AUD 81,000 worth of grant funding provided to top projects
35 Australia Awards South and West Asia alumni, representing seven countries, started pitching project ideas today in Dhaka as part of the Alumni Innovation Challenge, which was organised jointly by BRAC and Australia Awards.
The platform provides alumni participants with funding to implement development solutions in their native countries. Out of over 80 project submissions, 27 projects were awarded grants and mentorship support. The selected alumni participants hailed from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Alumni Innovation Challenge, inaugurated by Executive Director of BRAC Dr Muhammad Musa and Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh (Her Excellency) Julia Niblett, let the grantees give their final pitch presentations to Heads of Mission from South Asia, officials from the Government of Bangladesh, international development agencies, fellow alumni, and other key stakeholders.
Praising the initiative, BRAC’s Executive Director Dr Muhammad Musa said, “BRAC and the Australian Government have a long standing commitment to achieving key development goals in Bangladesh. This platform provides a great opportunity for innovative individuals to network, collaborate and bring sustainable solutions to the existing challenges for their respective countries.”
Also present at the inauguration, Ms. Niblett said, “The Alumni Innovation Challenge will further enable us to respond to emerging global opportunities and challenges through innovation by drawing together some of our most inventive, creative Alumni across the region. It will also provide a unique opportunity for our Alumni to network and share experiences.”
The event will come to an end with an Innovation Tour, taking place on 2 November 2017, where participants will visit Australian Government-supported and Australian alumni-initiated development innovations within Bangladesh.
The per capita income of the underprivileged people living in the haor areas has risen by 9 percent as a result of the work done by BRAC Integrated Development Programme. In addition to that, the rate of men and women, aged between 16 and 65, who became self-employed also increased by 10 percent and 6 percent respectively. Aside from that, spending by women in areas like health, child education, savings, purchasing land grew 14 percent when compared to the past.
These information were revealed at a workshop held in BRAC Centre titled “BRAC’s Operations in Haor and Flash Floods” today, Wednesday (November 1, 2017). The chief guest at the event, organised by BRAC Integrated Development Programme (IDP), was the Minister of Water Resources Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP. The discussion was led by BRAC’s Executive Director, Dr Muhammad Musa, where other key participants included the Head of Co-Operations from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) Peter Bogh Jensen, First Secretary (Development Results and Evaluations) of Department for International Development (DfID) Bangladesh Yousuf Rafique, Director of Research and Evaluation Division at BRAC Professor Abdul Bayes and Director of IDP, Community Empowerment Programme and Gender Justice & Diversity Anna Minj. There were also several representatives from the government, humanitarian organisations, donor agencies and think tanks among others.
BRAC commenced its Integrated Development Programme back in 2013 to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged dwellers of haor region and indigenous population in the North West. Before that BRAC had started a primary survey in 2012 of 7,783 households across 16 upazilla, which came to an end in April 2016.
Key findings of the report on “A New Approach to Reducing Poverty and Vulnerability: Evidence from BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme” was presented by Jinnat Ara, Research Fellow for the Development Economics Unit at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division. The findings revealed that 5,183 households out of 7,783 were beneficiaries of BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme. Furthermore, the rate at which programme beneficiaries were accessing hygienic latrine facilities and formal healthcare services increased by 77 percent and 50 percent respectively. 63 percent of the beneficiaries had food security, while that rate was lower at 46 percent for those who were yet to fall under the umbrella. Women under the programme boasted a self-employment rate of 95.2 percent, while for men that rate was at 71.2 percent.
Another research was conducted among 1,845 households in 70 villages at 31 Unions across recently flooded areas of Moulvibazar, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj, Netrokona and Kishoreganj. As highlighted in the presentation on “Flash Flood 2017: Perspective in Haor Areas” by Dr Nepal C. Dey, despite almost 52 percent of the residents in haor areas being involved in crop farming, the number has significantly decreased to 13 percent as a result of flash floods. During the same time period the number of people getting involved in fish farming rose to around 24 percent, which is the highest compared to any previous year. Due to excessive flooding, nearly 21 percent of the people were forced to remain without an income source.
