One in three women worldwide have been beaten or raped during their lifetime, according to a publication by the World Health Organisation. With a world population of 7 billion, that is more than one billion women and girls. At BRAC, our vision is a world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential. This vision can only be achieved if men and women around the world work together to end violence, exploitation and discrimination against women.
One Billion Rising (OBR) first launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012 as a call to action to end violence against women. The theme of the 2018 campaign is “Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women”. On the 14 February 2018, BRAC in Uganda, Nepal, Myanmar and Pakistan rose in solidarity with the one billion women and girls who suffer due to violence against women.
BRAC in Uganda pledged its support to the One Billion Rising campaign through writing short yet powerful slogans in a number of languages. The question 'What message would you depict to call for the end of violence against women?' was posed to country office staff to find out their attitudes towards violence against women. There were a number of clear favorites, such as "Pamper her, don't batter her" and "Humankind = Womankind Mankind. Women are human too".
BRAC Uganda country office staff promote OBR
Adolescent girls’ club members and female community health volunteers rally for OBR in Nepal
BRAC Myanmar staff at their stall for OBR in People’s Park, Yangon
BRAC Pakistan promotes OBR through a learning and awareness session
In Nepal, 100 adolescent girls’ club members, female community health volunteers and BRAC staff participated in rallies ending at three local government offices. Videos of ‘Break the Chain’ and past OBR events in different parts of Nepal were shown. A collective appeal letter signed by more than 200 adolescent girls and women of the community was presented to the ward chairpersons with the aim of ending child marriage in the community.
BRAC in Myanmar supported the cause at an OBR event organised by the Men Engaging Working Group Myanmar at People’s Park, Yangon. Awareness of the campaign was raised through games, music and dance. The staff of BRAC Myanmar wrote slogans and distributed pamphlets from a BRAC stall to show their support of OBR and gender equality.
BRAC in Pakistan held a learning and awareness session with OBR coordinators and special guest Kishwar Sultana, CEO of Insan Trust Foundation. Women’s right to property was the main topic of discussion to promote ‘Property For Her’, a new OBR campaign in South Asia which aims to secure land and property rights for women. In south Asian culture and Pakistani societies, women are mostly given dowries and denied their property rights. Participants shared their experiences of instances where the birth of a girl was not welcomed. Videos, speeches and poetry were presented to highlight how property rights for women can change these perceptions which discriminate against women and girls.
46% of Tanzanians lack access to improved drinking water and 87% have no access to improved sanitation. 20% of the population wash hands with soap before preparing food and 16% are practicing open defecation. Alarmingly, 56 pupils on average share one latrine in public and private primary schools nationwide. 84% of the schools do not have functional hand washing facilities. Water borne diseases like cholera, malaria, trachoma, bilharziasis and diarrhoea are on the increase in Tanzanian communities. Children are the most affected. These diseases not only affect their physical development but also school attendance and academic performance.
When it comes to serving the urban poor, research shows that most municipal governments in developing countries prioritise portable water provisioning over sewage removal. Water is usually provided via community taps (standpipes shared by a group of households) that have led to improved availability of portable water to many slum settlements. However, it is in what we refer to as ‘the last 100 meters’ where water is carried from standpipe to home that problems arise. Unserved by sewerage systems, slum-dwellers rely on toilets draining into poorly constructed pits or septic tanks. The settlements are commonly located on low-lying and poorly drained lands, and the dwellers lack awareness of and provisions for safe handling and disposal of faeces, resulting in leakage of faecal material into local environments. Through various pathways (e.g. dirty buckets, unwashed hands, insect and rodent vectors) potable water and food is contaminated, causing ill-health.
BRAC in Tanzania, through our water, sanitation and hygiene programme is implementing a research project on Safeguarding Potable Water Provisioning to Urban Informal Settlements “The Last 100 meters” in collaboration with Lancaster University of UK and a network of institutions including the University of Manchester, the University of Dhaka, Ardhi University, CSE, WaterAid and DSK. The research is funded by the British Academy through its Global Challenge Research Fund.
