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BRAC has made significant contributions in attaining Millennium Development Goal (MDG) that have been set to achieve by 2015-said speakers at BRAC’s annual report 2014 launch. The event was held on 23 June 2015 at BRAC centre at Mohakhali. 

Bangladesh is on track in achieving the 5 of the 8 MDGs. The country has made remarkable progress in the areas of poverty alleviation, primary school enrolment, gender parity in primary education, lowering the infant and under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio.

Highlighting BRAC’s achievements executive director Dr Muhammad Musa said, “99.97 per cent out of 43,843 BRAC primary school students passed the PSC exam in 2014. Around 61.17 per cent of these students are girls and their pass rate is 99.9 per cent.

In health sector, BRAC has achieved 91 per cent immunisation coverage in its working areas across 64 districts. The TB treatment success rate is 95 per cent.

Dr Musa also stressed that significant improvements have been made in alleviating ultra poverty. Since 2002 BRAC’s ultra poor programme covered 1.6 million people and 95 per cent of this population have been able to come out of ultra poverty. In addition to that BRAC’s water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme has distributed 32 million sanitary latrines in 250 sub districts.

Explaining BRAC’s future direction Dr Musa added, “BRAC is extending its services to manage urban challenges, youth skills development, climate change resilience and violence against women”

BRAC and BRAC International’s senior director Asif Saleh moderated the event.  Country Head of Department for International Development (DFID) Sara Cooke, Counsellor (Development Cooperation), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Priya Powell and  BRAC senior management and representatives from media also attended the event.

At the closing session, BRAC launched its new ‘augmented reality’ app to complement the content of its annual report. Smart phone users can access additional features using this app. This is the first app of its kind in Bangladesh which is also developed by BRAC staff.
 

Dr Muhammad Musa has been appointed as the new executive director of BRAC, the largest development organisation in the world.

Dr Musa is a veteran development practitioner whose career spanned in different parts of the world in Asia, Africa and North America over a period of 32 years. Immediately prior to joining BRAC, he was the CEO of CARE India and represented the country at the global board of CARE International.

Dr Musa has a masters in public health (MPH) from Johns Hopkins University, USA, post graduate diploma from The Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Development, and an MBBS from Chittagong Medical College, Bangladesh. 
 



Researchers, policymakers and implementers  collectively stressed on the importance of agriculture in improving nutrition at the “Leveraging agriculture for nutrition in Bangladesh” research dissemination seminar held at BRAC Centre INN today. This knowledge sharing event was organised by BRAC as the Bangladesh partner of  the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA), which is an international research consortium funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Chief guest of the workshop Dr Shelina Afroza, secretary of Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries said ‘This seminar has lessened the gap between researchers and policy makers’ and encouraged the researchers to reach out to policy makers and relevant ministries with their findings and data.

In his keynote presentation, Dr Mahabub Hossain mentioned “GDP growth has increased from 3.5% per year during 1971-89 to 5% in the 1990s and further to 6.2% during last decade”. He also emphasised that diversified agricultural production along with some  socio-economic factors including women’s empowerment have a key role in improving nutrition in households. Knowledge generated through research should be translated into actions through proper policy implementation.  This event was one step towards that.

Women empowerment plays a key role in improving dietary quality, mentioned IFPRI’s chief of party, Dr Akhter Ahmed in his presentation. He also identified the skewed rate of rice consumption in our country   ‘for the poor population, 78% of calorie comes from rice, 57% of protein comes from rice’. IFPRI research found out that, Behavioural Change Communication is critical in enhancing nutrition in Bangladesh.
 
Representatives from Ministry of Health, FAO, GAIN, IFPRI, World Fish, Concern Worlwide, FHI 360, HKI, Dhaka University, University of Liberal Arts, Harvest Plus, Aftab Bahumukhi Farm Ltd, SUN among others were present at the event.


Speakers urged the government to set up an independent land commission to ensure improved services for citizens, especially for women and minorities, at a policy dialogue organised by BRAC. The policy dialogue titled, ‘Institutional and social barriers for women and marginalised communities to access land and property rights’ took place on 15 June 2015, at BRAC Centre. The event was moderated by BRAC’s executive director, Dr Muhammad Musa.

“An umbrella land services authority needs to be established in each upazila with a view to offer one stop service,” said additional secretary and former director general of land records, Md Abdul Mannan, in his presentation. He made this recommendation to overcome the obstacles in realising property rights of women and marginalised people.

Special guest of the event, honourable state minister, Ministry of Land, Mr Saifuzzaman Chowdhury urged all stakeholders “to come up with a proposal to address resolving this land rights issue’.

BRAC organised this policy dialogue as part of its property rights initiative (PRI) project. PRI aims to develop linkages between laws and rights by helping poor communities in identifying their entitlement to property rights and supporting them in accessing their claims.

Present at the dialogue as a panellist, Barrister Sara Hossain advised, “We should exercise the intervening opportunities present in our existing laws instead of solely aiming for formation of a new law. For example, there is a scope of gifting property to women in Muslim law. This can be used to deal with property rights issues.” This dialogue was a step to create a coordination amongst the organisations working from grassroots to policy level on land rights issues.

