Upazila Beggars Rehabilitation ActivitiesUBRA
Upazila Administration, Kishoreganj

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Kishoreganj Upazila is a backward, disadvantaged and poorest upazilla of northern district Nilphamari. Total 2, 94,064 people lives in the area of 204 s/km. Large population, illiteracy, lack of awareness, drought, river erosion, flash flood and laziness make the poverty aggravated. Many poor people including women, disabled, elderly, ethnic minorities were involved in begging in the office area, roadside, markets, mosque and household level. They beg from early in the morning to till evening. They were creating public nuisance and the citizen also became annoyed. There were many reasons to be annoyed. For instance, when street beggars went to school and asked for financial assistance, if head teacher gives him or her money for example ten taka and request to leave the school, they do not leave rather they ask for help from every student from every class. In that case, teachers become aggrieved. Sometimes business men, civil society, officials, households also expressed their dissatisfaction. As a result street beggars would face rough behavior, insulted by some rich people. At the same time, they were tarnishing the image of the society. They also forgot their citizen rights, human rights. By begging, they were living in a measurable condition. They were not aware about sanitation, children’s education, health and nutrition and social manner, etiquette and culture. In a nutshell, their living condition was vulnerable in on hand, and they creating public nuisance on the other hand. No organization has come to support them for their rehabilitation. Even the beggars were not included in the beneficiary of government social safety net programs which was pathetic. So, main problem was that the ultra poor were starving due to non availability of food; they were wearing old and torn cloths and not getting their citizen rights, social dignity and leading their lives in a measurable condition. They had no nutrition; they were suffering various types of diseases. They had no money to buy medicine. They could not send their children to school due to financial crisis. They compelled their children to engage child labor. The women, disabled, elderly beggars are more sufferer of extreme poverty which are against the spirit of Millennium Development Goals. Sometimes they became involved in anti social activities like stealing, smuggling, addicting to drugs and so on. These vulnerable groups do not get importance from any corner. Neither public and private office nor individual/entity addressed their problems. Even no body listen their problem. There are many NGOs are working in the name of poverty alleviation but they are not addressing their problems. Rather they are keeping the poverty alive. In the above circumstances, mainstreaming street beggars might be one of the best solutions.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Former Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO i.e. Chief Executive Officer of the government working at local government level) Mr. Mohammad Golam Azam proposed to rehabilitate the beggars through involving in the Employment Generation Program for the Ultra Poor (EGPP) of Directorate of Disaster Management of the government. Because out of eight Millennium Development Goals number one Goal is Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty. To attain the goal the initiative is essential. Someone has to give big push to eradicate hunger and poverty. Accordingly UNO has invited the street beggars to gather in front of Upazila Nirbahi office building. Then 100 ultra poor has been identified as street beggars. They were recruited in the EGPP as piloting basis on April 4, 2013. After being recruited they were engaged in cutting soil for forty days and other activities including handicrafts giving up begging. They were also recruited second time in November 2013 and third time in April 2014. In EGPP, every labor gets BDT 175 cash per day and BDT 25 is saved in the bank. With their savings they started income generating activities including small trading. After successful completion of the pilot project, a comprehensive approach had been undertaken to make the whole upazila as street beggars free. In the meantime UNO has been transferred to other district. New UNO Mr. Md. Siddiqur Rahman joined on 6 March 2014. He prepared a questionnaire and requested the RDRS, Bangladesh (Non-governmental organization) for conducting survey. The RDRS survey found 916 beggars in the Upazila. To verify the RDRS survey findings a second survey was conducted with the help of Ansar-Village Defense Party (VDP). They found 650 beggars. Finding the variance between the two surveys a third survey was conducted by the UNO office and found 979 beggars. Then the 979 beggars were categorized according to recipient of beneficiaries of government social safety net programs. Category one- 195 beggars, they are included in the government social safety net programs but the amount of allowances is not sufficient to run their family expenditure that is why for their livelihood they were begging door to door. Category two-784 beggars who were not included in the government social safety net program, for their livelihood they were begging according to survey result findings. For rehabilitation, fund is pre requisite. To create fund, one bank account has been opened and encouraged local people to donate in the humanitarian initiatives. People all walks of life responded very positively. They deposited money in the bank account and submited the receipt to the upazila administration. Upazila administration also maintains registers for accountability and transparency. From rehabilitation fund, materials were distributed among 195 beggars for income generating activities who received benefits of social safety net programs. Materials includes- small business item like paddy, betel leaf, instruments for making domestic cake, goat-duck-hen for rearing. 