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Brussels, 20 June 2011

Examples of EU development cooperation with Bangladesh

When EU cooperation with Bangladesh was established in 1973, it was primarily concerned with humanitarian aid, as Bangladesh has been vulnerable to floods and cyclones. This cooperation has evolved quite significantly over time. While humanitarian assistance continues to be an important part of European Commission's (EC) support to Bangladesh, the emphasis is now on development cooperation in social services (health and education), trade promotion and private sector development, good governance, food security, environment, disaster risk reduction and climate change. The impact that has been achieved so far in Bangladesh through EU-funded activities is a testament to the fruitfulness of a true partnership.

Commissioner Piebalgs visits to the project in the field

Visit to a Primary School

The Commissioner will visit a primary school in South-West of the country, one of the regions with the highest percentage of poor population. Under the Second Primary Education Development programme (PEDP II), new classrooms were built for the schools and more teachers became available for pupils. Thanks to EU support the schools also received new teaching material, teachers undergo regular training, and apprenticeships were created for the poorest students. The EU contribution to the programme amounts to €105 million.

Visit to a hospital

Commissioner Piebalgs will also visit a hospital, which, thanks to EU funds, is being expanded with a new block and has received some new saving-lives equipment (e.g. generator, dental chair, surgery tools and equipment). The EU supported the Health Nutrition and Population Sector Programme with a total of €108 million.

General cooperation

Bangladesh receives assistance from the European Commission’s Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). In addition, the country has benefited substantially from the EC’s thematic budget lines for worldwide action in the fields of food security, promotion of human rights, reinforcement of non-state actors, environment, empowerment of women and other policy priorities.

Current cooperation between the EC and Bangladesh is based on a 7-year bilateral cooperation strategy (2007-2013), for which the starting point was Bangladesh’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and its efforts towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The European Commission puts strong efforts in coordination and consultation processes with all other parties that participate in development aid in Bangladesh. In particular, the Commission is engaged in constant dialogue with civil society organisations, including the private sector, and other development partners active in the country.

The key cooperation priorities are the following:

Key cooperation priorities and sectors

in m€

Focal Sector 1 - Human and Social Development


Focal Sector 2 - Governance and Human Rights


Focal Sector 3 - Economic and Trade development


Non-Focal Sector 1 - Environment, Disaster Management & Climate Change


Non-Focal Sector 2 - Food Security and Nutrition


Total for 2007-13

403 m€

Source: Country Strategy Paper 2007 – 2013


Bangladesh’s education system is one of the largest in the world, with approximately 17 million students at primary and 11 million at secondary level. As part of human and social development, it is a focal area for EU cooperation in Bangladesh. The European Union has been supporting the education sector in Bangladesh since 1993. At present, the EU is co-financing a sector wide programme for the improvement of primary education at national level, in cooperation with the Government and another ten development partners, called the Second Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP II).

PEDP II is one of the major ongoing reform projects in primary education in the country with an overall budget of $1.8 billion. The EU contribution amounts to €105 million. There are five main elements of the reform:

  • quality improvement through organizational development and capacity building;

  • quality improvement in schools and classrooms;

  • quality improvement through infrastructure development;

  • improving and supporting equitable access to quality schooling;

  • PEDP implementation, management, and monitoring.

Some of the results achieved so far:

  • a dramatic increase in net enrolment in primary education from 74% in 1999 to 95.6% in 2010;

  • construction of 40,000 classrooms;

  • hiring of 45,000 teachers.

The EU also supports non-governmental organisations to facilitate alternative schooling for around 320,000 children who are not reached by the government system. On the basis of the successful implementation of the on-going non-formal primary education projects, an ambitious follow-up programme called Supporting the Hardest to Reach Children through Basic Education will start work at the end of 2011.Thanks to this support, an estimated 500,000 children from remote areas will complete the primary education cycle in the coming years.


On the whole, Bangladesh has made laudable progress in health, nutrition and population-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with infant and child mortality rates (MDG 4) as well as more recently, maternal mortality (MDG5) showing impressive declines. Moreover, by significantly reducing the fertility rate and taking control of population growth, Bangladesh has created an important prerequisite for sustainable economic development.

The current sector programme, the Health Nutrition and Population Sector Programme (HNPSP), has been a $4.3 billion six-year investment programme, jointly financed by 12 development partners. The EU supported HNPSP with a total of €108 million, out of which €76 million were channelled via a World Bank managed multi-donor trust fund.

Some of the results achieved so far:

  • a recent survey indicates that the maternal mortality ratio declined by 40% from 322 in 2001 to now 194 in 2010 per 100 000 live births;

  • child mortality decreased from 37 (1996) to 14 (2007) per 1000 live births;

  • some 2.4 million births were attended by skilled personnel in last three years.

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