Ms Martine van Hoogstraaten (EKN) and Dr Ahmed Musthaque Raza Chowdhury (BRAC). Photo credit: BRAC WASH/Sabrina Shahidullah/ 2015 The scale (covering half of the country, reaching 66 million people) and impact of the programme since the start of the first phase in 2006 were presented by the Vice Chairperson of BRAC, Dr Ahmed Musthaque Raza Chowdhury who chaired the event. Dr Chowdhury acknowledged that political commitment and government leadership are key for success. Thanks to the support and contribution of government, development partners and NGOs, BRAC WASH has been able to achieve all this.

Future strategy for BRAC WASH 2016-2020
To gather sector feedback, the future strategy for the BRAC WASH programme was presented at a dissemination workshop on 14 January 2015 to more than 120 participants from governments, development partners and WASH sector practitioners. It is based on the successful interventions in rural areas over the past 10 years. Dr Akramul Islam explained: “BRAC WASH works towards a vision of Bangladesh with safe, sustained water supply and sanitation and hygiene for everyone, everywhere, all the time”. He stressed the importance of sustaining the gains, but also to address urgent challenges such as faecal sludge management, water security and quality, enhanced secondary school programmes and alternative sanitation technologies at scale.

In the coming years, BRAC WASH will continue to implement, but more focus will be put on advocacy and working in partnerships. BRAC WASH will expand its activities to critical areas in the country such as urban and coastal areas. The hundreds of small towns dotting the rural areas lack adequate waste disposal, safe sanitation and water services; and, they lack the organisation and expertise to address these needs. For coastal areas access to safe water is a huge challenge. In 2015 BRAC launched, with its own resources, a pilot in coastal areas giving greater emphasis to water provision and water resources.  For BRAC WASH, this expansion to new areas also means more focus on collaboration, facilitation and advocacy rather than direct service delivery.

Ms Zuena Aziz, Additional Secretary and Director General, Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Bangladesh, one of the distinguished guests, noted that Government and BRAC/NGO findings are the same. “This is a great achievement. Without the help from NGOs and other development partners this would not have been possible. We are aligned in our thinking.”

Distinguished guest Ms Martine van Hoogstraten, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Development Cooperation, Economic Affairs and Trade, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Dhaka, Bangladesh, highlighted the importance of an integrated approach to hygiene, sanitation and water. BRAC WASH demonstrated that such an approach can deliver long-term change. At the same time she also warned that it requires “sustained and intensive engagement with communities, and a long term commitment to maintain and improve on gains already made.”

In her speech Van Hoogstraten told the participants that the Dutch government has committed to contribute to the MDG WASH target by providing sustainable access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation for an additional 50 million people by 2015. The Netherlands Embassy’s support to the BRAC WASH programme, since its inception in May 2006, has significantly contributed to this commitment. She also stressed that “an important contribution to the programme has been the co-funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) since 2012, as well as the technical support by IRC since 2005.” More recently Charity Water (1 August 2014 – 31 August 2015) and Splash (1 October 2014 – 30 September 2015) have started supporting BRAC WASH.

Mr. Kazi Abdul Noor, Project Director (Joint Secretary) Policy Support Unit (PSU) Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Bangladesh said “I believe the work is definitely going to be continued, since support to the sector was a part of the political manifesto as well as there is a high government commitment to carry out WASH related work. One fourth of the population of Bangladesh belongs to the hard to reach areas, and all the WASH sector players are heavily contributing to improve the situation which is very positive”.

Scale and impact of BRAC WASH over the past ten years
BRAC WASH covers 250 sub-districts which is 50% of all sub-districts in Bangladesh. Between 2003 and 2014 open defecation in BRAC WASH areas reduced from 42% to 3%.

Just over one in three households (33 %) had a hygienic toilet at the start of the programme according to an independent evaluation from the Research and Evaluation Department at BRAC. At the end of Phase I (2011) eight in ten households (83%) had a hygienic toilet. Over the same five years (2006-2011), waterborne diseases decreased by three-quarters (from 9.4 % to 2.3 %).

