With profound sadness, BRAC, one of the world’s leading development organisations, announced today the passing of its Founder, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG. He was 83 years old.
Sir Fazle breathed his last this evening while undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospitals in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was battling a malignant tumour of the brain.
His body will be placed on the Army Stadium premises in the capital on Sunday (22 December) from 10.30am to 12.30pm to allow people from all walks of life to pay their last tributes. His Namaz-e-Janaza will also be held there at 12.30pm. He will be laid to rest at the graveyard in Banani, Dhaka on the same day.
Ms Ameerah Haq, Chair, BRAC Global Board said in a statement, “Unfaltering dedication, focus and work ethic are what we have always experienced in Sir Fazle, or Abed Bhai, as the BRAC family calls him lovingly. He always put others before himself and let his work speak for itself. Even when BRAC attained its global stature, his concern and focus were on the less fortunate in society and those whose potential needed nurturing. He embodied the highest level of integrity, humility and humanity, which continues to be the essential guiding spirit of BRAC.”
The Honourable President of Bangladesh Mohammad Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina both expressed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
Sir Fazle started BRAC in 1972, at the age of 36, as a small relief and rehabilitation project in north-eastern Bangladesh. Over the past 47 years, BRAC has grown to be one of the most effective non-governmental organisations in the world, touching the lives of over 100 million people worldwide. BRAC is a unique ecosystem comprising development programmes, microfinance, social enterprises, a university, bank and a range of mission-aligned investments. BRAC currently operates in 11 countries in Asia and Africa, with affiliate offices in the USA, UK and the Netherlands.
About Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
Sir Fazle was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He studied Accountancy in London, qualifying as a Cost Management Accountant in 1962. While he was working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell Oil, the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh dramatically changed the direction of his life. He left his job and moved to London, where he helped initiate Action Bangladesh and HELP Bangladesh in support of the Liberation War.
Early in 1972, after the war was over, he returned to the newly-independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. The return of 10 million refugees who had sought shelter in India during the war called for urgent relief and rehabilitation efforts. Sir Fazle established BRAC to address the needs of refugees in a remote area of north-eastern Bangladesh, guided by a desire to help people living in poverty develop their own capacity to better manage their lives.
Today BRAC is one of the largest NGOs in the world, operating across eleven countries in Africa and Asia. Its primary objective is to empower people living in poverty and inequality. In 2019, for the fourth year in a row, BRAC was ranked first among the world’s top 500 NGOs by Geneva-based NGO Advisor; based on its impact, innovation and sustainability.
Sir Fazle was honoured with numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the Yidan Prize for Education Development (2019), LEGO Prize (2018), World Food Prize (2015), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Inaugural WISE Prize for Education (2011), David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), UNDP Mahbubul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development (2004), Olof Palme Prize (2001) and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).
He has also been recognised by Ashoka as one of the ‘global greats’; and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. He was a member of the Commission on Health Research for Development (1987-90), the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (1991-92) and the High-level Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (2005-2008). In 2010, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. Sir Fazle was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Sir Fazle was honoured with a Dutch Knighthood in 2019.
The Nippon Foundation, a Japanese private non-profit organisation, will donate USD 2 million (over BDT 169 million) for BRAC to scale up its education programme for the displaced Rohingya and host communities’ children in Cox's Bazar. The grant will help build 50 two-story prefabricated movable steel structures to be used as learning centres for 8,000 displaced Rohingya children. Besides, 100 pre-primary learning centres will also be built for the host community’s children.
BRAC and The Nippon Foundation announced the partnership at a press conference today on Wednesday (11 December) at BRAC Centre in Dhaka city. Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, Executive Director of BRAC, Asif Saleh, Director of BRAC Education Programme, Dr Safiqul Islam, officials of the two organisations and Japanese Embassy in Bangladesh were present at the event.
Chairman Yohei Sasakawa said, "The objective of our initiative is to create education opportunities for the displaced Rohingya children so that they can also learn alongside the host community’s children. We hope that the displaced Rohingya children will be able to continue learning as they return to their homeland."
BRAC’s Executive Director Asif Saleh said, "55 per cent of the people who came from Myanmar are children. So we are focusing on their education."
Officials of BRAC informed the press that right from the beginning of the new influx of the displaced Rohingya people into Bangladesh in 2017, BRAC undertook the education programme for their children as the largest partner of the government in this regard. The learning curriculum for the displaced Rohingya children includes pre-primary education, alphabets and numbers, life-saving information, psychological counselling and life skills development. BRAC is also developing education materials for classes I-IV for the displaced Rohingya children.
