03 March 2010, Dhaka. Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC, was knighted on Tuesday in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. The Knighthood, announced in the Queen’s New Year`s Honours List, was awarded in recognition of Sir Fazle’s services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally.
The Investiture Ceremony was held by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who represented Queen Elizabeth II. While conferring the knighthood, Prince Charles mentioned to Sir Fazle that he remembered visiting BRAC in Bangladesh and thanked him for his long service in reducing poverty.
Leaders from around the world have congratulated Sir Fazle on his Knighthood. Queen Rania of Jordan, in her message to Sir Fazle, wrote:
“More than just recognition of your tireless efforts to relieve poverty and disease in Bangladesh and abroad, this Knighthood gives further momentum to your reputation as one of the most dynamic and selfless humanitarians of our time.”
Sir Fazle was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG). Following tradition, Sir Fazle knelt on a velvet Investiture Stool to receive the accolade, which was bestowed using the sword which King George VI used when, as Duke of York, he was Colonel of the Scots Guards. Sir Fazle was then invested with a Neck Badge and Star carrying the Insignia of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
Sir Fazle is the first person of Bangladesh origin to be honored with a Knighthood by the British Crown since 1947. Sir Fazle’s wife, Lady Sarwat Abed, and daughter and son, Tamara and Shameran, were present at the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
25 March 2010, Dhaka. International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and BRAC, Bangladesh jointly organized a Five (5) day workshop, from 20-24 March 2010, on “South Asia Midwifery Strategy Planning” at BRAC Centre, Mohakhali, Dhaka. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) jointly launched the global Investing in Midwives Programme in 2008 for strengthening midwifery skills and workforce in low-resources countries for the achievement of MDG-5, focusing on 4 major areas for better midwifery services: education, association strengthening, regulations and advocacy. After initiating its activity in African region, the joint initiative is now focusing its activity towards Asia and Pacific region. The programme is now focusing on the South Asia region as a continuation of its initial initiative.
The objective of this 5 day workshop is to develop a midwifery services framework model for strengthening midwifery education, regulation and association in countries of South Asia, based on gaps and priorities identified and to launch work plans for next 2-3 years. The workshop focused on the situation analysis of existing gaps in midwifery services in 6 South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and India. Based on that a midwifery service framework is developed and strategic planning is put in place for strengthening midwifery in this region. The workshop also focused on networking and knowledge sharing.
Mr. Shaikh Altaf Ali, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh, Prof. Shah Monir Hossain, Director General, DGHS, Mr. Mohammad Abdul Qayyum, Director General, DGFP, Bridget Lynch, President of ICM, Agneta Bridges, Secretary General of ICM, Arthur Erken, UNFPA Representative of Bangladesh, Vincent Fauveau, Senior Technical Advisor, UNFPA, Abigail Kyei, International Midwive Advisor and Geeta Lal UNFPA Midwives Programme Coordinator, participants from national and international organization and agencies were present in the inaugural session of this five day workshop and gave their valuable views in this regard.
13 April 2010, Dhaka. BRAC Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed met President of Tanzania, H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, on April 11 at 12 pm at the President's Palace in Dar es Salaam.
BRAC Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed (2nd Left) met President of Tanzania, H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (3rd Left)
In the meeting, Sir Fazle updated the President on BRAC's programmes in Tanzania which, within less than four years, is already providing microfinance and other livelihood development services to over 500,000 poor families across 18 of the country’s 26 regions. 'We want to have the greatest impact on poverty within the shortest possible timeframe', Sir Fazle said while outlining his vision for BRAC in Tanzania. He emphasised the importance of appropriate policy and regulatory architecture for deeper outreach of microfinance and other services to the rural poor.
The President expressed his deep appreciation of BRAC's work in Tanzania, especially its strong focus on rapidly scaling up microfinance services throughout the country.
During the meeting, Sir Fazle was accompanied by the Executive and Deputy Executive Directors of BRAC International and the Country Head of BRAC in Tanzania.
