Inadequate implementation of land related laws, lack of information, faulty land surveys and land records are some of the major challenges preventing delivery of proper land related services to the citizens. Along with these problems, lengthy processes followed in service delivery and complications and lack of transparency in financial transaction also perpetuate. As a result, the different initiatives taken up by the government to digitise and modernise the land management system are failing to bring expected benefits to the general people.
Speakers made these observations at a seminar on land services held by BRAC in the capital today on Thursday (21 December 2017). BRAC’s Human Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS) programme organised the event titled ‘Strengthening public-private partnership to ensure easy access to land services and information’ at the BRAC Centre at Mohakhali. State minister for land and Member of Parliament Saifuzzaman Chowdhury was present at the seminar as the chief guest.
BRAC’s Advocacy for Social Change programme director KAM Morshed moderated the event, while chairman of Land Reform Board Md Mahfuzur Rahman, director (administration) of Department of Land Record and Survey Matin-ul-Hoque and director (survey) Md Shamsul Alam, and associate director of HRLS Syeda Farisa Kabir spoke, among others.
BRAC Human Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS) programme organised the seminar as a part of its effort to facilitate delivery of better quality land services through collaborations between the government and non-governmental agencies.
State minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury in his chief guest’s speech said, ‘Once we carry out a complete digital land survey it will alone lead to reducing a lot of complications and land cases. That is why we are now giving highest importance on carrying out the digital land survey.’
Having welcomed BRAC’s ‘Bhumibandhu’ initiative he said, ‘Since BRAC works to benefit the marginalised people, I believe that its “Bhumibandhu” will also help the common people establish their just rights on their land property.’ He also suggested that BRAC should create a model of land service delivery by starting work with a single union.
Chairman of Land Reform Board Md Mahfuzur Rahman urged BRAC and other relevant actors about boosting advocacy activities in this sector. ‘To reduce corruption in land service delivery we have to reduce cash transaction,’ he observed, further emphasising the need for laws strengthening Go-NGO collaboration.
Director (administration) of Department of Land Record and Survey Matin-ul-Hoque said, ‘The majority of the land cases derive from conflicts on boundary and attempts to deprive women of their property rights. Most of these conflicts are occurring in the rural areas.’ He stressed digital land survey across the country to resolve the disputes on land boundary.
HRLS programme’s associate director Syeda Farisa Kabir said, ‘The objective of our “Bhumibandhu” is to deliver services with transparency and bring correct information and right advice to the people. We now need assistance from the government to take our effort further.’
The experts came up with a number of recommendations at the seminar that include, among others, bring change in attitude among the land officials, strengthen collaboration with the non-governmental actors, increase the number of staff at the department of land survey, boost public information dissemination activities and prevent corruption and lengthiness in delivery of land services.
The speakers informed the seminar that one in every seven people in Bangladesh endure hassles with their land property. In this context BRAC’s HRLS programme this year (2017) established four centres called ‘Bhumibandhu’ at different corners of the country as part of a pilot project to provide advisory services and other assistance to the public. The centres are located in Pakundia upazila of Kishoreganj, Trishal upazila of Mymensingh, Singra upazila of Natore and Sadar upazila of Panchagarh.
BRAC's attention has been drawn to the news published by some media houses, alleging that the Government of Pakistan has ordered closure of BRAC's development operations in that country. While this news is not based on any fact, the statement below will explain the real situation on this issue.
BRAC has been implementing development programmes in Pakistan since 2007 under the entity 'BRAC Pakistan' which is locally registered. Recently, BRAC undertook an initiative to register an international development entity called 'BRAC International' to operate in that country. Accordingly, an application was filed with the Pakistani ministry concerned. The ministry, however, rejected the application, while advising to resubmit papers within 90 days for reappraisal.
In this context, the development programmes being run by BRAC Pakistan have no connection with the application for registration of BRAC International or the process involving it.
We, therefore, clearly state that the news published alleging the suspension or closure of BRAC programmes in Pakistan is entirely baseless.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, one of the world’s leading non-governmental organisations, has received the prestigious Laudato Si award during a ceremony at the Vatican City. The award recognises BRAC for its innovative approach to creating opportunities for millions of people living in poverty, achieving significant impact in Bangladesh and ten other countries.