Currently, over 61,000 children of 4-14 years of age are receiving basic education in its 759 learning centres at the Rohingya camps in Ukhya and Teknaf sub districts of Cox's Bazar. Fifty-one per cent of these children are girls. 722 children are disabled among them. Also, 57 per cent members of the managing committees of these learning centres are women.
The separate 100 pre-primary learning centres BRAC will build with The Nippon Foundation's support will accommodate 3,000 host community children of 5-6 years of age.
Professor Mushtaque Chowdhury, Advisor and Founding Dean of the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, has been made a member of the Management Advisory Group for the Director General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome. In a recent letter to Dr Chowdhury, Dr Qu Dongyu, the new Director General of FAO, said, “I will count on your frank advice and positive feedback in supporting FAO to further strengthen its activities in assisting countries to realise the potential of their agriculture and food systems. Together, we will work to create a more prosperous world for all. Your experience and insight will contribute greatly to this joint effort”. FAO is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
Dr Chowdhury is also a Professor of Population and Family Health of Columbia University in New York. He is a Senior Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and a Senior Adviser to the International Growth Centre of the London School of Economics. He made significant contributions to the academic sector by publishing over 200 scientific papers in different national and international journals. One of his co-edited books, ‘From the Ground Up: BRAC’s contributions to agricultural development in Bangladesh and beyond’, published by the University Press Limited, was formally launched in Dhaka last week.
BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, is pleased to announce that it is scaling up its global ambition to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. BRAC aims to reach at least 250 million disadvantaged women (and their dependents), youth, and people living in poverty around the world, including Bangladesh, within the next 10 years.
BRAC Founder and Chair Emeritus Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we made a commitment to the people of the world to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. With 10 years to go to achieve the SDGs, we need to set in motion an accelerated path.”
He further said, “BRAC has always believed in creating impact at scale. Small is beautiful, but scale is needed for greater impact. With 47 years of experience in working with the people of Bangladesh and 17 years of international experience in Africa and Asia, BRAC is ready to collaborate on a global scale and to share our learning with public, private and non-governmental partners.”
BRAC’s global strategy outlines three priority goals: empowering at least 250 million people to have control over their own livelihoods; reaching at least 30% of the participants with multiple interventions; and leading innovation and the dissemination of learning in the development sector.
BRAC has formed a Global Board, with three initial members, to guide the implementation roadmap of its global strategy. The principal role of the BRAC Global Board will be to ensure that BRAC has the right strategy, resources and governance to support its vision.
There will be no other immediate change to BRAC’s existing Boards and governance structure. In future, the BRAC Global Board will review its activities and governance mechanisms, as needed, to consolidate BRAC’s unified global strength as ‘One BRAC’ in support of its vision.
The BRAC Global Board will be chaired by Ms Ameerah Haq, currently Chair of the Supervisory Board of Stichting BRAC International. Ms Haq is a former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support (2012-2014). She held the position of Under-Secretary-General from 2009 until her retirement and was the senior-most Bangladeshi national in the United Nations during those years.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, currently Chairperson of the BRAC Bangladesh Board and a renowned academic, economist and policymaker, has been nominated as the Senior Trustee of the Global Board. Dr Rahman is a leading policy voice in Bangladesh and was an Advisor (Minister) for Commerce and Education in the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh in 2008. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the think-tank Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC).
The third member of the Global Board is Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG. Lord Malloch-Brown served as the Deputy Secretary-General and Chef-de-Cabinet of the UN under Kofi Annan. Before that, he was Administrator of UNDP, leading the UN’s development efforts around the world. He later served as a Minister of State in the Foreign Office, covering Africa and Asia, and sat in Gordon Brown’s cabinet.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC and Dr Muhammad Musa, Executive Director, BRAC International welcomed the formation of the BRAC Global Board, marking it as an important step towards the worldwide scale-up of BRAC’s impact.
Founded in 1972 in Bangladesh, BRAC currently operates in eleven countries in Asia and Africa, reaching over 100 million people. The countries of its operations are: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Besides, BRAC’s ultra-poor graduation approach, an integrated model to address extreme poverty, has been adapted in more than 40 countries by NGOs, governments and multilateral institutions.
Quotes from the BRAC Global Board
Ms Ameerah Haq said, “It is a huge honour to serve as the Chair of the BRAC Global Board. I am very proud of the work that the entire BRAC family does as a truly purpose-driven organisation. We aim to effectively scale up our learning and proven approaches from the Global South to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs by 2030."
