According to the World Bank an estimated 2 billion working-age-adults do not have an account at a financial institution.
To build global momentum around how to address the remaining gaps in financial inclusion, the Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign celebrated FI2020 week from 2-6 November.
A worldwide event, FI2020 week involved over 25 partners who each organised conversations on how to make significant steps to advance financial inclusion. The range of participants included banks, policy makers, NGOs, microfinance institutions, investors, and financial capability experts.
The only partner from Bangladesh, BRAC seized the opportunity by launching a nation-wide dialogue with local government leaders on how microfinance is contributing to alleviating poverty in the country. Across the 64 districts of Bangladesh, deputy commissioners- representatives of local government- were invited to visit BRAC’s microfinance operations. They gained better appreciation of how microfinance empowers the poor, especially women, and how the provision of financial services serve as cross-cutting tools that complement the government's work towards the sustainable development goals.
The nation-wide engagement with local government is hoped to nurture the supportive environment that government has enabled for microfinance institutions to function. During his visit, the deputy commissioner of Chittagong Mesbah Uddin said, “Customised financial services reach out to those who remain unbanked. Besides providing economic opportunities, BRAC’s microfinance addresses gender inequality, legal and human rights and financial education.”
During FI2020 week, BRAC also organised a debate among its staff on how microfinance fits into BRAC’s broader model of development. The main purpose of the discussion was to share insights into how financial services help the poor to cope with poverty, and ways in which BRAC could continue to improve its microfinance model in its mission to alleviate poverty.
Executive director of BRAC, Dr Muhammad Musa, who moderated the debate, observed, “As an organisation, when we work towards eradicating extreme poverty and helping individuals realise their potential, we need precise tools like microfinance to offer a more complete package of services to our clients. In a changing world we need to adjust, re-adjust, sharpen and strengthen microfinance so that it impacts a wider group of people.”
BRAC is a leading provider of financial services for the poor in seven countries including Bangladesh, Tanzania, Liberia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Myanmar and Pakistan. Its ‘credit-plus’ approach addresses the specific needs of the various target populations such as rural women, adolescents, landless poor, marginal farmers, migrant workers, urban poor and small entrepreneurs. As it expands its microfinance programme BRAC’s strategy of financial inclusion serves to complement its other programmes such as health and education, while keeping client protection at its centre. Access to financial services is a core element of BRAC’s holistic approach to development, helping households to save, consume, and work with convenience and dignity.
The Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD) of Ministry of Finance as the National Designated Authority (NDA) of Bangladesh to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) organised a daylong workshop titled ‘Accessing Green Climate Fund: Opportunities , Options and Challenges for Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations’ on November 8, 2015 in Dhaka.
The workshop was a part of NDA’s efforts to prepare Bangladesh to get access to the GCF. It aimed to introduce the GCF to Bangladesh private sector and CSOs with a special focus on private sector facility (PSF) window of GCF and facilitate direct access for private sector/CSOs. This workshop also shared and gathered relevant knowledge as well as foster an open dialogue with the private sector and CSOs about their role in combating the impacts of climate change and how they can get engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
In general there are two different ways to access the GCF. One is the 'Indirect Access' which is through the Multilateral Implementing Entity (MIE) that includes multilateral development banks and the United Nations agencies accredited by GCF. The other is the 'Direct Access' which is through National Implementing Entity (NIE) that includes any national institution accredited by the GCF. Accreditation will be done by the CGF board based on stringent eligibility criteria. No organisation can access the GCF without accreditation. For NIE accreditation they will require certification from NDA.
Present as the chief guest at inauguration, finance minister Mr. Abul Maal A. Muhith MP, said, “Bangladesh is one of the worst victims of climate change. So getting access to the GCF is very important and government, private sector and civil society have to work together to achieve this.”
Lack of institutional capacity in climate change finance governance is the greatest challenge in developing countries like Bangladesh to get accreditation of NIE to ensure direct access to GCF. To overcome this challenge, through inclusive consultation, intensive self-assessment process, expert's opinion and a two-daylong consultation workshop (earlier this year), NDA Secretariat, ERD nominated 6 (six) national institutions as the most potential candidates to apply for GCF's accreditation as NIEs. However, that was for public sector only. Based on that experience, NDA aims to engage with Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations sector (CSOs) who have a big role to play in combating climate change challenges. This workshop is the beginning to that direction.
Mr. Amir Hossain Amu MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Industries in his speech said, “Our government is not allowing to set up any industries that are harmful to environment and public health. Although the recurring natural disasters are happening due to excessive carbon emission by the developed countries, the victim countries are not getting enough fund promises.”
