As the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, BRAC, Australia, and the UK reiterated their commitment to investing in girls’ empowerment and working with the Government of Bangladesh to end child marriage. This joint statement is released as part of the activities undertaken by the partners with the Government of Bangladesh.
In issuing the statement, BRAC’s Executive Director, Dr Muhammad Musa said, “Every day, BRAC helps girls in Bangladesh reach their full potential through a comprehensive approach which includes creating economic, health-related, educational and leadership opportunities. After over 40 years of experience in advancing women and girls’ rights, we are determined now more than ever, to ensure that no girl is born into a community where she isn’t given the chance to learn and become a leader.”
Jane Edmondson, Country Representative for the UK’s Department for International Development Bangladesh said: “Children need learning and play in a safe environment to reach their potential. Too many girls and boys still miss out. And for some girls, harmful practices in society such as child and forced marriage and domestic violence make it doubly hard. Girls are less likely to finish school and less likely to find work. Changing all this is essential to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and to achieving sustainable economic growth”.
“Helping young women and girls to reach their full potential is critical to Bangladesh achieving its economic and social goals”, added Australian High Commissioner, Julia Niblett. “This is why Australia, together with the UK, is proud to support BRAC’s efforts to empower girls, supporting them to achieve their full potential”.
With the support of Australia and the UK, BRAC’s social and economic development programmes empower adolescent girls through the largest network of adolescent development clubs in Bangladesh. Girls who have been members of these clubs are more likely to be involved in income-generating activities and avoid early marriages, than girls who did not join the clubs.
In Bangladesh, considerable progress has been made in improving the lives of adolescent girls over the last 15 years. More girls than ever are enrolling in schools and access to health care has improved. But while 69 per cent of girls enrol in secondary education, almost one in two drop-out before completing their schooling. This is linked to the continued prevalence of child marriage. Though the proportion of girls marrying in their teens has been declining for 10 years or so, the country still suffers from one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world with over half of women currently between the age of 20-24 having married before their 18th birthday; and almost one in five having married before their 15th birthday.
Coordinated and focussed efforts are being taken from both the government and civil society groups to fight what has been termed as one of the most critical barriers to large scale development efforts. The government’s present commitment to reform the 1929 Child Marriage Restraint Act and set the minimum age of marriage at 18 is an important development in line with other international and national laws and policies protecting the rights of children. Similarly, the initiation of drafting a National Plan of Action to End Child Marriage demonstrates that along with its neighbours with similar socio-cultural contexts, such as Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh too is moving ahead on its child rights and gender equality agenda.
Australia, BRAC and the UK are focussed on continuing their work together to address these issues through effective programmes and also developing new programmes that address emerging social problems related to child marriage.
Adolescent girls are one of the most powerful agents for change in the world. Educated adolescent girls are able to fight child marriage, protect themselves from teenage pregnancy and build healthier futures for themselves.
BRAC Manthan digital Innovation award announced 14 winners for 2016 on 8 October,at the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden. The award was given to promote and recognise the contributions of individuals and organisations in the field of ICT for development.
The programme started with a fair exhibiting the innovations of 29 finalists. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister, Minister of State for Information and Communication, Technology (ICT) attended the event as chief guest. Appreciating this initiative he said, “Current internet user in our country is 60 million and this is increasing by 10 million per year. With the increase of internet users, interest of youth in technology is also amplifying. This award will certainly inspire the youth to innovate in technology. The government is ready to cooperate in taking this initiative forward. “
BRAC launched this award, an off-shoot of the Manthan Awards in India, on 10 April in partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF). The winners from Bangladesh will get direct entry to the final round of prestigious Manthan Award South Asia 2016.
The nine categories of the competition are: e-business and financial inclusion, e-education, learning and employment, e-agriculture and ecology, e-governance and institutions, e-health, e-women, inclusion and empowerment, e-news, journalism and entertainment, e-culture, heritage and tourism, and m-content.
BRAC received more than 100 nominations from all over the country, across different sectors. Based on 90 applications went for the jury evaluation process. A jury of 10 eminent experts assessed them on the quality of their content, impact of the solution, functionality of the product/service and benefits to people. 29 were selected for the final phase.
Notable jury board members included Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor, Prime Minister’s office, Luna Shamsuddoha, Chairman, Dohatec New Media, Munir Hasan
Coordinator, Youth Programme -Prothom Alo, KAM Morshed, Director, ICT and Advocacy, BRAC etc.
Present at the award ceremony, founder and director of Digital Empowerment Foundation Osama Manzar said, “Internet and technology are the connecting tools now, if we dont use these we will become the consumers of someone else. So Bangladesh should plan for the next 100 years not 100 days and try to build the network combining internet and technology”. Executive director of BRAC Dr Muhammad Musa, representatives from development agencies, government and corporate sector also attended the programme.
