BRAC Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry launched the Rebuilding Livelihood of the Ebola Affected Petty Traders project at Njala Venue, Freetown on 8 January. As part of the project, sensitisation sessions were rolled out in different parts of the country where the project will be implemented; briefing key stakeholders on the different components of the project and creating awareness.
The project is funded by DFID and executed by a consortium consisting of BRAC, World Vision, World Hope International and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). BRAC Sierra Leone will cover 12, 036 beneficiaries in 4 districts; CRS will cover 6,110 beneficiaries in 3 districts and World Hope International will cover 3,441 beneficiaries in 2 districts. The main objective of this project is to support 29,400 petty traders affected by Ebola through soft loan, start-up business capital and capacity building training. It also aims to recapitalise micro finance institutions to ensure access to finance by petty traders and also long term sustainability.
“Emphasis has been given to ensure taking tech-based education system to every corner of the country,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today at the official launch of the new, interactive digital multimedia content. The digital content covers the entire curriculum of primary education (grades 1-5) and will be accessible on any device.
“To improve the quality of education, we have developed this new interactive multimedia content that will be accessible from any corner of the country,” the PM said.
Through this initiative, all of Bangladesh’s twenty million primary school students will be able to access their entire curriculum online via any device. In public schools, it is being accessed on the computers that the government has already integrated into over 1,500 digital classrooms across the country as part of its Digital Bangladesh vision.
Present as a guest Minister of Primary and Mass Education Advocate Mostafizur Rahman, MP said, “We have already prepared 55 PTIs with multimedia projectors and they have developed interactive content. They have also trained the teachers on the content. We are training teachers on the use of multimedia projectors, digital devices as well.”
The government initiated to transform 17 books made by National Curriculum of Textbook Board (NCTB) into interactive multimedia digital education content a decade back. The multimedia content creates an innovative and engaging learning environment, moving away from the traditional teacher-centric classroom.
It was developed in response to the success in classrooms of the content previously developed by BRAC to cover Grades 6-10. The new content was funded by the Government of Bangladesh and created by BRAC and Save the Children.
Explaining this as a revolutionary initiative, state minister of ICT Mr Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP said, “The multimedia based interactive digital content is an approach to make education more interesting and fun for children. So far, we have made multimedia classrooms in 5,000/1500 schools and we plan to reach 65,000 by 2021, thus contribute creating a digital Bangladesh”
According to research, visuals improve learning by up to 400 percent, and now those visuals will be available anywhere in Bangladesh that an internet connection can be found. Every screen, in a country where over 50 million people are online, will now be a space where families can experience fun, animated learning.
Congratulating government BRAC founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG said, “BRAC has always emphasised on education from its beginning. We started our “Computer aided learning” project in 2005 to bring technology in education sector. We appreciate the government for adopting our learning and taking it all over the country. It will change the education scenario in future”.
Amongst other distinguished guests, present at the event were secretary of primary and mass education Md. Humayun Khalid, secretary of ICT Shyam Sunder Sikder, Interim Regional Director South/ Central Asia of Save the Children Mr Michael McGrath.
Interactive multimedia content is available here: http://digitalcontent.ictd.gov.bd/
To find more about BRAC’s education porgamme visit: http://education.brac.net/
Watch the event coverage here: http://www.brac.net/live
BRAC has won the Urban Resilience Challenge launched by Amplify/OpenIDEO. The idea submitted by the BRAC Urban Development Programme (UDP) for this challenge is among the 8 winning ideas which were selected from a total of 350 submissions globally. BRAC UDP’s idea involves developing community-led fire prevention and response mechanisms in the urban slums of Bangladesh.
OpenIDEO is an online collaborative that enables people from all over the world to collaborate in developing innovative solutions to pressing social and environmental challenges. OpenIDEO runs the Amplify programme which focuses on improving the lives of the billion people living in extreme poverty around the world.
