Sir Abed holding his gift after he was named Respected Elder of Tanzania by BRAC in Tanzania Staff
It was a special day for BRAC Tanzania, as the long awaited arrival of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed finally took place on 4 March 2017. His last visit was four years ago and since then a lot has changed with the addition of many new faces, most of who has only read stories of the great leader.
On his visit, Sir Fazle met with senior staff as well as the board members to discuss BRAC's role in Tanzania and the way forward. He had meetings with various potential partners, including representatives from UNICEF, and the Ambassadors of Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Sir Abed getting briefing from Education team when he visited Play Lab project at Temekem, Dar es salaam
Sir Fazle visited different parts of Tanzania to visit our programmes. He visited the DFID funded Girls' Education Challenge in the Mwanza region. He met with teachers from public schools and students from our in-school mentoring sessions, and visited a newly established library, courtesy of BRAC. He met with LEAD producer groups and microfinance women’s groups. The chairperson was happy to see BRAC’s impact in these communities. In Dar es Salaam, Sir Fazle was taken to visit the Play Lab Project, our latest early childhood development project.
On the final day of the visit, Sir Fazle was honoured with a surprise declaration of a Respected Elder of Tanzania. Sir Fazle was dressed in the traditional maasai outfit, a sign of acceptance in Tanzania’s elderly community.
The year 2016 saw a rise in the number of tuberculosis patient detection, child TB patients in particular. Use of upgraded technologies and machines enables health professionals to diagnose more patients with the infection, which has caused the rise in the number. In 2015, a total of 7,984 children were diagnosed with TB, while the number rose to 9,291 in 2016. In percentage account, child TB patient detection in 2016 was 4.3 per cent. In 2015, it was 4 per cent. In 2016 again, the total number of patients including children detected with TB stood at 2,23, 922. Of them 9,700 were multi-drug-resistant (MDR) TB patients.
Experts revealed these at a press conference today on Thursday, organised at the National Press Club on the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day 2017. Every year 24 March is observed as the World TB Day. National TB Control Programme (NTP) under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, BRAC and other partner organisations jointly arranged the press conference. The event was organised to share the successes and experiences from the TB control activities as well as the future planning in this regard. This year, the WHO released slogan for the day is 'Unite efforts to leave no one behind'.
NTP line director Dr Rouseli Haq was present as the chief guest at the press conference. Key presentation was delivered by DR-TB chief executive Dr Nazis Arefin Saki.
Deputy World Health Organisation representative Dr Edwin Salvador, national professional officer of WHO in Bangladesh Dr Vikarunnesa Begum, country project director of Management Sciences for Health Dr Oscar Cordon, senior infectious disease adviser of USAID in Bangladesh Dr Charles Lerman and programme head of BRAC TB and Malaria Control Programme Dr Shayla Islam spoke at the event, among others. A press note was also presented by BRAC's senior sector specialist for TB Dr Md Masud Rana.
Referring to the WHO Global TB Report for 2016, the experts said in Bangladesh, every year 45 patients in every one lakh (100 thousand) people die of TB, while 225 new TB patients in every one lakh are diagnosed with the infection.
They also spoke about the successes of TB treatment in Bangladesh, saying 94 per cent patients diagnosed with lung TB with germs in cough get cured.
They also said Bangladesh is ahead of the world in treating MDR-TB patients with 70 per cent success rate, compared with the world average of 52 per cent.
According to the targets Bangladesh government has set, the country will lower the rate of TB-related deaths by 95 per cent and the rate of TB prevalence by 90 per cent by 2035 than that occurred in 2015. To achieve these targets 27 NGOs are working with the government on the lead.
In the keynote Dr Najis Arefin Saki pointed out that the use of upgraded technologies has made it possible to diagnose ever more patients, taking the current rate to 61 per cent. In 2015, the rate of detection was 57 per cent. GO-NGO collaboration brought many commendable successes in TB treatment in the country, although 39 per cent of the patients remain still missing, owing to different factors.
