Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury is the Vice Chairperson and advisor to the Chairperson and founder of BRAC. He is also a professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York. During 2009-2012, he served as a senior advisor and acting Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, based in Bangkok, Thailand. He also worked as a MacArthur/Bell Fellow at Harvard University.
Dr. Chowdhury is one of the founding members of the two civil society watchdogs on education and health called Bangladesh Education Watch and Bangladesh Health Watch respectively. He is on the board or committees for several organizations and initiatives, including the Advisory Board of the South Asia Centre at London School of Economics, Lead Group for Scaling Up Nutrition Movement at United Nations and is the current chair of the Asia-Pacific Action Alliance on Human Resources for Health (AAAH). He is also the President of the Dhaka University Statistics Department Alumni Association (DUSDAA). Dr. Chowdhury was a coordinator of the UN Millennium Task Force on Child Health and Maternal Health, set up by the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, along with Professor Allan Rosenfield, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York.
Dr. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health professor of population and family health, was nominated by the U.S.-based Ronald McDonald House Charities for its 2017 “Medical Award of Excellence”. The award is given for outstanding contribution to improve the health and wellbeing of children. [Photo: Dr. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury] Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury, who joined the Mailman School in 2004, is also vice chairperson of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) in Bangladesh, which is particularly concerned with poverty alleviation, education, and health. He is the founding dean of BRAC University’s James P. Grant School of Public Health in Bangladesh and also founded the Research and Evaluation Division of BRAC. With over 50,000 full-time staff, BRAC is one of the largest non-governmental development organizations in the world. Dr. Chowdhury is also a board member of South Asia Centre of London School of Economics, president of Asian Action Alliance for Human Resources in Health (AAAH) and lead group member of UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. In addition to his ties to Bangladesh, Dr. Chowdhury has worked internationally in Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, China, and Ethiopia. From 2009 – 2012, he served as senior advisor at the Rockefeller Foundation, Thailand, overseeing the health portfolio of the Foundation in Asia. In 2013, the Lancet published a profile of Dr. Chowdhury. Among the previous winners of the Medical Award of Excellence are former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former U.S. first ladies Barbara Bush and Betty Ford, Health Minister of Rwanda Dr. Agnes Binagwaho and Queen Noor of Jordan. Currently, the charity is working in more than 64 countries and regions in the world to ensure children’s healthcare and wellbeing. The award will be presented to Dr. Chowdhury at a gala in Chicago on Nov 11. To honor Dr. Mushtaque, Ronald McDonald House Charities will present a grant of $100,000 to a non-profit organization selected by him.
Dr. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health professor of population and family health, was nominated by the U.S.-based Ronald McDonald House Charities for its 2017 “Medical Award of Excellence”. The award is given for outstanding contribution to improve the health and wellbeing of children.
[Photo: Dr. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury]
Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury, who joined the Mailman School in 2004, is also vice chairperson of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) in Bangladesh, which is particularly concerned with poverty alleviation, education, and health. He is the founding dean of BRAC University’s James P. Grant School of Public Health in Bangladesh and also founded the Research and Evaluation Division of BRAC. With over 50,000 full-time staff, BRAC is one of the largest non-governmental development organizations in the world. Dr. Chowdhury is also a board member of South Asia Centre of London School of Economics, president of Asian Action Alliance for Human Resources in Health (AAAH) and lead group member of UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.
In addition to his ties to Bangladesh, Dr. Chowdhury has worked internationally in Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, China, and Ethiopia. From 2009 – 2012, he served as senior advisor at the Rockefeller Foundation, Thailand, overseeing the health portfolio of the Foundation in Asia. In 2013, the Lancet published a profile of Dr. Chowdhury.
Among the previous winners of the Medical Award of Excellence are former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former U.S. first ladies Barbara Bush and Betty Ford, Health Minister of Rwanda Dr. Agnes Binagwaho and Queen Noor of Jordan.
Currently, the charity is working in more than 64 countries and regions in the world to ensure children’s healthcare and wellbeing.