Prothom Alo supported this initiative as the associate partner. Also on board were Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom as exhibition partner, Webable as digital media partner and Channel 24 as TV media partner.
Category: E-AGRICULTURE AND ECOLOGY
Department of Agriculture Extension project name is
KRISHOKER JANALA-APNAR FOSHOLER SOMOSSAR SOMADHAN EKHANEI
Category: E-EDUCATION, LEARNING & EMPLOYMENT
Repto education Center
10 MINUTE SCHOOL
Category: E-BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL INCLUSION
Humac Lab Limited and their project name is SELLISCOPE
Cloud Solution Limited and their project name is CSL MOBILE ACCOUNTS
Category: E-CULTURE, HERITAGE AND TOURISM
Dhaka Electronica Scene/Akaliko Records their project name is TRANSLATIONS – AN ELECTRONIC MUSIC COMPILATION BY AKALIKO RECORDS.
Category: E-NEWS, JOURNALISM AND ENTERTAINMENT
Software Shop Limited (SSL Wireless) their project name is e-Tunes
PAVILION and their project name is PAVILION.
Category: E-GOVERNANCE & INSTITUTIONS
EnamelBD and their project name is VAT CHECKER
Mathiura Union Parishad and their project name is Mathiura Union Parishad Digitalization Project.
Rx71 Limited and their project name is RX71
Department of Biomedical and their project name is Dhaka University Telemedicine Programme – rural healthcare using indigenously developed technology.
Special mention and runners up
Category: E-AGRICULTURE AND ECOLOGY
Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd and their project name is MRITTIKĀ
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and their project name is BARI Application.
Training in a Tab
Category: E-EDUCATION, LEARNING & EMPLOYMENT
Durbin Labs and their project name is Durbin App
Clickntech.com and their project name is e-learning door to door
Category: E-BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL INCLUSION
eSheba Organization a company of Curtex Group and their project name is eSheba.
Category: E-CULTURE, HERITAGE AND TOURISM
KOTHOWAIN and their project name is Marginalized and Ethnic Children and Youth Development and Empowerment Project.
Category: E-NEWS, JOURNALISM AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Dhaka Times
Category: E-WOMEN, INCLUSION AND EMPOWERMENT
Women in digital Bangladesh.
Concern Universal and their project name is People Centered Interactive Risk & Livelihood Information Gateway
Preneur Lab - Public Toilet App and their project name is Public Toilet App – Find public toilets.
Windmill Infotech Limited and their project name is babytika
Juror’s Mention for Innovation
From the category E-EDUCATION, LEARNING & EMPLOYMENT, Life2coding and their project name is LAPTOUCH: CONVERT ANY COMPUTER SCREEN INTO TOUCH SCREEN
BRAC was ranked the top International Charity of the Year for 2016 by the Charity Times Awards on 28 September. The award is organised by Charity Times Magazine, a trade publication for the UK non-profit sector. Lewis Temple, CEO of BRAC UK, received the award on behalf of BRAC.
The award highlighted BRAC’s history of designing and implementing solutions at scale, particularly the ultra poor graduation approach, which helps the poorest graduate out of poverty.
The award now in its 17th year was held in London. The event works to shine a celebratory light on the sector, raise standards and offer ongoing professional development to the thousands engaged in charitable work in the UK. BRAC was pleased to share the short list for International Charity with six outstanding organisations, including Hospices of Hope, Send a Cow, Shivia, United World Schools, Vision for a Nation Foundation and Y Care International.
Charity Times is a leading business and management magazine for UK non-profit professionals. It offers a wide range of in-depth, independently-written features and news analysis. Each year, the Charity Times Awards work to honour the outstanding professionals in the varied fields of charity management; recognise, celebrate, and promote best practice; support continuing professional development; contribute to raising the standards of charity management; promote and raise the profile of the charity sector; and provide recognition for those who are providing effective support to the sector.
To know more about the awards, please visit: http://www.charitytimes.com/awards/index.php
It is with great regret that we inform that Mr Md Mainuddin Ahmed (44), Senior Area Manager, Small Enterprise Programme (SEP), BRAC Uganda was killed on 27 September, 2016 by unidentified miscreants. The Uganda police post-mortem report confirmed that he died due to strangulation.
Mr Mainuddin and our service staff Mr James Aworu were found unresponsive in the area office in Lira town on 27th morning. They were immediately taken to the Lira Regional Referral Hospital where the doctors declared Mr Mainuddin deceased.
Mr Aworu was admitted in critical condition and is now out of danger.