BRAC was founded in Bangladesh in 1972 by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, and today is a global leader in developing cost-effective, evidence-based poverty innovations in extremely poor, conflict-prone and post-disaster settings. These include programmes in education, healthcare, microfinance, girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, social enterprises, a bank, a university, and the world’s largest mobile money platform. The organisation is known for its business approach to helping people in poverty, with 16 socially-minded businesses that enable the most marginalised people to access financial services and livelihoods. In addition, BRAC’s celebrated graduation programme helps the poor ‘graduate’ out of destitution, resulting in an income boost of up to 37 percent. Research has shown that it has the potential to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1 by uplifting the poorest people and eradicating the most severe forms of poverty.
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote “Laudato Si’ meaning, “On care for our common home,” in which he calls for an international dialogue about how to approach and act upon an ecological crisis. In essence he explains that caring for our common home, and bettering our communities, means also addressing how international business practices have contributed to climate change, which effects the most marginalised people. The Laudato Si’ Challenge 2017 is developing and accelerating transformative, scalable, profitable businesses that have solutions to the most intractable problem of our time: climate change and human migration.
As part of the inaugural challenge, The Laudato Si’ awards recognise the innovators whose contributions are uniting humanity and transforming the way we approach impact and enterprise. The Laudato Si’ awards are a set of three prizes honouring those who are committed to answering Pope Francis’s clarion call. Other award winners include Huda Abuarquob in the individual category and Sarara Camp in the enterprise category.
Sir Fazle expressed his gratitude for the award. “Forty-five years ago, I set out to change the conditions of my native Bangladesh permanently, by giving poor people the power to control their own lives and destinies. I founded BRAC based on the belief that poor people, if given the means to organise themselves, can change the course of history.
“We have achieved much, but there is more to be done. For the first time in history, the eradication of extreme poverty from the face of the planet is within our sight. Like His Holiness Pope Francis, I believe that proper care for the planet means proper care for the people who live on it, including the most vulnerable among us. My vision is of a world where even the poorest have the opportunity to lead lives of purpose and dignity.”
According to Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), buses are responsible for 23% of all road crashes in Bangladesh. This is further evidenced by Accident Research Institute (BUET) led research which showed that 47% of road crashes in Bangladesh is caused by buses, truck and other heavy vehicles.
To address the situation, BRAC Driving School (an initiative of BRAC Road Safety Programme) has launched a road safety and defensive driving training for in-service bus and truck drivers called 'Shurakkha'. It focuses on modifying the attitude and behaviour of drivers towards road safety and driving.
Earlier in April this year, ENA had sent its first batch of 200 drivers to BRAC Driving School to undergo the training. Mr Khandaker Enayet Ullah, owner of ENA and General Secretary of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners' Association had pledged to send another 200 drivers. Today (November 5 2017), ENA enrolled another 200 of its drivers to undergo the training.
Director of BRAC Road Safety Programme Ahmed Najmul Hussain informed that the training course 'Shurakkha' has been developed by BRAC with support of Hubert Ebner which specialises in drivers training. The drivers not only become safer drivers, they also reported a reduction of 30% on repair and maintenance costs. 'Shurakkha' is provided in two formats - i) three-day-long residential training focusing on road safety, defensive driving, attitude and behaviour; ii) two-day-long residential and one day for driving test using vehicle mounted P-Drive system that grades drivers of their safety, driving, attitude and behavioural skills. ENA in this case chose to give their drivers the three residential ‘Surakkha’ training opportunity to amend their driving skills at BRAC Driving School.
Research on this training has found that as much as 90 per cent of ‘Surakkha’ trained drivers have experienced change in their mindset when driving. 95% of these drivers claimed that they mantain a safe following distance from the next vehicle in front while driving.
The per capita income of the underprivileged people living in the haor areas has risen by 9 percent as a result of the work done by BRAC Integrated Development Programme. In addition to that, the rate of men and women, aged between 16 and 65, who became self-employed also increased by 10 percent and 6 percent respectively. Aside from that, spending by women in areas like health, child education, savings, purchasing land grew 14 percent when compared to the past.