Amplify will fund BRAC UDP up to 800,000 USD for a 12 months project. Amplify will also support BRAC UDP to build capacity on human-centred design approach to problem solving and develop prototypes.
The idea submitted by BRAC UDP for the Amplify/OpenIDEO Urban Resilience Challenge can be viewed in detail here -
BRAC mourns the sad demise of Dr Babar Kabir who was the former senior director of BRAC's disaster management and climate change and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. On the morning of 15 January at around 7 am, after a severe asthma attack, he succumbed to a cardiac arrest in Dhaka. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Dr Kabir completed his PhD in hydrogeology in 1986 from Azerbaijan State University and has been working in the field of environment and public health since then. He has served in the capacity of senior management roles at the World Bank-WSP, UNDP Bangladesh, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of Bangladesh as national programme coordinator for their Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP), and other multilateral and bilateral organisations. In 2007, Dr Kabir joined BRAC as director of its water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and disaster management and climate change (DMCC) programmes, and in 2012 he became a senior director. He was also a member of the Executive Management Committee, which is BRAC’s management decision making committee.
Hinged on his leadership, BRAC provided more than 37 million people with hygienic sanitation and another two million with access to safe water in 250 sub-districts of Bangladesh. And in 2013, after the Rana Plaza disaster, BRAC reached out to number of survivors through health protection scheme, fixed deposit, skills development training for different livelihood followed by seed funding as investment to begin new life and psychosocial counselling to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In 2014, Dr Kabir left BRAC to become a consultant in the WASH and microfinance sectors. He has over 15 publications in national and international journals and has co-authored a chapter on ‘Mitigation Strategies’ of the WHO monograph on arsenic initiated by UNACC.
Today, the BRAC family is deeply saddened by the departure of such a dynamic leader and a brilliant mind that came out of this nation.
BRAC awarded 10 journalists from local and national media at an event in the capital today. BRAC Migration programme organised this event at BRAC Centre in recognition of media’s contribution in raising mass awareness on migration, migrant’s rights and welfare. This initiative was taken for the first time to acknowledge and encourage journalism in migration sector.
10 journalists from print, online and electronic media received the award from BRAC’s executive director Dr Muhammad Musa. A jury board of four members selected the winners on the criterion of raising public awareness, advocating for the rights, welfare and well-being of Bangladeshi migrant workers and their families. promoting a positive image of Bangladeshi migrants and creativity, originality and innovativeness of the content. The jury board members did not include any BRAC staff to maintain impartiality.
From the national print media category first, second and third positions were secured by Md Shariful Hasan of Prothom Alo, Md Abid Ajad Shuvo of Dhaka tribune, Belal Hossain Biplob of The Daily Star. The winners of local level category are Abu Bakar Siddiq (3rd) of Daily Jalalabad, Sylhet, Aftab Hossian (2nd) of Mayabazar, Rangpur; and Mohammad Sarif Eqbal (1st) of Laal Shobujer Desh, Khoj Khabor and Daily News, Narshingdi. Md Rabiul Islam of migrationnews.bd.com received the award in the online media category. From the electronic media category first, second and third were Salah Uddin Helali from Jamuna TV, Keramat Ullah Biplab from ATN Bangla and Jhumur Bari from 71 TV.
The keynote presentation was delivered by programme head of migration programme, Mr Hassan Imam before the award ceremony took place. Highlighting media exposure on migration he said, “Steps have been taken internationally and nationally to stop irregular migration through sea-root after substantial reporting in media.”
Present as special guest one of the jury board members, Joint Secretary of ministry of expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment Mr Kazi Abul Kalam said, “Bangladesh Government has recently rewarded BRAC for its significant work in migration sector. A special thanks to media for its strong role in bringing out stories of migrant workers in 2015. From Government, we are setting up a hotline number with the help of A2I for the migrants all over the world. We hope we will get all cooperation from media and civil society to help migrants in future.”
Appreciating media’s role in this sector BRAC’s ED Dr Musa said, “Collective effort by civil society, media and government can create a constructive movement to ensure migrant’s rights and their wellbeing. This award is our respect to media for their constructive and substantial role to ensure safe and quality migration.”
