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29 May 2012, Dhaka. During 28-30 April 2012, BRAC community component of IYCF attended the South Asian Regional Conference on Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The South Asian Regional Conference on Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding awarded a crest to BRAC on April 28 2012 in recognition of its excellent services for the Infant and Young Child Feeding to the nation. Professor Dr Mudasser Ali, Advisor to the Honorable Prime Minister for Health and Family Welfare and Social Welfare Affairs presented the crest at the Ruposi Bangla Hotel. Dr Kaosar Afsana, Director Health, received the crest on behalf of BRAC.

Alive & Thrive (A&T) is a learning project to develop scaled up models for preventing child malnutrition through improving Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices. BRAC’s community component of Alive &Thrive intervention focuses on achieving behavior change through counseling, coaching and demonstration and is being duly supported by social mobilisation activities to ensure an enabling environment in the community.  A&T began its preparatory phase in the mid of 2009 in three sub-districts and one slum to test and refine the model. Accordingly, the project started its activities after the recruitment and deployment of the staff in 22 sub-districts by the end of June 2010, and 28 sub-districts by December 2010 respectively. The total number of working areas is now 50 rural sub-districts.IYCF Promoters/ Pushti Kormis (PK) are the new frontline workers who are devoted to the delivery of IYCF services through Alive & Thrive Initiative. The Pusti Kormis provide age-specific home visits, especially during the first year of life, and are on call to handle feeding problems that cannot be solved by the other frontline workers and to provide follow-up services.The project is conducting social mobilisation in all 50 upazilas as a process where the religious leaders, govt. health and family planning officers, village doctors, adolescents, parents and school teachers, local leaders and elderly people, all meet in equal terms to facilitate the IYCF. In other words, it can be viewed as a process which begins as a dialogue among the members of the community to determine who, what, and how the issues are decided, and also to provide an avenue for everyone to participate and support the decisions that affect the IYCF practices in the community.

22 May 2012, Dhaka. BRAC Learning Centre (BLC) has officially commenced its journey at Khalishpur in Khulna Metropolitan City this Tuesday. Mr Talukdar Abdul Khaleque, the city mayor, was invited as the chief guest of this grand event.

Md. Jamsher Ahammad Khandakar, Deputy Commissioner, was present as a special guest at the event chaired by Dr Mahbub Hossain, Executive Director, BRAC. The CFO of BRAC group Mr S N Kairy, Director of Communications Mr Asif Saleh, Assistant Director of the Construction and Maintenance Department Mr A I M Mansur, and the BLC in-charge Mr Mostafa Kamal were also present at the event.

During the inauguration speech, mayor Talukder said that, “This is not only going to play an important role in empowering our human resources, but also is going to result in the economic development of our society.”

Mr Mahbub Hossain said that, “We need everyone’s support and assistance in order to make this initiative a success.”

This happens to be BRAC’s 20th Learning Centre in the country, and the centre is fully equipped and specialised in training a total of 50 trainees altogether provided with their living arrangements.

23 May 2012, Dhaka. “I believe that female can do better than man in driving profession. Girls are more cautious while driving. They do not smoke, talk over cell phone or overtake while driving. We should encourage girls to join in driving profession. It can be a respectable job for them. -  Mr. Obaidul Kader MP, Minister, Ministry of Communication & Railways, said this in the launching event of BRAC Driving School at Uttara. He thanked BRAC for including 2 women in the training of trainer’s course that he visited.

The Minister also requested BRTA to sign an MOU to work jointly with BRAC and other stakeholders on driving training supports. Today BRAC has launched its driving school at Uttara, opposite Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and Hajj Camp.

Road traffic injuries cause a loss of about 2% of GDP in Bangladesh. It is also found in WHO’s survey in 2009 that 170,000 people become handicapped every year. A survey conducted on existing driving training schools by BRAC in the private sector revealed that the quality of the training, the instructors, and the training aids used, are below acceptable standard. Only 69 out of some 350 schools have approval from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA).

Cars are involved in 2 to 3 percent of accidents in western country where as 70% cars are involved in accidents in Bangladesh. We know the reasons, but we need to take actions to reduce the rate.” Actor and Social Activist Ilias Kanchan said in his speech.