“Strategies are essential for the private sector and CSOs to combat the challenges of climate change in Bangladesh. In that context this workshop aims to bring awareness amongst private sector and CSOs so that they can explore their role in combating climate change challenges and can access the GCF to engage in adaptation and mitigation actions” said Mr. Abdullah Al Islam Jacob MP, Honourable Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests in his speech.
The inaugural session was chaired by Mr. Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary of ERD and NDA of Bangladesh to the GCF. It was followed by two technical sessions targeted separately to CSOs and Private sector. The technical sessions oriented the participants about the opportunities and challenges and steps of getting access to the fund. Dr. Essam Yassin Mohammad from Sustainable Markets Group, IIED, UK, Advisor of GIZ’s Finance and Climate Policy Mr. Lars Andersen and Professor of North South University Dr. Mizan R. Khan took the technical session for the private sector. The technical session for CSOs was conducted by professor Emeritus of BRAC University Dr Ainun Nishat, Executive Director of BRAC Dr Muhammad Musa and programme advisor of GEF Small Grants programme, UNDP regional office Mr Tenence Hay-Edie.
Representatives from private sector, business associations, civil society organisations, corporate bodies, environment experts, development organisations of the country joined the workshop.
ERD organised the workshop in partnership with Deutsche Gesell Schaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), BRAC and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Global Handwashing Day was celebrated in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on 26 October 2015 led by the regional department of education and department of health. With the commitment to improve the performance of children in schools, the DepEd-ARMM decided to celebrate the event annually with a regular carry out of the Essential Health Care Program (EHCP) activities including bi-annual deworming. This is the fourth year for the event to be celebrated in this region.
BRAC Philippines along with other government and non-government organizations celebrated the event in Cotabato City. To date, more than half of the 845 learning centers of the alternative delivery model (ADM) project have integrated the EHCP in their classroom sessions in partnership with GIZ Philippines. The learning facilitators conduct daily group tooth brushing and hand washing with soap in BRAC Learning Centers as part of their daily classroom activities. EHCP aims to show children the importance of personal hygiene.
Dr John Magno, DepEd-ARMM secretary noted that ‘handwashing with soap is a low-cost but effective intervention to prevent hygiene-related illnesses among school children in the region.’
Founder of BRAC received this prestigious prize for giving nearly 150 million people worldwide the opportunity for enhanced food security and a pathway out of poverty.
BRAC founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has been honoured as the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate, on 16 October 2015 at 06:30am (Bangladesh time) at a ceremony held at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. This highly prestigious prize was conferred to him for his outstanding contribution to enhancing the world's production and distribution of food to those most in need.
The chairman of The World Food Prize John Ruan III handed over the award to Sir Fazle at the event which was the centrepiece of a three-day international symposium. This prize which often referred as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture also includes USD 250,000.
Receiving the award Sir Fazle said, “I must acknowledge that the award does not belong to me alone, it is the recognition of BRAC’s work over the last 43 years in providing pathways out of poverty for millions of people in Bangladesh and other countries in Africa and Asia.”
He also said “The real heroes in our story are the poor themselves and, in particular, women struggling with poverty who overcome enormous challenges each day of their lives. Throughout our work across the world, we have learnt that countries and culture vary; but realities, struggles, aspirations and dreams of poor and marginalised people are remarkably similar. In order to solve the multidimensional problems of poverty, we have to think big, in terms of millions not thousands and holistically. In the coming decades we must refine methods of delivery at scale, placing solutions at the hands of poor people themselves and track progress. Only by putting the poor specially women in charge of their own lives and destinies will poverty and deprivation can be removed from the face of the earth.”
Guests and dignitaries present at the ceremony included US secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack, president of World Food Prize Foundation Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of Iowa senate Honourable Pam Jochum, speaker of Iowa house Honourable Linda Upmeyer. Former president of republic of Malawi and founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation Mrs Joyce Banda was present as distinguished special guest of honour. The ceremony was presided by the governor of Iowa Terry Branstad.
BRAC is widely credited as a major contributor to Bangladesh's achievement in halving poverty and hunger levels since 1990, in line with the UN's Millennium Development Goals, through its sustained efforts in the fields of poverty and hunger eradication and food security. By focusing on scalable solutions, BRAC’s food programmes have turned into sustainable social enterprises that provide inputs and access to stable markets for the rural poor. From its inception till today,
BRAC has helped nearly 150 million people worldwide with the opportunity for enhanced food security.
Earlier this year, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, announced Sir Fazle as this year’s winner at a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC.
