21 August 2009, Dhaka. -- “BRAC is making an impressive contribution to the development of Bangladesh. I was very impressed with the BRAC programs I observed in Gazipur district.”, reported the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, James F. Moriarty, following a recent BRAC visit. The Ambassador, along with Mrs. Lauren Moriarty, Mr. Carey Gordon, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, and other Embassy staff, visited BRAC programmes in Gazipur district on August 18 to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of BRAC.
US Ambassador Observing Activities of a BRAC Village Organisation Meeting at Dhanua village of Sreepur upazila
Ambassador Moriarty’s visit began with the observation of a microfinance group meeting in Dhanua village of Sreepur upazila. He had lively exchanges with the group members about loan sizes, use of the loans by the women, means of repayment and their economic condition after becoming a BRAC borrower.
The US Embassy team observed several activities of the BRAC Health Programme. They learnt about the GoB-BRAC partnership programme for controlling tuberculosis (TB), including the first hand role played by BRAC Shasthya Shebikas (health volunteers) who administer the Directly Observed Therapy Shortcourse (DOTS) to TB patients. They met with several members of the community who are undergoing treatment and then visited a GoB Community Clinic where the TB smears are processed in a mobile laboratory. Ambassador Moriarty also spent some time talking with a pregnant woman as well as a young mother and her newborn, who are receiving support from BRAC’s Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health programme.
Later, the Ambassador and the team observed a human rights and legal education class for women in Faridpur village and engaged in discussions with the BRAC para-legal volunteer and members of the class. In reply to Ambassador Moriarty’s query about the most common legal problems faced by the community, the women cited land issues.
During his visit the Ambassador also met with the staff of BRAC’s Sreepur Area Office and the Gazipur Civil Surgeon.
29 July 2009, Dhaka. BRAC is leading a $15 million initiative to rebuild war-torn communities in West Africa, four organizations supporting the effort announced in New York, US recently.
The Soros Economic Development Fund, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Omidyar Network, and Humanity United are funding this groundbreaking initiative to support families and prevent renewed conflict.
“This investment in the people of West Africa comes at a critical time,” said Stewart Paperin, president of the Soros Economic Development Fund. “With their countries emerging from devastating civil wars, this support gives people the tools to rebuild.”
BRAC, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty groups, is providing microfinance, health, and agricultural support in Sierra Leone and Liberia. It anticipates that over 500,000 people will benefit from these programs.
“In the face of overwhelming need, BRAC’s work has real potential to create opportunities for hundreds of thousands of families to stabilize their lives and build for the future,” said Matt Bannick, managing partner of Omidyar Network. “Our investment will help catalyze this economic and social impact.”
Since March, BRAC has opened 20 new microfinance branches in Sierra Leone and Liberia and will add 20 more by the end of the year. BRAC made its first loans in June. Over the next two years, it will provide financial services to tens of thousands of women, as well as agricultural supplies and training to small crop and livestock farmers. BRAC will also prepare four hundred community based health volunteers to provide ongoing essential healthcare and help fight deadly diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and cholera.
“People desperately need to earn a living,” said Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC. “Despite the many challenges these countries face, Liberia and Sierra Leone are uniquely positioned to become models for successful development in West Africa. We are committed to providing training and resources so that the poor, especially women, can unleash their capabilities as entrepreneurs and improve their livelihoods.”
BRAC’s work in Sierra Leone and Liberia is being funded through a combination of grants and equity, and BRAC is negotiating additional debt capital to finance the loan portfolio. This two-year pilot program will help BRAC build a long-term sustainable strategy for integrated development in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
27 July 2009, Dhaka. BRAC is pleased to announce that an agreement was signed on July 26th, with the Special Assistance Office of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) under which IDB will provide USD 5 million for operating and administering the agricultural component of the “Fael Khair” programme for cyclone victims in Bangladesh.
Dr. Mohammed Hassan Salem (Head of the Special Assistance Office) and Dr. Mahabub
Hossain (Executive Director of BRAC) in the signing ceremony.
