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August 8, 2019

World’s Indigenous Peoples Day: Celebrating diversity through stories

The land of black and white parrots

Paibung was a little girl whose parents were jhum (slash and burn agriculture) farmers. One day, before going to work, Paibung’s parents asked her to look after the sesame seeds which were drying under the sun in their yard.

Suddenly, a flock of black and white parrots came and asked Paibung for some sesame seeds. Paibung told them that she could not give them any and that her parents would be really upset if she did.

“If your parents scold you,” said the parrots, “You can come to us to the land of

August 8, 2019

Why learning should begin in your own language

Research shows that a child’s first language is the optimal language for learning throughout primary school years, and that children are more likely to drop out or fall behind in school if the language of instruction is not their first language.

I grew up surrounded by rolling blue-green hills in Rangamati Sadar of south-eastern Bangladesh. I still remember my first days of school – a very reputed school in the area. I remember starting and ending my classes feeling lost. I had little idea of what the teachers said. It sounded nothing like the language I was familiar with all …

July 30, 2019

Combatting the world’s fastest growing crime

Shahinur* was left destitute when her husband was injured in a car accident. A recruiting agency offered her a stable job in Libya and she accepted. Shahinur found herself in Syria, instead of Libya, in a brothel, instead of an office. She was raped, beaten and tortured, for months. Like the majority of women migrant workers from Bangladesh seeking a better life, Shahinur was trafficked into sex work. 

Bangladesh is the fifth highest labour sending country in the world, but it is also among the top 10 countries from where people migrate across the Mediterranean Sea on boats. The country

July 28, 2019

How Liberia’s bushlands got a lush, green makeover

We can all learn something from the past. The interventions the U.S. carried out during the Great Depression taught us that targeting the agriculture-oriented areas can be a beacon for financial stability in hard times. Cash for work is an underrated treatment that has been practiced in various nuances during the times of financial crises and nutrition insecurity.

The name says it all – cash is provided to those who are at risk of falling into the poverty trap during times of low employment. Even if temporary, there is hope in the employment opportunities received in public projects. BRAC in

July 25, 2019
BLOG Youth

Are Bangladesh’s youth ready for the 21st century?

It is a fact widely understood now that Bangladesh is facing a unique situation that comes virtually once in a few centuries, and that too only to a few countries: the “working age population” of Bangladesh is now significantly larger than the “non-working age population.” What this implies is that most people in Bangladesh now are “naturally ready” to work. What this further translates into is that Bangladesh could give its national production, and hence its economic growth, a major boost by nurturing the potential of this huge, naturally ready youth demographic through proper training and capacity building. That …

July 23, 2019

How BRAC used machine learning to reduce the drop-out rate of learners with disabilities to zero

Tech giants like Netflix, Google and Amazon have been using machine learning to inform decision-making for decades. It helps them to continually learn more about their clients and ensure that they target people with the products and services that they are most likely to want. Even though supply chains are longer than they have ever been before, the suggestions which clients receive about what to buy are more tailored than ever before. And the machines get better and better at selling – the more that clients interact with organisations, the more information they collect, and the smarter the predictions of …

July 21, 2019
BLOG Youth

BRACATHON 3.0: Where tech meets social change

Israt, Zahid and two of their friends, all students of the Institute Information Technology (IIT) of Dhaka University, have been developing an android app and a website for the last 36 hours. When complete, their app will be a tech-based solution to ensuring financial inclusion for people in rural Bangladesh.

They are all participants of the two-day-long BRACATHON 3.0 that ended on Saturday, 20 July 2019 at the GP House in Dhaka.

“Our app has a geo-tagging option. This will allow programme organisers in the field to cover more areas than they usually do. In that way, they will be …

July 14, 2019
BLOG General

A new data model for a more pro-poor national budget

This prompts the question – where is the voice of ordinary Bangladeshis, and are we doing enough to include them in the decision-making processes?

The impact of budget has always been discussed at the macro level. The micro-level impact of the budget plan has hardly been considered. For example, if the price of a particular food item increases, the impact this has on a rural, female-headed family never comes to light. There is no effective tool to examine the micro-level impact either, a reason why it remains largely unexplored. On this very thought, BRAC in collaboration with iSocial a research …

July 11, 2019

Jhorna Fabrics: Fit for a queen

Normally, the boutique teems with clientele, but today it has a special visitor. Queen Máxima of The Netherlands, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development paid a visit to Jhorna Fabrics, keeping the promise she made to its owner four years ago. 

Queen Máxima’s second visit to Bangladesh came in the wake of Bangladesh’s positive strides in financial inclusion, from 31% in 2014 to 50% in 2017. However, gender disparity in financial inclusion is still an issue, as Queen Máxima herself observes: “Bangladesh’s gender gap in financial access grew a staggering 20% from 2014 to

July 11, 2019

BRAC at the Dhaka meeting of Global Commission on Adaptation

Bangladesh is one of the 17 convening countries for the Commission. The Dhaka meeting concluded with a number of recommendations to accelerate adaptation which will be placed at the UN Climate Summit in September this year. Dr Muhammad Musa, executive director of BRAC International and one of the commissioners elected by former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, reflects on BRAC’s learnings and experiences from its work with vulnerable communities in 11 countries in Asia and Africa.

10 July 2019, Dhaka – “I feel honoured to welcome the distinguished participants as one of the commissioners of Global Commission …

July 10, 2019

Turning passion into profession: An intern’s day out in the field

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to see BRAC’s impact up close during my brief internship. I had the chance to visit Dhamrai in Dhaka division to see one of its largest programmes – microfinance. Dabi is one of the products offered by the programme. The name directly translates to ‘right’ or ‘demand’ in Bangla, symbolising access to financial services as a basic human right, irrespective of an individual’s social standing. Dabi loans help low-income women to buy productive assets, invest in business or property, smooth consumption, and manage shocks while promoting women’s empowerment in local communities.…

July 1, 2019

Quality, affordable healthcare across the capital

Bangladesh has made significant strides in health care in recent years, however, it now faces emerging challenges in health, with non-communicable diseases being one of them. According to WHO, in 2012, 59% of all deaths in the country attributed to non-communicable diseases. Excessive treatment costs stemming from failure of timely detection poses as a double burden.

BRAC has been working with maternal, child, and delivery care for the last 40 years. The initial target was to educate the community on different health issues and linking them with appropropriate health providers. Today, we are faced with increased incidence of non-communicable …