The 16 months research project is developed on the rationale that, the last two decades have seen much improvements to potable water supply to millions of poor urban people across the developing world. However potential benefits of improved water supply are severely compromised by sewage contamination at a critical zone around the point of use – ‘the last 100 meters’- where water is taken from the standpipe to home.
The research addresses a critical challenge about how to transform water and sanitation infrastructure and practice in a relatively small space leading to measurable improvements to quality of water and sanitation management for poor urban people.
|Water Sanitation and Hygiene||The Last 100 Meters||British Academy through its Global Challenge Research Fund||March 2017||16 Months|
Sylvia Borren, vice-chair (left) of BRAC International, Nicolette van Dam (middle) ambassador of the Postcode Lottery and Fawzia Rasheed (right) board member of BRAC International. Credits: Roy Beusker Fotografie.
Friday, February 16 - BRAC, for the first time ever, received a contribution of 1.5 million euros from the Dutch National Postcode Lottery to combat extreme poverty in Liberia. BRAC will employ their proven approach to permanently lift women and families (those who live on less than 1.69 euros a day) out of extreme poverty.
BRAC has helped 1.7 million families in Bangladesh out of extreme poverty through its graduation approach. It provides a step-by-step guide to women, who in two years time, “graduate” permanently from extreme poverty along with their families. "With this fantastic contribution from the Postcode Lottery, we can do in Liberia what we already achieved on a large scale in Bangladesh," said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC.
According to Sir Fazle, the Postcode Lottery and BRAC are natural allies. The Postcode Lottery involves millions of people in strengthening charities, while BRAC helps millions of people to fight poverty through piloting, perfecting and scaling projects. BRAC is currently operating in 11 countries in Asia and Africa with a holistic and integrated approach to fighting poverty consisting of education, agriculture, microcredits, health and strengthening of girls' and women’s rights.
BRAC’s graduation approach is highly recognised by prominent international researchers from Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the London School of Economics, amongst others. Studies have repeatedly proven the effectiveness of the model, and the results are permanent. The graduation approach has been adopted by governments and NGOs in 37 countries. BRAC is targeting to lift a further one million people out of extreme poverty through this approach.
"BRAC realised that, despite 40 years of programmes and strategies, it still could not reach the poorest group. The people who are invisible and can not participate in their community because they are too poor. We listen, involve from day one, people from the community. We start small- test, adjust, test again- and scale to large numbers of families, in more villages and slums, and regions and eventually to a whole country.”
-Sylvia Borren, vice-chair, BRAC International.
BRAC Liberia was awarded ‘Outstanding International NGO of the Year’ for 2017 by the Society for the Promotion of Peace, National Reconciliation and Reunification (SPPNRR) on Thursday, 9 February 2018.
J Mayfield Copson, national chairman and chief executive office of SPPNRR, spoke of the award, “We honour you, BRAC Liberia, as a good, reliable and productive capacity-building international NGO of the Year 2017, for your invaluable and measurable contributions towards society’s good, for which you are present across 10 of our 15 political subdivisions.”
Md Abdus Samad, BRAC Liberia’s senior programme manager for education, and the empowerment and livelihood for adolescents, thanked SPPNRR for bestowing the award, promising to work even harder to deserve such an award again. He spoke of BRAC’s pride in working towards alleviating poverty, and ending exploitation and discrimination of all forms in Liberia. He added that BRAC’s promotion of diversification and capacity development has resulted in the placement of more Liberians in senior management positions within the organisation.
According to World Bank, 54% of Liberia’s population lives below the poverty line. Since 2008, BRAC Liberia has taken holistic, integrated approaches to combating poverty, including programmes in microfinance, health, empowerment and livelihood for adolescents, education, and food security and livelihoods.
BRAC, in collaboration with the Government of Liberia and the European Union under its Pro ACT 2015 food security project are implementing a series of nutrition awareness activities to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in the country.
Liberia stands at 177 out of 188 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index (2016). 32% of children under five years are stunted and 15% are underweight (USAID).