The award will be presented to Dr. Chowdhury at a gala in Chicago on Nov 11. To honor Dr. Mushtaque, Ronald McDonald House Charities will present a grant of $100,000 to a non-profit organization selected by him.
By Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, 2015 World Food Prize Laureate
"When I began working with farmers struggling with poverty in 1972, I was a young accountant, fresh from a job in the finance department of Shell Oil. I had lofty ideas of how I could help transform our new nation, Bangladesh, which was then one of the poorest countries on earth. I thought that if we could empower the poor by providing services like livelihood training, literacy classes and health and family planning, they would be able to vanquish the extreme poverty and hunger they had endured for far too long.
The world was quite a different place then. Bangladesh had gone through a bloody war for independence, and the world’s great powers were locked in a struggle between freedom and totalitarianism. The Green Revolution was still in its infancy, but we knew the vast promise it held for it had already delivered spectacular increases in cereal crop yields in India, West Pakistan and the Philippines; for this, Norman Borlaug had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970..." Read full article here.
He holds the number 37 position on Fortune’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and has won an incredible number of prestigious awards. He is the founder and chairperson of the world’s largest private development aid organisation, with 100,000 employees in 11 countries and a budget of one billion dollars. He is 81 years old, and his biography reads like an adventure novel. After 45 years, the ongoing success of his NGO called BRAC offers a convincing response to those cynics who declared development aid a thing of the past. His name is Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and De Dikke Blauwe spoke to this architect of poverty reduction during his visit to the Netherlands in mid-June. read more
This article was published in the Daily Observer, Liberia on 1 June 2017
BRAC Liberia recently concluded a two-day nutrition training for twenty (20) leaders in the health and agriculture sectors of six counties, including Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Bomi, and Cape Mount.
The training was held in Kingsville, Careysburg district, Montserrado County.
According to BRAC-Liberia the training focused on breastfeeding, complementary breastfeeding, malnutrition prevention, and vitamin A deficiencies.
Facia Goah, nutrition focus person for Montserrado County at the Ministry of Health, appreciated BRAC for involving community organizations in the fight against malnutrition.
She added that diet diversification is one of the major challenges to reducing malnutrition in the country.
"Our people are used to eating one kind of food, and parents are encouraging children to eat the same food. However, encouraging people to eat varieties comes with huge collaboration," she said.
The four year project, which became to an end this month, has brought about tremendous impact to the poor farmers in 15 regions in the country.
Speaking at a dissemination workshop on LEAD project organised by BRAC Maendeleo in Dar es Salaam at the weekend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Charles Tizeba praised the organisation for the concerted efforts to improve the livelihoods of Tanzanians.
He called upon various stakeholders to come up with projects to end poverty in various parts of the country and areas which no change yet had been realised.
According to him, boosting those poor farmers in remote rural areas was a recommendable job which other stakeholders should emulate.
“About 18 million Tanzanians are living in abject poverty so efforts are still needed to ensure that we remove them from the poverty line... and agriculture has been seen as a major way to go,” he said.
Tizeba called upon research organisations to invest on new maize seeds that were resistant drought and other climate change impacts.
For his part, BRAC Maendeleo country representative Rakibul Bari Khan said that the LEAD project had for the past four years worked to improve farming skills, facilitate linkages to farm inputs and markets as well as facilitating finance farmers through soft loans and grants.
He said that LEAD project implemented by the organisation was meant to facilitate agribusiness investment in the poultry and maize value chains in the country.
He said through the project, farmers could access both grants and loans and businesses could also apply for capital injections whereby it had disbursed at least USD 8.4 million as loans.
“The LEAD project, now in its fourth year of operation, has successfully facilitated to the formation of a total of 8021 producer groups, 89 agro-dealers have also trained.
The project has also addressed the constraints of high post-harvest losses in maize through establishment of purdue improved crops storage (PICS) bags and trained farmers with improved processing techniques,” he said.