The event was moderated by BRAC’s senior director of strategy, empowerment and capacity Mr Asif Saleh. Director of BRAC’s gender, justice and diversity and migration programme was also present along with representatives from media, civil society and development organisations.
BRAC deeply mourns at the sad demise of Dr Mahabub Hossain, advisor of the executive director, BRAC and Distinguished Professor and Chairperson, Economics and Social Science department of BRAC University. He passed away on January 4, 2016, at 2.45 am (Bangladesh time) in Cleveland Hospital, USA at the age of 71. He left behind his wife, two daughters and a son.
In a life filled with brilliance, this eminent economist served as head of social science division of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Executive director of BRAC, and Director General of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS). An inspiring figure, he will be forever remembered for his brilliance in articulation of macro- economic analysis, his path breaking research works, his leadership in agricultural innovation and above all his deep empathy for the marginalised people.
After completing his Masters in Economics from Dhaka University, Dr Hossain obtained his PhD from the Cambridge University. Besides the publications of many research articles in international journals, some of his seminal books are: Asian Rice Bowls A Returning Crisis: Rice Research in Asia: Progress and Prospects; Impact of Rice Research in Asia; Strategy of Development in Bangladesh; Rural Economy and Livelihoods Insights from Bangladesh, Bish Geramer Golpo, Leading Issues in Rural Development. The global magazine of politics and economics-The Foreign Policy featured him in their list of 500 most prominent individuals in the international arena.
He was suffering from heart disease for last two years. He went to USA on 15 December 2015 for treatment purpose. He took his last breath at the operation table last night.
On his demise, BRAC founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “Very few people globally had the depth of understanding of development issues like Dr. Mahabub Hossain. His life was a story of success against all odds and during his time at BRAC, he had a persistent focus on creating opportunities for the poor. His research over many decades on proliferation of innovation in agriculture and livelihood improvement of marginalised farmers has been path breaking. We, his BRAC family, mourn today this irreparable loss with his friends, family and many people he touched during his life dedicated to public service.”
On 31 December 2015, the Inquirer newspaper awarded BRAC Liberia - the NGO of the year. This decision was based upon public entries sent to the newspaper along with the decision made by its editorial team. BRAC Liberia has been contributing towards improving the potentials of under-privileged people. It has been implementing development programmes in health, agriculture, poultry and livestock and microfinance sectors as well as scaling up reproductive maternal neo natal and child health services in the country.
A Community Health Promoter (CHP) Appreciation day was held on the 18 December 2015. One hundred and thirty CHPs traveled from various parts of Uganda to Kampala for this event, which recognised and awarded fifty of the best CHPs for their outstanding service to their communities. The Chief guest, Assistant Commissioner of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health Dr Paul Kagwa led other guests in applauding the health programme and the CHPs for their efforts to deliver basic healthcare services to the doorsteps of millions of Ugandans.
In his opening remarks BRAC Uganda Country Representative, Bhuiyan Muhammad Imran congratulated the CHPs for being instrumental in the reduction of mortality among under-5 children in areas where BRAC CHPs are active, based on research conducted by the Research and Evaluation Unit. The Coordinator BRAC Research Africa Dr Jenipher Twebaze Musoke gave a presentation that shed more light on the research work being carried out within the health programme followed by a presentation by the Health Programme Manager in Uganda, Sharmin Sharif and BRAC International Research Director Munshi Sulaiman.
Chief Guest Assistant Commissioner of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health Dr Paul Kagwa expressed his gratitude to BRAC Uganda and the health programme for activities that are improving the lives of many Ugandans. He presented the best CHPs with certificates and gifts that included energy-efficient cook stoves and home solar-lighting kits.
The Government of Bangladesh has awarded BRAC Migration Programme for its outstanding contribution in migration sector in promoting migrants' rights and raising awareness on safe migration in Bangladesh.
