$5 million raised for newly launched Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund for rehabilitation of garment workers, victim support, and awareness of workplace safety
NEW YORK, NY – As the one-year anniversary of the Bangladesh Rana Plaza building collapse approaches, BRAC USA, the North American affiliate of BRAC, announced today a multi-year fundraising initiative to ensure that progress continues on humanitarian aid and support for workers in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry. An antipoverty organization founded in 1972, BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) is a global leader in providing opportunity for the world’s poor.
BRAC USA’s new Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund will be directed to three specific program areas: support for the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund; continued support for BRAC’s work to provide counseling and rehabilitation to garment workers; and a reserve that can be used to support a “social safety net” for workers impacted by other tragedies such as the Tazreen factory fire in 2012.
“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,” says Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. “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.”
In the wake of the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013, which killed more than 1,100 people, BRAC has provided relief and medical assistance, psychosocial counseling for victims, and livelihood support and training with support from BRAC USA, the International Labor Organization and others. Working with other stakeholders, BRAC has also advocated for a long-term solution to Bangladesh worker safety issues.
The Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund continues that work with its first major grant this week: a $2.2 million donation to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which supports victims of the Rana Plaza disaster and their families, who are receiving payments coordinated under a single approach through the Rana Plaza Arrangement. With the International Labor Organization serving as neutral chair, the Rana Plaza Arrangement is overseen by a Coordination Committee established in November 2013 by a multi-stakeholder coalition of government, employers, workers, retailers and civil society. BRAC USA’s Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund seeks to address victim needs and garment worker safety concerns in part by contributing a portion of every gift to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.
BRAC USA’s Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund has already raised more than $5 million, including support from Walmart, Asda, Walmart Foundation, The Children’s Place and The Gap Foundation.
“These global industry leaders and foundations contributed to BRAC USA’s fund based on BRAC’s deep history and community roots in Bangladesh, and on BRAC USA's strong commitment to a long-term solution and its high standards in grantmaking, monitoring and reporting,” said Susan Davis, President and CEO of BRAC USA.
“The Rana Plaza tragedy was a wake-up call for the world that shocked our collective conscience,” Davis adds. “Even eleven months after Rana Plaza, more support needs to be provided to victims and their families. Delays have taken place for a variety of reasons, but rather than looking back, we’re moving forward on common ground, and with a clear message: A better path is possible, and we can help create it.”
Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, the ILO Deputy Director-General for Partnerships and Field Operations, said, “The Coordination Committee has called for donations from any party, and they are very much needed to ensure fair treatment for the Rana Plaza victims who are struggling to rebuild their lives and those of their dependents and families. This coordinated Arrangement is a key step on the road to establishing decent work and safe workplaces in the Bangladesh garment industry. We welcome BRAC USA’s efforts in support of the Arrangement and hope that its pro-active approach inspires others to donate funds too.”
The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund is open to donors from around the world on a voluntary basis, including those that were not in Rana Plaza, as an expression of solidarity and compassion.
BRAC USA will also use contributions to its Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund to make grants in support of BRAC’s continuing work to build sustainable futures beyond monetary compensation for affected garment workers. This support includes counseling and training in new livelihoods for those who survived Rana Plaza, Tazreen and similar disasters but cannot, or do not wish to, return to the ready-made garment industry.
BRAC is the world’s largest nonprofit antipoverty organization and often among the top ranked in terms of effectiveness. A sister organization, BRAC International, now works in 10 other countries in Asia and Africa, supported by two independent affiliates headquartered in New York and London.
Since the Rana Plaza disaster, it has been working with other stakeholders in the public, private and civil society sectors for long-term solutions to Bangladesh worker safety issues. In April, BRAC University, a full-fledged institution of higher learning set up by BRAC in 2001, will host a conference on workers' rights and safety issues in Dhaka.
BRAC USA welcomes additional contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations. All gifts to the new Humanitarian Fund will be administered by BRAC USA, an independent 501(c) 3 charitable organization registered in New York State, with fiduciary responsibility resting with its board of directors.