Three Brac University students recently paved Bangladesh's first path for having a footprint into the space by developing the first nano-satellite of the country. The low-cost small satellite, categorized as nanosat, has been designed, developed and assembled by Brac University students-Abdulla Hil Kafi, Maisun Ibn Monowar and Raihana Shams Islam Antara.
Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT) also known as Kyutech-one of the best technology universities of Japan collaborated with Brac University in developing the first nanosat. As part of its academic endeavours, Brac University took this initiative of starting space and remote sensing research in collaboration with Kyutech and SPARRSO almost three years ago.
This cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project was supported by Japan for four non-space faring countries and was titled "Joint Global Multi-Nation BIRDS Satellite" or "BIRDS Project". Brac University considers this to be a milestone for "Space Technology Transfer" since it is the first time a Bangladeshi university is working in the field of satellite engineering and technology.
During a ceremony held at KIT, Japan on Wednesday, Dr Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice Chancellor of Brac University received the nanosat from Kyutech President Professor Yuji Oie and Professor Mengu Cho, Director, Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering, Kyutech.
At the sometime, a live video conference was organized at Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in Ramna, where the BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood joined to observe the nanosat receieving ceremony in Japan.
Professor Dr. A. A. Ziauddin Ahmad, Chairperson, Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, BRACU, presided over the ceremony in Dhaka and gave a brief description of Brac Onnesha..Brac Onnesha is shaped as a cube of 10cm edge capable of completing one orbit 400 kilometres above the ground in 90 minutes and passing over Bangladesh four-six times a day.
Demonstrating the fucntionality of the nanosat through video conference from Japan, Abdulla Hil Kafi, now studying Applied Science for Integrated System Engineering in Kyetech, explained that the nano-satellite would be able to take high quality photographs of land to analyse vegetation, urbanisation, flood, water resources, forestry etc.
It will also allow relaying audio signals and attaining communication through HAM radio during emergencies and catastrophe and play the national anthem on days of national importance, observe space environment and monitor satellite location, he added.
Professor Mengu Cho of Kyutech said Brac Onnesha was easy to build and affordable and their prime objective was to educate the students so that they could go back to build one completely by themselves, presumably in October 2017.
Urban transport is still poor in developing countries compared with the developed countries. For a sustainable and green solution to the problem, it requires an integrated initiative between different stakeholders and beneficiaries – citizens, policy makers, policy implementers, researchers/experts and donors, writes Polin Kumar Saha
THE importance of greening the transport system is very crucial for sustainable development since commuting is an integral part of our daily lives irrespective of our social differences. Moreover, the troubles that one face in conventional transport system is a critical concern for developing countries. It is particularly concerning for a rapidly growing city like Dhaka. A broad range of sustainability issues including environmental sustainability (global warming, degradation, fossil fuel burning and emissions) and social sustainability (human satisfaction, road safety and health — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), and economic stability (cost and benefit over environmental and social violations) are also matter of our larger concerns. In fact, the transport sector is responsible for 23 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emission with over 90 per cent of all road transport depending on fossil fuel. Therefore, road transport majorly contributes in the total greenhouse gas emissions. The projection of this trend will increase in future if we don’t become adequately aware and incorporate green initiatives in our urban transport system.
In this current context of urbanisation, what should we do to address the problem? The urban transport is still poor in the developing countries compared with the developed countries. For a sustainable and green solution to the problem, it requires an integrated initiative between different stakeholders and beneficiaries — citizens, policy makers, policy implementers, researchers/experts and the donors. Our experiences show that many technical solutions proved successful in developed countries are not suitable for our cities. In terms of greening the transport system, research shows that we have to review and rely more on non-technical solutions than the technical solutions. Here we can briefly elaborate these two dimensions of transport development in the greening process.