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said, "BRAC excels in finding community-led, innovative approaches to eradicate extreme poverty. I am proud to serve on its global Governing Body which will lead in up-scaling adaptive models in the most deprived communities of the world through the exchange of knowledge, empowerment of women and inclusion of the excluded."
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG said, "Now is the time to act together if we are to deliver on our promise of eradicating extreme poverty. BRAC’s effectiveness in solving complex social, economic and environmental challenges shows how much can be achieved through human ingenuity and listening and learning from our beneficiaries and local partners. I look forward to working with my eminent fellow Board members and the BRAC team across the globe to champion inclusive development, build partnerships and jointly advance our vision."
Planning Minister of Bangladesh and the chief guest, Muhammad Abdul Mannan said, "There was once a scarcity of food in Bangladesh, but not anymore, due to our agriculture. We must be vigilant in all possible agricultural cases" at the launch of the book ‘From the Ground Up: BRAC’s innovations in the development of agriculture in Bangladesh and Beyond’ at BRAC Centre Inn today.
The book is published by University Press Limited (UPL). It has been edited by Mushtaque Chowdhury, Muazzam Husain, Md A Saleque and Hugh Brammer. Chapters are written by Dr Jiban Krishna Biswas, Professor S D Chowdhury, Dr A K Fazlul Haque Bhuiyan, and Professor Md Saifuddin Shah. Mushtaque Chowdhury said “This book journals the significant contributions of BRAC in agriculture for the past 40 years.”
The special guests were National Emeritus Scientist and the former chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Dr Kazi M Badruddoza, the senior secretary of the planning commission Dr Shamsul Alam, the secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Md Nasiruzzaman, the advisor to former caretaker government and former secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture AMM Shawkat Ali and the director and founder of Channel I Shykh Seraj. Asif Saleh, the executive director of BRAC, opened the event with his remarks. “BRAC first brought the Amrapali mango to Bangladesh. Even small contributions lead to big results that is unknown to most people. The book highlights such contributions.”
BRAC chairperson Hossain Zillur Rahman, who chaired the event, remarked, “With Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s guidance, there have been a lot of innovations in agriculture. Agriculture is not just a proud history for us, but also holds the key to a bright future.” Agricultural development was one of BRAC’s early interventions, which resulted in a direct impact on food security and poverty reduction in the country’s most vulnerable areas.
Planning minister MA Mannan said, "The main reasons for perpetuating poverty in the haors are injustice and discrimination. The influential and powerful elites who live in the cities are exploiting people in haor with illegal means. It's time to take stern action against them."
He also observed, "Elimination of extreme poverty from haors is difficult by any single organisation. It needs essential collaboration from all those concerned, in both public and private sectors." His views came at a national-level meeting BRAC organised on Wednesday, November 27, at the CIRDAP auditorium in the capital to exchange views on haor development.
Styled on the theme "Collaborative initiatives for haor development", the meeting was organised by BRAC's integrated development programme (IDP). BRAC’s executive director Asif Saleh presided over the event.
Designed especially for the haor region, the implementation of IDP began in 2013. With an integrated strategy of action, it formed 3,550 women-led village development organisations. Through these organisations, BRAC is implementing a series of programmes in the areas of education, healthcare, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene, preventing violence against women, improving living standards and alleviating ultra poverty through financial inclusion and information delivery. Currently, IDP is covering 900,000 people in four subdistricts of four haor regions - Baniachang of Habiganj, Dirai of Sunamganj, Itna of Kishoreganj and Khaliajuri of Netrokona.
In these four subdistricts, only 10 per cent of the families could access different essential services, while the coverage has increased to 75 per cent through IDP interventions. Since 2013, 96 per cent ultra-poor women who were covered by IDP graduated from extreme poverty. At the same time, sanitation coverage in the programme area has increased from previous 17 per cent to 72 per cent now. A total of 47,524 children are going to school, while 90 per cent of the inhabitants of the areas can access healthcare facilities. The programme participants also receive improved quality seeds, training on climate-resilient cultivation method, cattle and poultry vaccination, financial inclusion, family planning services, ante-natal and delivery care and information services.