At the end of 2014 almost 36 million people gained access to sanitation and are actually using a toilet. This includes the ultra-poor of which 97% have a toilet in the BRAC WASH programme areas.  More than 2 million people gained access to safe water and 66 million people have been targeted by hygiene promotion activities.  More than 5,000 secondary schools shared costs with BRAC and built separate latrines for girls with menstrual hygiene management facilities.

One of the issues participants at the meeting have emphasised was the role of hygiene. “We have learned that hygiene is not a single initiative. BRAC can take the lead in developing and sharing what should be the indicators for hygiene promotion.”

The importance of including the poor was stressed several times. “Partnerships should be inclusive, not only public and private, but also with the poor as participants (PPP-P) and women as the first care takers”. This PPP-P should be the anchor for the project implementation.

Another issue that was raised: Emphasis on sustainability at all levels is really important. There was an immense push for the MDGs and we don’t want to go back after we have reported on all the achievements. There is a real risk of slippage.

Role of IRC in the BRAC WASH programme
IRC works with BRAC WASH as a ‘knowledge partner’ since 2005 when the programme was designed.

Mrs Ingeborg Krukkert from IRC highlighted the main outcomes of six action research projects funded by the Dutch Government to address the key WASH challenges identified in the first years of the programme.

These challenges are safe drinking water in areas with arsenic contamination or salt intrusion; sanitation technologies in areas with high-water tables; finding marketable and safe solutions for all the human waste now that toilets are filling up; how to make access to information and the whole monitoring process easier and more user-friendly.

In addition, some innovative approaches taken up by the programme after the first phase were highlighted: qualitative monitoring shows what people do with their facilities; what behaviours they adopt; social marketing approach for more effective behavioural change communication; and costing studies to compare costs with the level of services provided at household level, schools and in piped water supply.


The Inquirer article by Julie S. Alipala and Karlos Manlupig
11th November, 2014

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi—By learning how to count, Arabella Giya, 8, and her brother Adrian, 7, now know how to price their fish catch.

“My kids are learning not only words and numbers but also how to do business like selling fish. They know how many fish is equivalent to a certain price,” Panaglasa Sahiduan Giya said.

Arabella and Adrian are among 30 pupils of a school boat operated by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) Floating Learning Center in Barangay (village) Lamion here.

Panaglasa Sahiduan, a Badjao, said her children usually got shortchanged when they sold fresh catch in the neighborhood and at the public market.

Herman Melhan used to be a shy 8-year-old Badjao boy. Six months after enrolling at the school, he can now recite, dance and even teach fellow children about numbers.

“I know now how to draw, read and count,” he proudly told the Inquirer.

Jennilyn Jumdani, the school teacher, acknowledged that her students were being discriminated by other tribes. “Many of the Badjao are … bullied, that is why many of them are afraid to enroll in regular schools or to venture outside their communities,” she said.

They, too, have rights, she added.

The BRAC Floating Learning Center was established in June with the help of Australian aid through Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao (BEAM) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Department of Education (DepEd).

BRAC Philippines is implementing the Alternative Delivery Model project component of the Australian government-funded BEAM for Muslim Mindanao.

The ARMM, the DepEd and BRAC Philippines delivered a fleet of seven floating schools, hoping that this would help address the education gap in the region. These were brought to seven villages in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces, and would cater to the needs of at least 200 Badjao and Sama children this school year.

Jumdani’s classroom is a pink vessel moored at the small Badjao community in Lamion.

BRAC Philippines country representative Nazrul Islam explained that the floating school model was adopted from the “boat school” project implemented by his organization’s head office in Bangladesh.

The model is more suited for the culture of the Badjao and Sama people, who are “mostly reluctant to mingle with people belonging to other, more dominant Moro tribes,” he said.

Jumdani said teachers in the floating schools had to handle multigrade pupils.

She has one appeal to the parents—spare her pupils from fishing.