Leading researchers, land rights and women’s rights activists, academicians, and representatives of NGOs and CSOs including international development partners attended the event. They reiterated the necessity to simplify and shorten the otherwise complex land documents like khatian, dalil and porcha for easier understanding.

The director of BRAC’s human rights and legal aid programme, Dr Faustina Pereira concluded the dialogue with a commitment to come up with an activity mapping. Organisations working in the land rights issue will identify their working areas in the map to ensure a more coordinated approach to work in future.

BRAC, the international NGO based in Bangladesh, announces contribution of USD 1 million from its fund to Nepal earthquake victims. In addition to this, BRAC Bangladesh, BRAC Bank and BRAC University staff will contribute their one-day basic salary, which is USD 300,000 in total. BRAC Social Enterprises will also contribute another USD 200,000, totalling BRAC’s contribution to Nepal to USD 1.5 million. Moreover, BRAC already took initiative to mobilise USD 15 million from international donors. BRAC International and BRAC’s affiliates in UK and USA will raise these additional funds.

BRAC will start its support activities in one of the most affected areas of Nepal, Nuwakot. Explaining the initiative, senior director of strategy, communications and empowerment of BRAC and BRAC International, Asif Saleh said, “From the very beginning, BRAC has been dedicated to improving the lives of people. We believe it is BRAC’s mandate to come in and aid our neighbouring country, as it faces a major humanitarian crisis. BRAC has years of experience in emergency disaster response. We successfully carried out operations in Haiti, after the devastating earthquake in 2010, Sri Lanka, and in Indonesia after the deadly tsunami in 2004”.

The two yearlong support programme in Nuwakot includes household support for 2,000 household, rehabilitation of 200 maimed earthquake victims (both short-term and long-term), psychosocial rehabilitation of 30,000 earthquake victims, and livelihood support for 5,000 households.    

BRAC International already contributed USD 50,000 from its fund to the earthquake-stricken nation. An emergency medical team from BRAC has been sent to Nepal to provide medical treatment, essential medicine and dry food to earthquake victims. This team is working in Dolekha, Bhaktapur, Sindupalchawk, Lalitpur, and Kathmandu in collaboration with the Nepalese government.

 

On 18 May 2015, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and BRAC's community road safety programme signed an agreement to pilot a two year long road safety awareness programme in the upazillas of Teknaf and Ukhyia in Cox's Bazar and Sreepur and Kapashia in Gazipur. This endeavour is a component of LGED's Second Rural Transport Improvement Project (RTIP-II) which is funded by the World Bank.

As per the World Health Organization, 18,000 Bangladeshis lose their lives every year due to road crashes costing the country around USD 1,000 million in losses. Of that number, children (under 15) fatality accounts for 11 per cent. Road crashes directly affect the poor as they are pushed into poverty, which ultimately hinders the country's development.

In this background, BRAC with support from LGED will implement the Community Road Safety Program which is a bottom up approach to reducing road crashes and casualties. The programme will target community residents comprising of students, teachers, hawkers, shopkeepers and drivers of non-motorised and motorised vehicles. The interventions will hinge on a participatory and holistic approach towards the involved communities. It is designed so as to expand their understanding of safe use of roads, identify road safety problems in their communities, formulating an action plan for solutions and implement it.

During the first 18 months (Phase I), BRAC will distribute various communication materials amongst the residents of the communities (students, teachers and general public), strengthen capacities of LGED community staff, Local Government Institutions and local NGOs, instill vigilance in drivers for improved awareness in accident-prone zones (areas with concentration of pedestrian activities). Phase II of the project will be enacted after a successful completion of the first that will also last for 18 months.

27 April 2015, New York. BRAC, an organization with deep roots in nearby Bangladesh, is sending an emergency response team to Nepal to provide immediate assistance and long-term relief following the earthquake that to date has killed more than 3,000 people.  

BRAC and its North American affiliate, BRAC USA, are calling on supporters to assist its emergency response to the Nepal earthquake. From its headquarters in Dhaka, Bangladesh, BRAC is sending a team to Nepal to provide blankets, medical treatment, essential medicine and dry food to earthquake victims.  BRAC is uniquely positioned to provide emergency support due to its proximity and experience.  

“We have years of experience in emergency disaster response,” said Shahinul Hoque Ripon, a doctor from BRAC who will lead the team. “We successfully carried out operations in Haiti, after the devastating earthquake in 2010, Sri Lanka, and in Indonesia after the deadly tsunami in 2004. Our core team will provide essential medical support to the victims in collaboration with the Nepalese government.”  

Nepal is struggling to cope with the aftermath of one of the strongest earthquakes in recent history, which has killed more than 3,000 people to date.

“We are grateful to the people of Bangladesh for their genuine response to earthquake victims of Nepal," said the Nepalese ambassador to Bangladesh, Mr Hari Kumar Shrestha. “We are particularly thankful to BRAC for their decision to send an emergency medical team with essential medicines, blankets and food.”  

