The United Nations' refugee agency has teamed up with Ayesha Abed Foundation -- the humanitarian wing of Brac -- to provide income opportunities by developing skills of Rohingya and Bangladeshi women in craft production in Cox's Bazar.
The project that formally began in February is now being scaled up. At the recently-opened training facility in Ukhiya, local Bangladeshi women are taught silk screen printing, block printing and tailoring, according to a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statement.
Eighteen sub-centres are being opened in other areas of Cox's Bazar as well as camps where refugee women will produce different designs of hand embroidery.
By the end of the first year, the goal is to train 500 women, half of whom should be refugees.
“The ambition, if the project is successful, could expand to train hundreds more. The women receive a small stipend during the six-month training period. UNHCR is funding the programme, but we hope the project will break even in the future,” said UNHCR spokesperson Elizabeth Trossell in a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva yesterday.
The items that will be produced include embroidery pieces hand-sewn by refugees, along with apparel for children, men, and women, and household items. The finished products will be sold in one of Bangladesh's best-known fashion retailers, Aarong, a social enterprise of Brac.
Under the project, Aarong provides the raw materials and designs to Ayesha Abed Foundation. Half of the profits are transferred to Brac for its development work, while the remainder is used for investment and employment growth.
The pilot is seen as a model of providing skills-training support to these communities, Elizabeth Trossell said.
Cox's Bazar is one of the poorest and most under-developed areas of Bangladesh, with few job opportunities outside the rural sector. Over one million Rohingya are living there.