231 beggars were included as members of the Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar( EBEK) Samiti (one home one firm association) . They are also given short training for small trading, goat rearing. The beggars have become members of EBEK for poverty alleviation in the long run, they are included into government social safety net programs like aged allowance, widow and disabled allowances, EGPP and so on. Three committees were formed. i.e. Ward, Union and upazila committee. Ward committee has supplied donation bags among solvent household so that they can store their donation into the bag in the whole month. First Friday of the next month ward committee collect donation from households and invite concerned rehabilitated beggars and distributes with equity. Both poor and rich class is happy with this system.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The integrated approach has been applied to rehabilitate the street beggars. Around 950 beggars have been getting old age, widow and disabled allowances of the Directorate of Social Service and rest are getting VGD benefit from the Directorate of Women Affairs. They were also recruited in EGPP of Directorate of Disaster Management. Now they are being rehabilitated in various ways. They are working instead of begging. They have converted their begging hands into working machine. Now the beauty of this upazila is- there is no street beggars, no public nuisance. Out of 487 upazila in Bangladesh only this upazila (Kishoreganj Upazila) is now street beggar free. The beggars have realized that begging is unproductive and humiliating profession. To make the initiative sustainable, ward committee has been formed and activated at grass root level. To participate in the humanitarian initiatives donation bags and box are supplied among the solvent people who are storing their donations into the supplied bags and word committee are collecting the money/materials and distribute among the respective ward rehabilitated beggars. The beauty of the initiative is that the rehabilitated beggars are getting financial help without going to other household. This initiative expedites to achieve Millennium Development Goals.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Survey: We conducted Survey to assess the number and need of the beggars. Out of three hundred thousand populations it was most important to find out the beggars. We developed a format which had 11 questions like name and address of the beggar, monthly income through begging, what alternatives to begging they can do and how much money to rehabilitate and so on. RDRS Bangladesh, Ansar VDP. Village police, upazila team conducted survey and finalized 979 beggars. Exchange Views: After completion of survey, we exchanged views with respected two members of parliament, elected people, officer’s staffs, business man, and other people. We also discussed the initiative in various meetings, seminars, conferences and motivate the people to come forward. Create people’s awareness: We have created awareness among the people. People are actively participating in the implementation process of the initiative. To aware the people drama, role play, songs, performances are staged before huge audiences. Formation of the committee and assign responsibility: Three committees are formed to implement the initiatives. Action plan is formulated in which activities; role, timeline etc. are articulated in the Action Plan. Training and motivation: We arranged training on cow, got, hen, and duck rearing for the beggars. Besides these, training session are also conducted on cultivation of vegetables in the home ground and barren land and other income generating activities including small trading. The expert trainers motivate them to work instead of begging. Motivation by Religious Leaders: There are five hundred mosques and 145 temples. A motivating letter had been issued to read out and motivate the religious people to involve in the initiative. Accordingly religious leaders motivated the people which was very much effective. Announcement of beggar free upazila: Formally we invited all the beggars in a meeting and announce beggar free upazila. Speakers in the grand meeting underscored the need for mainstreaming the street beggars. They also motivated the beggars to give up derogatory profession like begging. Accordingly beggars vowed to give up begging and start working. Fund collection and management: To meet instant demand for food and inputs for income generating activities, small trading fund is necessary. That is why one bank account was opened and collected fund locally. Distribution of materials: After collection of fund we purchased materials (duck, hens, goats, rice, betel leaf, fried rice, fried fish and instrument for making domestic cakes) for their small trading and income generating activities. Vaccination program: We also arranged vaccination programs for goats to save from viral diseases. Upazila live stock office gave medicine and technical support in this respect. PDCA cycle: Our monitoring team is monitoring and giving us monitoring report and we are taking necessary measures where we see the problem. In this case, we are following plan, do, check and action i.e. PDCA cycle.