20 Feb 2012, Dhaka. Leading British Bangladesh business and community leaders visited Sylhet this month to see for themselves the incredible progress of the highly successful Vision Bangladesh programme – a joint initiative between BRAC and Sightsavers that aims to eradicate cataract blindness across the whole of Sylhet Division by the end of next year.
The programme is well on track to achieving this goal – having exceeded targets in 2011 and setting the standard across the country for large scale reduction of blindness in poor communities.
All members of the UK delegation have been active fundraisers and supporters for the programme; raising funds through their restaurants and businesses, making personal donations, and promoting the project through the Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK.
Mr. Monchab Ali, JP, Senior Adviser to the Vision Bangladesh National Committee, Proprietor of Bengal Dynasty Restaurants and long time supporter of the project was very moved by the experience:
“It is a great thing to see what people have donated towards to help poor patients who couldn’t pay themselves for such a life transforming operation.”
Dr. Musharraf Hussain, President of the Bangladesh Medical Association, UK, and supporter of Vision Bangladesh said:
“The surgeon and the whole team were extremely professional and competent. The infection rate is effectively zero because of the advanced self-sealing technique they use. It is very impressive.”
The group saw all the stages of the process from the outreach work in remote villages to reach the most isolated blind patients to an actual cataract operation at VARD eye hospital, Balanganj. The whole process is extremely quick with patients taken directly from screening camps to the hospital and back at home following successful surgery within 36 hours of diagnosis.
14 February 2011, Dhaka. ‘A panel discussion was held at the Distirct Commissioners Office in Chadnighat union, Moulvibazar on the occasion of launching of a community radio station, ‘Radio Pollikontho’ by BRAC.
Present as chief guest was Mr. Mostafizur Rahman, District Commissioner, Moulvibazar and the discussion was chaired by Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment and Strengthening Local Institutions, BRAC.
Government officials, Private sector officials and the elites of the society took part in the panel discussion. Mr. A.H.M Bazlur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh NGO’s network for Radio and Communications took part in the discussion. Among others, Syed Moshahid Ahmed, Deputy Director, Basic Bank Ltd., Moulvibazar Choumohona Branch, Bokshi Iqbal Ahmed, Editor, Daily Banglar Din, Polli Shomaj Chiefs Uma Das and Monju Rani were present.
‘Radio Pollikontho’ will work as a reliable and accessible medium to enhance the economic situation and ensure the rights of the local people of Moulvibazar. It will highlight the voice of women right from the grassroots level to other parts of society. It will highlight the local culture and heritage and increase participation of local population in rural development.
Radio Pollikontho will pass on the message of development and realizing potential through education, entertainment and information. People will benefit from an awareness of human rights and different ways to improve livelihoods, as well as the local culture and heritage which will be upheld by Radio Pollikontho.
The shows aired on ‘Radio Pollikontho’ will be based mostly on the local dialect and will be based on improving situation of the poor people, especially women and children.
‘Radio Pollikontho’ will be aired through Moulvibazar Radio station and will reach across a radius of 17 kilometres. It will be aired across 21 unions and will reach 400,000 rural people.
Even though the idea of a community radio station is widely known and used across the part, it is a very new idea in Bangladesh. The people present hope and believes BRAC’s Community Empowerment and Strengthening Local Institutions programme will make the community radio a success and achieve the goal of awareness among the people of Bangladesh and play an important role in building a Digital Bangladesh.
9 February 2011, Dhaka. "Bangladeshis should not portray themselves as victims, but rather should demand compensation for adaptation to climate change as their right", said Mary Robinson, visiting former President of Ireland at a round table meeting hosted by BRAC and BRAC University on Climate Justice. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC, with the State Minister for Environment, Dr. Hasan Mahmud as the chief guest. Dr. Asaduzzman, Director of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and Dr. Ainun Nishat, Vice-Chancellor of BRAC University, also spoke on the occasion. Dr. Babar Kabir, head of BRAC's Disaster, Environment and Climate Change programme, moderated the session.
The former head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Ms. Robinson said that her foundation will provide all kinds of help and will work with Bangladesh in making its case to the rest of the world with the urgency it deserves. 'There are real people who are affected and who are affected now', said Ms. Robinson who visited Koira yesterday with BRAC staff to see firsthand the destruction caused by cyclones attributed to climate change. Dr. Ainun Nishat, a climate expert himself, said that 50 percent of the people affected in Koira have already migrated to different parts of the country for economic need and this kind of migration will spread with increasing danger of climate change. He quoted a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that even if all emissions are stopped today, it will take another 30 to 40 years to stabilise the climate.
