have expressed a demand based on their priorities.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Indicator Score Progress

Number of couples protected by various contraceptives over a one-year period (CYP)

36,453 On track
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

The supported NGOs in 2016, all reached or exceeded their annual target. However, the national contraceptive prevalence rate has increased insufficiently over the past two decades to achieve the national contraceptive and fertility goal (of 1.7 children per woman) by 2021. A differential and targeted approach is needed to achieve this goal. The NGOs target young people and remote areas to assist the government in achieving the national targets.

Number of young people reached with comprehensive, correct information on sexuality, HIV/AIDS, STIs, pregnancy and contraception

255,912 On track
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

Through a number of channels, young people were reached in 2016 with information on sexuality and HIV/AIDS, STIs, pregnancy and contraception. The use of various channels, such as training, call-centre help lines and radio programmes, enabled a high number of young people to be reached.

Women's Rights & Gender Equality

Indicator Score Progress

Number of CSOs with strengthened capacity to relate to external stakeholders

17 On track
Interpretation of the Embassy results in the context

In 2016, Making Markets Work for Women (MMWW) strengthened 7 CSOs and the Rice Fortification project strengthened 10 CSOs with competences and the capacity for effective action to increase the number of women in positions of influence. The MMWW project aims to empower rural women entrepreneurs to participate in the market system and steer the supply chain in their favour. On the other hand, the Scaling up Rice Fortification initiative is working to address the challenges of nutrition deficiencies among vulnerable groups of women and female workers, by fortifying six micro-nutrients in the staple food of rice. Furthermore, there has been steady improvement in the social and political empowerment of women in Bangladesh. In the Global Gender Gap 2016, Bangladesh ranked 72 of 144 countries (higher than other countries in the same region, such as India and Nepal).

Background & future

Interpretation of the results in context

Some projects have experienced delays due to the security situation in 2016, red tape and lack of government engagement. The terrorist threat hindered frequent field visits. So far, however, most projects are on track.

Glimpse into the future

During the final year of the embassy's current Multi Annual Strategic Plan (MASP), programmes will retain their focus on the transition from an aid to trade relationship with Bangladesh and the implementation of the current portfolio. The follow-up on the Delta plan, the second phase of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) project “improving working conditions in Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector” and the expansion of the Food Security programme will require special attention. Funding for SRHR is an area of concern, especially in view of the reinstated Mexico City Policy (Global Gag Rule). Efforts to improve the business climate will continue, among others through advocacy campaigns and commenting on (draft) regulations. In the meantime, a strategy for a new country plan will be developed.

Financial summary

Total expenditure Embassy € 34,400,813

Expenditure 2016 per theme

Expenditure 2016 per channel