Non-technical review suggests that behavioural or attitudinal changes must be characterised by increasing walking space, cycling and the preferred transit mode. For environmentally friendly cities, these are the vital issues that contribute to the composition of a green transport system. The methodological approaches to work for a green travel style is to incorporate the mood of walking, cycling and transit which make up four strategies mainly: changing the pattern of land use in promoting the space for walking and cycling, giving priority to the public transport, restricting car buying and using, and implementing rules and regulations through good governance. It is true that we have seen already some good policies and strategies on these reviews, but more investigation is needed to assess our limitations and solve the problem by setting up priorities. Some policy areas of interventions include the restriction of private cars, encouraging group transport facilities for schools/institutions, restrictions on private use of car such discourage more than one car for a family, standardise public transport and availability to all classes of citizens, scheduling public transport in accordance with school, college and office schedules. Similar kind of policy initiatives has seen great success in Vienna, Austria. In the period between 1993 and 2014, Vienna was able to reduce car dependency from 27 per cent to per cent.
Contrastingly, in our country we are increasing our dependency on cars. Another glowing example is Vancouver, Canada. In 2007, the city decreased vehicle kilometre driven per person as they increased their awareness and practices in walking, cycling and public transit. The key to the success is a common understanding and changes in land-use policies that encourage an environmentally sound public transport system.
In recent years, environmentally friendly public transit relies on a green transport system for example green buses, bikes, taxis, trains. Green transport reduces people’s dependency on conventional fuel use in their vehicles and decreases pollution in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Therefore, public transport should be prioritised. The noise and air pollution should be taken into account when designing and implementing public transport system. In our context, the following measures can be taken: electric vehicles, such as electric trains, bikes, buses can be promoted (but the electricity must come from renewable resources); introducing multiple occupant vehicles; introducing hybrid bus, taxies, commuter vehicles; developing road infrastructure including bus bay, footpath, underpass, overpass; introducing large capacity of public transport (big buses, metro, double-decker); introducing auto traffic signals and central monitoring systems for maintaining traffic rules and regulations and reducing traffic congestions through different initiatives. It is also important to shift political rallies, events, exhibition from the centre of the city. Dhaka city often face serious because of VIP movement and VIP offices. It is time that the office bearers take serious note on how their mobility city-wide transport system. For example, the location of Bangladesh prime minister’s office often makes huge traffic congestions. This, in fact proves how ill developed traffic system can harm the public not just economically by wasting their time, but also psychologically.
Taking into account the technical and non-technical measures to improve public transport system, it would appropriate to turn towards green technology and initiatives. A turn towards greening the system would also ensure the sustainability of the transport system. We have indeed many challenges to overcome. However, a coordinated effort between politicians, stakeholders, researchers and transport planners could make it happen. To summarise the issue, we definitely need to restructure and prioritise our transport network that includes walking, cycling, and public transport facilities. Every single step can push us unanimously to identify the improvement of our present situation.
Polin Kumar Saha is a senior research associate and sustainability professional at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division.
VisionSpring and BRAC provided one million pairs of affordable eyeglasses to low-income customers, achieving major milestones both in scaling a social entrepreneurship model, and in expanding access to vision services in Bangladesh.
The Reading Glasses for Improved Livelihoods Programme, which began in 2006, has seen marked success, contributing to significant health and economic outcomes.
For low-income earners, eyeglasses are a simple, affordable tool that sustains productivity and earning power. Since the programme's start, it is estimated to have contributed to $110 million in increased income at the household level, based on an analysis of a study conducted by the University of Michigan. With a philanthropic investment of $3.50 per pair, the return on investment is significant.
Eyeglasses can prevent middle-aged workers from experiencing any drop in efficiency and productivity associated with the eye's natural aging. Without the ability to focus up close, mechanics, barbers, tailors, teachers, artisans, and many others whose work requires clear near vision, lose years of income earning potential.
BRAC and VisionSpring developed an innovative social entrepreneurship model to reach these low-wage earners, selling low-cost reading glasses through BRAC's network of community health workers (locally known as Shasthya Shebikas).
They offer free eye screenings, and have created a referral system for nearly 610,000 customers who need higher-level care for cataracts and other eye conditions.
Living in the communities where they work, the female health workers reach customers in the most remote areas of Bangladesh through vision camps and home visits, according to Marketwired.
