Bangladesh is mainly a labour sending country, thus its focus and laws in relation to migration are geared at protecting their overseas workers as well as tapping into the development potential such emigration brings. The efforts of the programme ensured that migration and development (M&D) became a national priority and migration to be considered one of the most influential factors affecting the financial and economic development of the economy.
Migration has successfully been mainstreamed into the National Seventh Five-Year Plan for development and a National Strategy and its Action Plan on M&D were established. To ensure these plans and policies were relevant, an evidence-based approach was employed, which saw various policy assessments and targeted thematic studies carried out. These provided a more in-depth overview and understanding of Bangladesh’s migratory trends.
The programme also provided training and capacity building to national authority officials and other non-state actors to equip them with the tools and necessary skills to implement these plans in partnership with all relevant actors. To further enhance institutional capacities on M&D, the government also established a coordination mechanism to ensure policy coherence, in addition to being instrumental in taking the migration mainstreaming agenda forward. The government of Bangladesh has also been successful at promoting its work and contributing to international dialogues on migration and development through their active participation in fora such as the Global Forum on Migration and Development and the consultations and negotiations surrounding the development of the Global Compact on Migration.
The evidence base on M&D was strengthened for enhanced planning, policy development and M&E at national level through:
- A “Situation Analysis Report of the Migration Context and Policy Framework in Bangladesh” was prepared with a focus on the migration-development nexus relating to both internal and international migration in Bangladesh. The report provided the basis for research and policy interventions for mainstreaming migration into national and sectoral planning within the scope of the Programme.
- Research on four thematic priorities was conducted by the Human Development Research Center. The research priorities1 were identified by the programme stakeholders and served as a basis for the formulation of thematic strategy papers that were fed into the National Strategy and Action Plan on Migration and Development.
- Capacities of the Labour Market Research Cell (LMRC), established at the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) were strengthened via needs assessment and a Technical Plan of Action. The plans were instrumental in ensuring further market analysis interventions were carried out such as designing a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for data management system for labour market information.
- Thematic background papers for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) were developed to support national consultations on GCM. These and the results of the consultations informed the participation of the national delegation in the Regional Preparatory Meeting in Bangkok on 6-8 November 2017 and in other preparatory processes and regional consultations and in the negotiation phase.
Progress made in identifying and mainstreaming of migration into policy planning:
- With support from the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI), thematic strategy papers on four thematic areas were developed to support formulation of the National Strategy and Plan of Action on M&D. In addition, the papers have been used for advocacy actions and further programming in the area of M&D.
- Bangladesh National Strategy and Action Plan on M&D and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework were developed and focus on eight priority areas (1) Recruitment process and related financial costs; (2) Social costs; (3) Skills development; (4) Social protection and rights; (5) Irregular migration and human trafficking; (6) Remittances; (7) Diaspora engagement; and (8) Climate migration.
- Mainstreaming of migration into the Seventh Five Year Plan (SFYP) was achieved during the drafting process and based on the recommendations of the background paper on “Migration and Development”. There is now a specially dedicated section to migration and development which calls for ensuring a robust evidence-based approach to M&D and highlighting the need to reduce remittance and financial costs; enhance diaspora engagement; foster skills matching, labour market development and labour migrants’ protection; ensure migrants’ health; consider the gender-based approach to migration governance and; enabling South-South cooperation on M&D.
Challenges, solutions and lessons learned
The mainstreaming migration agenda is mainly a government-led process that relies on continued engagement with a wide-range of stakeholders which was challenging to ensure. To mitigate these challenges, consistent coordination and follow up was necessary. The National Project Boards, along with ICMD and TWG participating in global project board meetings, proved to be effective working mechanisms to ensure such coordination and keep the government and relevant stakeholders engaged. In addition, during the pilot phase, broad priority areas were determined by the Government of Bangladesh, which ensured ownership of the programmatic interventions in the second phase of the project.
Further challenges included various institutional changes or restructuring resulting from changes/reforms in the governmental structures and changes in leadership – leading to weakened institutional buy in and support and loss of institutional memory. The Programme team have liaised closely with the government authorities holding extensive formal and informal consultations on a regular basis and ensuring their involvement in the capacity building actions being carried out.