One out of every three households that participated in the survey were consuming two meals a day instead of the standard three. They were consuming 53 percent less food and 16 percent less nutritious content due to the scarcity. At the same time, one out of every three households were suffering from food shortage. It is being predicted through the research that a loss of BDT 2,918 crores were incurred from crops, poultry, dairy products and day labor in the surveyed areas. One of the many recommendations made at the workshop emphasised on improved water drainage systems and excavation to channel currently overflowing water. These systems include improving dam renovation, timely maintenance, proper monitoring, stronger relationship between government and non-government bodies, encouraging farmers to adopt faster yielding BRRI 81 as well as 28 varieties of rice, and creating alternative employment opportunities among others.
Anisul Islam Mahmud stated during the event, “These flash floods have been triggered by the overflowing of the waters in Brahmaputra and Meghna as a result of rapid climate change. The effects are not limited to the haor areas but nationwide. This is a significant barrier to our sustainable development goals.”
Peter Jensen said, “BRAC’s integrated approach is a practical solution to the current situation in the haor areas. We are enthusiastic to be a part of this initiative.”
Dr Muhammad Musa stated, “The recent floods have not only affected the crops but also the flow of life for many. This is why we are placing an importance on planning our integrated programme for the long run.”
It is important to note that BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme is providing involved in the areas of health, nutrition, population, education, community empowerment, human rights and legal services, safe migration, gender equality, safe water and sanitation, targeting the ultra-poor, micro finance and agriculture & food security as part of its interventions.
BRAC’s executive director calls on global leaders to act against fastest growing humanitarian crisis
During the opening session of the pledging conference held today, Dr Muhammad Musa Executive Director of BRAC, offered insights into the plight of the forcefully displaced Myanmar nationals in front of ministerial level representatives from all of UN’s Member States.
Dr Musa highlighted the overall scenario in Cox’s Bazar and the continuing influx in his presentation. He also mentioned BRAC’s efforts to address the wide range of needs of the people within the settlements – ranging from building 10,000 latrines to establishing 100 child-friendly spaces. He emphasised on giving equal attention to host community needs, which are considerably different from the needs of the displaced people.
Looking into the near future, Dr. Musa spoke about the need to scale up services like offering a comprehensive water, sanitation and hygiene package. This package will include additional solutions for garbage disposal, drainage systems, waste management and hygiene education. He also expressed concern about the threats that will be posed by the oncoming winter.
Speaking about the coordinated response of the Government of Bangladesh, the UN and its implementation partners, which includes BRAC, Dr. Musa stressed that their success depended on cross sectoral involvement. He called for better synchronisation to achieve more sustainable results.
Along with Dr Musa speakers at the conference included Mark Lowcock, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency relief Coordinator, UN; Mr Filippo Grandi, UNHCR; William Lacy Swing, Director General, IOM; Dr Joanne Liu, International President, MSF.
Among the Member States present, Denmark has committed a total of USD 18 million to date and expressed its concern particularly for the women and children victims of the crisis. Norway made a pledge of USD 10 million and reaffirmed that they were willing to increase contributions if necessary. Sweden will be channeling funds worth of USD 24 million within the coming days, adding that they expect strong leadership from the UN.
The conference was co-organised by IOM, OCHA and UNHCR with support from the European Union and Government of Kuwait. The focus of the event was to mobilise much needed resources to tackle the ongoing crisis and show solidarity with the Government of Bangladesh and its host communities.
"Healthy women, healthy city" - this is the slogan used to launch Dhaka's first modern, sanitary and safe toilets specifically targeting women. The official inauguration of the first toilet, located on the third floor of Noor Mansion in Gawsia Market, took place today afternoon, Thursday (19 October, 2017), with renowned actress and architect Aupee Karim cutting the ribbon. Dr. Foysol Chowdhury, Director of Innovation at BRAC, was present at the time along with the area's leading business owners.
Only women will be able to enjoy the facilities of these toilets. To ensure security, two women staff will be on standby from day till night. In addition to them, a cleaning worker will be available at all times. To maintain cleanliness and prevent waterlogging, only the best materials have been used for the toilet. With a funding of around BDT 500,000 from BRAC, a social enterprise called Bhumijo has implemented the pilot project. With cooperation from Dhaka City Corporation, the renovation of the market's toilet was carried out to achieve such a result.
Aupee Karim stated that, "being able to participate in such a unique initiative gives me great joy. I hope that those who are using and those who are maintaining this facility remain properly accountable."
"BRAC has been working on women's rights and safety from the very beginning. With support from the communities, we will be able to scale the solutions across the city," said Dr. Foysol Chowdhury.