Mr. A. Najmul Hussin Director in Charge of BRAC Road Safety Programme said in his presentation that we have 16 lac registered vehicles and 10 lac licensed drivers at present.  This means we have shortage of 14 lac drivers calculated at 1.5 drivers required per motor vehicle. license. They need to be trained and licensed by authority.

Mr. S N Kairy, CFO BRAC in his speech gave out the future road safety plan of BRAC. He said the 1st year pilot of BRAC driving school will be extended to 5 years on the positive result. BRAC has plan to raise the status of Brac Driving School as college in future.

Considering the dismal state of drivers training in the country, National Road Safety Council  decided that that the Bangladesh Army, BRAC, and Accident Research Institute of BUET, in joint collaboration with BRTA, will train driving instructors and provide road safety training to in-service drivers. BRAC engaged Hubert Ebner (India) Pvt Ltd., Delhi-based Indo-Austrian organisation with 30 years experience in road safety, to prepare training materials and to conduct the training of driving trainers recruited by them. The driving training curriculum, materials and equipment are prepared jointly with Hubert Ebner, and are of international standard. BRAC Driving School will offer 18 days training for BRAC driving school trainers, 12 days training for instructors of driving training schools at the private sector, 24 days basic driving training for men and women from the youth section of population for employment abroad and 2 days road safety and defensive driving training for in-service professional drivers (fake and renewal applicants).

BRAC Driving School is an initiative of the BRAC Road Safety Programme which was started in 2001 to support government’s effort to improve road safety in the country. It has done lots of campaign for awareness building and animation films on road safety issues.

In the closing speech Executive Director of BRAC Dr. Mahbub Hossain sayd , “BRAC always start new initiative as a project, later on based on the outcome we scale up the project at national level. We can start this project as private-public partnership project and later on jointly expand the functions with government.”

Mr. Obaidul Kader MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Communication & Railways Government of Bangladesh was present there as Chief Guest. Chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) Mr. Md. Ayubur Rahman Khan, Actor and Social Activist Ilias Kanchan, Executive Director of BRAC Dr. Mahbub Hossain, Country Head of Hubert Ebner (India) Pvt. Limited Druvo Trivedy and high officials of government and BRAC will be present there.

The BRAC Driving School is designed to make significant impact towards producing institution based trained and skilled driver community in the country. The instructors and drivers successfully trained by BDS will not only improve the current hazardous road safety situation, but their positive attitude, behaviour and driving skill will reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and thereby the cost of transportation in the country.

22 May 2012, London. One of the UK’s largest ethnic media channels, NTV Europe, celebrated its fourth year of broadcasting in the UK on Thursday night with a star packed gala at London’s O2.

BRAC was honoured to be chosen as the channel’s official charity for the evening.

The event was attended by 500 guests including UK politicians, business and community leaders, celebrities, actors and entertainers with links to Bangladesh. Live performances included two hits by Mumzy Stranger who is the first artist of Bangladeshi descent to have entered the mainstream music industry and a leading British-Asian R&B artist in Britain.

NTV UK and Bangladesh team

Subrina Hossain, Chief Executive, NTV UK Europe said:
“This year, BRAC celebrates its fortieth anniversary. An organisation that was born and bred in Bangladesh and has grown to become the world's largest charity. The new management team at NTV applaud this achievement and have made BRAC their official charity for tonight's event.”

Guests watched BRAC’s powerful 40th Anniversary animation video and donated up to £500 cash during a table collection at the end of the evening.

NTV is the largest and most popular Bangladeshi television channel in the world, and the market leader in the UK and Europe, broadcasting live on Sky 852, 24 hours a day from its state-of-the-art studios in Bow, London. NTV UK is a subsidiary of the International Television Channel Ltd (Bangladesh).

18 May 2012, Dhaka. The former United Kingdom Prime Minister and the Co-Chair of the High level panel on Global Education visited BRAC Community Girls School (CGS), funded by Comic Relief and Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI), World Bank funded in his two days (11th and 12th May 2012) visit in South Sudan. The visit is a result of his interest to promote education in South Sudan after Kevin Watkins of the center for Universal education at the Brooking Institution wrote a report titled “Education in South Sudan, “investing in the better future” that was published aftermath of his review. BRAC South Sudan organised a sharing meeting with Education based INGOs & LNGOs with Hon, Gordon Brown and his team. BRAC South Sudan, Save the Children, Confident Child out of Conflict (A community Based organisation dealing with taking care of street children in Juba), Bari Community Association, BSF, Stromme Foundation, UNICEF, UNOPS,NRC and AET attended the meeting.

