16 November 2011, London. Media events and launch activities are taking place across the UK in October and November as up to 300 restaurants implement Vision Bangladesh ‘£1 on the Bill’ campaign.
Each restaurant is provided by BRAC UK with materials to run the scheme in their restaurant for a period of four to eight weeks. Early indications show that restaurants are raising on average £100-150 per week and that their loyal customers are showing huge support for Vision Bangladesh, many donating more than the voluntary £1 contribution.
Launch events have already been held in Surrey, Oxford, Carlisle, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Northampton and have generated valuable publicity for the restaurants and the campaign.
31 October 2011, London. Channel S viewers and studio guests donated generously to Vision Bangladesh during a live eight hour telethon organised by BRAC UK in October.
Highly respected leaders from the British Bangladesh business communities – including famous celebrity chefs and award winning restaurateurs – turned up in force to support the goal of eradicating avoidable blindness in Sylhet by 2013 and in Bangladesh by 2020.
Barrister, Anwar Babul, was the host for the evening and welcomed guests many of whom are participating in Vision Bangladesh’s £1 on the Bill restaurant campaign.
Monchab Ali, Vision Bangladesh’s Regional Representative for the North-West and former Chairman of the Greater Sylhet Council was joined by other Regional Representatives, Dobir Miah (Rochdale), Shabbir Ahmed Chawdhury (Oxford), Shah F. Athar (East Sussex), Rokib Ali (Kent), and Raja Ali (Portsmouth) to discuss their role in the fundraising efforts.
Rois Ali, celebrity chef, endorsed the campaign and his involvement as Coventry Regional Representative. Azizur Rahman, in his capacity as senior advisor to £1 on the Bill campaign, encouraged more restaurants to sign up and take part.
BRAC UK was particularly honoured to have the Chairman of Channel S himself, Ahmed US Samad Choudhury JP, appear in the studio and support the fundraising effort.
Alsaz Kabiri, proprietor of Greenwich Linen, supplying restaurants across the UK, Mujib Islam, Managing Director of Media Link, and Nazmul Islam, Chairman of Oldham Bangladesh Association also pledged their continued support to the campaign.
Nilopar Uddin, a lawyer and former volunteer of BRAC came to discuss her first hand experience of BRAC in Bangladesh, and Ryo Osaki, an eye surgeon, explained the simplicity of the cataract operation.
BRAC UK was represented by trustees Robert Evans and Murad Qureshi AM and Vision Bangladesh Project Manager, Tanha Habib.
Abdul Khan, Programme Officer, and Gihan Chowdhury and Shamina Banu, Global Youth Workers, for BRAC UK’s Beyond Boundaries programme also motivated more young British-Bangladeshis to get involved.
16 November 2011, Dhaka. Bangladesh’s top NGOs and businesses united under the banner of the "Every Mother, Every Child" initiative which was launched in 20101, by the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. The Secretary General is visiting Bangladesh for the second time during his term. The event at the Sonargaon Hotel, was co-hosted by BRAC, icddr b, the United Nations Global Compact and the United Nations Foundation and sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank.
BRAC, the world’s largest NGO based in Bangladesh, committed $260 million to global programmes which directly work to achieve the goals of the UN initiative.
"We need to focus on providing access to a continuum of care across different stages of the human life cycle in order to effectively address this challenge," said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairman of BRAC.
During the event, iccddr,b Executive Director Alejandri Cravioto, said "Improving maternal and child health is central to the research agenda of icddr,b. Our commitment this evening is to the expansion of our services to include comprehensive obstetric services to reduce maternal deaths to zero in the Matlab areas."
The Finance Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Abul Mal Abdul Muhith, along with other reputed members of the political, media, and business community were present at the meeting.
Key note speaker, Ban Ki-Moon praised the cooperative between the public and private sector in Bangladesh.
"The United Nations has initiated a global movement to empower women and children of our world. The results are remarkable. And nowhere is this more important than here in Bangladesh," said BanKi-Moon.
The mentioned global effort received significant amount of support from the private sector on a global scale. 191 states and partners have made 206 commitments to "Every Mother, Every Child". Within five years it is anticipated partners will commit another $40 Billion.
Many members of the Bangladeshi private sector are showing particular interest in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, and supporting the "Every Mother, Every Child" programme.
Only sixteen countries are expected to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which include eradicating poverty and protecting the planet, Bangladesh being one of them.