In chief guest’s address Dr Rouseli Haq said ‘Since 1993 NTP has been working successfully, as a result of which we are now able to diagnose 77 lung TB patients with tuberculosis germs in cough out of every 1 lakh people. Out of the diagnosed TB patients 94 per cent are getting cured.’
Dr Shayla Islam said, ‘It is highly necessary now to scale up our operations in the urban areas. High population density in the cities makes TB patient detection somewhat difficult. We are now establishing a network with the private physicians to strengthen the referral system, which we hope will add pace to the whole process.’
Challenges in diagnosis and treatment of the infection that the speakers pointed out are: Shortage of health facilities to give treatment, shortage of staff with required skills, difficulty in giving treatment to floating patients living particularly in urban slums, private facilities not referring TB patients to NTP, insufficient GeneXpert machines to diagnose MDR-TB, lack of access in giving diagnosis and treatment services to people working in garment and other privately owned factories.
The NTP, BRAC and other partners will also organise a parade on 24 March World TB Day in the capital city. The parade will start at 7am at Shahbag to end at the National Press Club.
Aisha is a young, hopeful girl who wants to be a Fashion Designer. Dressed in a bright orange, breezy dress with her hair neatly tied back, she shows off the 3 badges pinned to her dress with pride. ‘Girls Code = Future’, reads the small, green badge.
The teacher then swiftly takes over and begins with an ice-breaker, asking the girls to say why they have joined the Code Clubs. Aisha explains that she wants to learn how to send e-mails and messages online. You can see the excitement and curiosity in her eyes as she waits for the lesson to begin.
“It is important for girls to learn about computers and access technology because later on in life they can be more independent,” says Aisha.
The girls are then handed out the pristine orange boxes that package the Kano kits. Carefully pealing the wrapping, Aisha pauses to take in the various gadgets and small parts before beginning to assemble the Kano computer by following the picture-book instructions.
Today is the first day Aisha will not only get to use a computer, but also learn how to build one. Typically, she spends her days staying at home to do the housework so coming to the Clubs is something for her to look forward to. BRAC in partnership with Theirworld, a global children’s charity are launching coding clubs project. Vulnerable girls and young women in Tanzania will be given unique chance to learn vital coding and technology skills in a safe space through this new innovative pilot project.
“The coding clubs will have a much broader impact in the girls’ lives that goes beyond just coding. The opportunities that coding will create for the girls in these communities are immeasurable. Most, if not all, have never even seen a computer before. An understanding of computer science is becoming increasingly essential in today’s world”. explained Amina Shaaban, the Deputy Manager for Education at BRAC
Girls and young women aged 11–25 years will learn how to build a computer, make games and artworks and express themselves with code. Integrated into the curriculum are also concepts of health and nutrition where girls reflect on their daily routines and the importance of hygiene, exercise and nutrition using online tools. The older girls also learn how to create their own websites using HTML, CSS & Java as well as gain skills for future employment and business. All girls are provided with a healthy snack.
Africa is crying out for young women with STEM skills and knowledge, coding clubs will provide these young girls a whole new window of opportunity and interest that they never had a chance to explore. Girls will be able to have a logical thought process, ability to spot mistakes and willingness to solve a problem that comes from learning to code. Said Ms. Shaaban
Code Clubs provide a safe space for girls to learn coding, foster their creative thinking and increase important business and health-related knowledge and skills to help transform their lives. The clubs are located in the Temeke district of Dar es Salaam where many girls have dropped out of school and the risk of teenage pregnancy is high.
Sarah Brown, President of Theirworld says with a safe space to learn and play, a mentor to inspire, and access to technology to be able to explore, create, and code they can increase learning opportunities and empower girls to fulfill their potential.
Every girl should have the opportunity to go to school, learn, grow, and have a future they choose.