BRAC is conducting nutrition awareness campaigns (NAC) and mother forum sessions as a way of reducing the prevalence of malnutrition in all its forms, including micronutrient deficiencies. In 2017, 910 mothers, pregnant women, and other women of child-bearing ages were enrolled into mothers forums totalling 91 NAC groups comprising 10 members each, and seven per branch. Members are taught the importance of food diversification (eating from the five food groups), feeding practices of pregnant women and children, women nutrition, care of sick and malnourished children, prevention of vitamin A deficiency, as well as consumption of iodine salt and comprehensive homestead development.
Ms Thon Okanlawon, a nutrition officer, has noticed that food diversification and exclusive breastfeeding are already being practiced by project participants. “The participants take into their localities knowledge gained under the programme as a way of promoting active lifestyle changes,” she remarks. “Some of what they are being taught was not practised in the past, but they are now well prepared to change eating habits and breastfeeding practices which reduces malnutrition and micronutrients deficiencies, as well as stunting.”
The project currently operates in 13 branches in six of the 15 counties of Liberia, (Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount) with similar expansion planned for the next phase running from September 2017 to September 2018.
In Liberia, of women aged between 20-24, 5.9% of them gave birth before their 15th birthday, and 37% gave birth before their 18th birthday according to the UNFPA (2013). Early pregnancy is a barrier for these women as they are hindered from partaking in decision-making. It also reduces their self-esteem and increases the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
BRAC in Liberia began focusing on empowering adolescents in 2014. We empower adolescents to participate meaningfully in decisions that will affect their lives positively and become active agents of social change, thus creating a supportive environment for the development of adolescent girls at the household and the community level.
We establish clubhouses situated near the homes of target communities, as safe spaces where adolescents socialise and discuss issues of concern, as well as challenges that are common to them. The mentors of each club receive training on teaching through monthly refresher programmes. Teenage pregnancy, limited access to reproductive services and information, malnutrition, sexual and gender-based violence are some of the biggest health issues that adolescents face. Lack of proper services and little knowledge about prevention of unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases put them at high risk.
|Empowering and Livelihood for Adolescents||BRAC Liberia Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents - Scale Up||NoVo-PIMCO Foundation / BRAC USA||January 2016||3 years|
We started working in the education sector in 2016 through the Liberian Government’s Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) project. The project is a public-private partnership, geared to dramatically improve learning outcomes for children. With data pointing to poor reading skills among pupils as well as lower gross enrollment ratios in lower and upper secondary schools (2008 -2012), we wish to address these challenges. We are now the second service provider and we operator 33 public schools. Our approach is to get learning outcomes right in a small number of schools, funded at a basic level, and then scale up if reforms are effective. In addition to the PSL project, we have also started an early childhood development programme in partnership with UNICEF. We developed a curriculum, trained master trainers (those who will train others), distributed education materials, and set up guidelines for the operation of 30 centres.
|Education||Partnership Schools for Liberia||Absolute Return for Kids, UBS Optimus, Big Win Philanthropy, ESDC, Government of Liberia, and other private donors||September 2016||3 years|
|Learning and Caring for Young Children in Liberia||UNICEF||September 2016||1 year 6 months|
DHAKA, Feb 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Bilkis Begum has lived on the lakeside in Dhaka's Korail slum for 16 years, but in December 2016, her extended family's 12 houses were razed to the ground by a fire.
The inferno destroyed the oven her husband, Shahid Gazi, used for his bakery and the fridges he relied on for his business selling leftover chicken meat from Chinese restaurants.
For the Gazis, it was a struggle to cobble together the $3,000 they needed to rebuild their homes and business.
They borrowed $900 from moneylenders, and found the rest from relatives and friends. They also got tin, pillars and a little cash aid from Bangladesh-based development agency BRAC.
In addition, they received pro-bono help from architects like Sheikh Rubaiya Sultana, who helped redesign the neighbourhood to protect it better against future fires.
"Architects have social responsibility," said Sultana, an assistant professor at BRAC University in Dhaka. "I watched the fire before my very eyes, but couldn't do anything then."
The Gazi family now has eight new units and the couple are back in business, running a small restaurant on the old site.
"We couldn't have stood back on our own feet unless we got (this) support," said Begum, 32, a mother of three.