10 November 2011, Kampala, Uganda. Highlighting the importance of close coordination between government, NGOs and private sector, Minister of State Dr. Prof. Z. Nyira has urged all to work together in order to establish the ultimate goal of creating a ‘Healthy Uganda’. He was inaugurating the day long workshop focused on availability and awareness of nutrient-rich food crops in Uganda. The event brought together key policy makers and representatives from development partners including donors, civil society and academia working on food security, nutrition and bio-fortification.
Stressing the urgency of the matter, the minister said that 38% of Ugandan children are stunted, 16% are underweight and 6% are categorized as wasted. He added that this prevalence means that 2.3 million young children in Uganda today are chronically malnourished.
Executive Director of BRAC Dr. Mahabub Hossain echoed the danger of the situation and said BRAC is committed towards ensuring food and nutrition security. He said that mal-nutrition is a result of lack of nutrients in the food intake of particularly the poor and bio-fortification in crops in an area Government and Private Sector should seriously focus on to change this situation.
Deputy Executive Director of BRAC Dr. Imran Matin stressed the need for stronger cooperation since multi dimensional problem that requires an integrated approach.
The minister praised BRAC’s initiative in Uganda and said its scale showed its efficiency and welcomed the latest advocacy effort on malnutrition.
The day long workshop saw a number of presentations on global initiatives and status of bio-fortification in the world and in Uganda, Uganda nutrition action plan, challenges for future among many. The participants shared knowledge to enhance the extension, awareness and marketability of nutrient-rich food crops among rural farmers.
01 November 2011, Dhaka. We are proud to announce that Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, has been awarded the first WISE Prize for Education in recognition of his 40-year career dedicated to alleviating poverty through education. On November 1, 2011, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar presented Sir Fazle with the prize, which is the world’s first major award for education, before 1,300 delegates at the opening session of the third World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). For this inaugural edition, following a pre-selection by a Committee, a prestigious Jury selected Sir Fazle as the inaugural Laureate. Sir Abed received an award of $500,000 (US) and a specially designed gold medal, bearing the word “education” in over 50 languages.
In his citation of the Laureate, WISE Chairman H.E. Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani said: “Fazle Hasan Abed’s life and career embody the values of WISE. He recognized that education is a passport to social inclusion and opportunity. He discovered a successful formula, and he adapted and expanded it – first in Bangladesh and then in other countries. As a direct consequence, millions of people around the world lead healthier, happier and more productive lives. His vision, resourcefulness and determination are vital ingredients of the innovation process and he stands as an example to all of us who believe that education, more than anything else, determines the destiny of individuals and societies. The Jury saw him as an ideal WISE Prize Laureate.”
In acceptance remarks, Fazle Hasan Abed said: “I thank the Qatar Foundation for instituting this magnificent Prize and for honouring me and BRAC with its first instalment. It is on behalf of the 50,000 BRAC staff and nearly 40,000 BRAC school teachers that I humbly accept this prize. I have discovered time and again in my four decades of work with BRAC that education is the fundamental catalyst for change. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the large numbers. But we must always remember that the changes happen in individual lives and families. Many of the graduates of BRAC’s non-formal schools have gone on to receive University degrees and have become Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers. One girl has gone on to win Bangladesh’s version of American Idol. These young people may have achieved different things in their lives but one thing that they had in common – education has unlocked new opportunities for all of them.”
The establishment of the WISE Prize was announced at the closing of the last WISE Summit in December 2010 as a major accolade to recognize an individual or team for an outstanding, world-class contribution to education. In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives an award of $500,000 (US). Following an international call for nominations, an 11-strong international committee of educational experts made a preliminary assessment and a high-level Jury of five eminent individuals, chaired by Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, took the final decision.
Under Sir Fazle’s visionary leadership, BRAC has grown to become the largest provider of private, secular education in the world, contributing to the pre-primary, primary and secondary education of more than 10 million students. Click here to find out more about BRAC’s groundbreaking interventions in education.
BRAC formally launched its new book Making Tuberculosis History: Community-based Solutions for Millions at the annual conference of the prestigious International Union against Tuberculosis (TB) and Lung Disease on October 27, 2011. As part of a vibrant public-private partnership led by the National Tuberculosis Program, BRAC treats close to 100,000 patients annually in Bangladesh. BRAC’s efforts to scale internationally offer exciting evidence that their community-based program can be adapted globally.