“At Theirworld, we know that investing in a girl has social and economic returns that go beyond her, extending not only to her family and future children, but also to her community. We don’t shy away from challenges and are prepared to tackle the big problems that stop children from learning,” added Sarah Brown.
Code Clubs run once a week in six month cycles. Girls will be taught a bespoke programme of online coding content by a trained teacher, and given access to numeracy, literacy, art and music to support their formal education. The Kano computer kits used in the clubs are low-cost, easily transportable, can be rebuilt multiple times and are highly applicable in countries where connectivity is low.
BRAC employees at the Sierra Leone national celebration of IWD 2017
BRAC in Sierra Leone celebrated International Women's Day 2017 by organising an event celebrating the contributions of women at the workforce. All staff were in attendance and the there was a discussion around whether BRAC in Sierra Leone are really promoting gender mainstreaming. Going with this year's theme of "Be Bold for Change", the staff explored how BRAC is promoting women empowerment and enhancing the capacity of women and young girls for them to bring about desired change.
Members of BRAC in Sierra Leone also attended the national programme organised by the government of Sierra Leone through the ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs.
On the 10th of March BRAC Myanmar co-hosted a session on financial inclusion during the first edition of the Convergences Myanmar Forum. The theme of the session was ‘How to provide financial services for the poorest and most marginalised people?’ and the audience consisted of representatives from private organisations, NGOs and policy-makers. Lewis Temple, CEO of BRAC UK, presented BRACs ultra-poor graduation model as an illustration to the topic. Thereafter, panellists from Entrepreneurs du Monde, Dawn Myanmar, the Financial Regulatory Department, Wave Money and PGMF together with the audience discussed the challenges of reaching the poorest and how to overcome these. The speakers agreed that microcredit alone is not enough in order to reach the poorest - a more holistic approach is needed. Proposed solutions to overcome the challenges are to focus more on an integrated approach (training, support, skills development), to cooperate with and implement digital financial services and to facilitate information and knowledge sharing. All parties showed a great willingness and commitment throughout the session to cooperate toward a more financial inclusive Myanmar society.
BRAC in South Sudan team celebrating BRAC Day 2017
On 21st March 2017, BRAC South Sudan joined together as one family for celebrations to mark 45 years of BRAC.
Staff discussed how BRAC not only transformed the lives of people positively, but has also inspired them to overcome challenges no matter their backgrounds. Some staffs were really excited to express their stories and motivation and use the hashtag #IamBRAC.
Country Representative Mr. Rezaul Karim expressed his honor at leading the South Sudan team and he appreciated the effort of all BRAC Staff to ensure the wellbeing of communities in South Sudan and Globally.
Reading out Chairperson's speech as part of BRAC Day 2017 celebrations
BRAC in Philippines team celebrating BRAC Day 2017
As BRAC celebrates its 45th year of supporting marginalised population around the world, BRAC Philippines remains committed to ensuring more children are brought to school, more women are employed and more communities are empowered through out interventions.
Staff of BRAC Philippines all over the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) celebrated this joyous event to remind themselves of the goal they have worked hard to achieve through the years and the remaining work that is yet to be done for the children of ARMM.
The campaign #IamBRAC was launched on the day, encouraging staff to share their BRAC stories. One staff expressed how BRAC motivated him to work harder because of the well-established leadership structure in BRAC. Another mentioned how working at BRAC has developed her career and personality.
BRAC Philippines would like to wish the rest of BRAC a very happy BRAC Day and looking forward to another 45 years of excellent work!
Food and festivities at BRAC Day 2017
BRAC Pakistan’s newest team member cutting the 45th BRAC anniversary cake in joyful mood
The 45th anniversary of BRAC was observed by all BRAC Pakistan staff to recognise BRAC’s tremendous contributions in global social development since its birth on March 21st 1972 in Bangladesh.
