Chevron Bangladesh is playing a key role in the energy sector of Bangladesh, addressing the nation's current and future energy needs and producing around 50% of its natural gas in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Corporate Responsibility is the foundation of Chevron's business practice, and one of its most cherished values.
To realise this objective Chevron started Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP) in 2006 in and around and beyond its plant locations and operations in Bibiyana, Jalalabad, and Moulvibazar, in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Implemented on the ground by local NGOs (non-governmental organisations), the initiative rests on a premise of “Helping People to Help Themselves.” In other words, trainings are provided and capacities are built to equip those left behind to frame their own sustainable futures. Keeping this in mind, community mobilisation platforms called Village Development Organisations (VDOs) were constituted in 19 villages. Chevron provides training and business capital for start - ups in the form of seed funds to each VDO, which also maintains a village “bank” comprised of members’ monthly savings.
Chevron strives to create a sustainable solution for the community and against backdrop of existing programmes and future aspirations, Chevron commissioned Swisscontact to undertake a six-month long Assessment and Design Project (July – December 2014) which will, among others:
- Build on the on-going social investments and work through Chevron’s partner NGOs and village development organisations (VDOs);
- Enhance inclusiveness of Chevron’s social investments and strengthen implementation capacity of project partners;
- Assess the present VDO model including its strengths and weaknesses;
- Assess the present NGO partners including their strengths and weaknesses;
- Develop and test a robust VDO model with the existing VDOs to ensure institutional capacity, transparency and inclusive stakeholder representation and to advance social capital of the groups; and
- Design capacity building initiatives for the VDOs and partner NGOs to deliver inclusive interventions targeted at income growth, improved living conditions and self-sustaining capacity of the communities. This will include communication and distribution models to show VDOs the benefits of capacity building.
In an effort to address the needs of the study, Swisscontact carried out both qualitative and quantitative surveys in the greater Sylhet region covering- 1,350 Household Interviews, 18 Focus Group Discussions, 15 Mini Group Discussions and 40 Key Informant Interviews. The findings identified key strengths, opportunities and areas for improvement of the existing programmes, delivery modalities and suggested an improvement over the existing model.
Swisscontact now equipped with invaluable insights from the study, has proposed to carry out a 9-month Pilot Phase from January 2015 in Bibiyana, Hobiganj, to roll out the improved model and build capacity of partner NGOs and VDOs.