Bertie Squire, President of the International Union Against Tuberculosis & Lung Disease, said, “BRAC was determined to take the services to the community, and this was an enormous step to make sure that accessing health care didn’t further impoverish patients, as is so often the case.”
Victoria Treland, Director of Program Development of RESULTS USA, said, “This book is so important is that it really shows what is possible.”
In an era of increasing technologies and tools marred by concerning wanes in political and financial commitment worldwide, telling Bangladesh’s story of huge achievements in TB has never been timelier. Indeed, the conference’s theme, “Partnerships for scaling up and care,” emphasized a growing global appetite for examples of effective programs and tools to help them achieve impact in their own communities.
Faruque Ahmed, Director of BRAC’s Health Program, initiated the book launch ceremony by describing BRAC’s evolution from a Liberation War rehabilitation organization in 1972 into a comprehensive, anti-poverty organization focused on empowering the poor. Its program combating tuberculosis, a disease closely linked with poverty, began over 25 years ago and was part of a movement that revolutionized how TB control was conceived globally.
“Can we apply our knowledge from the TB program to better prevent post-partum hemorrhage and death during childbirth?” Mr. Ahmed speculated. “Where else can these lessons be applied?”
Nils Billo, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, commended BRAC’s honesty in describing challenges of past and present. “Even building on experiences in Bangladesh, where there were certainly big challenges, Afghanistan must be even harder and yet the program is going to scale. Making TB History shows that this is not easy, and goes through the many steps it took to get TB services to the community.
BRAC is a global development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor to bring about change in their own lives. BRAC’s holistic approach aims to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable women and men to realize their potential. BRAC was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and today reaches more than 138 million people in Africa and Asia through its programs that address poverty by providing micro-loans, self-employment opportunities, health services, education and legal and human rights services. Learn more at http://www.bracusa.org.
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27 October 2011, Dhaka. At the prestigious International Union against TB and Lung Disease’s annual conference in Lille, France, BRAC formally launched its new book “Making Tuberculosis History: Community-based Solutions for Millions”. As part of a vibrant public-private partnership led by the National Tuberculosis Program, BRAC treats close to 100,000 patients annually in Bangladesh. BRAC’s efforts to scale-up internationally offer exciting evidence that their community-based program is widely adaptable, by other stakeholders and even for other health conditions. As Victoria Treland of RESULTS USA remarked at the event, “this book is so important is that it really shows what is possible”. In an era of increasing technology and tools marred political and financial commitments mar the social development sector worldwide, and so telling of the vast achievements Bangladesh has made in TB has never been timelier. Indeed, the conference’s theme, “Partnerships for scaling up and care” emphasized a growing global appetite for examples of effective programs and tools to help them impact their communities.
Faruque Ahmed, Director of BRAC Health Programme, initiated the ceremony by walking the audience through the book’s contents, describing BRAC’s evolution from a Liberation War rehabilitation organization in 1972 into a comprehensive, anti-poverty organization focused on empowering the poor. Its program combating tuberculosis began over twenty-five years ago and was part of a movement that revolutionized how TB control was conceived globally. “Can we apply our knowledge from the TB program to better prevent post-partum hemorrhage and death during childbirth?” Mr. Ahmed speculated, “Where else can these lessons be applied?”
Several global experts offered prepared reflections on Making Tuberculosis History. Diana Weil, Coordinator of Policy, Strategy and Innovations in the Stop TB Department, World Health Organization described her excitement when observing BRAC’s program first-hand. “So often, peer-reviewed papers only describe what has been done. Here you learn what’s going on between the lines and the complexities of what it takes to do this kind of work”. Bertie Squire, President of the Union and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said he was most struck by how accessible the community health volunteer model made not just tuberculosis treatment, but the equally important steps of screening and diagnosis. “BRAC was determined to take the services to the community […], an enormous step to make sure that accessing health care didn’t further impoverish patients, as is so often the case.”
Representing two of BRAC’s longest-running partners, Asique Hussain of the National Tuberculosis Programme of Bangladesh, and Isao Osada, of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, served as panelists. Dr. Hussain shared the government’s ongoing efforts to establish 13,500 community clinics, which will further improve access to TB treatment nationwide. He, along with other speakers, emphasized the role of this book as an advocacy tool to sustain political commitment and a resource for learning. “I’m very glad that they’ve published the book to help share the knowledge and lessons around the world.” Osada noted examples of BRAC’s innovation in community-based programming and the depth of the institutions’ three-decade relationship. “We are very proud to have been a collaborative partner for this great achievement”, he concluded.