A presentation was also given at the event on BRAC IDP's learnings from implementation of different initiatives in the haor. A special discussion titled "Future vision for integrated development in haor" followed, moderated by KAM Morshed, director, BRAC Advocacy for Social Change programme. Dr Ali Muhammad Omar Faruque, deputy secretary and deputy director, Department of Bangladesh Haor and Wetlands Development, Anna Minj, director, IDP, Community Empowerment Programme, and Gender Justice and Diversity Programme, Walter Mwasaa, chief of party, Souhardo-III of Care Bangladesh, Anjela Naumann, first secretary and head of aid, Australian High Commission, and Professor Siddiqur Rahman of Jahangir Nagar University, participated in the discussion, among others.
Discussants said the dwellers of the haor regions are troubled with multifarious setbacks. The regions suffer from regular natural calamities, perpetuating an intergenerational fear of instability. Their asset base of land, cattle and poultry and others is very low, while the natural disasters further strain whatever assets they have. Difficult physical communication prevents consistent and quality delivery of essential services including education, health and livelihood, causing perpetuation of poverty. The speakers said only a singular platform competently designed with custom-based services for haor areas can break through this chain of setbacks and bring development at the doorsteps of the haor inhabitants. They said to make that happen, all the government and private development bodies will have to act together.
They further observed that the government should increase the coverage of its social safety net programmes especially for haor areas. Opportunities for demand-based service delivery will also have to be much increased. To bring the haor people into the fold of mainstream development, well-designed, collaborative and integrated initiatives have to be taken for sustainably tackling natural disasters, creating employment opportunities and skilled manpower at the local level.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG, Founder and Chair Emeritus of BRAC, has been decorated Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for his longstanding, dedicated and successful work in alleviating poverty especially of women and children.
Sir Fazle accepted today the insignia of the Royal Knighthood bestowed upon him by H. E. Mr. Harry Verweij, Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh, on behalf of His Majesty King Willem Alexander of The Netherlands.
A brief ceremony took place at Sir Fazle's residence in Dhaka city in the evening. Sir Fazle's family members along with representatives from the Netherlands embassy were present at the event.
"On behalf of His Majesty the King it is my great honour and privilege to present to you the insignia of Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau,” Ambassador Verweij said.
Sir Fazle expressed his delight at the acknowledgement by the Dutch Crown. "Being named an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau is an immense honour," he said. “The Netherlands has been a great friend and supporter to BRAC over the decades and our connection with the country has deepened since establishing the base of our international operations there 10 years ago. This recognition is a testament to that friendship. As BRAC expands globally, we look forward to working together to advance the causes of people living in situations of poverty and deprivation”.
The ambassador in his speech highlighted Sir Fazle's holistic vision and entrepreneurial approach to poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. “Sir Fazle has always strived to uphold human dignity, resilience, integrity and inclusion - these values have been at the heart of the successful development of BRAC."
“The fact that, for BRAC, the empowerment of women is not a secondary aim but a guiding principle of all of its programmes and enterprises, is greatly appreciated. BRAC’s anti-poverty work is recognized across the world, including in The Netherlands,” the ambassador further stated. He also mentioned the long-standing and close connection between BRAC and his country.
The Order of Orange-Nassau is awarded for longstanding meritorious service to society, the State or the Royal House of The Kingdom of The Netherlands.
BRAC’s climate change programme organised an event titled "Youth convention on climate change" on Sunday, November 17, 2019, at BRAC Centre in the capital.
Thirty per cent of Bangladesh's population are youth who are already engaged in many different initiatives to promote and adopt sustainable solutions. A number of universities in the country have developed their own initiatives to address different climate change issues.
The youth will lead mankind in tackling the impacts of climate change. They will do it by spreading awareness on environment preservation and climate education, inspiring people about sustainable living and livelihoods, and adopting recyclable energy sources. The speakers expressed these views at the convention.
Dr Ainun Nishat, eminent environment expert, former vice-chancellor of BRAC University, and currently adviser to the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University, was present as the chief guest in the event. Dr SM Munjurul Hannan Khan, additional secretary to the environment, forest and climate change ministry, and Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association, were present as special guests. Dr Md Liakath Ali, director of BRAC’s climate change programme, chaired the convention.
Students from eight public and private universities, namely Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh University of Professionals, BRAC University, North South University, United International University, Ahsanullah University of Science, and Independent University, Bangladesh, attended the convention. Only 10 per cent of these participants had attended any climate conference beforehand.
Dr Md Golam Rabbani, fellow, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, presented the keynote report on the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh. Mr Abu Sadat Moniruzzaman Khan, head of BRAC’s climate change programme gave an introduction to the event.