To donate please visit: bracusa.org/nepal_response

 

Friday, 24 April 2015 18:00

Medhabikash Education Summit 2015 held

25 April 2015, Dhaka. BRAC’s Medhabikash scholarship programme is playing an important role in helping underprivileged students in reaching their potential, said experts at the Medhabikash Summit held in Savar today. Medhabikash helps meritorious students from financially disadvantaged families to pursue post-secondary level studies.

Mr Md Nazrul Islam Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Education, attended the programme as the chief guest, while Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, vice chairperson, BRAC, gave the welcome speech. The summit was attended by 300 male and female Medhabikash scholarships awardees.

Highlighting the importance of higher education, Ahmed Mushtaq R Chowdhury said, ‘ BRAC will support higher education to help Bangladesh to realise its full potential’.

Education secretary Mr Md Nazrul Islam Khan said, ‘BRAC’s Medhabikash Udyog is not merely a scholarship programme, it is a unique initiative to build and improve skills. Aided by this programme, many underprivileged but meritorious students are able to achieve higher education.  We hope that BRAC will continue such efforts’.

The daylong event included three panel discussions where corporate heads, media personalities and journalists participated. Speakers at the first panel discussions included medhabikash scholarship awardees. The second panel highlighted alternative career choices, which was attended by famous singer and actor Tahsan Khan, Film and ad maker Amitabh Reza, activist and environmental lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan, USA woman of courage award winner journalist Nadia Sharmeen. Corporate heads like Rabi’s CSO and head of m-commerce Rubaba Dowla, group director of Rahimaafrooz Niaz Rahim, senior vice president of BRAC Bank Zara Jabeen Mahbub were amongst the third panel discussion.

Medhabikash Udyog programme has awarded 3542 scholarships from 2005 to 2014.
 

24 April 2015 

On the two-year anniversary of Rana Plaza, the fund for victims of the 2013 Bangladesh factory collapse is still $3 million short of what is needed for fair compensation



BRAC USA, the North American affiliate of the Bangladesh-based anti-poverty organization BRAC, is calling on donors to close the $3 million dollar funding gap to reach the $30 million needed to compensate victims of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse.

BRAC USA has welcomed several new contributions this week, including a pledge by The Children’s Place to match donations up to $2 million to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund. But more is needed, the organization says.

When the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed on April 24, 2013, more than 1,100 garment workers died and more than 2,500 were injured, many severely. In 2014, on the one-year anniversary of the event, BRAC USA, a 501(c)3 created the Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund to provide aid to survivors and support for workers in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry. Donations earmarked for the Rana Plaza Donors Trust can be directed through BRAC USA.

“Bangladesh has seen significant gains in living standards, halving poverty rates in the last 20 years, thanks largely to women’s empowerment. The garment industry has played a tremendous role in this,” Sir FazleHasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, said at the time of the fund’s creation. “But these gains will mean little if we allow tragedies like Rana Plaza to continue. The words ‘Made in Bangladesh’ should be a mark of pride, not shame.”

The Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund accepts donations to support Bangladesh garment workers from corporations, foundations and the general public.

The Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund supports survivors and victims’ families with direct payments given through the Rana Plaza Donors Trust, as well as through support provided via BRAC, whose programs for Rana Plaza victims include prosthetics for amputees, counseling, psycho-social support, livelihood training, long-term medical support, and seed capital for survivors to start new businesses.

To date, BRAC USA’s Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund has raised $5.43 million, with donors including Walmart, Asda, Walmart Foundation, The Children’s Place, The Gap Foundation, and VF Foundation. From these contributions, BRAC USA has granted $2,205,000 to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust, with another $275,000 grant forthcoming.

The Rana Plaza Donors Trust was set up in January 2014 under the Rana Plaza Arrangement, a multi-stakeholder coalition of government, employers, workers, retailers and civil society, with the International Labor Organization serving as neutral chair.

Meanwhile, BRAC University’s Institute of Educational Development is pursuing systemic long-term solutions to the problems of workplace safety in the Bangladesh garment industry. It is conducting a mapping study to cover the vast network of garment factories and subcontractors in need of building upgrades to meet safety standards.
 

Migration Programme, BRAC  started two national human rights and migrant workers training for the government officials specially the District Employment and Manpower Officials on 15 -16 April 2015 and on 19 - 20 April 2015 at the conference room  of  BRAC Centre Inn, Dhaka. The training participants are the representatives from concerned ministries and district employment and manpower officials.

The training is covering the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), UN Convention 1990 on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Constitution of Bangladesh, Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013, gender and other important national and international instruments for protecting migrants' rights. We believe the training will help the government officials to protect the migrants' rights at the district level.

In 2011, Government of Bangladesh has ratified International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and in 2013, Bangladesh also enacted Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013. 

Mr Khandaker Md Iftekhar Haider, Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment will present as the Chief Guest, Begum Shamsun Nahar, Director General, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training will present as a chair. Ms Sheepa Hafiza, Gender Justice and Diversity and Migration Programme will moderate the closing ceremony on 20 April 2015.

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