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26 October 2011, Dhaka. "Radio Pollikontho", a community radio network initiated by BRAC, has started its test transmission in the area of Chandnighat union of Moulovibazar district. It will cover a radius of 17 km around the station at Moulovibazar Sadar.
Mr. Md. Mostafizur Rahman - District Commissioner of Moulovibazar, Md. Ashraful Alam Khan - UNO Upazila Moulovibazar, Anna Minj - Director, BRAC Community Empowerment Programme, A.H.M. Bazlur Rahman - Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh NGO's Network for Radio and Communication were present to attend the inauguration of test transmission.
Members of the press, BRAC officials and members of the executive committee of "Radio Pollikontho" were also present in the ceremony.
"Radio Pollikontho" aims to be established a sustainable media and promote local people’s access to information. The programmes will focus issues on women and children’s development, ensure people's participation in rural development and promote local culture and heritage. News and entertainment activities will aired in the local dialect.
With assistance of the BRAC Community Empowerment Programme and members of the community, the network is expected to become a popular and effective tool to increase community awareness.
"Radio Pollikontho" is expected to start its full fledged transmission soon.
22 October 2011, Dhaka. “Poribesh Poricchonno Rakhi, Shobai Mile Shustho Thaki” (Clean neighbourhood, Feeling good) with this slogan, the Slum Poverty Alleviation Committee of Mohammadpur Johuri Moholla Slum arranged a cleanliness day on 22 October, 2011. With the presence of community leaders, Ward Commission representatives and area police representatives, the programme begins with cleaning the slum neighbourhood, roads and households, along with creating awareness among the slum dwellers to keep their surroundings clean and hygienic.
BRAC’s Ultra poor programme’s urban initiative organised the discussion, followed by a rally in the neighbourhood and providing the ultra poor members with waste baskets to continue maintaining their locale clean. Many children from the slum participated and learned about this issue. In addition to that, it worked on strengthening the linkage with local government, affiliates and Dhaka City Corporation with the ultra poor community in Mohammadpur Slum. The programme was implemented in the light of creating an overall culture of healthy living, and setting the best possible personal and environmental hygiene based standards for the urban slum dwellers.
According to the local slum dwellers, the programme left a lasting impact on their community. Many visitors expressed interest in setting up a similar programme in their own locality.
Chairperson's Remarks at the South Asia Economic Summit Conference
22 October 2011.
Fourth South Asia Economic Summit,
Current Phase of the Recovery and Implications for South Asia,
Speech delivered by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Guest of Honour.
"It seems that South Asia weathered the fall outs of the global economic and financial crisis relatively well, though the impact of the recent euro crisis on exports and growth in South Asia is still uncertain. These aggregate level perspectives of the macroeconomic adjustments however do not fully reveal the new set of risks that are emerging along with the traditional structural problems and the prevalent widespread poverty and vulnerability. It is these human dimensions of the crisis that I want to focus on in my brief remarks.
The poor are hit the hardest by any economic downturn. The poor take much longer to recover, as recovery in real wages and employment take much longer than recovery in GDP. Poorer people are affected more than others because they have fewer buffers, and because the range and effectiveness of their buffers are inadequate. The poor lack assets and predominantly possess unskilled-labour and engage in the informal sector. This restricts their ability to cope by switching jobs, and expose them to unregulated labour markets. In addition, economic downturns push poor households into a vicious cycle of poverty. They are often forced to respond with measures that keep them poor: reducing the number and quality of meals, postponing health-related expenditure and withdrawing children from school. These actions lead to lower future income-earning potential for current and future generations, resulting in a trap of persistent poverty. And the women and children bear the greatest brunt of these damaging fluctuations and adjustments.
The immediate and the longer term, perhaps even inter generational impact of the global food crisis, fallout of the economic and financial crisis, has been dire and the term ‘recovery’ is perhaps too premature to be used in describing its current phase. Let’s put the trend in some perspective. In 2007 alone, the prices of principle food staples—rice, corn, soybeans and wheat, effectively doubled throughout the world. This was an unprecedented rise and it revered the more than 50 years of declining prices. We know the results which were immediate and devastating. By the most conservative estimates, globally, the number of hungry or chronically malnourished rose by at least 100 million, to nearly one billion people—that is almost one seventh of the world’s population. Though the grain prices have declined substantially since 2008, experts agree that they are poised to rise again.