The agreement was signed by Dr. Mohammed Hassan Salem, Head of the Special Assistance Office, and Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC. Under the terms of the three year agreement, BRAC will mplement the agro component initially in the Bagerhat, Barguna, Satkhira and Khulna districts, severely affected by cyclone Sidr and Aila. The “Fael Khair” is a USD 130 million IDB trust relief assistance to the victims of cyclone Sidr. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between IDB and the Government of Bangladesh in December 2008 for the implementation of the trust’s objectives. A part of the trust is to be used for the agricultural rehabilitator of victims of cyclones and other natural calamitie in the form of interest free loans for inputs for crop production and fisheries.
21 July 2009, Dhaka. BRAC signed an MOU with ClickDiagnostics Inc., a U.S. based social enterprise, and Alliance Forum Foundation, a U.S. based non-profit public corporation, on 20th July, for mobile-based automation of data management for BRAC Health’s Manoshi programme. Mr. Faruque Ahmed, Director BRAC Health, Mr. Rubayat Khan, Chief of Operations (Bangladesh), ClickDiagnostics, and Ms. Sumala Chowdhury, Country Representative, Alliance Forum Foundation, signed the agreement in a ceremony Under this six-month-long pilot, selected health workers held at BRAC Centre, Mohakhali.
Mr. Rubayat Khan (Chief of Operations, Bangladesh, ClickDiagnostics), Mr. Faruque
Ahmed (Director BRAC Health), Dr. Kaosar Afsana (Programme Head, BRAC Health),
Ms. Sumala Chowdhury (Country Representative, Alliance Forum Foundation) at Signing
From the urban Manoshi programme (for maternal, neonatal and child health) will use special softwareequipped mobile phones developed by ClickDiagnostics to collect patient data which will then be used for realtime screening of risky patients and strategic interventions for patient management.
18 July 2009, Dhaka. BRAC hosted an event on July 15th in BRAC Centre, Dhaka to mark the launching of two books - "Freedom from Want", and "BRAC: Unnoyoner Ekti Upakkhan" -- both written on the journey of BRAC towards development.
At book launch ceremony From left to right: Mr. Anisul Haque, Prof. Syed monzoorul Islam,Prof. Rehman Sobhan, Dr. A M. M. Shawket Ali, Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Prof. Mustafizur Rahman,Dr. Mashiur Rahman
Chaired by former Adviser to the caretaker government MM Shawkat Ali, the event was also addressed by Chief Guest Economist Professor Rehman Sobhan, Prime Minister's Adviser Mashiur Rahman, Prothom Alo Deputy Editor Anisul Haque, Centre for Policy Dialogue Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Dhaka University Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam and Dr. Mahabub Hossain Executive Director of BRAC.
Professor Sobhan stated, "BRAC has a major contribution to the country's poverty alleviation and it engages the poor with income generation activities. In addition, it has established itself as a self-financed organisation over the last three decades." He added, "In its long journey, the organisation has tried to discover the inherent causes of poverty, which is very important in poverty alleviation effort. And then BRAC has initiated different programmes that have engaged a huge number of rural poor to fight poverty."
Dr. Mashiur Rahman said, "Women who borrowed from BRAC and set up their own shops have already overcome the social barriers. They will not return to the claustrophobic social space." He stated "It is unfair to treat BRAC only as a microcredit organisation and not to differentiate it from other traditional microcredit institutions engaged only or mainly in small loan operations. BRAC has a more comprehensive approach to development, and credit is one of the many elements in it."
The University Press Ltd published the two books titled "BRAC: Unnayaner Ekti Upakhyan" by Faruq Chowdhury, Subol Kumar Bonik and Sajedur Rahman and "Freedom from Want" by Ian Smillie.
09 July 2010, Dhaka. International development NGOs BRAC and Sightsavers have today launched an appeal to raise £3m to transform the lives of 100,000 poor Bangladeshi’s living in the Sylhet District by providing them with sight-restoring operations and eliminating treatable blindness.
In Bangladesh over one million people are blind, yet 80% of this blindness is due to cataract, a clouding of the eye’s lens, which can be cured with a straightforward and cost-effective operation. Sadly in Bangladesh, many people do not realise their blindness could be cured, or they don’t have the money or time to visit a hospital. Without surgery people can find themselves falling further into poverty as they become increasingly dependent on their family and stop going to work or school. Devastatingly 50% of children who go blind will die within two years.
