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.
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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.
30 August, 2015
The finale of BRAC Uganda’s Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) programme debate competition was held in Metropole hotel in Kampala on 25 August 2015. ELA uses debate as a technique to engage girls in critical thinking and problem solving in their communities.
At the beginning of the year, under the ELA programme, debate trainings were conducted where 8,310 girls competed within their clubs. From this, 1,385 girls went on to compete at the branch level, of which 282 proceeded to the area level. Eventually 21 girls made it to the regional level in which they were put in groups of three, each representing the seven regions in which ELA operates.
The two winning teams - Gulu region and Kampala-I region competed at the national level ELA debate tournament held at Kampala. With youth unemployment being a crucial factor affecting Uganda’s development, the topic of the debate was, ‘lack of skills is the main barrier to employment’.
Kyateka Mondo, the Assistant Commissioner for Youth in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) was present at the event on behalf of Minister Muruli Mukasa. He handed over the trophies, medals and prizes to the winners – Gulu region - and the runner-up team. High officials and staff members from BRAC Uganda, officials from the MGLSD, members of BRAC Uganda Advisory Board, representatives from UNICEF, UNFPA, Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Makerere University and other organisations were present at the event.
27 August 2015, Dhaka. On 14 April 2015 during the pohela boishakh celebrations around 20 women and girls were sexually abused in Dhaka University's TSC and Suhrawardy Udyan gate areas. Similar kind of incidents took place in different parts of the country on the same day, stirring the entire nation. Practices like child marriage, dowry and violence against women and girls are issues that Bangladesh continues to struggle with.
A national survey carried out by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2011, shows that as many as 87 per cent of married women reported having experienced both physical and psychological violence in the last 12 months.
BRAC expressed its stand against such incidents of violence and harassment and decided to organise a nationwide human chain, BRAC bondhon on every last Thursday of the month for 15 minutes starting from May 2015 until December 2015. People from other sectors and organisations, including onlookers, are also expressing solidarity by joining the BRAC bondhon. So far BRAC has organised four human chains with participation from 70,000 BRAC staff and BRAC’s affiliated community members including government officials, community leaders, parents, students, teachers in all of 64 districts, and in an average of 2,326 spots around the country.
BRAC has been working to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality since its inception. The organisation takes an active stand against harassment and sexual violence on women and children.
26 August 2015, Dhaka. Interpersonal contact between healthcare workers and mothers have produced a large scale improvement in infant and young child feeding programme and in hand washing habits, said speakers at a seminar yesterday.
Referring to a baseline and an endline survey conducted in 2010 and 2014 respectively in 50 sub-districts where community-based Alive & Thrive programme was implemented by BRAC, they said exclusive breastfeeding went up to 88 per cent from 48, and the percentage of mothers washing hands before feeding young children improved from 23 per cent to 31.
They were addressing a dissemination seminar on Alive & Thrive programme, lessons learned and evaluation results on infant and young children feeding practices in Bangladesh, held at BRAC Centre Inn in the capital.
The Bangladesh part of the project had been implemented by BRAC from 2009 to 2014 with a strong emphasis on community engagement by using its existing healthcare platforms and a cadre of frontline community health workers.
"People in Bangladesh are very receptive," said Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, speaker in parliament, at the programme.
The chair of the event, BRAC’s executive director Dr Muhammad Musa noted that nutrition interventions are difficult to implement and the high success rate of Bangladesh proves the strength of BRAC’s engagement with the community.
Ellen Piwoz, senior programme officer on nutrition at the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, said: “We are looking forward to working in Bangladesh with government, BRAC, and all the partners in future with our new strategy.” She also added that the project on improving infant and young child feeding practices funded in three countries was the “most successful” in Bangladesh.
Launched in 2009 in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ethiopia with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Canadian and Irish governments, Alive & Thrive used advocacy, interpersonal communication and community mobilisation, mass media and strategic data to improve breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices and to reduce stunting and anaemia in young children.
Besides, BRAC and other international development organisations joined the initiative under the management of FHI 360, a US-based organisation.
Dr Tina Sanghvi, country programme director and senior technical advisor, Alive & Thrive said Bangladesh's improvement in breastfeeding was better than Vietnam and Ethiopia where the exclusive breastfeeding increased from 19 percent to 58 and 72 percent to 83 respectively.
Complementary feeding with diet diversity increased in Bangladesh from 32 per cent to 64, she said.
28 July 2015, Dhaka. At the seminar on ‘Way forward to stop child marriage’, experts demanded that the minimum age for marriage should be kept18 years. The seminar, organised by BRAC on 28 July 2015, was attended by government representatives, local representatives, Nikah registrars (kazis), religious leaders (Imams), and representatives from human rights organisations, non-government organisations and media.
Sheepa Hafiza, director of BRAC’s gender justice and diversity and migration programmes, presented the keynote paper. The major findings of the keynote paper included opinions and recommendations collected from the workshops held in 19 sub-districts of Bangladesh. A total of 1,294 people participated in these sub-district workshops, including representatives from local government, civil society, NGOs, and religious leaders.
State minister for Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), Meher Afroz Chumki said, “There is no scope for confusion on the minimum age for marriage. It remains 18. Our government is a women-friendly government and will not take any step that will affect women’s overall welfare.”
During the open discussion the religious leaders, local government representatives and speakers suggested using voter ID or birth certificate to confirm the age of girls and boys; stop illegal appointments of sub-kazis, and holding regular discussions to raise awareness on this issue during various social and religious gatherings.
Present as a special guest, Dr Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of CAMPE said, “We have to strengthen the birth registration offices, so that no one can change the original birth date.” She added, “Girl child drop out from school is one of the major reasons for child marriage. It has been observed that a major drop outs happen when stipends are stopped due to less than 80 per cent attendance for girls. Sanitation is a major factor here influencing girls’ attendance. So the government needs to ensure sanitation at schools as well.”
The seminar was chaired by BRAC’s executive director, Dr Muhammad Musa. In his concluding speech he said, “Along with enforcing the law, we have to create a social movement to prevent child marriage. We need to bring a change in our patriarchy-based social psyche”.
Present as guests were chairperson of Jatiyo Mahila Parishad, Ayesha Khanam, former chairperson of Women and Gender Studies Department of Dhaka University, Professor Nazma Chowdhury, DIG of Police, Mili Biswas, country representative of DFID Sarah Cook, and Farzana Rupa from Channel 71.