Hon. Gordon Brown Visited one Community Girls School (CGS) and witnessed adolescent club meeting at Hai Kugi, Gudele Juba County, in Central Equatoria state which located nearly about 7Kms away from Juba town. Positive impression were seen by the delegates after visiting one of the parents home and Hon. Gordon Brown donated some amount of money after finding the child sick for some days without any health attention.

Earlier this year the report published after the review of Hon Gordon Brown highlighted that,”Over one million children of primary school age are out of school. Enrolment rates in secondary education are below 10 per cent. In what is a desperate situation for all children, South Sudan’s girls face additional disadvantages. Just 6 per cent of 13 year old girls have completed primary school. So extreme are the gender inequalities that young girls in South Sudan are more than twice as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as they are to make it through primary school and into secondary education”.

The report presented to the High level panel on Global Education identified the fund requirement totaling to $90 Millions to be given to four education partners in South Sudan of which BRAC South Sudan would require $40Miliion to Provide Primary education to 100,000 students within 4 years.  During the meeting with the Minister of General education Joseph Ukel Abango and the senior Officials in the ministry, Hon Gordon Brown said that his country would help South Sudanese millions children had opportunity to education.  

BRAC south Sudan has been operating education programme way back in 2008 up to current 6,750 students have been admitted to 225 Non formal primary schools (CGS).

13 May 2012, Dhaka. The James P Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University formally opened its new premises in icddr,b’s main campus in Mohakhali on May 8, 2012. The inauguration ceremony was held in two parts. During the first part held at Sasakawa Auditorium, BRAC’s Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG who attended the function as chief guest said, “I am sure this collaboration will be fruitful as well as mutually beneficial for both icddr,b and SPH. From inception in 2004, SPH has come a long way. ”

The 8th batch of candidates for the flagship Masters in Public Health (MPH) programme at the James P Grant School gave a brief presentation. Since the inception of the MPH programme in 2005, the school has had 258 students from 22 countries participating in the programme.

The James P Grant Schoop of Public Health at BRAC University was established in 2004 where each of the three partner institutions, BRAC, Brac University and icddr,b, supports the school’s objectives to foster education, research and leadership.

The school’s name honours the late James P Grant, former Executive Director of UNICEF, whose relentless pursuit of a global revolution in child survival in the 1980s is a legacy we aim to promote for global health for the 21st century. In 2008, journalist Nicholas D. Kristof described Grant as, "a little-known American aid worker," who "probably saved more lives than were destroyed by Hitler, Mao, and Stalin combined" through his promotion of vaccinations and diarrhoea treatments.

The James P Grant School's impact on public health was recognised by The Bulletin of the World Health Organisation in 2007 when it was selected as one of six of the world’s most effective institutions for promoting innovative higher public health education. This achievement is undoubtedly also testimony to the high level of support provided by its institutional partners.

Special guests included BRAC University’s Honourable Vice Chancellor Professor Ainun Nishat and icddr,b’s Executive Director Dr Alejandro Cravioto.
Dr. Cravioto highlighted many additional benefits that the joint venture between icddr,b and BRAC University will deliver, such as the emergence of new research links in the field of public health. The school also utilises the vast expertise of icddr,b’s 15 faculty members, each of whom are accredited professors, associate professors and guest lecturers. Furthermore, Dr. Cravioto noted that scores of Masters of Public Health (MPH) graduates went on to join icddr,b after successfully completing the school's intensive 12-month programme.

Vice Chancellor Professor Ainun Nishat congratulated the James P Grant School of Public Health on the occasion. He went on to mention that BRAC University is having its own campuses build and looks forward to further the relationship.

Field visits arranged by icddr,b to its various field sites, in addition to research linkages between BRAC and icddr,b have enriched scientific learning on the current state of public health research and practice.

Dr. Cravioto said, “This joint venture has created a good opportunity for our researchers to share and disseminate their extensive knowledge in research and experiences in public health through their teaching at the James P Grant School of Public Health. This knowledge can be transmitted worldwide.”

