Programme history

This page refers to past projects undertaken by Practical Action in Bangladesh, and is retained for archive purposes only. Our programmes are now organised under three programme aims of Reducing Vulnerability, Markets and Livelihoods and Infrastructure Services.


Launched in 1991, the programme supported small-scale producers to generate income from the processing of local agricultural produce through:

  • training and skills development in food processing for NGO staff and program beneficiaries
  • research, development and transfer of food processing technology
  • production and dissemination of communication materials, e.g. posters, technical booklets, videos and articles
  • advocacy and influencing policy

Covering the entire country, the programme established four associations of food processors under the Forum for Food Processing Enterprise Development (FFPED). The programme has benefited at least 10 000 people. It produced 31 technical booklets on food processing technologies. The programme also established a food processing plant at the south-central district of Shariatpur, which is run by village women.

Food production

Practical Action's Food Production Programme in Bangladesh encompassed

  • fish culture
  • livestock/poultry rearing
  • horticulture,

and aimed to enhance the food and livelihood security of small scale producers.

Areas of special focus included:

  • farmer-led participatory technology development in Greater Faridpur district
  • integrated farming system development
  • conservation of small indigenous species of fish and access by poor people to natural aquatic resources
  • networking with service providers to make services directly available to farmers and influence policy makers and planners regarding issues of concern to small producers


Practical Action's small scale manufacturing interventions in Bangladesh were designed to create new jobs for poor people outside the traditional agricultural and formal sectors. The Dholaikhal Project for example focused on owners and artisans of small scale metal workshops in Faridpur town, who were helped to expand their business and meet customers' changing needs through:

  • technical, management and business training
  • a tool hire centre providing access to additional tools and services
  • improved access to credit, information and other business development services
  • product development

The environmental impact of manufacturing activities was carefully assessed.

Small Enterprise Development

Practical Action's Small Enterprise Unit worked to strengthen small, rural-based NGOs and their beneficiaries in small enterprise development. Assistance provided by the unit included:

  • tailor-made capacity building plans for individual NGO's
  • training on small enterprise planning and management
  • support for the establishment of income and revenue-generating activities
  • an enquiry service providing market and business-related information
  • delivery of business development services
  • supply of equipment to small enterprises

The Small Enterprise Unit developed a proposal that sought support to significantly expand the scale and sustainability of its current programme. The UK government's DFID Civil Society Challenge Fund agreed to fund this project, which expanded the coverage of services from 21 to 100 partner NGOs and helpd ensure the sustainability of this work.

Under this project, Practical Action provided direct support and training to an intermediate tier of six lead NGOs which were responsible for supporting up to 15 smaller NGOs each. The project also established enterprise development networks in each of the three operational regions.

The main activities of the initiative included: assisting NGOs to enhance their business development strategy/services based on market research conducted in the sub-sector; strengthening market linkages; arranging rural technology exhibitions and exchange visits, initiating policy dialogue and bridging the gap between the NGO's and policy makers; participatory monitoring and evaluation for sharing lessons.


Practical Action produces and disseminates information on its programmes and on appropriate technology in general, using print, visual and audio-visual media. This is done through:

  • Falok, a Bengali-language quarterly bulletin on appropriate technology
  • press releases and other newspaper articles
  • technical publications
  • posters and video documentaries
  • Practical Action's information and documentation centre
  • national-level networks, e.g. on environmental issues

Programme Development

The Programme Development Unit assists in the implementation of the organisation's major programmes through:

  • planning and management support
  • social science input
  • co-ordination of the programmes' gender aspects
  • reviews and impact assessments
  • policy research, advocacy and the development of new projects.

Disaster mitigation

Practical Action has substantial international experience of disaster mitigation work, particularly in Latin America and South Asia. Bangladesh's devastating floods of 1998 prompted Practical Action =to undertake immediate relief measures.

Based on its experience, however, Practical Action believes that relief efforts are not a sustainable solution to natural disasters such as floods - a belief that was strengthened during the 1998 relief work. Practical Action consequently decided to initiate a long-term disaster mitigation programme along with its post-flood rehabilitation work.

The purpose of the programme was to develop, prove and advocate suitable approaches to natural disasters that contribute to sustainable development of the vulnerable communities. It undertook a research on livelihood strategies of disaster affected communities in Practical Action working areas.

Our programmes are now organised under three programme aims of Reducing Vulnerability, Markets and Livelihoods and Infrastructure Services.

no comments