Published on November 21, 2021

Access to Social Safety Net: Wind of Change in Kapnapahar

Samortia Barma (63), is a  retired tea worker who lives in Kapnapahar Tea Garden, which is a hard-to-reach area of Sagornal Union. In the joint family of her four sons and their family members, Samorita and her husband are dependent members. When Samortia was having a very difficult time meeting the family expenditure, she and her husband got to know about government allowance for elderly people.

Strengthening the access to social protection services and social services is one of the working areas of the UN Joint SDG Fund’s Programme in tea gardens of Sylhet, Bangladesh. Joint Programme partner, UNICEF, and its field implementation agency, FIVDB, are advocating with the Union Parishad (UP) which is the last stage of local government. This advocacy with UP aims to include poor elderly people for the government's social safety net cash transfer programme with a coordinated effort. As a part of this intervention, a community consultation was conducted in November 2020 to determine the actual status of social protection services in Kapnapahar Tea Garden. Tea workers and their family members, primary school teachers, panchayat leaders, and UP members actively participated in that event. It was a fruitful consultation event as UP members recognized that tea workers and their family members are not aware of their social rights and how to accelerate their rightful inclusion at the social safety net coverage programme. UP members started raising awareness of citizen's social rights and therefore, Samrotia Barma got encouraged to apply for old age allowance. Meeting all the set criteria of the Ministry of Social Welfare she got enlisted for old age allowance and she is receiving 500 BDT every month. With the help of UP members, she has already received an installment of six months' allowance, which is 3000 BDT (USD 35), through mobile financial services. After receiving the cash support, Samrotia was very happy and expressed her gratitude for making her and other tea workers' family members aware of their social rights.

The Joint UN Programme 'Social protection for tea garden workers and their family members' is playing a vital role in increasing the living standard of the marginalized people in Kapnpahar.  In the last eight months, the application rate for social safety net packages has increased significantly and 108 people, like Samrotia, got enlisted for old age allowance service.


About the programme:

Enhancing social protection for female tea garden workers and their family members is a joint programme of ILO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women. The joint programme is funded by the Joint SDG Fund and coordinated by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Bangladesh. Through this intervention in Sylhet division, female tea garden workers, their family members will be more empowered to claim their rights to avail the social procreation services. Besides creating opportunities for female workers in the decision-making process of the trade union, this joint initiative will contribute to ensuring a decent work environment, maternal health care, and child education-health-nutrition.