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Two Upazila Nirbahi Officers design the initiative. Before implementation the upazila administration exchanged views with two respected Member of Parliament, Chairman, Vice Chairmen of Upazila Parishad, Chairmen and Members of union parishad, Officers, staffs, teachers, businessmen, civil society and people all walks of life. They gave unanimous support to rehabilitate beggars. Upazila administration along with other stakeholders implements the initiative. More specifically, upazila parishad chairman, union parishad chairmen, member, social service office, EBEK office, Bangladesh rural development office, teachers, businessmen and citizens are involved in the implementation process. Finally the street beggars were also motivated in working instead of begging. Moreover, Deputy Commissioner, Nilphamari, Divisional Commissioner, Rangpur Division, gave financial support and encouraged to implement for public interest. Respected Members of Parliament Mr. Md. Shawkot Chowdhury and Professor Golam Mustafa donated and inspired upazila administration to implement the project. Directorate of Social Service has distributed allowances cards among the 950 beggars. Directorate of Disaster Management has recruited them as their labor of EGPP. Ekti bari ekti khamar have made them members to alleviate poverty in the long run. Directorate of Women Affairs has included the left out beggars in the Vulnerable Group Development (VGD). Officers and staffs of the departments were working hard to implement the initiative. UNO and his team coordinate among the departments and other stakeholders. The role of citizen and non government organizations are also praiseworthy. Because NGOs are monitoring the activities and submitting the report which helps to remove the errors, laps and gaps. The citizen also motivates the beggars to work and not to beg. For example, now they offer work to the ultra poor not money. After working they are giving wage which is changing the mindset of the beggars.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Two types of resources are used to implement the initiative. One, locally collected fund and two, government social safety net programs. For meeting the immediate need of the beggars, we collected fund from local people which we spent for purchasing materials. We requested solvent people to deposit money in the bank account, supplied donation box in 9 union parishad office, banks and other important office. Donation of the generous rich people, elected representatives particularly the two members of parliament, chairman, upazila and union parishad, teachers and other service holders even common people are main source. Jakat, fitra of muslim community and other grants are always welcomed. The listed beggars have been included in the government social safety net program. All are included in the vulnerable group feeding (VGF), Some of them are included in the employment generation program for ultra poor (EGPP) of the Directorate of Disaster Management , some of them are included in the vulnerable group development (VGD) of the Directorate of Women Affairs and others are included in other social safety net programs, like aged, widow and disable allowances of the Directorate of Social Service which would also play major role to mitigate the sufferings of the beggars. Ekti bari ekti khamar has made them member for alleviating poverty in the long run. After being member EBEK rehabilitated beggars have got interest free loan to start small business and other income generating activities. Because the member of EBEK deposit savings and government also gives incentive bonus and revolving fund to give loan and Fund Management For proper management of fund, one bank account has been opened in Sonali Bank Ltd. The account is being operated by joint signature of UNO and Upazila Rural Poverty Reduction Officer. Registers are also maintained in our office for receipts and disbursements. Besides, a bikash ( mobile money transfer) account has been opened in order to receive donation from remote area who are willing to contribute. We have kept nine donation boxes in nine unions in which two locks. One is under control of UNO and another is under control of union council chairman. The boxes are opened in fortnight basis. The amount is written in registers and again deposits in bank account then disburse in the same union.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
People’s awareness is one of the most important output of our initiative. They give all sort of support i.e. financial, physical, mental which contributed a lot attain success of the initiative. For example, people interrogate if any beggar is seen to beg and make phone call to the administration. Another important contributing output is government social safety net programs including employment generation program for ultra poor of disaster management directorate, aged, widow and disable allowances of social service directorate, vulnerable group’s development of children and women affairs directorate are remarkable. Elected people i.e two members of parliament, Chairmen, members of union parishad, Chairmen and vice chairmen of upazila parishad, gave the support to the humanitarian initiative and passed the resolution impartially sacrificing their own voters. Moreover, other professionals including teachers, doctors, businessmen, farmers civil society and people all walk of lives also support and cooperate to achieve the target. Staffs of upazila administration work hard to indentify the genuine beggars, assess their need, alternative employment/income generating activities and purchase the materials from market and distribute among the beggars are really difficult but they sincerely did the job successfully. After distribution, monitoring and evaluation is important to make it sustainable. Regular visit, sudden visit to the beggars home create a stress to work with the supplied materials. The beggars start to change their mindset to work. Monitoring and evaluation is ineluctable to sustain the project. Ward committee is playing vital role to monitor to the program. Particularly the role of village police is really praiseworthy. They submit the weekly report after collecting the information by visiting door to door. Non government organizations are also collecting the activities and helping in collecting fund and monitoring the activities.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