A team of 16 architects, planners, engineers and students, brought together by BRAC, has tested out simple, cheap design solutions to rebuild Dhaka's two biggest slums after fires destroyed some 650 homes in late 2016, affecting 2,500 people.
The new approach aims to tackle the ever-present threat of fires in Dhaka's crowded slums, while improving living conditions for residents.
But in a city where less than 10 percent of areas are planned, altering the slumscape is a tall order.
A team of volunteer architects led by Aforza Ahmed of J.A. Architects works with a home owner in Korail slum, locating his home on a map drawn up by them in Dhaka, Bangladesh. HANDOUT/J.A. Architects Ltd
LACK OF LAND RIGHTS
One major challenge is working out what is feasible for slum residents who have no legal rights to the land they live on.
Ashekur Rahman, an urban programme specialist with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh, said the transitory existence of many slum dwellers is a major impediment to keeping them safe from threats like fires in the longer term.
Many are seasonal migrants who split their time between villages and cities, limiting their access to services and permanent accommodation.
Government providers worry that improving services in informal settlements could attract more migrants from rural areas, Rahman said.
"Weak and ill-defined land tenure and property rights pose big threats to resilience-building and are considered the underlying causes of the poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor in Bangladesh," he added.
Sandwiched between Dhaka's upscale Gulshan and Banani neighbourhoods, Korail - which sprang up in the 1980s - sprawls over some 170 acres of land owned by three government ministries.
It is home to as many as 100,000 residents, including rickshaw drivers, domestic helpers, garment workers and small traders.
Fire is just one of the threats inhabitants face on a daily basis, which include eviction, drugs, crime, police harassment and extortion.
After digitally mapping the fire-hit areas, the design team led by Dhaka-based J.A. Architects Ltd consulted with residents who each agreed to give up a tiny amount of space to widen access roads and narrow lanes so that fire trucks and ambulances could enter if another blaze breaks out.
The group of experts was appalled by the unhygienic conditions in the slums. In summer, the tin shacks are "like ovens", said Shamim Hossain, a manager with BRAC's urban development programme.
To improve living conditions, the team made modifications to dwellings, such as adding windows, wire netting and transparent plastic to let in air and light.
They also helped rebuild homes in Sattola slum, which suffered a major fire in December 2016 too, destroying 115 homes in just 10 minutes.
Made homeless overnight, residents had to pass more than three cold winter months under the open sky.
MORE AIR, LIGHT
In the slum, which is home to 50,000 people and located on land belonging to the health ministry, residents have since built concrete houses with green tin roofs to reduce losses in the event of a fire - despite the risk of eviction as the government plans to build a physiotherapy college there.
The new design has allowed some homeowners to afford a luxury - a communal area – as well as an upstairs.
In the family space, where children play and adults gossip while sipping tea, Rabeya Akhter recalls how she clambered out of the house when her brother-in-law shouted "Fire! Fire!" just after midnight on December 12, 2016.
Her family lost valuables worth about $600 when their TV, PC monitor, wardrobe and other furniture burned to ashes.
They managed to get credit of more than $3,600 to rebuild their home, mostly from Dhaka-based micro-finance institution DSK.
Shah Alam, who co-owns a two-storey home, has used metal netting for corridor walls and plastic roofing in parts to ensure it is ventilated and well-lit – an idea partly his own and partly from the volunteer architects.
Like Akhter's father-in-law Siddiq Howladar, 70, who moved to Dhaka from the southern island-district of Bhola, many of Sattola's residents migrated from coastal Bangladesh, where land erosion and floods are common, poverty is pervasive and jobs are rare.
Dhaka alone attracts an estimated half a million rural migrants seeking employment each year, according to the World Bank. Almost one-third of its population of 18 million lives in slums.
Government figures show some 20,000 fires occur annually in Dhaka. But the cause often remains unknown, and the blazes get little international attention.
Residents of the capital's Kalyanpur slum suspected a fire that gutted dozens of homes in early 2016 was started deliberately to remove them from land owned by the ministry of housing and public works, local media reported.
It happened a day after a court order to halt an eviction that had sparked violence between inhabitants and police.
Abu Obaidur Rahman, a lawyer with the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the fire had "accelerated the eviction process", although the Dhaka-based charity had no evidence of who started it.
