The post-pandemic world will see a robust rebuilding if the governments, non-governmental and private actors, innovators, social and mass media and community join hands in well-coordinated efforts to address the inequalities pervasive throughout the communities across the world and that aggravated during Covid-19.
These views came at a 2-day (12-13 October) conference titled “Frugal Innovations Forum” (FIF) hosted by BRAC. With 200 participants and over 40 speakers from the Global South countries, FIF 2022 comprised one daylong field visit and two days of panel discussions, presentations and workshops.
BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, is hosting the Frugal Innovation Forum for the last seven years to facilitate the exchange between the social innovators around the world, especially those from the Global South, and other actors. This year, the FIF’s focused theme “The Future of Development in a Post-Pandemic World” highlighted the topics ranging from financial inclusion and education to healthcare and beyond.
Dr Shamsul Aam, state minister, Ministry of Planning; Dr Lilly Nicholls, high commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh; Anir Choudhury, policy advisor, Government of Bangladesh/UNDP; Rani Yan Yan, Chakma Rani (Queen), Chittagong Hill Tracts; Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer, bKash; Hillary Miller-Wise, deputy director, Global Growth and Strategy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Zaved Akhtar, CEO, Unilever Bangladesh Limited; Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone Ltd.; and Md Mahbub ur Rahman, CEO, HSBC Bangladesh; were among the distinguished guests at the different sessions of the 2-day event. Members of the senior management from BRAC also addressed the audience at the event.
State minister for planning Dr Shamsul Aam in his speech today (closing day) focused on the government’s proactive actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh. He said, “we are increasingly prioritising actions to build our resilience, while we are at work in finding nature-based solutions to address the adverse situations triggered by climate change.”
Speaking on how the lessons learned during the pandemic can be utilised in the post-pandemic time, Anir Choudhury policy advisor of Government of Bangladesh/UNDP said, “we have three takeaways from the pandemic, which are:
- data collaboration is possible between government, telcos, NGOs, private sectors, which enabled unprecedented response
- distributed delivery models through remote diagnosis, wearable technology, community health workers are key in delivering health care to the community
- WhatsApp bureaucracy is real that made major decisions possible without letters, meetings, Zoom calls just by discussing and deciding in real time on a chat forum”
Eminent economist and chairperson of BRAC Bangladesh Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman emphasised that solutions to the challenges in the Global South should be ground-up, gender intentional and based on people’s lived experiences, which is the key takeaway of the 2-day Frugal Innovation Forum. “To make meta-transformations, the world of policy and non-state actors cannot speak in different languages,” he further added.
Speaking on the closing day, Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, highlighted BRAC’s future role in the new normal era. “BRAC will continue to stay relevant. With the changing nature of society and country, different types of problems will be emerging. We look at ourselves as part of the solution ecosystem with the government, private sector, development partners and social entrepreneurs. BRAC will be doing exactly what it has been doing. We are working side-by-side with the governments, private sectors and change-makers both nationally and globally. Because beautiful things can happen when all of us work together.”