HE Mr Khandker Mosharraf Hossain,MP, Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Co-Operatives, HE Mr Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Foreign Minister and HE Mr Nurul Islam BSc, Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh has handed over the award to BRAC on 18 December 2015 on the International Migrants Day at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. Ms Sheepa Hafiza, director of gender justice and diversity and migration programme received the award on behalf of BRAC.
A programme pioneered by development organisation BRAC, which aims to help households escape extreme poverty by supporting women to set up their own small businesses, not only works but its benefits increase in the long term, according to an evaluation(1) led by researchers at the International Growth Centre (IGC), based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The research findings in published today in London.
BRAC’s ‘Targeting the Ultra-Poor’ programme has benefitted 1.6 million households in Bangladesh by helping the very poorest women shift out of low paid and insecure work, such as casual agricultural work or domestic service, into running their own small businesses. It does this by providing them with large scale livestock assets alongside two years of complementary training.
Researchers found that, four years after taking part in the programme, the women increase their annual earnings by 37 per cent.
Seven years after the start of the programme, the increase in the women’s spending on non-durable goods, such as food, is 2.5 times larger than after four years. At the start of the programme, only 10 per cent of beneficiaries have access to renting or owning land – seven years later, this figure is nearly 40 per cent.
Four years after the programme is implemented, there is an eight percentage point decline in the number of households living on less than $1.25 per day(2). Households who benefit from the programme continue to climb out of poverty at a steady rate seven years later(3).
Oriana Bandiera, Professor of Economics at LSE and one of the authors of the study, said: “Our study is significant because it is one of the most extensive and long term evaluations of these types of anti-poverty livelihood programmes. This allows us to see that that the transformative effects of BRAC’s approach are sustainable and therefore life changing for the ultra-poor households who take part. When you trust the poor with assets and train them with the necessary skills, they do better and better, year after year.”
BRAC founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “It is our aim to meet the first sustainable development goal and end extreme poverty by 2030. Through this programme and the results of our ongoing research, we know this approach works to move the ultra-poor into sustainable livelihoods and help them increase their incomes. We are working this way in Pakistan and South Sudan as well as Bangladesh. Other organisations are also replicating this model, which is encouraging. I believe ultra-poor graduation approaches can make a major contribution to ending extreme poverty.”
The research also highlights a new finding about the nature of poverty – the poorest are neither unwilling nor unfit to engage in the same jobs as more prosperous women in their communities, but face barriers which prevent them from doing so. Before having access to BRAC’s programme, it was predominantly higher earning women who could access more stable and productive work such as rearing livestock. This work generates on average more than double the hourly earnings of the irregular and poorly paid jobs that the ‘ultra-poor’ are limited to such as casual agricultural work or domestic service.
On average, for every £1 invested in the programme there was a return of £5.40.The women who participate shift their working hours from casual wage labour towards rearing livestock and, in doing so, increase the number of hours they work and their earnings.
The researchers compared the employment opportunities and choices of the women who participated in the BRAC programme with women across different wealth classes. They tracked over 21,000 households over seven years, including 6,700 ultra-poor households and 15,100 from other wealth classes.
Aspects of BRAC’s ‘Targeting the Ultra-Poor’ programme have been replicated by other organisations across Africa, Asia and Latin America and have had very positive results in increasing consumption for the extreme poor(4).
BRAC has a strategic partnership with UK Aid and Australia in Bangladesh, providing large scale funding to BRAC’s ‘Ultra-Poor’ programme for many years. International Development Minister Desmond Swayne said: “The UK is proud of our partnership with BRAC and the Australian Government in Bangladesh. Over the last 5 years UK support has so far enabled BRAC to lift 580,000 people out of extreme poverty and delivered health, education, water and sanitation to the poorest and most marginalised. Earlier this year I saw first-hand the difference this work is making to people across Bangladesh. BRAC’s programme targeting the ‘ultra-poor’ is of great significance to development worldwide and the global goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.”