Celebrations were held in all main regions including at the country office in Islamabad where staff shared their stories of change and the remarkable impact BRAC has brought in their lives. Staff shared their pledges and motivation to work as BRAC’s change agents in their communities with full commitment, vigor and tenacity.
The CEO of BRAC in Pakistan Mr. Sher Zaman shared Sir Fazle Hassan Abed’s speech with the staff and stressed on laying the base of our social and development work by following in the footsteps of the great and exceptional leadership of BRAC and their community based models. While appreciating BRAC’s services for improving millions of lives living in poverty, Mr. Zaman explained BRAC's graduation model approach which helped the ultra poor climb out of poverty when its various aspects were replicated in different countries by other organisations across Asia, Africa and Latin America. A prestigious milestone indeed!
As a way forward, staff urged BRAC to bring in more innovative approaches in line with the country context to successfully translate its vision with effective and efficient solutions as there is a huge need and scope in the health and education sector in Pakistan.
Staff of Hyderabad region in festive mood to mark 45th BRAC Day
While NGOs in Bangladesh are contributing to the socio-economic development, they can also play a significant role to curb the rising threat of terrorism. Government strategies and plans should create space for effective engagement of these organisations in this regard.
Speakers said these today on Sunday at a discussion titled 'NGO and development', organised at the BRAC Centre in the capital on the occasion of BRAC Day.
They also observed that creating an environment for comfortable co-existence of the government and the NGOs has become evermore important now.
Noted economist and chairman of Centre for Policy Dialogue Professor Rehman Sobhan was the chief guest at the programme.
Moderated and chaired by BRAC executive director Dr Muhammad Musa, the event was also attended among others by Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, former adviser to Caretaker Government and executive director of CAMPE Rasheda K Choudhury, chief coordinator for SDG affairs at the prime minister's office Abul Kalam Azad and Professor SR Osmani of Ulster University in the UK.
Professor Rehman Sobhan stressed GO-NGO coordination in the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals saying that the prime minister can have meetings with the NGOs regarding the implementation of programmes to achieve the SDGs.
He observed that ‘micro-credit’ programmes of the NGOs have played ‘remarkable’ role in poverty alleviation and BRAC, as one of the largest NGOs of the world, has played significant role in this regard. Having cited examples from similar initiative in India, he further suggested that following their examples social business enterprises in Bangladesh also can share their profit with their producers.
Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud observed that at present the relation between the government and NGOs is rather that of ‘an uneasy coexistence’. ‘I think this should be turned into a comfortable coexistence. The NGOs have played crucial role not only in poverty reduction, but also in education, health, family planning and increasing women’s participation in employment.’
‘There was a time when women could not ride bike. Nor could they go to school. There was mass reluctance about family planning. NGOs played a crucial role to change the situation. And as they did it, they have the capacity in tackling the rising religious terrorism. The government can particularly engage them in spreading the spirit of non-communalism,’ he further said.
Rasheda K Chowdhury called on the micro-credit practitioners to reduce interest rates and loan processing costs to increase the overall poverty-reduction efficiency of these programmes>
BRAC Research and Evaluation Division (RED) director Professor Abdul Bayes delivered the keynote presentation.
Citing government and donor data, he said between 2002 and 2016, one crore 10 lakh (11 million) households came out of ultra poverty. Of them, about 15 per cent - around 18 lakh (1.8 million) families have escaped ultra poverty with the integrated assistance from BRAC.
He further said, 90 per cent of those who came out of ultra poverty with BRAC assistance have done so by securing sustainable development. Besides reducing ultra poverty, BRAC also significantly contributes to the national management of tuberculosis infection, medical treatment of cataract and ensuring of quality primary education.
He added that while through its micro-credit programme BRAC helps alleviate poverty, it also contributes to the social development of poor communities. It has so far, helped 30 lakh (3 million) people in the hard-to-reach areas sustainably access safe water, trained 5 crore (50 million) people across the country on maintaining a healthy life and supplied sanitary latrines in 3 crore (30 million) households.
