Reintegration of Migrant Workers in Bangladesh

Reintegration of returnee women and men migrant workers into their communities through self or wage-employment and customised support services is a priority in the current pandemic context. The project will take advantage of the favourable relationship Switzerland enjoys as a longstanding partner of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment to provide technical assistance for establishing and improving services for returnee migrant workers, building upon country systems.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Labour migration
Vocational training
Business support & economic inclusion
Public sector policy
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
01.05.2020 - 31.01.2027
CHF  8’700’000
Background International labour migration is one of the key drivers of economic growth in Bangladesh. In the last five years, four million low-skilled migrant workers have travelled from the country for jobs  and have remitted USD 75 billion. Reintegration of migrant workers is the ‘missing link’ in the migration cycle for Bangladesh, meaning that while outbound migrants receive attention from  stakeholders,  returnees remain neglected. When migrants return, they are often unable to find gainful employment. Women migrant workers encounter additional social hurdles when it comes to reconnecting with their families and communities – they are often ostracised by the community for being sexually exploited, even if that is not so. They are unable to adjust to their communities and also cannot seek support. The COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the situation, given that more than 500’000 migrants have returned to Bangladesh, since March 2020. These returnees have a limited scope due to dampened economic conditions, are unable to remigrate, and face a growing debt burden. The Ministry does not have any action plan for the reintegration of migrant workers. While it has enacted the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board Act in 2018, there has not been much progress on increasing the capacity of the Board or working on reintegration. This realm thus presents a clear opprtunity for support from Switzerland, and the SDC to take a leading role with regard to the issues of reintegration of migrants; this pioneering role will allow Switzerland to come to the fore in the region. 
Objectives 13’220 returnee women and men migrant workers in transient poverty (i.e. being just above the poverty line, with any shock pushing them below the poverty line), are able to reintegrate economically and/or socially in their communities and 500’000 returnee migrant workers benefit from the increased effectiveness of services provided by the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment.
Target groups

13’220 direct beneficiaries, e.g. returnee migrants who intend to stay in Bangladesh

-    6’000 returnee women and men migrant workers and their families in the districts of Cumilla, Chattogram, Tangail, Noakhali, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Feni, Faridpur, Barisal and Dhaka benefit through BRAC.

-    7’000 returnee women and men and their families supported through Manusher Jonno Foundation in Bhola, Narayanganj, Norail, Jessore, Khulna, Kushtia and Dhaka,

-    220 women returnee migrant workers in Manikganj are supported through OKUP.

The Ministry of Expatriates‘ Welfare and Overseas Employment, Wage Earners‘ Welfare Board and Welfare Officers (at the district level) benefit through the Joint UN Programme. At least 500’000 secondary beneficiaries will benefit from system changes over four years.

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Returnee migrant workers benefit from socioeconomic reintegration and stability after their return to Bangladesh.

Outcome 2: The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment ensures an inclusive and accountable framework for reintegration through capable institutions and systems.


Expected results:  

Output 1.1: Returnee migrant workers (15% women) and their families improved their livelihoods through economic reintegration support and skills training.

Output 1.2: Returnee migrant workers and their families benefit from social reintegration support and counselling services.

Output 2.1: The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment enacted an inclusive, gender responsive and accountable framework for reintegration of migrant workers.

Output 2.2: The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment established a policy-based and well-defined coordination, including mechanisms with participation of the concerned ministries and departments to address the issues of sustainable reintegration.

Output 2.3: The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment created effective synergies among employers’ organisations for skills development and wage-employment opportunities for returnee migrant workers.

Results from previous phases:  

Insights from the two-years pilot initiative with BRAC:

1)    Since women are usually confined within the household, districts with women migrant workers require additional attention;

2)    engaging youth volunteers to reach out to returnee migrant workers in their communities worked well, but further capacity building is needed;

3)    the project was not able to tap into resources from the Local Government Institutions at the outset. Thus, advocacy with Local Government Institutions have to be initiated before the work with the beneficiaries starts;

4)    Customised interventions are required for returnee migrant workers.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • International Labor Organization
  • Foreign private sector North

Other partners

-    BRAC (including OKUP and Manusher Jonno Foundation as sub-contractors) for Outcome 1

-    International Labour Organization, for Outcome 2 (with participating agencies of International Organization for Migration and UN Women) 

Coordination with other projects and actors

Other development partners: World Bank, European Union, Royal Embassy of Denmark in Bangladesh, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), Global Alliance Canada, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and European Regions Research and Innovation Network.

Swiss Supported Projects: GOALS project by the Global Programme Migration and Development, migration projects in Nepal and Sri Lanka, SIMS project, SDG16 and Go4IMPact. 

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    8’700’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’612’311 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF   20’000’000
Project phases Phase 1 01.05.2020 - 31.01.2027   (Current phase)