There are six monitoring unit i.e 1) Village Police, 2) NGOs, 3) Field Assistant, Ekti bari Ekti Khamar, 4) Ward Committee, 5) Union Committee, 6) Upazilla Committee Village Police: There are 81 wards in this upazilla and every ward has a village police. The village police is monitoring the activities of the beggars in the concerned ward on the daily basis. But they submit the monitoring report to UNO weekly. UNO evaluates the report and takes corrective measures. For example, if any goat is sick then UNO request live Stock Officer to send some to take care. NGOs: There are more than 18 NGOs are working in this upazilla. We have monthly coordination meeting with the NGO people. On that day they submit monitoring report and we discuss the conditions, activities of the beggars and take decision. Field Assistant Ekti bari Ekti Khamar: There are nine union in this upazilla and nine field assistants. Since beggars are the members of ekti bari ekti khamar, they have taken loan from the Ekti bari Ekti khamar samity, that is why, field assistant monitor the functions of the beggars, materials, their business and overall performance. UNO is also controlling officer of the field assistants. So they monitor sincerely. Ward Beggars Rehabilitation Committee: Member of union council, teacher of government primary school, religious leader, Ansar VDP representatives are the member of ward committee. They observe the situations of the beggars and if any anomaly takes place, they bring it to our notice. Union Beggars Rehabilitation Committee: Chairman union council, male and female members of union council, Union land assistant officer, deputy assistant agricultural officer, freedom fighter, entrepreneurs of union information and service centre are members of union beggar’s rehabilitation committee. They often visit their conditions. When any relief or allocation comes union committee gives priority to the beggars. Upazilla Beggars Rehabilitation Committee: Members of upazilla rehabilitation committee visit the beggars home and activities surprisingly. They also evaluate the monitoring report submitted by other committee and take necessary steps. Moreover, teachers of all educational institutes, officers and staffs of government and non government offices, businessmen, farmers and citizen are requested to inform any committee member particularly focal point of upazilla committee that is UNO if any problem arises anywhere in the upazilla.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Initially we supplied goats, duck, hens and other materials equivalents taka 1500 to 2000 but beggars claim much more capital, some of them demand cow instead of goats, ducks and hens. Due to our fund constraints we motivate them and try to satisfy with small capital and whatever they have got. Seeing rehabilitation opportunity non-beggars but poor claim to be beggars and seek rehabilitation facilities. Some beggars who were living Dhaka city or other city, now they are coming to get rehabilitation facilities. Since our locally collected fund is limited, we cannot fulfill unlimited demands. Some poor people frequently come to UNO office and want to be included in the social safety net programs. Some of them demand VGD cards, some demand old age allowance cards, widow allowance cards, disable allowance cards and so on. But the allocation of social safety net programs are limited, we cannot include them as the beneficiary. In that case, we prioritize on the basis of their needs and socio-economic conditions. The rehabilitated beggars think that UNO is their friend that is why they come to UNO and want to tell all of their problems. But it is very difficult to manage time to give patient hearing and address their problems. Another big challenge is a few goats, hens and ducks have been died and sometimes become sick. It is difficult to make up their loss. Fund arrangement is another challenge because this region is comparatively backward and less developed. The rich class are living in the city area, most of the people are middle class, lower middle class and poor-ultra poor. It was difficult to arrange fund for meeting the rehabilitation cost.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The beggars are working rather than begging. As a result there is no street beggar in our upazila. No disturbance, public nuisance, no humiliation, no image crisis. For example, one citizen said, from morning to evening at least 50 beggars came to his home and pressed calling bell and shouted before but after implementation of the initiative no beggar comes to his residence. Now he can sleep, he can eat without any disturbance. That’s why he is happy. One salesman expressed satisfaction in this way, “before initiative almost 100 beggars came to his shop and created disturbances in selling goods, sometimes buyers also became annoyed but after implementation, beggars are not coming, there is no disturbance we can sell our product peacefully. He along with business community has donated to implement our initiative. The beggars on the other hand also get rough behavior from the rich class but now they are not dependant on begging. Rather they are now engaged in cultivating land, gardening, goats, hen and duck rearing. Some of them are making cake, selling in the market, making profit and bearing family expenditure. Food, cloths, health, education and shelter are five fundamental demand of the citizen as per constitution of Bangladesh. Through the implementation of the project we are trying to ensure the five fundamental demands to the most disadvantaged segment of our society. They are now going to be self employed and self dependant. This upazila is going to be role model for the rest 486 upazila in Bangladesh. Now other upazila is following our model. Tele media are telecasting our initiative. Local and national print media are also publishing our initiative. The ultra poor people are living with dignity. They have learnt how to lead their lives without begging, how to work, how to earn. To make it sustainable the following three committees are formed with specific terms of reference. The committees are- Word Beggars Rehabilitation Committee headed by Union Parishad member; Union Committee beggars Rehabilitation Committee headed by UP Chairman; Upazila Beggars Rehabilitation Committee headed by UNO; Chairman, Upazila Parishad and two respected MPs will work as promoter. All the three committees are working with their terms of reference. The impact of this initiative can be measured easily. If any one visit surrounding upazilas then he or she can see street beggars but he or she cannot see any beggar in this upazila. We have the database of the beggars, if anyone asks beggars they can speak about their begging and humiliations. On the other hand if anyone asks any citizen then she or he can get the positive response and output of the initiative.