Stressing the challenges of the NGO sector, the speakers said partnership between the government and NGOs should further deepen in the face of reducing foreign development aid, which will help secure finance for such organisations. Innovation of new social business enterprises can also become a potential strategy to increase their financial stability. Bangladeshi NGOs should come up with new management techniques and system also as the country is steadily progressing towards becoming a middle-income country, they further said. They emphasised that these organisations should also increase their capacity and transparency, while run social development programmes besides distributing micro loans.
Speakers from BRAC added that currently BRAC micro-credit has reached 50 lakh (5 million) clients. The organisation is now in the process of overhauling its programmes with special focus on reducing ultra poverty, quality improvement of pre-primary education, capacity building to sustainably tackle climate change impacts, increase quality of health and nutrition, youth employment and women empowerment.
A total of 7,489 women and girls have been experienced multiple form of violence during January to December 2016. What is most alarming about the report is that the rate of child victims is 20 per cent of the total violence against women occurred during the period. Every day 1.7 child below the age of 18 have become victim of rape incidents.
BRAC community empowerment programme today organised a roundtable discussion at the BRAC Centre’s auditorium to share key findings of incidents of violence against women as documented by the programme.
Anna Minj, director of community empowerment, integrated development and gender, justice and diversity programme presided over the roundtable titled `Our Role in Preventing Violence against Women’. Mahmuda Sharmeen Benu, additional secretary of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs was the Chief Guest. Dr Ruchira Tabassum Naved, Senior Scientist of ICDDRB, Aysha Khanom, President of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad, Farida Yasmin, Deputy Commissioner, (Women Support and Investigation Unit, DMP, and Head of Victim Support Center), Mozammel Haque Babu, Chief Editor and Managing Director, 71 Television were panel discussants in the event. KAM Morshed, director, technology and partnership strengthening unit, moderated the roundtable.
Violence against women in different ways has been a common weapon to control women and this is becoming a common practice under patriarchal culture. The BRAC report shows that a total of 7,489 women and girls have been experienced violence last year. Every day on an average, 20 women and girls became victims of violence. Most frequently reported type of violence are (highest to lowest): physical violence (67 per cent), sexual (19 per cent) and mental/psychological (14 per cent). Most frequent form of violence is physical torture (4,344) of total reported incidence followed by rape and gang rape (874)), suicide (835), murder (481) and attempted rape (310). 82 per cent violence occurred in domestic sphere and 18 per cent in public sphere. Highest number of violence recorded in Jessore (351) followed by Satkhira (288), Narsingdi (280), Potuakhali (252), Mymensingh (248), Feni (220) and Rangpur (219) while the lowest was from Madaripur (34). Among all incidents, 26 per cent case filed, 7 per cent resolved in shalish and 39 per cent was under process and 28 per cent did not file any case or did not take any legal actions.
BRAC community empowerment program (CEP) identifies and reports incidents of violence against women from 55 districts of Bangladesh. This is done through its network of 12,350 ward-level and women-led institutions called Polli Shomaj. The victim or victims’ family, neighbours, and Polli Shomaj members send reports to BRAC head office, and maintain a database.
The Chief Guest, Mahmuda Sharmeen Benu said, “Violence against women is not only for the problem of women, it is also the problem of men as well. Need to work collaborately to end violence. Considering it, we have taken initiative to form `adolescent club’ in all Unions. We have also taken initiative to empower women in promoting entrepreneurship in 18 different businesses in 490 upazillas.”
Panel discussant Ayesha Khanam said, now different preventive initiative has been taking from GO and NGO but it is not sufficient considering the vulnerability. We need to work in a holistic approach to prevent violence. She also said that we have laws but most of the people, even those who are implementing, do not know about the law. She emphasised on proper implementation of the law.
Among others, government officials, representatives of law enforcing agencies, women and human rights activists, teachers, researchers, NGO activits, media representatives were present/took part in the discussion.