In the north east region of Bangladesh, Sylhet, which has a population of 13 million, almost 60,000 people are blind, with cataract remaining the largest cause. With a huge waiting list for operations and around 9,000 new cases of cataract blindness occurring every year there are vast numbers of people who are needlessly blind. The Vision Bangladesh Appeal will target the poorest and most marginalised communities in the region, screening one million people between now and 2014 and providing operations, or glasses, for those who need them.
From teams of specially trained community health workers offering hygiene and general health information to cataract surgeons and specialised doctors, the appeal will also ensure there are more professionals in the region to identify and treat eye problems.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder & Chairperson, BRAC comments: “The Vision Bangladesh Appeal is an important opportunity for the British-Bangladeshcommunity in the UK to make a measured and lasting difference. The gift of sight is something so precious and with their help we can have a huge impact on lives of those living in poverty.”
A start up phase has already begun in the region and over 1,000 surgeries have been conducted and a further 970 people have been prescribed glasses to improve their vision.
Dr Wahidul Islam, Bangladesh Country Director for Sightsavers comments: “We are so excited to be working together with BRAC to tackle the huge task of eliminating avoidable blindness in Sylhet. Combining our expertise and resources is essential if we are to train more surgeons, build and equip new eye care centres and find those desperately in need of an sight restoring operations. The result will be a lasting impact for individuals, families and communities.”
The appeal will transform the lives of people like fifty year old Padma Kormi who was blind in both eyes with cataracts. Padma from the village of Mourapur in Sylhet had lost her job on the tea estates and became extremely poor and vulnerable. She was one of the first people to be treated by Vision Bangladesh. Now having had surgery Padma can see again and is very happy to be able to return to her job and be independent again.
More details of the Appeal, including a film can be found at [www.sightsavers.org/visionbangladesh]
For British-Bangladesh media, please contact Tanvir Ahmed, 44 (0) 7782 415491
Notes to Editors:
1. BRAC was founded by Fazle Hasan Abed in February 1972, soon after the liberation of Bangladesh and has grown to become one of the largest NGOs in the world employing more than 120,000 people, the majority of which are women, and reaching more than 110 million people in Asia and Africa.
2. BRAC achieves large scale, rapid change by working with individuals, families, communities, and institutions, to overcome poverty. Our approach is comprehensive – with financial services, capacity building and livelihood development as well as health, education and social justice – enabling people to realise their potential.
3. BRAC’s health programme in Bangladesh covers a population of 100 million people and operates through a network of 85,000 trained women community health volunteers who every month visit 11 million households providing essential health care.
4. BRAC UK was founded in 2006 to help mobilise support for BRAC’s international work (registered charity number 1115482).
5. Currently BRAC has country programmes in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda as providing technical assistance in Haiti, India, Indonesia, Sudan, and Yemen,
1. Sightsavers is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people who are blind and visually impaired. www.sightsavers.org
2. There are 45 million blind people in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.
3. Every sixty seconds another child loses their sight; only 2% of children who are disabled in the developing world attend school
4. 2010 marks the 60th anniversary of Sightsavers, originally called the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, which was founded in 1950 by the late Sir John Wilson.
5. In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:
6. Sightsavers has worked in Bangladesh since 1973 and last year treated over 873,057 people, including performing over 72,000 cataract operations and providing 167,000 people with spectacles
06 July 2009, Dhaka. Mr. Bert Koenders, the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation, and Ms. Tineke Huizinga, the Dutch State Minister for Transport, Public Works and Water Management, visited BRAC programmes in Khulna and Bagerhat on Sunday, 5 July, 2009. They were accompanied by the Dutch Ambassador, Ms. Bea ten Tusscher, Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC and the BRAC Directors Dr. Safiqul Islam and Dr. Babar Kabir.
The delegation first visited a BRAC Adolescent Development Centre in Moubhog. They spoke to the adolescent girls group and inquired about their reproductive health awareness. Then the delegation visited a BRAC Primary school in upper Moubhog and another one in Narkeli Chandpur. The Ministers spoke to the students about their studies. They also spoke to a differently abled student and inquired about the facilities being provided to her by the BRAC school. The Ministers were treated with a song and dance routine by the school students. Later on the Ministers also visited a Government Primary school.
The delegation then met with a BRAC Village WASH Committee in Kajdia. The field visit was concluded with a short meeting with local government officials and BRAC staff at the Rupsha BRAC Office.