These information were revealed at a workshop held in BRAC Centre titled “BRAC’s Operations in Haor and Flash Floods” today, Wednesday (November 1, 2017). The chief guest at the event, organised by BRAC Integrated Development Programme (IDP), was the Minister of Water Resources Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP. The discussion was led by BRAC’s Executive Director, Dr Muhammad Musa, where other key participants included the Head of Co-Operations from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) Peter Bogh Jensen, First Secretary (Development Results and Evaluations) of Department for International Development (DfID) Bangladesh Yousuf Rafique, Director of Research and Evaluation Division at BRAC Professor Abdul Bayes and Director of IDP, Community Empowerment Programme and Gender Justice & Diversity Anna Minj. There were also several representatives from the government, humanitarian organisations, donor agencies and think tanks among others.
BRAC commenced its Integrated Development Programme back in 2013 to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged dwellers of haor region and indigenous population in the North West. Before that BRAC had started a primary survey in 2012 of 7,783 households across 16 upazilla, which came to an end in April 2016.
Key findings of the report on “A New Approach to Reducing Poverty and Vulnerability: Evidence from BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme” was presented by Jinnat Ara, Research Fellow for the Development Economics Unit at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division. The findings revealed that 5,183 households out of 7,783 were beneficiaries of BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme. Furthermore, the rate at which programme beneficiaries were accessing hygienic latrine facilities and formal healthcare services increased by 77 percent and 50 percent respectively. 63 percent of the beneficiaries had food security, while that rate was lower at 46 percent for those who were yet to fall under the umbrella. Women under the programme boasted a self-employment rate of 95.2 percent, while for men that rate was at 71.2 percent.
Another research was conducted among 1,845 households in 70 villages at 31 Unions across recently flooded areas of Moulvibazar, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj, Netrokona and Kishoreganj. As highlighted in the presentation on “Flash Flood 2017: Perspective in Haor Areas” by Dr Nepal C. Dey, despite almost 52 percent of the residents in haor areas being involved in crop farming, the number has significantly decreased to 13 percent as a result of flash floods. During the same time period the number of people getting involved in fish farming rose to around 24 percent, which is the highest compared to any previous year. Due to excessive flooding, nearly 21 percent of the people were forced to remain without an income source.
One out of every three households that participated in the survey were consuming two meals a day instead of the standard three. They were consuming 53 percent less food and 16 percent less nutritious content due to the scarcity. At the same time, one out of every three households were suffering from food shortage. It is being predicted through the research that a loss of BDT 2,918 crores were incurred from crops, poultry, dairy products and day labor in the surveyed areas. One of the many recommendations made at the workshop emphasised on improved water drainage systems and excavation to channel currently overflowing water. These systems include improving dam renovation, timely maintenance, proper monitoring, stronger relationship between government and non-government bodies, encouraging farmers to adopt faster yielding BRRI 81 as well as 28 varieties of rice, and creating alternative employment opportunities among others.
Anisul Islam Mahmud stated during the event, “These flash floods have been triggered by the overflowing of the waters in Brahmaputra and Meghna as a result of rapid climate change. The effects are not limited to the haor areas but nationwide. This is a significant barrier to our sustainable development goals.”
Peter Jensen said, “BRAC’s integrated approach is a practical solution to the current situation in the haor areas. We are enthusiastic to be a part of this initiative.”
Dr Muhammad Musa stated, “The recent floods have not only affected the crops but also the flow of life for many. This is why we are placing an importance on planning our integrated programme for the long run.”
It is important to note that BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme is providing involved in the areas of health, nutrition, population, education, community empowerment, human rights and legal services, safe migration, gender equality, safe water and sanitation, targeting the ultra-poor, micro finance and agriculture & food security as part of its interventions.
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.
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.
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.
BRAC provides critical support for paralegal advisory services, which train young people to support vulnerable justice seekers in prisons as well as a range of institutions of the criminal justice system. This partnership began under a bilateral project of Ministry of Home Affairs, starting in one district in 2008, and is now working in 11 out of 40 districts.
It has been a pleasure working with BRAC. The HRLS team has been extremely responsive, open to suggestions and willing to try new ideas. We are excited about the new models that BRAC is developing to offer property rights related services in a sustainable manner to the most vulnerable segments of the population in Bangladesh.