Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C)

To reduce vulnerability and increase wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalised char dwellers living in the northern char region of Bangladesh. 

Chars are riverine land, susceptible to erosion and soil deposition, which remain disconnected from mainland either seasonally or throughout the year. Due to this unique geographical positioning, Bangladesh government considers the char region as pocket of poverty and the 7th 5-year plan of the government emphasises poverty eradication in such locations. These chars have huge potential for livestock rearing and crop production, however, char households lack access to quality agro-inputs, production knowledge, information, market linkage, financial and other services. The constraints result in lower productivity and quality which leads to lower income. Limited income and opportunities hinder formation of substantial livelihoods capital (financial, physical, human, social and natural) of char households, which is essential to cope with the vulnerable context (economic, physical, social, political and natural) of the chars.

bogra, Bangladesch
Project duration
2012 - 2024
Financed by
  • Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
  • Government of Bangladesh, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives

The project

Chars have the potential of becoming a prominent production zone of Bangladesh but the underperforming market system lacks private and public investments. The broader aim of M4C is thus to make private and public actors realize the potential so that they invest in the region as well as provide services leading to enhancement of economic performance of the poor char households.

To realize this goal, the project’s Theory of Change (ToC) follows mainly two major activity sets where one activity stream focuses on facilitating private businesses/ public agencies to expand customer and producer base, improve quality  and/or introduce products and services in chars integrating cross-cutting themes (WEE, governance, CSPM, DRR) and the other activity stream focuses on supporting a relevant public institution to capitalise and anchor char relevant data/experiences (private sector strategies, business models, advocacy). Thus, the major stakeholders of the project are multiple agricultural companies, micro-finance institutions and public sector organizations operating in Bangladesh. 

Char households are the target beneficiaries of this project. Project’s internal assessments and donors’ independent review has validated that char HHs are investing income to intensify/extensify/diversify farm businesses and are continuing to improve their economic performance. This has been largely possible since char HHs are accessing quality agro-inputs, information, markets and financial services.

Important Links

Project partner

  • Rural development Academy (RDA), Bogra


Expected results and impact

  • Net additional increase in income of CHF 14.5 million for 75,000 char households.
  • Increase of financial, social and physical capitals of char farming households leading to an increase in natural and human capitals
  • Economic empowerment and vulnerability reduction of women evidenced by changes in women’s income, access to opportunities and resources, women’s role, decision-making, balanced workload, asset and savings formation and income diversification.
  • 100,000 Char households in previous and new target locations use better services to improve and diversify their economic activities and 75% of the households using the services will benefit.
  • 700 national and local service providers expand services on the chars and promote 35 innovative services related to aggregation, ICT, energy, health, etc. among the char households.
  • With the facilitation from CDRC (Cambodia Development Resource Institute) at least 4 Public and private sector actors undertake and/or invest in char-focused initiatives and public and private sector induce favorable policies as well as increase investment in infrastructure and market mechanisms for the chars.
Project Journey and Key Achievements 2012 - 2019
M4C (Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars) aims to reduce poverty and vulnerability of northern char households, by facilitating market systems for enhancing opportunities of income generation. M4C is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Government of Bangladesh. 


Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Honourable State Minister Engages in Dialogue with Farmers and Micro-entrepreneurs in Char Purba Isli and SKS Bazar, Gangachara, Rangpur
The Honorable State Minister of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development, and Cooperatives, Mr. Md. Abdul Wadud, MP, embarked on a transformative journey to witness firsthand the M4C interventions. His engagement with farmers and micro-entrepreneurs in Char Purba Isli and SKS Bazar in Gangachara Upazila on May 11th, 2024, epitomised a commitment to progress. During the visit, he observed an improved portable storage facility and various entrepreneurial initiatives by M4C which underscored a dedicated effort to understand the grassroots impact.
Commercially Viable Weather and Disaster Forecasting System: M4C project partners with Win Incorporate
Poverty is concentrated in hard-to-reach climate-vulnerable char regions. Geographic isolation and natural calamities force char dwellers to relocate, impacting their livelihoods. Testing commercially viable weather forecasting can act as a tool to mitigate disaster risk, and climate change adaptation, enabling proactive measures to safeguard investments and livelihoods, and data-driven insights will empower char producers to optimise resource allocation, and make informed decisions on crop cultivation, management.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Upskilling and Reskilling, Sustainable agriculture
Digitalisation in Development
Bangladesh has experienced a notable surge in digital initiatives in recent years, aimed at modernising its infrastructure, enhancing service delivery, and fostering innovation. In collaboration with local stakeholders and government agencies, Swisscontact is implementing several initiatives to further advance digitalisation, to enhance service delivery, promote economic growth, and uplift livelihoods.