BRAC's agriculture and food security programmes are part of a larger set of poverty eradication interventions working in 11 countries, empowering the poor, especially women and girls, using tools such as microfinance, education, health care, legal services, community empowerment, social enterprises, and a full-fledged university, BRAC University, in Dhaka.
Chevron Bangladesh today announced the launch of an 18-month pilot for an enterprise development programme. The initiative, to be implemented by BRAC, will be for the communities of the Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar gas field locations where Chevron operates. It is part of the five-year Bangladesh Partnership Initiative (BPI), a $10M commitment that was formally launched in September 2014 to support economic development. The ceremonial event held at a local hotel was graced by the presence of Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Bir Bikram, and the United States Ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, who attended as Chief and Special Guests respectively. Also present were President of Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production, Melody Meyer; Senior Director of Strategy, Communications and Empowerment at BRAC, Asif Saleh; Managing Director of Chevron Asia South Ltd Brad Middleton, and Chevron Bangladesh President, Kevin Lyon.
It is anticipated that the programme will reach approximately 20,000 beneficiaries, and up to 1,500 enterprises will be established during its lifespan.
Mr. Lyon said in his remarks, “We feel privileged that BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, is partnering with us on this important journey. We’re confident that their tremendous knowledge and vast experience will help us significantly improve the socioeconomic standing of our communities. BPI is a five-year programme, but I hope that its impacts will be sufficiently far-reaching to continue beyond its lifespan and beyond Chevron’s intervention. We want to be a part of the success of our communities, and I’m excited that the launch of this pilot will be a key step in that direction.”
Mr. Saleh said, “The project focuses on inclusion, sustainability and self-dependence. BRAC’s strength is working in the rural Bangladesh focusing on holistic development and the partnership with Chevron will have a bigger impact in generating livelihoods for the target group. We hope our joint work can give people the tools to climb out of poverty and lead them towards prosperity.”
Chevron Bangladesh entities are subsidiaries of Chevron Corporation, one of the world's leading integrated energy companies. It produces natural gas from the three fields of Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar in North-Eastern Bangladesh. In areas where we operate, we invest in activities and programmes that focus primarily on economic development, education and health care, collectively reaching nearly 37,000 people. We work with our communities across our operations, building long-term partnerships that foster social and economic development.
The BRAC WASH programme began in 2006 and has provided more than 37 million people in Bangladesh with hygienic sanitation and more than two million with access to safe water.
This report documents the proceedings of a learning workshop that brought together donors, government, and national and international NGOs to examine the outcomes of the BRAC WASH programme second phase and emerging challenges.
The first part of the report starts with a review of the programme’s achievements and main challenges, with a special focus on the innovation and learning partnership between BRAC and IRC and what the sector should adopt from BRAC WASH. This is followed by responses from BRAC WASH staff to questions from the floor about issues including financing, sustainability and data sharing. In the next section there are short reflections from the programme’s donors including the Embassy of the Netherlands, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Splash, as well as the Bangladesh government, IRC, NGO Dustha Shasthya Kendra (DSK) and others.
Part two of the report documents discussions on three new areas of work that BRAC intends to focus on: sustainable integration of WASH in other BRAC programmes, WASH in urban areas and water security in coastal areas.
Download the full article here.
Institute of Kabaddi became champions of the Aarong Dairy Federation Cup Women’s Kabaddi Tournament 2015 by defeating Dhaka Wanderers by a scoreline of 23—21 in the final. The seven-day long tournament, organised by Bangladesh Kabaddi Federation saw the participation of six teams, including three clubs and three divisional teams. Shraboni Mollick of Dhaka Wonderers was adjudged the best player of the tournament, while Rina Akter and Kazi Saheen Ara Brishti of the Institute of Kabaddi won the best defender and best raider awards respectively.
Sport, and particularly women’s participation in grassroots level sport, has become increasingly tied in with developmental theory and practice, as an opportunity for young people to empower themselves. The necessity for the kabaddi players to direct their own bodies with confidence on the court, and the realisation that their exertions bring them a form of success, increases the women’s self-esteem and belief in their ability to advance themselves. Team sports like kabaddi also involve learning and practicing the skills of collaboration and leadership, training that is particularly valuable to young women who may not otherwise have access to public leadership positions. In addition, sport is vital to young people’s physical health, and for young women in Dhaka, who are subject both to oppressive norms and urban overcrowding, events like the Aarong Dairy Federation Cup Women’s Kabaddi Tournament offer an important space for play.
The tournament combined this intention for progress with roots to heritage, as kabaddi, despite being less popular than cricket and football, is Bangladesh’s national sport. Speaking at the occasion, Ashok Kumar Biswas, secretary of the National Sport Council, pledged the government’s continued support for kabaddi and asked other private and non-governmental organizations to follow the lead of Aarong Dairy and come forward to support the sport.