Reflecting on his first field visit in Bangladesh, Mr. Koenders said that it had been a very exciting and useful experience. He expressed his appreciation for the important and successful efforts that were made by BRAC to provide basic social services such as education and sanitation, to isolated rural communities. He emphasised that these services are a basic human right and essential for human development. He also added that he was very pleased to note in the field the constructive collaboration and cooperation between Government and BRAC.
He recognised that the challenges to achieve universal access to social services are enormous because the demand for them is still increasing due to population growth. At the same time, he explained, it is equally important to ensure that these services are of good quality. He emphasised that the role of local communities and local governments is very important. He added that the meetings with local committees, health staff and teachers have shown that real progress is being made.
25 June 2009, Dhaka. BRAC Founder and Chairperson, Fazle Hasan Abed, was awarded the honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom for his role as "a tireless defender of the needy". Mr. Abed was admitted the degree on Wednesday, 24 June, along with five other leading figures from the world of development, the arts and science, by Oxford University chancellor, the Rt Hon Lord Patten of Barnes, at Encaenia, the annual honorary degree ceremony.
Honorands at the 2009 Encaenia ceremony. From left to right : Fazle Hasan Abed, Dr Santiago Calatrava-Valls , Professor Erwin L Hahn , Dame Mitsuko Uchida ,Professor Barry Marshall, Mr Philip Pullman [Photo: University of Oxford]
"He regards poverty not as a simple phenomenon but as one with complex causes, which there is no possibility of eliminating without analysis of its nature and origin. He wants to help the needy to help themselves; he nourishes their mind as well as their bodies, appreciating that education is the engine of economic development. Above all, he has insisted on the rights of women, arguing that unless they get a fair share of respect and resources, men themselves will not succeed in overcoming poverty... I present a tireless defender of the needy, a citizen of Bangladesh and of the whole world, Fazle Hasan Abed, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters," reads Abed's citation.
Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world with nine centuries of continuous existence, is consistently ranked among the world's top ten universities. Previous recipients of Oxford's honorary degrees include Nobel Laureates Rabindranath Tagore and Amartya Sen, former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, American author Mark Twain and former American president Jimmy Carter.
Abed founded BRAC in 1972 to help rehabilitate returning refuges from India to newly independent Bangladesh. Later, BRAC changed its focus to long-term community development. Today, BRAC is the largest non-governmental organisation in the world and its programmes in education, health, economic and social development and human rights and legal services cover a population in excess of 100 million. In addition to numerous national and international awards, Abed was previously awarded degrees of Doctor of Laws by Queen's University in Canada, Doctor in Education by the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and Doctor of Humane Letters by Yale University in the United States in recognition of his work with BRAC.
24 June 2009, Dhaka. A two-day symposium on educational progress in Thailand will be held in city on 27-28 June. A three-member team headed by Dr. Kasama Varavarn, Secretary General of the Thai Ministry of Education, will share its experience with officials, academics and policy-makers in Bangladesh. Dr. Q.K. Ahmed, co-chair of the Education Policy Committee, will inaugurate the symposium on Saturday, 27 June at the Lake Shore Hotel in Gulshan.
BRAC University Institute of Educational Development, jointly with Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and Campaign for Popular Education, (CAMPE) will host the event. Members of the Education Policy Committee, Parliamentary Standing Committee members for the two education ministries, education officials, academics and development partner representatives have been invited. This will be the first event of the "Learning from Neighbours" symposia series planned by BRAC University and the partner institutions to look at experiences of Asian countries.
Thailand and other Asian countries have made spectacular progress in education and economic development in recent decades. The newly elected government of Bangladesh has given high priority to educational development in its longer term Vision 2021 and its election pledges. An Education Policy Committee has been appointed to formulate education policy priorities. The symposia series, starting with Thailand, has been planned as a contribution to the national initiative.
03 June 2009, Dhaka. BRAC’s Kaiyachreea Dalu Tea Estate, Bhujpur, Fatikchari, Chittagong won the First Prize for the Prime Minister’s National Award for Afforestation-2008 for the Agar (Aquilaria) Plantation Project. Mr. Saieed Bakth Mozumder, Director of BRAC Tea Estates Division, received the award from Honorable Prime Minister on 31st May 2009, at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre, Dhaka.