28 April 2010, Dhaka. BRAC and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) have jointly organised a special meeting titled, “Mothers and Babies Speak: Moving Forward with Lessons on Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH)” on April 28, 2010 at BRAC Centre, Dhaka from 10:00am-12:00pm. The PMCNH is a global alliance of over 300 members committed to achieve MDGs 4 and 5.
(From Left) State minister of Women and Children Affairs Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Minister of Health and Family Welfare Prof. Dr. A.F.M Ruhal Haque, Acting Vice President of Human Development Network of the World Bank Dr. Julian Schweitzer
This meeting was specifically convened to review the key developments in Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 in Bangladesh, discuss the role and contribution of public-private partnership and take lessons of Bangladesh to the upcoming MDG Summit in New York in September.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, welcomed the international and national participants drawing attention to commitments in terms of financial, physical and technical investments to MDGs 4 and 5, particularly, maternal health. Sir Fazle inaugurated the meeting with a video message from Sarah Brown, the First Lady of United Kingdom and Co-Chair, Maternal and Child Health Leadership Group. In the video message, Mrs. Sarah Brown accentuated the role of global leaders to maternal mortality campaign. She continued to express her gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her role in Bangladesh for the improvement of maternal, newborn and child health and also highlighted BRAC’s contribution, particularly, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed to this arena in Bangladesh and beyond.
Prof Dr. Shahidullah, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSSMU) reviewed the state of maternal, neonatal and child health in Bangladesh emphasising successes, challenges and gaps in health sectors. He said that Bangladesh is on track for MDG 4, but not for MDG 5 and hence, it is crucial to address challenges and gaps in order to improve the situation. Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Associate Director, BRAC Health Programme discussed about the critical role of public-private partnership in achieving MDGs 4 and 5. In this context, she stated that BRAC has created significant improvement in maternal and neonatal health in urban slums and rural districts of Bangladesh. Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor and Head of Access to Information Programme of Prime Minister’s Office, drew attention to the role of ICT and e-health in digitalizing Bangladesh and how private sector collaborations are contributing to achieving health MDGs.
Prof. Dr. A.F.M Ruhal Haque, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare participated in the event as the Chief Guest and stressed that the upcoming G8 and MDG review would mobilise financial investments in maternal health and child health.
Dr. Julian Schweitzer, Chair, the PMNCH and Acting Vice President, Human Development Network of the World Bank, and Dr Flavia Bustreo, Director, the PMNCH attended the meeting as the Special Guests. Distinguished Members of the Parliamentarians, Board Members of the PMNCH, Director General Health Services and UN agencies and development partners, civil society members, development practitioners and researchers were present in this special event.
This meeting was convened as the inaugural event for the Board meeting of the PMNCH to be hosted by BRAC during April 28 – 30 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
24 April 2010, Dhaka. Agricultural transformation in five countries, Vietnam, Korea, Bangladesh, India and Thailand were a major focus of the seminar, where delegates deliberated on the critical aspects underlying the dynamics of agricultural transformation as has occurred in the five countries during the past four to five decades. The country papers presented in the seminar provided a comprehensive assessment of the important drivers of agriculture transformation. The drivers include socio-economic factors, demography, trade reforms and the global climatic change induced factors.
Prominent delegates who attended the seminar included Mr. Ashvin Dayal, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation(Asia), Bangkok; Prof. Seong Woo Lee of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development Program, Seoul National University , Korea; Mr. Sang-Ho Choi, Extension Planning Division, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea; Dr. Kazi Ali Toufique, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS ), Bangladesh; Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC ), Dhaka; Prof. Ramesh Chand, Director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAER ), New Delhi, India; Prof. Amita Shah, Director, Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR ), Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India; Prof. Do Kim Chung, School of Economics and Rural Development, Hanoi Agricultural University (HAU ), Hanoi, Vietnam; Dr. Nguyen Viet Dang, Faculty of Economics and Rural Development, HAU, Hanoi, Vietnam; Mr. Phrek Gypmantasiri Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand; Ms. Vannapha Yongchareon, Director, Bureau of Agricultural Development Policy and Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand; Ms. Natalie Phaholyothin, Project Associate, Rockefeller Foundation Bangkok; Prof. Sudip K. Rakshit, Vice President (Research), AIT; Prof. Gopal B. Thapa of School of Environment Resources and Development (SERD), AIT; Dr. Mokbul Morshed Ahmad, Associate Dean, SERD, AIT ; Mr. Subash Dasgupta, Senior Plant Production Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO RAP ); and Dr. Utai Pisone, Advisor, National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS ), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand.
