Tuesday, 20 September 2016 00:00

BCCM Election Notice

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Bangladesh Country Coordination Mechanism (BCCM) Secretariat is coordinating and overseeing the election process of Civil Society Members and alternate members to the BCCM. Civil Society constituencies will elect their members and alternate members according to BCCM governance manual and election criteria.Organizations and individual are requested to send necessary documents to the given email address in election criteria or address below if you are eligible voter or candidate as per the constituencies criteria. You can also download the detail guideline and criteria from the website link below.


BCCM Election Notice

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Research findings from LANSA-BRAC examines the relation of agriculture and nutrition

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Bangladesh achieved remarkable success in alleviating poverty but lags in the field of nutrition. Presently, 7.3 million children under the age of five are stunted while 2.9 million children are undernourished. To overcome this, experts are stressing on the diversity of agricultural production and agri-food value chain beyond farm to ensure food security, and fight against under nutrition.

On Tuesday, speakers shared such findings at a seminar titled ‘Nexus between Agricultural and Nutrition: Bangladesh Case’ at the BRAC Centre in Dhaka. The seminar was organised jointly by BRAC’s research and evaluation division, and international research partnership Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, was present as chief guest at the seminar. Welcome speech was given by Prof. Abdul Bayes, director of research and evaluation division, BRAC. Dr Md. Sirajul Islam, programme head of BRAC's agriculture and food security programme presented findings from a research on the potential of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in curbing under nutrition in Bangladesh. The session was led by the head of BRAC’s impact assessment unit Andrew Jenkins where International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s Chief of Party Dr Akhter Ahmed, BRAC’s Research and Evaluation Division’s senior research fellow Barnali Chakraborty, researcher of BRAC-LANSA Dr Uttam Kumar Deb also presented papers. The presentations were followed by open discussion.

Addressing the key points of the research, Dr Md. Sirajul Islam said, “We need to focus on how the process of agri-food value chain and market distribution can be developed. That way, nutrition and food security for poor people can be ensured. This is going to be the next success of farm under food distribution management." He also mentioned that orange-fleshed sweet potato, which contains Beta-Carotene can play a vital role to preventing under nutrition problem.

Dr Akhter Ahmed said that the main objective of IFPRI's Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages (ANGel) project in Bangladesh is to increase investment in agricultural activities and enable women to play a crucial role in curbing down under nutrition.

About nutritional wellbeing in Haor areas of the country, Barnali Chakraborty said, “Nutrition problem is extreme in Bangladesh, and 45 per cent children are stunted in the Haor areas. To prevent this situation, BRAC initiated a pilot project in 2013 in the upazila level.”

Dr Uttam Deb's paper indicated that diet diversity has increased in recent times and involvement in diversified agriculture (crop, horticulture, livestock and fish farming) contributes towards better nutrition (measured through BMI) and low income inequality.

Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, said, “Government has taken different initiative to develop and increase nutrition for mass people. Ministry of Agriculture is evaluating various methods for nutrition enhancement through Agriculture, Nutrition, and Gender Linkages (ANGel) project.

 

 

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BRAC has been recognised with Smart Certification for its demonstrated commitment to client protection through its microfinance activities. By successfully completing the Smart

Campaign’s certification programme BRAC has become the first organisation in Bangladesh to achieve certification. It joins 63 other financial institutions worldwide who are proven industry leaders in keeping clients first.

Client Protection Certification is an independent, third party evaluation to publicly recognise financial institutions that meet adequate standards of care in how they treat clients. Financial institutions awarded with Smart Certification must meet rigorous, internationally agreed standards on client protection.
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To secure certification, BRAC underwent an extensive audit of their policies and practices for adherence with the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles, which cover issues including transparency, fair and respectful treatment, responsible pricing and prevention of over-indebtedness. The Smart Certification process consists of a thorough document review followed by an onsite visit complete with interviews of BRAC’s management, staff and clients. The process was conducted by Microfinanza Rating, a globally specialised microfinance rating agency and licensed Smart Certifier.  Including BRAC in Bangladesh, 64 institutions globally have been certified since the programme’s launch, which serve more than 34 million clients.  

Commenting on the achievement, Shameran Abed, director of BRAC’s microfinance programme said, 'We are absolutely thrilled to be Smart Certified. Our clients have always come first, and this achievement confirms the success of our programme’s mission to provide financial services to the poor in a way that is responsible and responsive to their needs.'

