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This year, the Growing Together partnership reached 10,000 marginal farming households in Rangpur, with potato farmers self reporting close to an average 200% increase in yield and even more increase in price. Child Marriage Prevention Committees have used the youth, often female, peer educators to raise awareness of rights with ICS volunteers and create a structure which communities hold as their own after ICS has been completed. 

Fairer farming

Farmer supported to diversify crop on VSO Bangladesh Syngenta Growing Together project VSO/Md. Rafiqul Islam Faruki

Smallholder farmer supported to diversify his crop and improve yield through our Growing Together project with Syngenta

Almost half of Bangladeshis rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. But climate change, land scarcity and poor access to markets keep 36% of people in rural areas below the poverty line.

Too few smallholder farmers grow enough food to satisfy themselves and their families, let alone sell any surplus for profit. Food security is a growing cause for concern.

VSO and Syngenta are working together on a three-year partnership to sustainably improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Bangladesh. The project harnesses our collective expertise in agricultural techniques and value chains to grow smallholder farmer household incomes.

Recent results:

  • 10,000 farm families have been intensively trained in good agricultural practice
  • 90% of poor farmers have reported a 50% increase in their income
  • The establishment of ‘farmer hubs’ that have allowed the majority of farmers to secure contracts with private sector companies that guarantee purchase at an agreed price 

Early marriage, sexual health and rights

Girl and her mother at home in Bangladesh | VSO VSO/Tazeen Hossain

Shapla, left, used lessons learned in a session run by VSO youth volunteers to convince her parents not to marry her at 14 to a 37-year-old man

Bangladesh has the world's fourth highest rate of children entering into forced ‘marriages’. Three quarters of girls in rural areas are married before the age of 15.

VSO harnesses local and international ICS youth volunteers to work with young people and elders in target communities. They deliver critical information with a focus on the risks to health of young girls and legal protection for child rights. Their innovations include safe spaces where girls can discuss issues, and supporting the development of anti-child marriage committees.

Recent results:

  • More than 900 people have new skills to challenge forced child marriage
  • Target communities have made commitments to ending forced marriage
  • Training local youth to develop peer education and outreach prgrammes on youth sexual and reproductive health 

“My daughter’s learnings made me realize how brutal child marriage is and what health hazards a girl can face because of it. Now I don’t think of my daughter as a burden, I consider her as an asset who will do something for the people of my community.”

Father of Shapla, a girl in Durgapur, who resisted early marriage after being supported by VSO ICS youth volunteers


Our work in Bangladesh in 2015-16

9,000 farm families have been intensively trained in good agricultural practice

farm families have been intensively trained in good agricultural practice

Over 900 have new skills to challenge forced (child) marriage
Over 900

have new skills to challenge forced (child) marriage

Over 600 women and youth entrepreneurs have received support that has lead to increased employment, income or improved employment conditions.
Over 600

women and youth entrepreneurs have received support that has lead to increased employment, income or improved employment conditions.

VSO's distinct contribution in Bangladesh

Bangladesh business advisoers needed ©VSO/Allison Joyce

Jonathan Richards, expert volunteer from Syngenta, working with smallholder farmers in Bangladesh

VSO has been working in Bangladesh since 1974 to ensure that marginalised women and men in some of the poorest districts can participate in, contribute to and benefit from the country’s economic and social development.

Our progress has been made through VSO's people-centred approach to development using a volunteering-based impact model. Evidence shows that results achieved through volunteering offer increased sustainability and value for money.  

VSO volunteers are a diverse pool of experienced professionals. They collaborate with their host communities to find innovative, local solutions. They provide continuous training, coaching and mentoring to our partner organisations.

Our projects are making real progress and we’re excited about the opportunities for further development. If you’d like to support our work and be part of the transformation in Bangladesh, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Simon Brown, country director

“Working for an international company, I have worked in many multi-cultural teams, but this experience has added a new dimension as we learn to collaborate across the business and development sector. There’s a strong sense of partnership, which is really exciting. Most importantly, it could ensure sustainable and scalable outcomes for vulnerable people and communities.”

Jonathan Richards, Syngenta supply chain manager who volunteered in Bangladesh as part of our Growing Together project

Our partners

VSO’s valued funding partners in Bangladesh include Accenture, Big Lottery Fund, BSRM Group, DFID, Syngenta and UNICEF.  

We have good relationships with Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), Department of Agriculture Extension, National Institute of Local Government, Department of Youth Development.

Contact us

Interested in finding out more about our work in Bangladesh? We’d love to hear from you.

Email the VSO Bangladesh team

VSO Bangladesh, House # 382 (1st & 5th floor), Road # 28,
New DOHS, Mohakhali, Dhaka-1206
Tel: (+88) 02 9851462, 9851260


In accordance with the Bangladesh Right to Information Act, VSO Bangladesh provide a number of policies, budget documents, governance and structure information.

Interested in volunteering?

Find out more about volunteering in Bangladesh