The organisers have stated that 32 locations have been chosen to build similar facilities keeping various factors in mind. These locations include Gawsia, New Market, Farm Gate, Moghbazar, Malibagh, Mouchak, Uttara and Mirpur among others. The toilet and its facilities will be open for service from 10 am till 9 pm at night. Currently individuals will be charged a fee of BDT 10 for using the toilet.
Bhumijo's Co-Founder Farhana Rashid mentioned that a survey of 200 people was conducted between 2016 and 2017. The results revealed that 80 percent of the women did not drink water before leaving their homes out of fear from using public toilets.
Further research also revealed that Dhaka city will need three thousand more toilets by 2020.
Muhammad Saeed, the programme manager for BRAC’s education programme in Pakistan, presented a case study of BRAC in Pakistan titled “Alternative and Non Formal Learning and Challenges of Basic education in Pakistan” at the IAARHIES 75th International Conference on Education and Management ICEM – 2017. The conference was held in Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands during the first week of October.
Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world at 24 million. Amongst them, 6.07 million children are out of school at the primary level. The formal education system does not have the capacity to provide access to all children, especially girls. BRAC in Pakistan is exploring alternate means of providing education to ensure all children can access education.
We have established a non-formal school system in Sindh Province which contributed 1.0 % enrollment rate by enrolling 51,000 students in 1,700 BRAC schools. 5,500 learners have been mainstreamed into formal middle schools after completion of their primary education from BRAC Schools.
Our plan is to enroll 1 million out of school children by establishing 33,000 schools. This will cover 16% of children out of school and contribute to achieve targets of the sustainable development goals and Vision 2025 of Pakistan.
The conference provided an interdisciplinary platform for academics, researchers, policy makers, activists, students and professionals from across the globe to promote a critical understanding of the innovative and organic approaches towards developing the education sector.
Dr. Nicolene Barkhuizen, a professor from the North-West University in South Africa, incorporated a study of the BRAC model in her research and announced that her team will visit Pakistan to study the model.
IAARHIES is an international non-profit forum and association of researchers in the field of Humanities, Information Technology, Engineering and Science.
BRAC in Afghanistan organised a research dissemination event at Kabul on 15 October 2017. The event revealed the finding of a study titled Nutrition Promotion and Collective Vegetable Gardening by Adolescent Girls: Feasibility Assessment from a Pilot in Afghanistan.
The event was inaugurated by Siddique Ali, the manager of the education programme for BRAC in Afghanistan. Ali introduced the audience to our activities in Afghanistan and encouraged them to participate in discussions to identify agricultural solutions to address malnutrition in Afghanistan.
40.9% of children under five in Afghanistan suffer from stunting according to the European Commission.
The study was conducted on the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) project where we trained 200 out-of-school girls from our adolescent reading centres on summer and winter home gardening cultivation techniques. We also provided information on the importance of nutrition and vegetable consumption to these girls.
Abdul Alim, the head of research in BRAC in Afghanistan, presented the methodology and study findings. The respective panel consisted of Haroon Rashid, the research director of Sayara; Nemaitullah Akbari, a freelance consultant and Roqiya Azimi, the executive manager from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock in Afghanistan (MAIL).
Project participants also joined in on the discussions. Khadija, an adolescent girl from Kabul, highlighted that the project trained them in agriculture and once they started getting the harvest, the community’s view towards girls’ working in the field changed in a positive manner.
MAIL officials commended us for our innovative project and suggested for future collaboration with the ministry in women empowerment and agriculture projects.
The research report will be published as a working paper from BRAC in Afghanistan.
90 member team helps cover 30 percent of the target population
The world’s second largest oral vaccination campaign, led by the Ministry of Health, ended yesterday on a highly successful note. With a target set to immunise 650,000 people in Cox’s Bazar, the joint efforts of both public and private aid providers helped exceed the reach to 679,678 individuals.
In addition to the children arrived from Myanmar, BRAC is also making an effort to provide health treatments for host community children. These initiatives are being taken to ensure the prevention of widespread diseases. BRAC has administered over 167000 individuals with oral cholera vaccinations. Aside from that, 1,53000 medical services have been provided that includes treatment for fever, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
BRAC is providing the health care services through 60 mobile health camps and 10 fixed camps. Access to safe water has been provided to 276,700, access to sanitation has been provided to 401000, 12,000 children were supported through child-friendly spaces and 50,000 Households were provided with critical supplies and non-food items.