Recent evidence from developing country settings confirms that increases in food prices cause maternal and child under nutrition levels to rise rapidly. And the negative impact starts with the unborn child in the womb—it is quality and not just the quantity of the diet during pregnancy that is important for successful birth outcomes. The consumption of more expensive micronutrient rich food (milk, green leafy vegetables and fruits) during pregnancy is found to be positively associated with the size of the infant at birth. Rapidly increasing food prices are also likely to cause nutritional insults very early in pregnancy, which will influence later fetal and infant growth. The full human cost of the food crisis may thus well be intergenerational and very expensive for the society and the economy.
The crisis has a number of drivers which include the diversion of grains in North America and Western Europe to bio fuel production; higher energy costs which translate into more expensive chemical fertilizers; and financial speculation over staple crops, which cause price fluctuations. The situation is further aggravated by underlying trends such as rapid population growth. Climate change is also threatening to lower crop yields at precisely the time when staple foods urgently need to be produced.
What needs to be done? Issues of both production and distribution are important here and should be approach in an integrated way. In my view, we should focus on two strategic priorities that lie at the centre of both the production and distribution aspects of the problem—getting elimination of hunger and malnutrition at the centre of our politics and reenergizing the women’s economic empowerment agenda.
We know that food, hunger and politics are inextricably linked. When governments have been committed, progress has been very rapid, as the examples of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico and most brilliantly Brazil have demonstrated conclusively over the last three decades. In contrast, the prevalence of underweight children in the South Asian countries barring the shining example of Sri Lanka, is among the highest in the world, and is nearly double that of Sub-Saharan Africa with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth. Unless governments are made to care for its citizens going hungry and are fully committed to reducing the number of hungry and chronically malnourished people, no solutions will have the political teeth to make the real dent.
We need to turn this agenda as a central part of our political process and one of the non negotiable KPIs of any regime. Concrete targets and action plan in reducing the number of citizens who are hungry and are chronically malnourished should be a critical part of every electoral manifesto and this has to be made a popular topic of public debates. The targets have to be broken down by local constituencies to reflect regional differences and also to decentralize and amplify citizen monitoring and voice. A compact between the different development actors will be forged at every political constituency to deliver on the local target plan. In the final analysis, food security is an issue of citizenship and a matter of fundamental citizenship rights. We need to centre our politics around this fundamental element of the social contract between a citizen and her state.
Let me now turn to the other strategic priority— eliminating the gender gap. There are two very influential global reports—the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report and Gender Gap Report (GGR). IFPRI researchers examined the relationship between these two indices and found gender inequality and hunger go hand in hand--- an important step to ending world hunger is thus empowering women and eradicating gender disparities in education, health, economic participation, and political opportunities.
What type of gender gap matters more for hunger? Is it different in different parts of the world? The Gender Gap Index is divided into four sub components—economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. The researchers find that while in Sub Saharan Africa, the gender gap in educational attainment is the primary driver, in case of South Asia; it is the gender inequality in the health and survival domain, i.e. the inequality between men and women in healthy life expectancy and sex ratio at child birth, which is the main driver of hunger. Here's a statistic to digest - 49 percent of children under five in South Asia are underweight. In sub-Saharan Africa, a region many associate with images of starving children, the figure is 28 percent. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan together account for half the world's underweight children. This is directly related to women’s status in south Asia.
To address this, it is important that we invest in women’s and girls’ nutrition over the life cycle and build support for women’s empowerment in communities. I would like to underline the focus on taking a ‘life cycle’ approach to nutrition and the importance of empowering the women beyond the household—in public life and in her community. Ultimately, the structural cause of the gender gap is the inequality that exists in economic and political participation—narrowing this gap is fundamental to sustaining any progress that is made in addressing the gender gaps in the more practical needs domain. Working at the policy and advocacy level to strengthen women’s property rights and creating pressure from below by improving women’s legal awareness are keys to addressing the structural constraints.
As citizens of a part of the world that is successfully tackling the complex challenges of economic management and delivering on solid growth in an uncertain world, we cannot accept the political irresponsibility of our governments failing to ensure that no one suffers the indignity of going hungry and the denial of an opportunity to realize the full potential of our children because of being malnourished. This is doable-- one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century was to make famine which seemed inevitable, a rarity. Today, famine is almost invariably the product of evil governments or no governments. So with right politics as global humanity we have been able to consign to the museums the hunger that kills. The 21st century challenge is to do that for the hunger that stunt and wastes our potential. "