During his address, Dean of the School of Public Health Dr. Timothy G. Evans said, “We’re inaugurating the new premises of the James P Grant School of Public Health. It is allowing the school to align with the vision and insights of its founders. He further elaborated that when plans were being drawn up for the school in 2003 – together with icddr,b, BRAC and BRAC University-jointly planned for the school to be based on the campus of icddr,b as part of expansion of icddr,b campout in 2004. We started with one classroom with a maximum capacity of 30 students. From today we have new premises and the capacity to accommodate over 300 students at any time.’

Dr. Sabina Faiz Rashid, MPH Coordinator gave the vote of thanks. She acknowledged the critical role of core institutional pillars (BRAC University, BRAC and icddr,b) and collaborating partners, development, faculty and students who have contributed to maintaining its excellence.

The chief guest formally inaugurated the school during a ceremony held at the school’s premises on level six of icddr,b building.  The inauguration was followed by a tour of the school’s new premises. The Master of Ceremony for the programme was Anuradha Hashemi, Researcher.

11 May 2012, Dhaka. 1 June 2012 is the last day for non-governmental organizations to apply for Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status in order to have an opportunity to take part in UN deliberations.

ECOSOC consultative status is governed by ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, which outlines the eligibility requirements for consultative status, rights and obligations of NGOs in consultative status, procedures for the withdrawal or suspension of consultative status, the role and functions of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, and the responsibilities of the UN Secretariat in supporting the consultative relationship.

Consultative status is granted by ECOSOC upon recommendation of the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, which is comprised of 19 Member States.

ECOSOC Needs You
While ECOSOC has the opportunity to avail itself of valuable and expert advice from NGOs, the NGOs in turn also have the opportunity of expressing their views and influencing the work of the Council. NGOs have specialized competence, hands-on experience and flexibility that is of great value to the UN. For instance, by having consultative status, an NGO could:
- Provide expert analysis on issues directly from its experience in the field;
- Serve as an early warning agent;
- Help monitor and implement international agreements;
- Help raise public awareness of relevant issues;
- Play a major role in advancing United Nations goals and objectives;
- Contribute with essential information at organization events.

On the other hand, ECOSOC provides NGOs the opportunity to be heard by a truly global audience and contribute to its agenda. An NGO with consultative status can:
- Attend international conferences and events;
- Make written and oral statements at these events;
- Organize side events;
- Enter United Nations premises;
- Have opportunities to network and lobby.

Eligibility Requirements
International, regional, sub regional and national non-governmental, non-profit public or voluntary organizations may be granted the consultative status. NGOs affiliated to an international organization already in status may be admitted provided that they can demonstrate that their program of work is of direct relevance to the aims and purposes of the United Nations. In the case of national organizations consultation with the Member State concerned is required.

NGOs that can be granted the consultative status must:
- have been in existence (officially registered with the appropriate government authorities as an NGO/non-profit) for at least two years.;
- have an established headquarters.;
- have a democratically adopted constitution, authority to speak for its members, a representative structure, appropriate mechanisms of accountability and democratic and transparent decision-making processes;
- must have their basic resources derived in the main part from contributions of the national affiliates or other components or from individual members;
- not be established by governments or intergovernmental agreements.

The deadline is June 1, 2012.   Do not miss the opportunity to apply for ECOSOC Consultative Status with the United Nations.

Please visit the following link to start the process:

9 May 2012, Dhaka.  “Education should be about something more than just read and write, as you (Sir Abed) said it's about giving a chance, it's about sustainable development of education, it's about knowing our environment, about taking initiative and much more than that. "- Ms Irina Bokova, the first woman Director-General of UNESCO, said this while in conversation with Sir Fazle Hasan Abed. In a meeting on 9 May 2012 at BRAC Centre, Ms Irina Bokova along with her high officials, met with Sir Fazle Hasan Abed for a discussion which was primarily focused on BRAC integrated and sustainable approach towards development sectors, especially in Education and Health. UNESCO Education Speciallist Kiichi Oyasu, Director of BRAC Education Programme Dr. Safiqul Islam and Director of Institute of Educational Development Ms. Erum Mariam were also present in the meeting.

During the meeting, they discussed about BRAC’s activities in the education arena. For capacity building in public sector, BRAC introduced Institute of Educational Development under BRAC University, where Masters Degrees and various short courses are being offered. Dr. Safiqul Islam, Director of BRAC Education Programme, discussed about innovative approaches of BRAC Education Programme like boat schools in haor areas, mother language based school for ethnic children and special education opportunity for children with special needs.

