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Promoting Decent Work through Improved Migration Policy and its Application in Bangladesh

Date and time

2013.02.20, 4:51 PM


Labour migration is currently the source of income for over 7 million labour migrants and their families in Bangladesh. Remittances – around USD 11 billion in 2010 – contribute over 10% of GDP and are one of the major single sources of foreign exchange. However, the absence of adequate regulatory and supportive framework limits the benefits and increases the risk of exploitation by unscrupulous intermediaries and labour recruiting agencies. Poor migrants are mostly unskilled, and lack basic knowledge about their options and rights at home and abroad. Hence, with the support of SDC, the Government of Bangladesh has taken up this project in order to update relevant migration policies (i.e. Overseas Employment Policy 2006, The Emigration Ordinance 1982 etc.) and systematise the necessary institutional and legislative reforms in order to ensure the implementation of the policy.

Who does the project work with

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the main implementing agency of this project and will work through the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) of the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment (MEWOE). The project works in partnership with relevant international partners (International Organization for Migration /IOM, UNWOMEN etc) and national actors (Dhaka Ahsania Mission and other service providers). The project also works with the Ministry of Labour and Employment; the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation and the Bangladesh Association for International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) and trade unions through the National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education.

What does the project do

The overall goal of this project is to contribute to the economic and social development of Bangladesh through the enhancement of decent employment opportunities, and the protection of migrant workers and their family members through policy and institutional development.

The project is expected to maximise the development impact of migration and improve protection of male and female migrant workers by strengthening policy and institutional frameworks; improve operational efficiency and effectiveness in overseas employment management, including supervision and regulation of recruitment agencies and the reduction of costs for workers; and strengthen social protection, especially that of the female migrant workers, available onsite and on their return.

How does the project work

The project is managed through an ILO Project Management Team (PMT) located within BMET. IOM contributes to specific issues, in particular in the areas of information and data management systems for the BMET – including the “Smart Card” initiative – and for communication strategy and information campaign for aspiring migrant workers. UNWOMEN is associated with aspects of the project outputs related to gender mainstreaming, specifically catering to the information, protection and referral needs of female migrant workers, which is a key focus of the project

Strategic partnerships are established with civil society actors, such as the Bangladesh Employers Association, the Bangladesh Association for International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), the Bangladesh Overseas Employment Services Limited (BOESL, the government’s own recruitment agency) and the trade unions through the National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education. Specialised NGOs are assigned to deliver services in the area of community outreach and training centres in selected districts.

The project is steered through a Project Steering Committee (PSC), chaired by the Secretary of the MEWOE, and with the membership of ILO and SDC. A Project Coordination Committee set up in the BMET implements and coordinates the project. The PSC and PMT assure adequate coordination with other official stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), and the National Skill Development Council (NSDC) etc. The PMT assures the links and synergies with other programmes and projects financed by other development partners. The project collaborates with relevant development projects, such as the ADB-SDC supported Skills Development Project, the EU supported Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Reform Project and the WB supported Skills Training Enhancement Project (STEP).

Where does the project work

The project is implemented nationally and in collaboration with labour recipient countries (e.g. the Middle East, SAARC region, etc.) as well as potential destination regions (Eastern & Western Europe, Canada etc).

Budget and time frame

The total budget for the current phase (May 2010 – August 2014) is CHF 4.87 million, including CHF 220’000 used during the opening period (May 2010-May 2011) for project preparation.


Mr, Shahabuddin Khan, ILO (skhan@ilo.org)

DG BMET (dg@bmet.org.bd)


Economic sectors

Other and General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis and Support initiatives

Target groups

Policymakers, Employers, agencies and their representatives, and Unions

Geographical focuses

Bangladesh and Global relevance