“Fishing is a family affair for the Badjao. Everyone contributes. They have respective roles like preparing nets, ensuring the fishing boats are in good condition, food, fishing and selling, and kids are the ones tapped to peddle their catch. These affect their class attendance,” she said.

Still, Jumdani said she was happy to hear stories of empowerment on how her little wards were able to raise the sales of their fish catch “because they know now how to count.”


Wednesday, 18 March 2015 00:00

Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate in economics

Through its visionary moves, BRAC has made a huge contribution to social change in Bangladesh and abroad.

The billion dollars in microloans that BRAC extends each year to poor people is just the beginning of the story of this remarkable organisation.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 00:00

Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion

BRAC is the most astounding social enterprise in the world.

[Sir Fazle Hasan] Abed’s story proves just how much people with vision and commitment can change the world.

BRAC has done what few others have. They have achieved success on a massive scale, bringing life-saving health programmes to millions of the world’s poorest people.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 00:00

The Economist

By most measures the largest, fastest growing non-governmental organisation in the world – and one of the most businesslike.


21 January 2015, Dhaka. World Toilet Organization (WTO) gave “Hall of Fame Award" to BRAC for significant contribution in Sanitation sector in Bangladesh. Director of BRAC WASH and DECC and TB programme, DrAkramul Islam received the awardat the 14th World Toilet Summit India in Delhi from Dr. Subramanian Swamy, MP & Former Minister of India and Jack Sim, Founder of WTO.

Minister Devendra Chaudhry, Special Secretary, Ministry of Power, India was also present in the occasion along with representatives from governments, donors, development partners, business sectors, NGOs and media.

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in providing basic sanitation services to its people. It is now estimated that throughout Bangladesh, 57% use sanitary latrines. Open defecation has almost ended with only about 3% of the people not using toilets of any kind. The BRAC hygiene and sanitation programme reached more than 66 million people.

BRAC WASH and related programmes have made a substantial contribution to the nation's Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for water, sanitation and health and will continue to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over 8 years, the BRAC hygiene and sanitation programme reached more than 66 million people, about half of the rural population of Bangladesh. It has successfully worked to improve household sanitation by creating demand for hygienic latrines [2] while supporting an extensive supply chain and local businesses. Current coverage with hygienic and adequately maintained toilets is 82% in the 152 districts where BRAC has worked. All these successes have been underpinned by a strong provision of service to the poor and ultra-poor and by a unique hygiene promotion programme focusing on universal use and sustainability of services in communities, households and schools.


17 February 2015, Dhaka. BRAC collected over 1.2 million signatures to support the petition Up For School initiated by the global movement-A World at School campaign. There are more than 58 million children out of school in the world. The campaign aims to mobilise global population to make sure the world leaders keep their promises to secure every child's right to education by the end of 2015.

Celebrating this achievement BRAC’s founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “BRAC is proud to be associated with the Up For School campaign. Using our vast network of schools and adolescent development clubs across Bangladesh, we have collected over a million signatures in support of the petition. I hope the world leaders will hear the voices of our youth and ensure that education remains the priority agenda for years to come.”

The campaign also has particular focus on discrimination against girls and tackling child marriage. So far nearly 3 million signatures have been collected from across the world.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said, “More than 1.2 million people across Bangladesh have come together to demand action from world leaders to get every girl and boy into school, no matter who they are or where they are born. Every signature is important as we know that big numbers of people mobilising over an issue cannot be ignored. The signatures collected by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and the team at BRAC is a reflection of their important work supporting and empowering the most excluded and marginalised communities across Bangladesh. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed is a great leader in education and the work being done by BRAC in Bangladesh and around the world is inspiring and is changing the lives of millions of young people. These are the voices that world leaders must listen to this year and they must respond with real action.”

In September, young people came together in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to launch the creation of the world's biggest petition for education and it was supported by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon UN special envoy Gordon Brown and International advocate Graca Machel alongside a global network or organisations coming together demanding action to get every girl and boy in to school.

For more information on the campaign please visit

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