Ms Irina Bokova mentioned the importance of showcasing positive development stories. She also appreciated the way BRAC works closely with the government to bring synergy in the outcomes. She has invited the Chairperson to attend a meeting in UNESCO's headquarter in Paris where they will discuss about the post 2015 agenda on the next goals of UNESCO. She also wants UNESCO to work closely with BRAC in Asia and Africa where BRAC is working.

When Ms Irina Bokova mentioned about quality improvement in teaching and learning process, Sir Abed mentioned that teaching and learning can be improved only by the government’s involvement, since they are leading the education system.

BRAC Uganda Community Health Promoter Gertrude Kahanda demonstrates the use of a mosquito net with patient Farida Muzafaru

BRAC Uganda community health promoter Gertrude Kahanda (right) demonstrates the use of a mosquito net to patient Farida Muzafaru

9 May 2012, Kampala - Malaria is the most deadly disease in Uganda. It is responsible for 25-30% of under five deaths in the country, resulting in 70,000-100,000 deaths annually. While children under five are most at risk, only 28% of them sleep under bed nets. Even fewer of these children are sleeping under nets that are properly treated (or retreated) with the necessary insecticides.

BRAC Uganda recently conducted a study to assess the performance of its bed net distribution program. Since February 2008, BRAC Uganda has been distributing long lasting insecticide treated bed nets through its volunteer community health promoters.

One of the key objectives of the study was to determine the possession and usage of insecticidal nets. The study found that about 40% of surveyed households in the Kampala area and 60% surveyed in Eastern districts did not even have insecticidal bed nets. Much graver was that only 14% of household members claimed to have used their bed nets the night before. This finding demonstrated insufficient distribution by NGO's and agencies working in this space. Additionally, there was clearly a lack of comprehensive understanding as to the importance of bed nets and a critical need for greater public education on the issue.

Related to this was a finding that many respondents claimed allergies and aversion to the chemicals used for treating the nets. Public education is needed to curve this belief and reinforce the importance of chemical treatment. Others were washing their nets out too frequently, depleting the active chemicals on the nets and requesting early retreatments. BRAC Uganda does not currently have a program for this, however the results of the study suggests this is necessary.

Another key issue BRAC must contend with is that other agencies are offering bed nets for free. BRAC might consider an arrangement by which it does the same, or perhaps lowers the price it is currently charging. It was shown, however, that users often did not value bed nets if given for free.

Overall, the study was a great success, bringing to light fundamental shortcomings in the program and on-ground realities that were not initially accounted for. Impacting the spread of Malaria is vital and BRAC Uganda will work on the basis of its findings to improve its efforts.

 6 May 2012, Dhaka — Knight Commander, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and Nobel Laureate, Muhammad Yunus, have been marked as the creators of the world’s two best organizations – BRAC and Grameen Bank – by the visiting US secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In an early morning 9 o’clock meeting on 6 May 2012, at the Gulshan Residence of the US ambassador of Bangladesh, Dan W Mozena; Sir Fazle and Dr. Yunus met with Secretary Clinton for an hour long discussion which was primarily focused on the development of Bangladesh and women’s rights and empowerment.

Various other national and regional issues were also brought into focus which included feasible solutions to the electricity crisis, the current political situation, mobile phone technology usage in disseminating developmental services, the country’s poverty reduction capacity, youth empowerment, development success achieved so far in Bangladesh and its enduring potential. The two visionaries of Bangladesh have requested the continued support and assistance from the US in regard to these issues.

During the meeting, Secretary Clinton expressed her deep condolences to the family and friends of Mohammad Mohiuddin, BRAC’s Area Manger in the western province of Ghor, Afghanistan, who died in an armed attack on 3rd May 2012. She praised and appreciated the micro credit system, giving due credit to BRAC and Grameen Bank for the sustainable progress in the social structure of Bangladesh. She expressed her gratitude to both of them for their commitment and hard work towards such development work.

For a developing nation like Bangladesh, she has ensured continued US assistance for the betterment of humanity. Secretary Clinton said that she has known Sir Fazle and Dr. Yunus for almost 25 years and honours them as “national treasures” with the hope that the Government will also treat them accordingly.

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