Agriculture transformation in these five countries is reflective of the scenario of agriculture transformation as has occurred in the larger Asian context, which demonstrates the growing challenges confronting the smallholder agriculture and its sustainability in the region. The country level assessments as presented by the national experts highlighted that there are serious issues that need immediate attention particularly in three critical areas of policy making, namely technology development & dissemination and institutional interventions. Despite tremendous achievements in production, marketing and trade of agriculture products, a vast majority of the rural population in these countries suffer from multiple deprivations.
The seminar was attended by about 30 participants, including national experts from Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Thailand as well as faculty and researchers from AIT.
The seminar was organised by the Regional and Rural Development Planning field of studies of SERD (AIT) with support of Rockefeller Foundation.
06 June 2010, Dhaka. BRAC’s Agricultural Research and Development Centre has been assessing the performance of early maturing Vietnamese and the NERICA (African) varieties of rice at its Gazipur farm.
Dr. Mahabub Hossain, BRAC Executive Director and BRAC Agriculture Researchers visit
90 days old plant in Gazipur
The BRAC experiment shows that the Vietnamese varieties (OM576 and AF996) perform better with regard to maturity and yield than the African varieties (see Table).
“We are excited with the superior performance of two Vietnamese varieties as potential short maturity variety for the aus season,” BRAC Executive Director Mahbub Hossain said in June. “They gave yields of 5.6 to 5.8 tons per hectare compared to 4.4 t/ha for BRRI Dhan 28 and matured in 95 days. Next year, we shall conduct this trial at different locations in Bangladesh,” he added.
Duration & Yield of 6 rice varieties
Variety Name Duration(Days) Yield(tons/ha)
OM576 95 5.8
AF996 95 5.57
OM1490 97 5.36
OM2718 97 5.11
OM4498 97 5.5
BRRI Dhan28 96 4.37
Table of the comparative yield of NERICA and Vietnamese varieties, and the Bangladesh check, BRRI Dhan 28, grown at BRAC Gazipur farm.
The fast-growing, high-yielding varieties could help Bangladesh achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. The NERICA varieties, which also resist pests and tolerate droughts and infertile soils better, can help improve food security in drier areas of the country.
02 June 2010, Dhaka. An agreement was signed with BRAC today under which the Netherlands will provide €18.75 million in support of "Education for All: Delivering on Access and Quality" activities. The duration of the agreement is till 31 December 2012 and the contribution will be pooled with the funds coming from DFID, CIDA, AusAID and OxfamNovib.
The signatories at the BRAC Centre agreement ceremony were H.E. Mr. Alphons Hennekens, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chairperson of BRAC. Mr. Abu Alam Md. Shahid Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME) was the guest speaker on the occasion.
In his speech, the Dutch Ambassador pointed out that BRAC`s education programme provides complementary services which are closely linked with the formal education system. He highlighted the results of BRAC`s Education Programme 2004-2009 and congratulated BRAC, its education staff and its partner NGOs for these achievements. The Ambassador commended Government`s approval of the new National Education Policy as a framework and foundation for a diverse but unified system of quality education for all Bangladeshi children.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, in his speech, reiterated the Ambassador`s message that BRAC`s activities in education are to support the Government to help achieve Bangladesh`s Education for All (EFA) goals within 2015. BRAC will focus on ensuring quality and reducing drop outs, essential for achieving EFA, and reaching underserved and hard-to-reach communities such as in the haors, chars, the Chittagong Hill Tracts and urban slums. He underscored the need for improving quality of secondary education for the development of Bangladesh`s human resources and the role of IT in education.