"Slum dwellers are citizens of this country and they make a contribution to the city," he said. "The government has the responsibility to rehabilitate them."
While the transformation of parts of Korail and Sattola has made residents less vulnerable to fires, the thorny question of land tenure persists.
City councillor Mofizur Rahman described Korail's residents as "temporary" and said they would have to vacate the land when the government starts to build an IT park there.
Under a new programme to reduce urban poverty, the UNDP aims to resettle people on unused or under-used government land, and broker medium-term tenure deals between private land owners and tenants, said the agency's Rahman.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, executive chairman of the Power and Participation Research Centre, a Dhaka-based think-tank, believes urban policy must become "humane" so that slum dwellers can get more secure land tenure.
Supporting reconstruction in the fire-hit slums was the "right decision" but it did not advance residents' legal rights, he noted.
For now, Korail and Sattola are "more liveable than before", said BRAC's Hossain.
"It's a start," said architect Sultana. "Others can follow it."
Despite universal primary and secondary education in Uganda, the demand for free education outweighs the availability of places at government schools. 52% of the population is under 15 years old and It is common for classes to be over packed with inadequate facilities and unmotivated students and teachers. The number of children excelling has dropped significantly due to a lack of funds for those hoping to achieve a higher quality education at private schools. Our interventions address the problem of talented students accessing quality higher education institutions.
BRAC in Uganda in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation is implementing a national level secondary scholarship programme targeting academically talented yet economically marginalised young Ugandans. Over a period of eight years, we will enable 5,000 students to complete secondary school and transition into higher education. We will also help them acquire leadership qualities, work skills, social and emotional competencies, and experience in community service. We target both O-Level scholars who enter Senior One (S1) and receive support for six years and the A-Level scholars who will enter at Senior Five (S5) and receive support for two years. 60% of the scholars are girls.
Additionally, we are providing early childhood development services through the BRAC Play Lab project. We teach children using child friendly pedagogy of learning through play, and incorporating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) with emphasis on Play, Make, Share and Think. The Play Lab Project establishes educational initiatives for children aged 3 to 5, their parents, and caregivers, focusing on whole child development which incorporates elements of SEL. The goal is to ensure physical, cognitive, language-communication and social-emotional development of children through play in a joyful, creative and child friendly environment.
|Education||MasterCard Scholars Program||MasterCard Foundation||November 2012||8 years|
|The Play Lab Project||The Lego Foundation||October 2015||3 years|
Priya Cooper and Mohammad Mohasin with BRAC ADP girls. (Photo credit: BRAC)
Inspires female athletes to backstroke over challenges
Ms. Priya Naree Cooper, a nine time gold medalist disabled swimmer and recipient of the Order of Australia Medal, visited the capital’s Karail slum area yesterday (January 29) to engage with the youths of BRAC’s Adolescent Development Programme. Ms. Cooper arrived in Bangladesh to attend this year’s Australia Day event and planned a visit to Karail in order to learn more about BRAC’s work through its Adolescent Clubs (Kishori Kendro) and Neuro-Developmental Disability Centres.
Having achieved success despite suffering from cerebral palsy, Ms. Cooper has been highly vocal about getting more people with disabilities involved in sports. She was appointed Deputy Chair of the Disability Services Commission for Western Australia in 2017. The visit was jointly organised by BRAC and Australia’s Department of Foreign Trade and Affairs (DFAT) in Bangladesh. Mohammad Mohasin, Founder of Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh, Prafulla Chandra Barman, Programme Head of BRAC Education Programme, and Angela Naumann, First Secretary of DFAT Bangladesh, were present during Ms. Cooper’s visit.
“Witnessing these girls, who have been denied many privileges in life, embrace sports to make their dreams come true was very impressive. It fills me with joy to see that just like me, these young people are driven to achieve something big despite facing significant barriers. With proper guidance and support, they will be able to take charge of not only their future but also the future of Bangladesh,” Priya Cooper stated.
The Strategic Partnership Agreement was formed in 2010 between BRAC, the UK Government and the Australian Government based on the principles of supporting development goals for Bangladesh by being mutually accountable.