Speakers said the roadmap to address climate change impacts has already been prepared and the youth groups have now started its enthusiastic implementation.
Dr Ainun Nishat said, "Weather is increasingly becoming unpredictable. The seasons of autumn, late autumn and spring are disappearing. We have experienced heavy rainfall in October in which Rajshahi was flooded. On the other hand, you will not find enough water for jute retting. We started destroying the environment with the start of industrial revolution in 1860, and we began our account of destruction only in 1990. The less carbon dioxide and other harmful gases are emitted, the better for our earth."
Dr SM Munjurul Hannan Khan praised BRAC for its role in engaging young people in climate change actions, saying, "The industrially developed countries are spreading pollution and the entire planet has become its victim. Today children are born in an atmosphere that is four degrees Celsius warmer than that in which their parents were born. If this situation continues, the world will be in an unbearable condition by 2050, when 9.3 billion people will be living on earth."
The Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), an autonomous research body at the National University of Singapore, presented Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG, founder and chair emeritus of BRAC, with the Outstanding Member of the South Asian Diaspora Award (OMSAD). The honour was given at a gala dinner organised at the Shangri-La Hotel on Friday, November 15, in Singapore.
Manzoor Hasan OBE, executive director, Centre for Peace and Justice at BRAC University, accepted the award on behalf of Sir Fazle. Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, former foreign adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh and currently a principal research fellow at ISAS, read the citation of the award.
ISAS organised the event as part of its two-day South Asian Diaspora Convention 2019, concluding today. The theme of the convention is “Vibrant South Asia – Innovative Diaspora”. The Bangladesh High Commission in Singapore is one of the organisations supporting the convention.
Dignitaries from the governments of Singapore and other South Asian nations, academia, researchers and civil society and private sector were present at the gala dinner.
Gopinath Pillai, ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, and chairman of ISAS, said, “Sir Fazle’s efforts in leading BRAC helped change the lives of many across the world. His contributions to social development and his life’s mission to help the poor serve as an inspiration to the South Asian diaspora and the society at large,” he added.
Past recipients of this award include former Singapore president late SR Nathan.
According to its website, the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) was established in 2004, as an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore. ISAS is dedicated to research on contemporary South Asia. It seeks to promote understanding of this vital region of the world and to communicate knowledge and insights about it to policymakers, the business community, academia and civil society, in Singapore and beyond.
Cyclone Bulbul is continuing to gather strength and expected to hit the coastal belt of Bangladesh in the early hours of Sunday. The cyclone will affect coastal areas, as well as Khulna and Barisal divisions, according to data available from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. The cyclone is expected to generate a maximum wind speed of 5-124 km per hour. Nine coastal districts have been named as highly probable target zones; Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Barguna, Pirojpur, Patuakhali, Bhola, Jhalakathi and Barisal.
BRAC has mobilised response preparations, with a particular focus on Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat. BRAC field operatives are working in coordination with the local government and the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP). Messages have been delivered via community radio and CPP and BRAC volunteers have sent messages to the communities living in Ukhiya and Teknaf. BRAC's Humanitarian Crisis Management Program have disseminated warning and awareness messages door to door using the Communication for Development volunteers.
Sajedul Hasan, Director of BRAC Humanitarian Programme, said that according to BRAC’s policies, cyclone simulation exercises have been undertaken in the vulnerable coastal communities for the last fortnight. Our disaster management team has been working as per our standard operating procedures for preparing with disasters. Specialised medical teams are ready to go, and our goal will be to deliver dry food, safe water and emergency medical care within 72 hours to those who have taken shelter or been injured.
View the situation report to learn more about BRAC's preparedness for the response.
Update (10 November 2019): Severe Cyclone Bulbul has weakened into a deep depression and the signal was lowered down from ten (10) to three (3) this morning (BMD). It hit Bangladesh last night making landfall in Sundarban of Khulna division around 12:00AM. At this time, wind speed was 74 kmph and the tide was low. The depression is forecasted to move in the north-west direction as it further weakens. A total of four (4) deaths have been reported.
BRAC staff standing by at the high risk districts have reported many uprooted trees and some damaged houses causing injury to people; especially at Satkhira, Barguna, Khulna and Bhola districts. At all districts, poultry farms, agricultural land, fish and shrimp farm enclosures were submerged by saline water. Apart from this, a BRAC office building at Shoronkhola, Bagerhat was partially damaged due to a fallen tree. View the latest situation report to learn more.