September 10, 2015
Every year 4-5 lakh people leave Bangladesh for other countries to work as migrant workers. Currently 95 lakh Bangladeshis are working in different countries around the world. Many migrant workers after their return try to take up jobs and settle at home. But in many cases they face complications in pursuing their new jobs. The added problem for women returnees is that they often face social stigma and lack of respect from the community. They also struggle with discrimination as they try to get jobs. Many of them suffer from different physical ailments and mental stress. Many still lack clear knowledge about how to best utilise the money they earned abroad. The biggest difficulty in this regard, however, is that the government does not have a specific policy to guide the reintegration process of returnee migrant workers.
The keynote presentation sketched the plights of the returnee migrant workers at a workshop organised by BRAC today on Thursday in the capital. Supported by UN Women, the workshop titled ‘Lessons learned on establishment of reintegration and referral services for returnee migrant workers project’ was held at the BRAC Centre.
Md Hazrat Ali, additional secretary, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, was the chief guest at the event, while Shamsun Nahar, director general, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, and Christine Hunter, country representative, UN Women, were the chief guests. Sheepa Hafiza, director, Gender Justice and Diversity and Migration programmes of BRAC, moderated the session. Tapati Saha, programme coordinator, UN Women, and Aminul Islam, senior manager, migration programme of BRAC, gave the presentation.
Md Hazrat Ali in his chief guest’s speech stressed three points in this regard. He said there should be counseling services for those who went abroad with many dreams but had to return for some reasons, and now face difficulty in their job. There should be assistance for returnee migrant workers to help them reintegrate in the society. Assistance should also be there for those who are facing problem in employment.
Christine Hunter emphasised equal employment opportunity for all irrespective of their gender identity.
In her introductory speech Sheepa Hafiza described BRAC’s programme and planning for safe migration and proper reintegration of returnee migrant workers.
Sajjad Hossain Khan, assistant director, BMET, Hassan Imam, programme head of BRAC Migration Programme, Sadrul Hasan Mazumder, programme coordinator, Advocacy for Scoial Change, BRAC, Ishrat Shamim, programme coordinator, Centre for Women and Children Studies, Keramat Ullah Biplob, additional chief reporter, ATN Bangla, also spoke at the session.
On 13 September 2015, BRAC Afghanistan inaugurated a school building in Daulatabad district of Balkh province. The inauguration ceremony which took place in the new building premise was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Education, country representative of BRAC Afghanistan, Shura leaders, teachers, female students from the community and their parents.
A Shura leader mentioned that there is only one high school in this village. The officials from the Ministry of Education urged the community people to inspire their children to seek education.
The new building built on a land donated by the community consists of five classrooms, one office room, two latrines and one hand pump. The classrooms are well equipped with necessary academic materials and teaching supplies. Currently 90 female students attend the school.
On September 12, 2015 Saturday at 11.00 am, A national debate competition is going to be held in Bangla Academy Auditorium, Dhaka. Bitarka Bikash Grand Final, Debate competition is organised by BRAC, ATN Bangla and Debate for Democracy. ATN Bangla will telecast it live.
The main objective of this programme is to provide the students of rural secondary schools an opportunity to progress their presentation skill, communication skill and speaking ability as well as improve their logical thinking and self confidence.
BRAC started its involvement in the field of secondary education in 2001 by PACE (Post Primary basic and Continuing Education component of BRAC education programme) as a supplement to the government‘s effort in order to meet the target plan for the secondary school students. At first, initiative was taken for training the subject-based (Math, Science, and English) teachers. Later, it was observed that some major barriers, i.e., only training for the teachers is not sufficient to ensure an effective learning environment and students’ attendance, participation in classroom and internal examinations were not satisfactory. Students felt shy to ask questions in classroom and consult teachers for their problems and students had limited scope in school to engage themselves in co-curricular activities and in the classroom.
To address all these problems and to create a healthier learning environment in rural secondary schools, BRAC introduced Students’ Peer Mentoring Programme in 2006. Peer Mentoring programme aims to create and develop the quality of self-esteem, perceptiveness, self-discipline, attentiveness, partnering, sharing, leadership, imagination, and creativity among the students with a view to bring positive changes in the society. In this programme, some academically advanced and enthusiastic students are provided with proper advice, support and training to become Mentors. One of the core objectives of Peer Mentoring is to promote co-curricular activities among the students. In light of this objective, Students’ Mentoring has been arranging debate competition for Secondary Schools students and teachers since 2006.