BRAC has allocated a budget of BDT 150 million (15 crore) for low-income families in urban slums, semi-urban and hard-to-reach areas, whose livelihood have been impacted due to the social distancing measures of COVID-19 pandemic. Each family will be provided with BDT 1,500 as an emergency food assistance fund, starting from Thursday, 02 April 2020).
In the first phase, 100,000 families will be assisted with BRAC’s own fund, which is to be disseminated through its urban development programme, ultra-poor graduation programme, integrated development programme and the humanitarian programme.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC, said on this initiative, "COVID-19 is a humanitarian crisis with a public health dimension. In countries like Bangladesh, it also has dire economic consequences. According to the World Bank, only 15 percent of Bangladesh’s population makes more than BDT 500 a day. Most villagers depend on remittances from the cities or abroad. Because this is a global crisis, people everywhere are out of work. Their income flow has stopped.”
“Our emergency assistance will be targeted towards low-income families who have lost their source of livelihoods due to the ongoing pandemic. We will support 100,000 such families. However, the requirements are far bigger. I urge compassionate individuals and organisations to come forward and help us scale up the initiative to reach many more,” he added.
Asif Saleh further said that this activity will be implemented in close coordination with the local public representatives and administration, particularly to avoid duplication.
BRAC’s assistance will enable a family of four to buy essential food items for two weeks. Low-income families in 12 city corporations, eight municipalities, 38 sub-districts, haor villages, neighbourhoods and market areas near river ports, as well as host communities living adjacent to the displaced Rohingya population camps in Cox's Bazar will receive this assistance. BRAC staff will carry out the operation with assistance from the local public representatives and communities.
BRAC has also launched a fundraising appeal to scale up the effort and increase the coverage. Individuals and any organisation can donate. Details are available on BRAC website: https://www.brac.net/covid19/donate/.
BRAC's urban development programme will lead the distribution among 61,000 families in 12 city corporations and eight municipalities. BRAC's ultra-poor graduation programme will carry out the operation in 38 sub-districts under which 16,000 families of hawkers, rickshaw and van pullers and domestic helps will receive the money. The BRAC Integrated Development Programme will provide the assistance to 8,000 families living in haor areas, and markets and neighbourhoods near river ports. Also, 15,000 families in the host communities in Ukhya and Teknaf sub-districts of Cox's Bazar will receive the assistance.
BRAC is also driving a nationwide hygiene awareness and behavioural change campaign with its network of over 100,000 staff, volunteers and healthcare workers with the support of local administrations.
It is distributing protective wear and hygiene products, and 568,095 units of liquid soap, bathing soap and sanitisers, and 106,519 units of protective wear such as masks and gloves were distributed to the staff and communities.
Additionally, 200,000 reusable masks and 2,000 PPE have been produced through hygienic, home-based production mechanisms which have already been distributed. More masks are in production right now.
BRAC is also running an extensive public awareness campaign through social media and mass media, involving eminent physicians and public health experts, policymakers, artists and BRAC's senior leadership team. Details are available on this dedicated portal: http://www.brac.net/covid19/.