"The danger is real and it is imminent", echoed chief guest Dr. Hasan Mahmud. But he expressed his outrage that 1400 crore taka that was committed by the international community under the FAST Start funding for Bangladesh has not reached even after 14 months. He stressed the need for prioritising funds for adaptation and expressed confidence in Bangladesh negotiation team comprised of the country’s top experts. "Understanding the importance of this national issue, we did not change the negotiation team even after the government changed and that is why Bangladesh is leading the negotiation on behalf of the LDCs", said Dr. Mahmud.
Dr. Mahabub Hossain, underscored the need for addressing food security and highlighted BRAC's project in the Koira area where in the newly emerged land, although saline, maize is being cultivated with BRAC's technical assistance. He stressed the need for such knowledge transfer, education and innovation in dealing with the worst effects of climate change facing the country.
"It is this resiliency of the people that should be highlighted", said Ms. Robinson who admired the people of the coastal region in Bangladesh and how they were coping by being innovative. She said she will continue to advocate the issue of climate change from a human rights perspective because it highlights the issue of economic and social rights of the people which is often undermined. She said she has been struck by how little understanding there is in the richer world on how damaging climate change has been for real people in countries like Bangladesh. She said her foundation will work with BRAC in portraying a people-centric approach towards climate change. She also expressed her eagerness in working on a project to harness the leadership of women in fighting climate change.
The meeting was attended by experts and civil society members who expressed the need for urgency in tackling climate finance and adaptation.
The first ever BRAC Brand Awards took place on Wednesday 2 February 2011 at BRAC's head office. The event marked the one year anniversary of the new BRAC brand and also the 39th birthday of BRAC.
The new BRAC brand was launched in February 2010 in an effort to rejuvenate and reaffirm our identity and to communicate our evolution as a changing international development organisation.
The awards recognised and honoured BRAC employees 'living the brand' through their work in the organisation. Awards were given out in three categories; 'Most Brand Compliant Programme/Department', 'Brand Ambassador' and 'Living the Values' which awarded employees for their Innovation, Integrity, Inclusiveness, Effectiveness.
BRAC Chairperson, Sir Fazle, and the Executive Director, Dr Mahabub Hossain, handed out the awards and prizes to the winners. Winners came from various departments and programmes across the organisation in Bangladesh and around the world.
24 January 2011, London. The founding leaders of BRAC UK – Professor Patrick Vaughan, Chairperson, and Sandra Kabir, Executive Director – both announced that they would be moving on in early 2011.
Their decision marks five years of successful collaboration as a leadership team that firmly established BRAC UK – both in the UK and internationally.
The organisation was founded as an affiliate to BRAC – the award winning international organisation based in Bangladesh and the world’s largest NGO. With Patrick as Chair of the Trustees and Sandra as Executive Director, BRAC UK has grown from a fledgling NGO to a well respected organisation that tackles and addresses the causes and effects of poverty in places as diverse as Tower Hamlets in East London to Juba in Southern Sudan.
Patrick Vaughan (far left) and Sandra Kabir (2nd from the right) with Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC Founder and Chairperson, and BRAC UK Trustees – London, 2010.
Both Patrick and Sandra were particularly passionate about the role that BRAC UK played in advocating a ‘South-South’ approach to development, as well as in ‘South-North’ development dialogues. The support of the British-Bangladesh communities has been central to BRAC UK establishing its reputation and engaging decision makers in diaspora issues.
Staff, clients and friends paid tribute to both Sandra and Patrick for their inspirational leadership style and said they would be greatly missed. Mark Goldring, BRAC UK Trustee, said:
"Patrick and Sandra have put heart and soul into ensuring that BRAC's wonderful work tackling poverty and disadvantage has been extended into Britain, benefiting poorer Asian communities within London, and that the UK has been able to help BRAC extend its work from Bangladesh around other countries of the developing world. We owe them sincere thanks and appreciation."
Geoffrey Salkeld has been appointed interim Executive Director to assist the Board in searching for a new Executive Director to take BRAC UK forward into its next phase of growth and development.
Geoffrey is a retired, highly experienced, development professional who has held executive positions at the World Bank (Indonesia), UN (India), and NGOs including Oxfam GB, Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) and Oxfam International. He specialises in project and programme evaluations and facilitating strategic planning.
A new chairperson will be announced shortly.
19 January 2011, Below is an e-mail we receive from the head of BRAC in Pakistan regarding yesterday's earthquake.
Hope you are well and fine.
Perhaps you have heard that a strong earthquake with a magnitude 7.4 hits SW Pakistan at about 2:30 AM. It was in a desert area bordering Iran and Afghanistan.
The quake struck at a depth of just 10km (6.2 miles) at 2,023 GMT on Tuesday ,some 55 km (34 miles) west of Dalbandian in Pakistan. It was located several hundred kilometres from the Pakistani city of Quetta and the city of Zahedan, Iran.