Mr Mainuddin’s laptop and phone were missing from the office. Uganda Police has commenced the investigation, but no arrests have so far been made.
BRAC Uganda office is coordinating with the Uganda government and Bangladesh consular office in carrying out all necessary official procedures involving the incident.
BRAC has informed Mr Mainuddin’s family in Bangladesh, confirming that the BRAC family stands beside them in this hour of terrible loss. He served the BRAC Microfinance programme for 18 years. Among his dearly loved ones, Mainuddin leaves behind his wife and two sons. His permanent residence is Kollyanpur, Dhaka.
BRAC started its operations in Uganda in 2006. It has around 2400 staff, of which 98 per cent is local staff members, making it the largest NGO in Uganda. To date BRAC has served 4.4 million people, which is almost 12 per cent of Uganda’s population. To know more about BRAC Uganda please click here.
Bangladesh Country Coordination Mechanism (BCCM) Secretariat is coordinating and overseeing the election process of Civil Society Members and alternate members to the BCCM. Civil Society constituencies will elect their members and alternate members according to BCCM governance manual and election criteria.Organizations and individual are requested to send necessary documents to the given email address in election criteria or address below if you are eligible voter or candidate as per the constituencies criteria. You can also download the detail guideline and criteria from the website link below.
Research findings from LANSA-BRAC examines the relation of agriculture and nutrition
Bangladesh achieved remarkable success in alleviating poverty but lags in the field of nutrition. Presently, 7.3 million children under the age of five are stunted while 2.9 million children are undernourished. To overcome this, experts are stressing on the diversity of agricultural production and agri-food value chain beyond farm to ensure food security, and fight against under nutrition.
On Tuesday, speakers shared such findings at a seminar titled ‘Nexus between Agricultural and Nutrition: Bangladesh Case’ at the BRAC Centre in Dhaka. The seminar was organised jointly by BRAC’s research and evaluation division, and international research partnership Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), UK.
Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, was present as chief guest at the seminar. Welcome speech was given by Prof. Abdul Bayes, director of research and evaluation division, BRAC. Dr Md. Sirajul Islam, programme head of BRAC's agriculture and food security programme presented findings from a research on the potential of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in curbing under nutrition in Bangladesh. The session was led by the head of BRAC’s impact assessment unit Andrew Jenkins where International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s Chief of Party Dr Akhter Ahmed, BRAC’s Research and Evaluation Division’s senior research fellow Barnali Chakraborty, researcher of BRAC-LANSA Dr Uttam Kumar Deb also presented papers. The presentations were followed by open discussion.
Addressing the key points of the research, Dr Md. Sirajul Islam said, “We need to focus on how the process of agri-food value chain and market distribution can be developed. That way, nutrition and food security for poor people can be ensured. This is going to be the next success of farm under food distribution management." He also mentioned that orange-fleshed sweet potato, which contains Beta-Carotene can play a vital role to preventing under nutrition problem.
Dr Akhter Ahmed said that the main objective of IFPRI's Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages (ANGel) project in Bangladesh is to increase investment in agricultural activities and enable women to play a crucial role in curbing down under nutrition.
About nutritional wellbeing in Haor areas of the country, Barnali Chakraborty said, “Nutrition problem is extreme in Bangladesh, and 45 per cent children are stunted in the Haor areas. To prevent this situation, BRAC initiated a pilot project in 2013 in the upazila level.”
Dr Uttam Deb's paper indicated that diet diversity has increased in recent times and involvement in diversified agriculture (crop, horticulture, livestock and fish farming) contributes towards better nutrition (measured through BMI) and low income inequality.
Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, said, “Government has taken different initiative to develop and increase nutrition for mass people. Ministry of Agriculture is evaluating various methods for nutrition enhancement through Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages (ANGel) project.
BRAC has been recognised with Smart Certification for its demonstrated commitment to client protection through its microfinance activities. By successfully completing the Smart
Campaign’s certification programme BRAC has become the first organisation in Bangladesh to achieve certification. It joins 63 other financial institutions worldwide who are proven industry leaders in keeping clients first.
Client Protection Certification is an independent, third party evaluation to publicly recognise financial institutions that meet adequate standards of care in how they treat clients. Financial institutions awarded with Smart Certification must meet rigorous, internationally agreed standards on client protection.
To secure certification, BRAC underwent an extensive audit of their policies and practices for adherence with the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles, which cover issues including transparency, fair and respectful treatment, responsible pricing and prevention of over-indebtedness. The Smart Certification process consists of a thorough document review followed by an onsite visit complete with interviews of BRAC’s management, staff and clients. The process was conducted by Microfinanza Rating, a globally specialised microfinance rating agency and licensed Smart Certifier. Including BRAC in Bangladesh, 64 institutions globally have been certified since the programme’s launch, which serve more than 34 million clients.