23 March 2014, Dhaka. On 17 March 2014, BRAC formally launched community girls’ schools all over Sierra Leone. Currently, one school has been opened in each of the 12 out of 14 districts that BRAC is currently working in, with the aim to open in the other two districts by 25 March 2014.
The initiative is a major component of the Girls Education Challenge project, funded by DFID. BRAC is providing education to over 7,500 girls who are marginalised and have dropped out of the formal education system. The aim is to open 250 community girls’ schools in the country.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by high officials from the Ministry of Education, various other government sectors, NGO representatives, community leaders, journalists, parents and students. The event was also covered by the country’s national television and radio station.
The US-based Fortune magazine has named BRAC founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in its list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. The list, which features leaders from politics and religion to corporate CEOs and heads of civil society organizations, features the BRAC founder at number 32.
The top five positions on the list are held by Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally, US investor Warren Buffet and former US President Bill Clinton. Other notable persons on the list include Aung San Suu Kyi, Bono, the Dalai Lama, Angelina Jolie and Malala Yousafzai. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed is the only Bangladeshi to have made the list.
Fortune magazine is best known for publishing the annual Fortune 500 list, which ranks the largest US companies on the basis of gross revenues.
For more details please go to: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/leadership/2014/03/20/worlds-best-leaders.fortune/index.html
16 March 2014, Dhaka. Based on the findings of the impact assessment of the credit programme for tenant farmers, a national level workshop was held on Saturday, 15 March 2014 at the BRAC centre auditorium.
Since its establishment in December 2009, the tenant farmer development project – funded by Bangladesh Bank – provides credit and other support for tenant farmers.
The event was attended by the governor of Bangladesh Bank, Dr Atiur Rahman, as the chief guest and chaired by Dr Mahabub Hossain, advisor to BRAC’s executive director.
During the workshop, professor Abul Bayes of Jahangirnagar University presented a paper on tenant farmers’ access to credit and extension services and BRAC’s borgachashi unnayan prakalpa. Dr Mohammad Abdul Malek of BRAC’s research and evaluation division (RED) presented a paper on the impact assessment of credit programmes for tenant farmers and the baseline study findings. Mr Abu Ahasan Mishu from RED also presented a paper on tenancy, agricultural livelihoods and microcredit.
Professor MA Sattar Mandal of Bangladesh’s Agricultural University pointed out that the dependence on non-institutional sources of funds (ie, friends, relatives) have decreased, while borrowing loans from NGOs has increased.
Stating that this is the “only project in the world customised for sharecroppers,” Dr Atiur Rahman mentioned, “There has been a huge shift in tenancy. Connectivity has increased.”
He also said that, “[About BDT 70 million] has been disbursed [in loans] and 700,000 tenant croppers have benefited from this project. [Additionally], 55 per cent of clients are now women.”
25 February 2014, Dhaka. Tamara Hasan Abed, senior director of BRAC Enterprises, was honoured with the Outstanding Women Leadership Award by the World Women Leadership Congress on 14 February in Mumbai, India.
“I am truly privileged to receive this award and to be considered among successful women leaders. I would like to accept this on behalf of the many women who have influenced my life, particularly those in my country of Bangladesh. Women are on a remarkable journey towards equality, marked with struggles and victories. This award is symbolic of yet another victory and I hope it will inspire more girls to lead,” said Ms Abed, who is head of the leading retail chain Aarong.
Women leaders from across the world attended the two-day conference, including the former minister of women’s affairs for Afghanistan, Dr Sima Samar, the president and CEO of UN Women Canada, Almas Jiwani and the managing director of HBO Asia, Monica Tata. Ms Abed, who is the daughter of BRAC’s founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, also spoke on a panel discussion about the opportunities and challenges facing women leaders.
23 February 2014, Dhaka.
BRAC Road Safety Programme has started a Basic Driving Training course for 20 constables and sub-inspectors of Bangladesh Police from 23 February, 2014 at BRAC Driving School, Uttara. The aim of the 33 days training programme is to provide basic driving training for promoting safe driving practises among the novice drivers. The BRAC Driving School, established in May 2012 conducts a variety of driving courses such as driver instructors, professional women drivers, Surakkha-road safety & defensive driving training for in-service bus and truck drivers etc. through the use of digitised bar coded training manual, driving simulator, visual impairment system and P-drive system etc.
