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.
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.
27 August 2009, Dhaka. BRAC for the first time has entered the fast growing Islamic Finance Industry. BRAC is providing Technical Assistance (TA) to Bank Al Usra in Khartoum, Sudan. This is being carried out under the one year agreement of USD 334,880 signed between the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Jeddah, Central Bank of Sudan (CBOS) and BRAC Bangladesh.
With BRAC’s assistance, Bank Al Usra’s performance has been praised in the banking sector of Sudan for its outreach in both rural and urban areas, and meeting the needs of the communities. BRAC has successfully completed the first three months of its Technical Assistance to Bank Al Usra. A three member BRAC Microfinance specialist team led by Murtaza Reza Chowdhury arrived in Khartoum on April to assist in building the capacity of Bank Al Usra, the first Islamic Microfinance Bank in Sudan. Based on the team’s performance during the first three months, IDB has already paid the second installment to BRAC.
Bank Al Usra has eleven branch offices (six of which had been opened with the assistance of BRAC TA team) in four states. Eight more branches are to be opened by the end of the Agreement in March 2010.
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.
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.
The Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD) of Ministry of Finance as the National Designated Authority (NDA) of Bangladesh to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) organised a daylong workshop titled ‘Accessing Green Climate Fund: Opportunities , Options and Challenges for Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations’ on November 8, 2015 in Dhaka.
The workshop was a part of NDA’s efforts to prepare Bangladesh to get access to the GCF. It aimed to introduce the GCF to Bangladesh private sector and CSOs with a special focus on private sector facility (PSF) window of GCF and facilitate direct access for private sector/CSOs. This workshop also shared and gathered relevant knowledge as well as foster an open dialogue with the private sector and CSOs about their role in combating the impacts of climate change and how they can get engaged in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
In general there are two different ways to access the GCF. One is the 'Indirect Access' which is through the Multilateral Implementing Entity (MIE) that includes multilateral development banks and the United Nations agencies accredited by GCF. The other is the 'Direct Access' which is through National Implementing Entity (NIE) that includes any national institution accredited by the GCF. Accreditation will be done by the CGF board based on stringent eligibility criteria. No organisation can access the GCF without accreditation. For NIE accreditation they will require certification from NDA.
Present as the chief guest at inauguration, finance minister Mr. Abul Maal A. Muhith MP, said, “Bangladesh is one of the worst victims of climate change. So getting access to the GCF is very important and government, private sector and civil society have to work together to achieve this.”
Lack of institutional capacity in climate change finance governance is the greatest challenge in developing countries like Bangladesh to get accreditation of NIE to ensure direct access to GCF. To overcome this challenge, through inclusive consultation, intensive self-assessment process, expert's opinion and a two-daylong consultation workshop (earlier this year), NDA Secretariat, ERD nominated 6 (six) national institutions as the most potential candidates to apply for GCF's accreditation as NIEs. However, that was for public sector only. Based on that experience, NDA aims to engage with Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations sector (CSOs) who have a big role to play in combating climate change challenges. This workshop is the beginning to that direction.
Mr. Amir Hossain Amu MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Industries in his speech said, “Our government is not allowing to set up any industries that are harmful to environment and public health. Although the recurring natural disasters are happening due to excessive carbon emission by the developed countries, the victim countries are not getting enough fund promises.”
“Strategies are essential for the private sector and CSOs to combat the challenges of climate change in Bangladesh. In that context this workshop aims to bring awareness amongst private sector and CSOs so that they can explore their role in combating climate change challenges and can access the GCF to engage in adaptation and mitigation actions” said Mr. Abdullah Al Islam Jacob MP, Honourable Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests in his speech.
The inaugural session was chaired by Mr. Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary of ERD and NDA of Bangladesh to the GCF. It was followed by two technical sessions targeted separately to CSOs and Private sector. The technical sessions oriented the participants about the opportunities and challenges and steps of getting access to the fund. Dr. Essam Yassin Mohammad from Sustainable Markets Group, IIED, UK, Advisor of GIZ’s Finance and Climate Policy Mr. Lars Andersen and Professor of North South University Dr. Mizan R. Khan took the technical session for the private sector. The technical session for CSOs was conducted by professor Emeritus of BRAC University Dr Ainun Nishat, Executive Director of BRAC Dr Muhammad Musa and programme advisor of GEF Small Grants programme, UNDP regional office Mr Tenence Hay-Edie.
Representatives from private sector, business associations, civil society organisations, corporate bodies, environment experts, development organisations of the country joined the workshop.
ERD organised the workshop in partnership with Deutsche Gesell Schaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), BRAC and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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.
23 August 2009, Dhaka. BRAC is pleased to announce that an agreement was signed on August 21st with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under which DFID will provide a grant of £18.5 million (BDT 2,049 million) to support the operation of BRAC’s Education Programme for the financial year 2009-2010.
The Programme is funded by a consortium of donors including the Government of the United Kingdom.
The agreement was signed by Mr. Chris Austin, Country Representative of DFID Bangladesh, and Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC, at a simple ceremony in front of the Uttar Korail BRAC primary school in Gulshan’s Korail slum.
DFID Country Representative Chris Austin and BRAC Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossain sign the agreement in a BRAC Primary school yard at Korail Slum, Gulshan
Under the terms of the grant, funds will primarily be used to support the running of 30,000 pre-primary and 33,000 primary BRAC schools across the country. Part of the funds will be allocated for building capacity of teachers working in secondary schools as well as for livelihood and skills development training for adolescent and youth under BRAC’s adolescent development and continuing education programmes.
While signing the agreement, Mr. Chris Austin reaffirmed UK government’s commitment to ensure every child's right to education. He said, “This is a grant for BRAC that’s going to help a million boys and girl come to a school like this, who otherwise won’t have a chance to go to school. The other important thing to remember is the boys and girls will stay in school; the quality of their learning will be really good. The opportunities they will have as individuals will be good and the idea is they will graduate in to the state system. We are giving all the children the best possible chance”.
Dr. Hossain said “ This generous support provided by DFID will help BRAC continue its education programme at the same level during the current world financial crisis and continue to provide basic education to one million children left out of the formal education system and to enhance the quality of 2000 poorly performing secondary schools.”.
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.
16 September 2009, Dhaka. BRAC won the 'Bdjobs.com Best Employer Award 2008' from the category of NGO/Development sector. Bdjobs.com, the leading job portal in Bangladesh, has announced the winners of the 'Best Employer Award-2008' at a press conference held at its conference hall in the city on Saturday 29th August, 2009.
The selection of the award winning organisations has been based on a perception survey participated by 4,514 professionals.
For other industry/sector Grameenphone from telecommunication, Standard Chartered Bank from the bank and financial Institution, GraphicPeople and SoftwarePeople from Information technology (IT), Channel i from the media, Youngone group from textile and garment and British Americal Tobacco Bangladesh from consumer goods/ FMCG won the award.