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The initiative is working like positive externalities. Now the rehabilitated beggars are engaged in productive activities. They are also the members of Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar Samitee, from where they are taking interest free loan, Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar Samitee has its own bank, samitee members are owner of the bank. Their mindset are changing, everybody is looking their activities. So, they will not go back to their defamatory profession. They are self motivated, self confident. They are generating income through small trading, duck, and hen rearing. The earning from their working is more favorable than that of begging. They are getting interest in working. Financially they are going to be solvent, socially they are getting recognition, economically they are going to be emancipated, culturally their activities are being appreciated, and environmentally this is nuisance free environment. They have apprehension that if any of them goes to begging then social welfare office may cancel his/her allowance card, so none would dare to go for begging. So, we can say it is sustainable. The initiative is also transferable and replicable. Deputy Commissioner, Nilphamari appreciated and included the initiative in the agenda of district development coordination committee meeting, discussed in detailed and hoped to implement the project in the rest five upazila. Deputy Commissioner, Nilphamari also send resolution on beggars rehabilitation activities to the Cabinet Division. In the meantime, Nilphamari Sadar Upazila conducted survey and identified the number of street beggars. Divisional Commissioner, Rangpur talked with the Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare. The Secretary also asked UNO about the activities, how implemented the initiative. In the meantime Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit in Social Welfare Ministry stressed the need for inclusion of beggars in the government social safety net program and poverty and beggar free Bangladesh. Now the government is planning to rehabilitate the beggars and make the country beggar free.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
This is best experience in my whole life. According to job description and job specification of UNO, it is not his mandatory responsibility to deliver the service to the street beggars in such a way i.e. rehabilitating them. He feels rich and poor all are human. Every man and woman has dignity. Man is the best creature of this universe. Their identity is human. No difference between rich and poor. A poor/ultra poor cannot be insulted by the rich class. We know man is for man. On humane ground he (UNO) took initiative and become successful. It is proved that no initiative go in vein once again. Every initiative has result. During implementation we visited the home of the beggars and saw their socio-economic condition, their living place, their sanitation, their children’s condition. Seeing their vulnerable condition in person it was easy to internalize for UNO and his team members that how measurable life they led. We public servants do not know so helpless condition of the ultra poor class. This is our best learning to know that at age of globalization, information and communication technology, United Nations Millennium Development goal, a segment of people are facing severe struggle, struggle for living, inhumane life. So internalization to this class of people is the best learning and I want to apply this learning in my whole life insha Allah (if Allah wants). Deputy Commissioner, Nilphamari (District level representative of Central Government), Divisional Commissioner, Rangpur who is the highest controlling authority in field administration have visited the initiative. Divisional Inspector General of Police, Rangpur Range and other divisional level officials were accompanying him. They all became happy seeing the success of the initiative. Respected Divisional Commissioner was happy that he had written one success story and posted it to the Public Service Innovation Bangladesh face book page. A number of officials including secretary to the government appreciated the initiative and they recommend replicating this model across the country. We think that it is the recognition for doing good job. We recommend all public servants should come out of the box and take initiative to serve the people, to help the people and particularly to disadvantaged people. First of all, we have to assess the need of the service recipients, identify stakeholders, and then prepare data base if necessary. Then Integrated rehabilitation program to be undertaken by Directorate of Social Service, Women and Children Affairs and Disaster Management, etc. under the leadership of Field Administration.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Upazila Administration, Kishoreganj
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Md. Siddiqur Rahman
Title:   Administration and Development  
Telephone/ Fax:   88055256002/88055256038
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   acsiddique1975@gmail.com  
Address:   Kishoreganj,District- Nilphamari
Postal Code:   5320
City:   Nilphamari
State/Province:   Rangpur Division

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