19 February 2014, Dhaka. Cultivation of rice, jute, sunflower, tomato should be increased to face the climate change affects in Bangladesh. Lack of sustainable process to reduce salinity in the water is one of the major challenges here, agro-experts suggested in the workshop held on Tuesday 18 February at BRAC Centre Inn. They also mentioned, that attention is needed in increasing the production as well as creating a market for the harvested crops.
In the keynote presentation, the programme Head of BRAC’s agriculture and food security programme (AFSP) Dr. Md. Sirajul Islam stressed on expanding the climate change adaptive technology amongst the farmers of our country.
Md Abu Hanif Miah, Director General, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh and Kamal Uddin, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) were present as special guests at the event. Mr. Anwar Faruque, Director General, Seed Wing and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh was the chief guest of the event. BRAC’s senior director Babar Kabir chaired the event and programme head of Communications and Advocacy for Social Change, Snigdha Ali gave the welcome speech.
BRAC’s vice-chair and interim executive director (ED), Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, attended the global launch of the Lancet series on Bangladesh in New York on 15 January 2014. The event was held by the Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the UN, UNICEF and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Last year, the Lancet medical journal published a special research series highlighting accomplishments in Bangladesh’s health sector. Despite widespread poverty, exceptional improvements in maternal child health, immunisation coverage, and tuberculosis control were part of this remarkable success story. BRAC’s own health programme and extensive community-based health network were identified as crucial contributing factors to these achievements.
Major highlights of the event were a presentation on the significant findings from the series, followed by a panel discussion. Those attending the event included the special guest, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr AKA Momen, Dr Abbas Bhuiya, co-author of the Lancet series, and 70 other guests including UN diplomats, academics, development partners, media representatives were present at the event.
Find the details on Lancet series: http://www.thelancet.com/series/bangladesh
In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, BRAC Liberia has signed a global fund sub recipient consultancy contract with the Ministry. The objective of this contract is to provide a framework which would allow the sub-recipient provide community based Tuberculosis (TB) Directly Observed Therapy (DOTs) services under the round ten Global Fund’s TB Grant. This will strengthen the TB control and management of people with TB/HIV co-infection in Liberia. The signing took place on December, 23 2013
In an event held at BRAC Centre on December 22, 2013, Secretary for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Mr.M M Neazuddin mentioned that Vision Bangladesh project should be replicated all across the nation. Terming access to eye healthcare as a basic right of the people, he stressed on the need to excel eye care services for improved quality of life of the community people. He further mentioned that the Ministry will provide all out support for the implementation of this intervention.
Vision Bangladesh Phase- I is a unique intervention implemented by BRAC and Sightsavers under the guidance of National Eye Care (NEC) which aims to avert preventable blindness through cataract surgery. The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in implementing this project in the grassroots has created an example itself mirroring that such coordinated initiatives can bring about dramatic outcomes.
According to Bangladesh National Blindness and Low Vision Survey 2000 about 750,000 adults aged above thirty years are completely blind out of which eighty percent are due to cataract related complications. The survey also mirrors that about five million people including children suffer from refractive errors. Evidence suggests that about 90% of such blindness and low vision can be prevented with proper and timely management.
Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Director of BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Programme mentioned that about 110,000 cataract surgeries were conducted in Sylhet division in phase-I and now the project is scaling up to 10 urban areas along with few selected rural districts. She further mentioned that NEC’s continuing support and guidance has made vision Bangladesh a successful role model in the eye care services.
Prof. Dr. Deen Mohd. Noorul Haq Line Director, National Eye Care-DGHS and Director cum Professor, National Institute of Ophthalmology & Hospital mentioned that BRAC has shown remarkable progress in mobilizing and counselling patients in the rural area further stating that the target of 100,000 for three years cataract surgeries could not be reached before the end of project period without the extensive support of BRAC.
Later a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between National Eye Care and BRAC which will allow BRAC to continue its operation in Sylhet division for addressing upcoming cataract cases and hard to reach areas.