Over 700 BRAC employees from around the country are fully mobilised to provide aid services. Their activities are mainly focused on ensuring necessary healthcare, safe water, sanitation and hygienic materials as well as safe spaces for women and children. These interventions are being conducted in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), UNICEF, WFP, AUSAID, DIFD and Global Fund.
To know more about our work please visit response.brac.net
The humanitarian organisation has gathered clothing items for the children living across 10 makeshift settlements in Ukhia and Teknaf. So far the clothes have been distributed to 1000 children in these settlements as efforts continue.
In addition, floor mats have been provided to protect around 1700 families in need from the cold. Close to 345 families have been equipped with solar lights in order to keep the settlements well-lit at night.
More than half of the people that have arrived from Rakhine State are children, and during such crises they tend to be easily deprived of basic necessities like clothing. This has resulted in the children being exposed to severe health risks such as pneumonia, fever, coughing etc. This is why BRAC has mobilised a huge amount of clothing from multiple garments manufacturers to distribute amongst the children.
Apart from several individual donations, five large garments manufacturers including Hamim Group, Graphics Textile, Ecotex Limited, Fakhruddin Textile Mills and Saturn Textiles. On the other hand, SF Denim Apparels Limited donated clothes through Aarong.
Meanwhile, around 56 child-friendly spaces (CFS) have been established to ensure positive mental growth for more than 3000 children on a daily basis through playful events.
Over 600 BRAC workers from across the country are engaged in various aid efforts. They are currently operating 60 mobile health camps that serve a total of 70,429 people, have placed 876 tube wells and built 2,760 latrines around the settlements. These interventions are being carried out in collaboration with International Organisation of Migration (IOM), UNICEF, WFP, AUSAID, DFID and Global Fund.
Top management officials from BRAC are regularly conducting visits and overseeing on-site operations. For those who are interested, visit response.brac.net and find out how to contribute to the cause.
Microcredit is booming in Myanmar. After the first regulations for the sector appeared in 2012, microfinance institutions (MFIs) have mushroomed in the country. Providing small loans before was limited to a couple of NGOs and the Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank, leaving a large part of the demand unmet. Out of Myanmar’s ca. 50 million population, 2.5 million working-age adults still cannot access formal financial services such as loans or saving facilities, according to the United Nations’ capital investment agency UNCDF.
A reality that stands in stark contrast with the skyscrapers and shopping centres of uptown Yangon, as lustrous as they come in Western Europe. After decades of military protectionist government, the country has gradually liberalised since 2010, when releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and partially handing over power to a civilian government. Major infrastructure works and foreign investments have started. Now the IMF puts the country among the fastest growing economies in the world.
BRAC installed 392 tube-wells up to yesterday Tuesday (26 September) in 10 shelters in Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar for the distressed people arriving from the Rakhaine state of Myanmar. Besides these, 765 latrines have also been built for the use of 30,600 people.
A total of 1 lakh and 352 (100,352) people will be able to access safe drinking water from these tube-wells.
BRAC targets to install 15 thousand latrines and 1120 tube-wells by 15 October.
Mobilised from the branch offices across the country, more than 400 BRAC staff are running its emergency humanitarian aid programme in Cox’s Bazar.
BRAC’s programme in this regard is covering three areas, namely emergency healthcare focusing on women and children, ensuring potable water and sanitation through installing tube-wells and latrines and supplying hygienic materials, and ensuring protection of children through creating safe spaces.
These activities are going on in coordination with and with assistance from International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Unicef, World Food Programme (WFP), AusAid, DFID and Global Action.
BRAC has also opened 56 mobile health centres and provided immediate healthcare to 25,703 patients till Tuesday (26.09.2017). A total of 23,992 patients have received treatment for diarrhoea, fever and other complaints. Tuberculosis diagnostic tests were carried out for 260 patients of whom 17 have diagnosed with the infection. Malaria has not been diagnosed in any of the 1451 patients for whom malaria diagnostic tests were carried out. A total 954 packs of sanitary napkins were distributed. By next week 10 maternity centres will be operational for pregnant mothers.
Over half of the arriving Myanmar nationals are children. BRAC has so far opened 24 child-friendly spaces for these children where they can engage in recreational activities. Children are receiving nutritious biscuits also at these centres.
BRAC’s senior management officials are making regular inspection visits in Ukhia and Teknaf.