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Innovation-Challenge-frontAUD 81,000 worth of grant funding provided to top projectsInnovation-Challenge

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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"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.

 

Dr. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health professor of population and family health, was nominated by the U.S.-based Ronald McDonald House Charities for its 2017 “Medical Award of Excellence”. The award is given for outstanding contribution to improve the health and wellbeing of children.

[Photo: Dr. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury]

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury, who joined the Mailman School in 2004, is also vice chairperson of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC) in Bangladesh, which is particularly concerned with poverty alleviation, education, and health.  He is the founding dean of BRAC University’s James P. Grant School of Public Health in Bangladesh and also founded the Research and Evaluation Division of BRAC. With over 50,000 full-time staff, BRAC is one of the largest non-governmental development organizations in the world. Dr. Chowdhury is also a board member of South Asia Centre of London School of Economics, president of Asian Action Alliance for Human Resources in Health (AAAH) and lead group member of UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.

In addition to his ties to Bangladesh, Dr. Chowdhury has worked internationally in Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, China, and Ethiopia. From 2009 – 2012, he served as senior advisor at the Rockefeller Foundation, Thailand, overseeing the health portfolio of the Foundation in Asia. In 2013, the Lancet published a profile of Dr. Chowdhury.

Among the previous winners of the Medical Award of Excellence are former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former U.S. first ladies Barbara Bush and Betty Ford, Health Minister of Rwanda Dr. Agnes Binagwaho and Queen Noor of Jordan.

Currently, the charity is working in more than 64 countries and regions in the world to ensure children’s healthcare and wellbeing.

The award will be presented to Dr. Chowdhury at a gala in Chicago on Nov 11. To honor Dr. Mushtaque, Ronald McDonald House Charities will present a grant of $100,000 to a non-profit organization selected by him.

 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017 00:00

BRAC in Afghanistan releases research findings

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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.

immunises-Cholera-in-Ukhia-and-Teknafimmunises-Cholera-in-Ukhia-and-Teknaf90 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

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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.

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 00:00

Reinventing microcredit in Myanmar

Reinventing-microcredit-in-MyanmarReinventing-microcredit-in-Myanmar

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.

Read full article.

Monday, 25 September 2017 00:00

Hans Eskes visits BRAC in Pakistan

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Hans Eskes, the managing director of BRAC International Holding BV, visited BRAC‘s operations in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi from 18 to 24 September 2017.

Eskes discussed BRAC’s structure and the role of Stichting BRAC International and BRAC International Holding BV in its operations with the country management team. He was briefed about BRAC’s operations in the different provinces.

Eskes went on field visits where he interacted with BRAC’s clients from the microfinance programme in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. BRAC in Pakistan has served 247,000 borrowers with USD 14 million since inception.

He also met with BRAC’s partner organisations in Pakistan and the chairman of the country advisory board. The regional teams briefed him about their programmes, achievements so far and growth plans.

BRAC in Pakistan is currently operating 4,843 community-based village organisations.

They have also established ten Market Exchange Centres, each consisting of five shops to assist clients in developing market linkage, branding and promotional activities.

Eskes suggested leveraging and mobilising international Pakistanis living in the UK and the USA for donating funds to BRAC for development projects in Pakistan. He expressed a keen interest about the use of digital media like smartphones by field staff and clients of microfinance programme.

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