Commenting on the achievement, Shameran Abed, director of BRAC’s microfinance programme said, 'We are absolutely thrilled to be Smart Certified. Our clients have always come first, and this achievement confirms the success of our programme’s mission to provide financial services to the poor in a way that is responsible and responsive to their needs.'
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the government today regarding BRAC’s taxable status. The income tax law changed over time and, as a result, the taxable amount applied to BRAC changed. BRAC contested that non-profit organisations should be exempt from income tax.
Today's ruling overturned the High Court verdict from 2014 that declared that the income from BRAC’s social enterprises would be exempt from income tax. BRAC is a non-profit organisation and the income generated by BRAC’s social enterprises supports BRAC’s social development programmes. In the 2014 financial year alone, BRAC paid more than 91 crore taka (11.61 million USD) in tax and other forms of revenue.
BRAC respects the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, the full text of which has not yet reached BRAC management. Once this verdict is received, we will take legal counsel and decide our next course of action.
Our social development programmes across the country and millions of people who benefit from them will not be adversely affected by the outcome of this ruling.
Dr Munir Ahmed (country director, Orbis International Bangladesh) and Dr Kaosar Afsana (director of HNPP, BRAC) exchange the MoU in presence of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed (founder and chairperson of BRAC).
BRAC and the US-based international organisation, Orbis International, with the support of Qatar Development Fund, has signed an agreement today for extending quality modern eye care treatment for the ultra poor. It aims to strengthen community eye health services across four districts, increasing access to eye care for children in Bangladesh. This activity forms part of a new initiative called Qatar Creating Vision (QCV).
The agreement was signed at BRAC Centre, in the presence of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, chairperson of BRAC, Dr Kaosar Afsana, director of BRAC Health, Nutrition and Population Programme, and Orbis International Bangladesh's country director, Dr Munir Ahmed, and director of programmes, Md Alauddin.
At the occasion, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “Many are suffering from vision problems, helping those unfortunates to see the world with primary care service is crucial. We must work collectively to ensure the primary eye care service for all.”
Country Director of Orbis International Bangladesh, Dr Munir Ahmed said, “We have committed to achieve the Vision 2020 goal, and without universal eye health coverage, this would be impossible.”
A spokesperson from Qatar Development Fund said, “Half of childhood vision loss can be prevented or cured, so there is much that can be done, particularly for children in hard-to-reach or poor areas.”
According to the MoU, Orbis International will partly fund the construction of four vision centres, contributing around BDT 13 million, based on the model of primary health care centres to provide free eye check-ups. These centres will be built in the Khansama Upazila of Dinajpur, Nandail Upazila of Mymensingh, Dumuria Upazila of Khulna, and Homna Upazila of Comilla. The five-year-long MoU between BRAC and Orbis International will continue till June 2020. Supported by the Qatar Development Fund, the initiative will conduct one million eye tests, treat 100,000 children with uncorrected refracted errors, and perform 10,200 eye surgeries.
At the signing ceremony, BRAC informed that 16 more vision centres will be constructed. The main objective is to ensure quality eye care services for the ultra poor through telemedicine technology. Furthermore, the middle class will receive eye check-up, registration, necessary suggestions and treatments at reasonable costs.
A delicate ceasefire appears to be holding in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, after five days of heavy fighting between forces loyal to the President, Salva Kiir and those loyal to the vice-president, Riek Machar. There is widespread concern that violence will breakout again leading to calls for a buffer zone to be established. The rival forces from the Dinka and Nuer tribes battled each other using anti-aircraft guns, artillery attack helicopters and tanks, almost five years to the day after South Sudan declared independence from Sudan.
More than 300 people have been killed in the violence, including many civilians, and 36,000 people have been displaced with some seeking shelter in UN compounds and others hoping to make the long journey to Uganda and find safety. On Monday evening the clashes terminated following orders from senior leadership on both sides.
BRAC have been working in South Sudan since 2006 delivering services in education, youth empowerment, peace building, healthcare and nutrition, agriculture and food security, and livelihoods. When independence came in 2011, BRAC staff supported the world’s newest country to develop schools and reach remote villages to deliver healthcare. Currently working in 11 counties across 4 states, BRAC have created opportunities for more than 1.3 million people.
The deteriorating security situation in South Sudan is deeply concerning and BRAC has temporarily evacuated staff from areas where violence has erupted. We are additionally concerned about the impacts of sustained civil conflict on a vulnerable population that is already threatened by famine in some locations. As soon as the situation allows BRAC will continue reaching out to communities in need across our operations.