Marketwired founded in 1993 and incorporated in the US in 1999, is a press release distribution service headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
For 90 per cent of customers, this is their first pair of glasses. The community health workers earn a modest commission from the sale of each pair of eyeglasses; since the programme's inception, they have earned a total of $450,000 in supplemental income.
"Partnerships are central to our success. Our collaboration with BRAC exemplifies the power of bringing together two organizations that share a common purpose and ethos and possess complementary core competencies. We feel honored and privileged to have found such a wonderful long term partner," Marketwired quoted VisionSpring Founder Jordan Kassalow in release on Sunday.
Meanwhile VisionSpring, BRAC, supporters, partners in the social enterprise, and global health community members gathered in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Sunday and celebrated the success of the partnership and honoured the health workers and programme organisers who had brought improved vision to people in 61 of 64 districts across Bangladesh.
Despite prolonged and concentrated efforts, Pakistan’s literacy rate lacks behind the global average. Illiteracy is lethal for the development of any country. It is one of the major issues Pakistan is facing since inception. Pakistan has a literacy rate of 58 percent, which has improved from 35 percent in 1990-91, but still way behind the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targeted at 88 percent, which was to be achieved by the end of 2015. A slight progression in the literacy rate has been noticed with the efforts made by NGOs and the government, but still there is lot more to do.
Illiteracy is a constantly ticking time bomb, just like population explosion, which holds our national development stagnant. Regrettably, we are far away from succeeding in universalizing our basic education system. Several political, economic and cultural factors are hindering our way in attaining a decent literacy rate. The government alone lacks capability and political will of handling such enormous burden. Many organizations, especially NGOs and civil societies, have come to the fore to support government efforts in promoting primary education.
The modern techniques employed by NGOs such as public-private partnerships, family literacy, teacher’s training, and community involvement are yielding good results. The role of NGOs are very clear when comes to education sector, they don’t intend to replace the government, but to ensure the quality standards, affordability and equity in mind are successfully met. However, the partnership between the government and the NGOs has failed to live up to the hopes, as more than 70 percent of the children are still out of the schools in Punjab and the students who go to school are way behind the globally set intellectual standards.
To bring a positive change in the dismal state of education in Pakistan, there’s a need to explore different ways of schooling and education. The community based school system offers a reliable solution to the problem. Community-based education goes beyond the conventional system of cognitive capacities and encompasses the emotional and social aspects of learning. The relationships that children create with the caring adults, in form of the teachers, are the overarching premise of community-based education. Academic experts asserts that the emotional and social development of students comes from the collaborative efforts of parents, schools, and communities.
Recently, I visited some schools of Surjani Town and Saeedabad in Karachi, which are run by BRAC Pakistan (Offshoot of a Bangladesh based NGO). These are non-formal primary schools, which are designed to provide an opportunity to disadvantaged and marginalized children left out of the formal education system due to extreme poverty, displacement, violence or discrimination. The model of this system is unique. It operates on the idea of ‘One room, One School’ model. These schools enroll thirty students of an under-privileged locality, provide them with the school supplies, arrange a teacher from the same area and provide basic primary education. These schools complement the mainstream educational institutes with innovative teaching methods and materials.
So far, 2,097 schools has been established in Sindh and Punjab by BRAC Pakistan, covering total population of four hundred thousand with enrollment of 64,165 children of ultra-poor category in 2016. According to the reports, twenty four million children are out of school in Pakistan, the second highest figure in the world after Nigeria. This figure reflects sorry state of affairs of public education in Pakistan. Government can bring up the literacy rate by involving more NGOs and civil society by expanding the operations and scope of community based education to all the areas of the country.
Creating a community-based education compatible to our socio-cultural needs may seem far-fetched and difficult, but we have examples like BRAC Pakistan who is operating it smoothly with outstanding results. As a nation we have not lost the capacity to envision and meet the needs of our children; we have only suppressed it through misunderstanding the learner of today. We can no longer look at children just as our future. They must become our present. As in the words of Albert Einstein, “no problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”
Faizan Afzal is a freelance journalist and a Young Professional at BRAC in Pakistan. Tweet him @Faizan_Afzal1.