09 February 2012, Dhaka. Addressing the issue of youth unemployment, urban poverty and maternal mortality remains challenges of the future.
Vowing to continue with the mission of fighting poverty, BRAC is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its inception through reflection from the past to harness the potential for the future. In a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity Auditorium today, Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossain said that BRAC’s success has largely been possible because of its innovative approaches towards development and its relentless pursuit of scale. He highlighted on some of the biggest innovations of BRAC and their contribution towards the national development. He cited the example of BRAC’s contribution to reduce child mortality significantly in Bangladesh from Diarrhea by visiting every single household in Bangladesh and teaching mothers how to use a simple formula of preparing Oral Saline. He also highlighted achievements in education where almost 5 million disadvantaged children got a second chance and graduated from its non formal primary schools. Similarly, he cited the success of giving a Bangladesh bank sanctioned seasonal, reduced interest loan with technical assistance to tenant formers. So far, almost 250,000 farmers, out of which 60,000 are women, have gotten this benefit and almost 400 crores taka has been disbursed. “When we saw that almost 15% of the extreme poor could not even get microfinance, we introduced a grant based technical assistance programme for them in 2002. Research conducted to analyze the effectiveness of the model shows over 1.3 million lifted themselves out of extreme poverty receiving support from this program.
Addressing the question of future challenges, Dr. Hossain said, “Although we are making tremendous stride as a nation. But problems remain. Tackling the issue of maternal death, nutrition deficiency, urban poverty and a holistic solution for opportunities for younger generation will be some of our future challenges,” said Dr. Hossain.
Chief Financial Officer, S.N. Kairy focused on BRAC’s transparency of financial records. He explained the various financial checks and balances that are currently in place. “BRAC is the only organization in Bangladesh which has the independent ombudsman to address concerns and complaints.” said Kairy.
The Director of Communications, Asif Saleh announced a series of events surrounding the 40thAnniversary events targeted towards reflection and discussion of the learning from past 40 years. There is a special event on February 10th showcasing various achievements and announcing of a forward looking agenda. Representatives of all 12 countries and friends of BRAC from all over the world will be present.
It will be followed by special awards and BRAC day for its employees and a CD launch with top singers to raise awareness on the issues concerning adolescent girls on International Women’s Day. A special international conference is being planned in October focusing on the south-south collaboration, MDG goal 8. Also its research wing is publishing a book on BRAC’s learning over the last forty years for the development practioners.
Representatives from BRAC’s operation in Uganda and Afghanistan, where BRAC is the largest NGO, Barbara Mirembe and Ghulam Mehdi also attended the press conference respectively. “The ideology of Sir Fazle Hasan in engaging local staff in its international programmes is undoubtedly effective and should serve as an example to other multi-national NGO’s,” said Mirembe. Both the operations have over 95% staff hired locally from those countries.
Founded as a rehabilitation mission in 1972 by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in the aftermath of the Bangladesh War of Liberation, today BRAC has turned into one of the largest development organizations of the world operating in 10 other countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean touching the lives of almost 138 million people worldwide.