 

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Emily Coppel Headshot sm

Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Emily Coppel

A little more than 30 years ago in Bangladesh, Naveen’s* mother was about to give birth to a baby girl. Her family was relatively well off, and she was able to deliver in one of the better hospitals in the country. But complications arose just after Naveen came into the world: her mother began to hemorrhage internally; she was bleeding profusely and her fever wouldn’t drop. The doctors said Naveen’s mother had an infection, and the hospital had just one dose of antibiotics. Thankfully, she could afford the antibiotics. Miraculously, she survived.

High maternal and child mortality rates historically have been seen as a telling indicator of a country’s failing health system. In 1980, the situation was especially stark in Bangladesh: two in every 25 babies would die as an infant; one in every hundred mothers would not survive childbirth. With 84 million people (now nearly 160 million) living in a country the size of Iowa, a public health solution needed to be expansive.

BRAC LogoAlthough it isn’t well known in the US, one of the largest NGOs in the world began in Bangladesh in the 70s. Known as BRAC, the organization now reaches 138 million people, in 11 countries worldwide, with programs that range from healthcare to education, gender justice to microfinance. Recently, BRAC was ranked the number one NGO in the world by NGO Advisor, largely because of its unique self-financing model – 70 percent of the organization’s budget comes from its own social enterprises.

But in the 80s, BRAC was still growing, developing programs to help the country recover from the 1971 war of independence and a series of cyclones, both of which contributed to devastating, widespread poverty. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, a former Shell Oil executive, founded BRAC because he was motivated by the urgent needs of his fellow Bangladeshis. The country’s pressing health crisis was foremost in Abed’s mind.

Faced with the challenge of extremely high maternal and child mortality rates, another organization might have built a hospital or shipped medical supplies to Bangladesh. Abed and BRAC took a different approach. At the time, diarrheal disease was one of the biggest killers of children. The disease precipitated severe dehydration, leading to a loss of electrolytes that was lethal for children. In rural areas of Bangladesh, few people knew how to treat sick children suffering from the disease.

BRAC researchers developed a simple yet life-saving solution: a combination of salt, sugar and water, which, if given in the correct proportion, would rehydrate children and decrease their likelihood of death to just one percent. A pinch of salt, one fistful of sugar and a liter of water created the perfect elixir. The formula was only one part of the solution; teaching and persuading families to give this liquid to their children was the real hurdle.

BRAC piloted a project that trained volunteers from communities without access to health resources. These volunteers were women, over the age of 25, with a basic level of education. They became community health workers, known in Bangladesh as Shasthya Shebikas.

The Shasthya Shebikas trained new mothers face-to-face on how to make and administer the rehydration solution to their children. They revisited mothers regularly, testing them on how to make the mixture correctly and ensuring they gave it to their children when they fell sick. After significant trial and error, BRAC altered the teaching approach and established incentives for effective training. The program worked. BRAC scaled up to ultimately reach 12 million households in almost every village in Bangladesh.

In 1988, one in five children died from cholera or diarrheal-related disease. By 2007, it was one in 50.

When BRAC pivoted to address maternal health in the 80s, this massive network of Shasthya Shebikas proved instrumental. BRAC trained them in pre- and post-natal care to ensure that pregnant mothers had the tools for a safe and healthy birth. These volunteers visited mothers regularly throughout their pregnancy, monitoring their vital signs and referring them to nearby clinics when necessary.

The organization also sold medicine to Shasthya Shebikas at a low cost, and they in turn sold them to villagers for a low, fixed price. The program became self-financing, and the health workers were even able to make a small profit. Today, BRAC has a network of more than 100,000 health workers in seven countries, reaching millions worldwide.

This approach – finding a simple solution, testing it and scaling it up – is used by BRAC across health, education, financial empowerment, livelihood, and all of its program areas.

For mothers like Naveen’s, faced with complications giving birth, or nursing a sick child, it’s often the low-tech solutions – a trained health worker, access to medication, or a rehydrating liquid – that offer the real miracles. It’s the simple solutions that save the most lives.


*Naveen’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

 

This article was originally posted here: http://pj.news.chass.ncsu.edu/2016/08/01/brac-usa/

 

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Increasing the amount of allowance and coverage in social safety net programme will not much help reduce poverty. It rather encourages dependence on others and promotes corruption. Only creating income opportunities for the poor communities will help them stand on their own feet, reducing poverty in a sustainable manner, observed speakers today on Tuesday at a seminar on the national budget recently proposed in parliament.