The Secretary-in-Charge of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Mr. Abu Alam Md. Shahid Khan, emphasised the importance of strengthening public-private partnerships between Government and organisations like BRAC. He pointed out that Government aims at quality education for all children and appreciates the efforts and experiences of BRAC in education.
30 June 2010, Dhaka. BRAC and the European Union (EU) signed a Euro 5 million (BDT 400 million) agreement today for "Restoring socio-economic stability and strengthening community resilience in areas affected by cyclone AILA". The EU support will help link the relief phase with the longer term reconstruction and development of the affected areas.
The signatories were Dr Stefan Frowein, Head of the EU Delegation to Bangladesh and Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC.
The EU support, being made available under its Instrument for Stability, will provide much-needed interventions to promote socio-economic stability and to strengthen the economic and physical resilience and protection of communities against future natural disasters. Emergency support of Euro 9 million (BDT 720 million was provided earlier to AILA victims under ECHO. With this support EU continues to meet its responsibilities as a major donor during the post-AILA recovery period.
BRAC, which has been working continuously in the affected areas, will target its interventions to support poor small farmers and fishers, van pullers, small traders, homestead owners and landless day labourers over the next 18 months.
In comments made during the ceremony, Dr. Frowein said that "This additional support underlines the solidarity which the European Union has expressed with the government and the people of Bangladesh in the wake of this terrible natural disaster." and referred to the agreement with BRAC as "a competent partnership".
Dr. Hossain, in his speech, thanked EU for supporting the rehabilitation of AILA victims and noted with satisfaction the trust and confidence that BRAC had been able to earn from the EU through the effective implementation of a similar project for SIDR victims. BRAC, he said, was fully committed to serving the AILA affected people with the same efficiency and zeal.
The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to stability and rehabilitation in the coastal areas of south-western Bangladesh that were devastated and damaged by cyclone AILA.
30 September 2009, Dhaka. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said he was “extremely impressed” by BRAC’s activities and outreach after meeting with BRAC Founder and Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed at the Vancouver Peace Summit in September.
The Dalai Lama commented that Abed’s work, and the evolution of the organisation he started, exemplified the process by which “real change must start with individuals, then family, then community.” Abed shared his personal story and that of building BRAC during a private retreat at the peace summit, organised by the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education from Sept. 27-29.
His Holiness also expressed admiration for how the organisation is now able to export decades of expertise to other countries in need. He made the comments during an interview with Maria Shriver on the last day of the Summit.
The Summit centred around dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and brought together luminaries like former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Robinson, religious scholar Karen Armstrong, First Lady of California Maria Shriver, and Nobel laureates Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams.
BRAC USA President and CEO Susan Davis moderated the Summit’s closing session, which focused on “Women and Peace Building.” Panellists discussed the vital, but often unrecognised role women play in advancing peace. They urged more investment in girls and women for greater participation in political office, and called for giving wider publicity to stories on how women are building peace.
The panel included His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Abed, former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, Dr. Swanee Hunt of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Ela Bhatt - the founder of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), and Emmy awarding-winning musician and co-chair of the NoVo Foundation Peter Buffett.
The session opened with a performance by composer and singer Peter Buffett and cellist Michael Kott. It included an original song, “Set Us Free,” which was inspired by a visit to BRAC`s programme for adolescent girls. It was accompanied by a video, which is available on youtube as well as on http://blog4brac.blogspot.com/.
10 September 2009, Dhaka. Ten female students were awarded BRAC-Rai Foundation Scholarships 2009 (2nd batch) for higher education under BRAC’s Medhabikash programme.
BRAC Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed urged the students to return home to serve the nation after completing their studies abroad. He also advised them to work hard so that their services can benefit thousands of other poor students.
“Keeping the poor people aside, Bangladesh cannot expect prosperity,” he told the students when they called on him before leaving for India on Sept. 9.