Our regional manager in Quetta informed us that the earth quake lasted only for few seconds.There were no casualities or damage to houses or other assets. People were running out of their houses in fear of earthquake. Inshallah we are all safe and sound.
Muhammed Faridur Rahman
Chief Executive Officer & Country Representative
16 January 2011, Dhaka. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between BRAC and the Tongi municipality on January 13 at BRAC Centre, Dhaka.
Dr. Mahabub Hossain, BRAC Executive Director and Advocate Md. Azmat Ullah Khan, Honourable Mayor of Tongi municipality signed the MoU on behalf of the respective parties.
Under the agreement, BRAC has offered to assist Tongi municipality in the collection of the waste, and to construct and operate a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) treatment plant.
Presently Tongi municipality disposes the collected waste in an unhygienic manner mainly for shortage of sufficient dumping areas. Under this agreement, BRAC will jointly collect the entire amount of solid waste generated within the boundary of the Tongi municipality and will treat and process the total waste scientifically at its own facility located within Tongi.
During the signing ceremony, Mayor Azmat stated, “Whenever we talk about development issues in Bangladesh, BRAC and Sir Fazle’s name always come up in the discussion. Hence, we are thrilled to be working with BRAC. It is the first time ever that the Tongi municipality has signed an agreement with a non-government organisation. The motto of this project is to reduce, reuse and recycle. My entire staff along with the people of Tongi municipality welcomes and embraces this partnership.”
BRAC is undertaking this venture in order to create a healthy environment for the dwellers of Tongi municipality.
16 January 2011, Dhaka. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between BRAC and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) on January 13 at BRAC Centre, Dhaka.
The MoU aims at reducing disaster risks in Bangladesh through application of early warning information at different timescale, specifically:
This Mou will enable the integration of RIMES weather and climate information into BRAC’s Disaster Risk Reduction programme and the climate change information into BRAC’s Climate Change Adaptation programme. RIMES will also provide BRAC with provisions of training and capacity building in this regard.
Dr. Mahabub Hossain, BRAC Executive Director and Mr A.R. Subbiah, RIMES Director signed the MoU on behalf of the respective organisations.
During the signing ceremony, Mr. Subbiah stated, “BRAC is the first ever organisation we will be working with. We consider BRAC as a valuable partner. It will be fascinating to translate science into practical use as BRAC will implement the information we provide them on the field and help people who are directly affected by climate changes.”
The agreement will last up to a period of five years.
11 January 2011, Dhaka. “Vision 2020 - The Right to Sight” is the global initiative for Elimination of Avoidable Blindness by the Year 2020 launched by World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations. In line with this, the Bangladesh National Vision 2020 programme was launched in November 2000 signalling the country’s commitment to accelerating programmes to control preventable blindness.
With assistance from the government, BRAC and Sightsavers are committed to eliminating avoidable blindness across Bangladesh by the year 2020. The aim is to provide enough sight restoring operations to eliminate cataract blindness across the whole country.
BRAC plans to begin by wiping out cataract blindness from the division of Sylhet by 2013. This project will go on till end on December 2013. We are already working in 12 upazillas (sub-districts) of 4 districts in Sylhet and will start working in the other upazillas of Sylhet. In total we aim to work in 37 upazillas of Sylhet by 2013 and perform 100,000 cataract operations.
After three years and with a thorough evaluation, Vision Bangladesh’s achievements and lessons will be shared with the government and other local partners with a view to developing a rollout plan to other divisions of Bangladesh.
Vision Bangladesh has been specifically designed in accordance with the government’s national eye health plan so that it can be integrated into the wider health care system. View Details
09 January 2011, Dhaka. At BRAC Centre, DG of Youth Development Directorate AKM Manjurul Haque and BRAC Education Programme's Director Safiqul Islam attended the ceremony of signing Memoranda of Understanding between BRAC and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The MoU will enable BRAC Multipurpose Community Learning Centres' members to receive institutional and non-institutional skill development training provided by Youth Development Directorate.
Every year 10,000 members (50% female) of BRAC Multipurpose Community Learning Centres will receive skill development training from Youth Development Directorate. Among members female candidates will get higher priority. BRAC will look after the logistics part.
BRAC Executive Director, Mahbub Hossain, Director of Communications Asif Saleh and Director of Training Abdur Razzaque were also speakers at the event.
AKM Manjurul Haque said that from this agreement both parties will be benefited as both of them have similar objective and that is to develop skilled society. Dr. Mahbub Hossain mentioned that we need to integrated approach to develop our youth. We can be economically advanced country if we can make them productive. This agreement is a good example of private-public partnership.