BRAC Research and Evaluation Division and Advocacy for Social Change department jointly organised the event titled ‘A review of national budget 2016-17’ at the BRAC University auditorium at Mohakhali.

Former advisers to caretaker government economists Dr Akbar Ali Khan and Dr Mirza Azizul Islam were key speakers, while Research and Evaluation Division director Professor Abdul Bayes gave the key presentation. Advocacy for Social Change director KAM Morshed moderated.

In welcome speech KAM Morshed said, since 1972 BRAC has been working to reduce poverty. In continuation of its work the seminar was organised to review how this budget will influence the economic development and social empowerment of the poor communities.

The keynote presentation gave a brief review of different aspects of the proposed budget, including its size and volume, deficits, tax structure and its various limitations in the light of Vision 2021 and Sustainable Development Goals. The keynote also gave eight recommendations, including strengthening of GO-NGO partnership in budget implementation, creation of taskforce to guide and monitor ADP implementation, increased allocation for social and health sectors, adoption of agriculture-friendly policies and increased agricultural investment.

Highlighting the successful cooperation between BRAC and Bangladesh government in different sectors, Professor Bayes said the organisation has proved to be a tested partner of the government since the 1970s. Oral rehydration programme in the 1970s, child vaccination in 1980s and TB control programme, loan programme for tenant farmers, programme to reduce ultra poverty in the post-1990 period are some of the programmes implemented successfully where the government partnered with BRAC.

He further observed that the government should bring NGOs into further partnerships to ensure successful implementation and evaluation of the programmes in development sector under 2016-17 budget. It will help reduce red-tapism and increase cost effectiveness.

Dr Akbar Ali Khan said, ‘It is not sufficient to allocate money only, there has to be projects. Then effectiveness must be ensured and corruption checked through strict monitoring. If we finish the education budget paying the recruitment of more teachers and their salary, where the money should come from for improving the quality of education? It is not enough for a budget to become ambitious only, it has to be implementable also’.

Dr Mirza Azizul Islam said, ‘The minister in his budget speech mentioned the goal to establish an equity-based society. But the major part of our budget comes from taxes. In this budget [proposed 2016-17 budget] indirect taxes occupy 61 per cent, which will increase pressure on the low-income groups. According to the World Bank, except childcare the public expenditure in health sector benefits more the well-off than than the poor’.

The speakers also answered to the questions of the media and other guests at the seminar.

 

 

We met three boys on the docks of Pekua, midway between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar, as we waited for our boat to Kutubdia. We asked them, “What were you doing during the cyclone? Were you scared?”

“What’s there to be afraid of?” they shot back, shrugging their shoulders with cheeky smiles.

This was their reaction to Cyclone Roanu, which swept the coast of Bangladesh on 21 May 2016, killing 21 people and destroying 200,000 homes. Read More.

 

 

How are we progressing on financial inclusion in Bangladesh? Are we successfully bringing financial services to women?

In April, BRAC, Access to Information (a2i), fhi360, USAID and IFMR LEAD jointly organised an event named ‘Digital financial inclusion: Innovations from Bangladesh’ to invite local stakeholders to discuss their experiences and emerging solutions. Read more.

 

 

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The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the government today regarding BRAC’s taxable status. The income tax law changed over time and, as a result, the taxable amount applied to BRAC changed. BRAC contested that non-profit organisations should be exempt from income tax.

Today's ruling overturned the High Court verdict from 2014 that declared that the income from BRAC’s social enterprises would be exempt from income tax. BRAC is a non-profit organisation and the income generated by BRAC’s social enterprises supports BRAC’s social development programmes. In the 2014 financial year alone, BRAC paid more than 91 crore taka (11.61 million USD) in tax and other forms of revenue.

BRAC respects the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, the full text of which has not yet reached BRAC management. Once this verdict is received, we will take legal counsel and decide our next course of action.

Our social development programmes across the country and millions of people who benefit from them will not be adversely affected by the outcome of this ruling.

 

In the last ten years, we have seen a push from investors, foundations, governments and concerned citizens for better impact evaluations to prove which development programmes work consistently across contexts, with sustained outcomes over time. Read more.

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