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October 5, 2017
BLOG General

A Bangladeshi NGO’s herculean response to a humanitarian crisis

When a humanitarian crisis of this scale hits, it can be easy to overlook the local players — especially as large, international aid groups step in to respond.

But on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, where UNHCR estimates state that 501,000 people, a population larger than the city of New Orleans, are seeking shelter, a Bangladeshi organisation is playing a seismic role.

BRAC is not a typical NGO. Based in Bangladesh, it has an annual expenditure of more than $1.1 billion, with the majority self-financed from its enterprises. Its anti-poverty solutions operate in conflict-prone and post-disaster settings across 11 …

September 20, 2017

5 ways young people can help tackle climate change

Bangladesh and its people, however, are survivors.

Our landscape makes us prone to natural disasters, and over the years people have learned to adapt to it.

While the situation is the worst it has ever been, we are better equipped than we have ever been. This success can be credited to collaborative efforts by the government and civil society, which ensure shelter homes, pre-disaster preparedness, and early warning systems.

Floods and other climatic attacks are expected to worsen in our region, with Bangladesh listed as one of the top five countries most vulnerable to climate change. While we are resilient …

September 5, 2017

Floating schools for climate change

Jhuma’s home, a small mud house, stands alone on a little raised piece of land in the middle of a vast inland sea. She lives in the haor, a seemingly endless stretch of wetlands in Sunamganj in northern Bangladesh. Everything around her is covered by water. She cannot see land, as far as she looks, for more than half of the year. More children drop out from schools in these areas than anywhere else in the country. 20 million people live in the haor region that spreads across seven districts. Less than 1% finish high school.

Jhuma and her

August 17, 2017

Why is Bangladesh in space?

The team of BRAC University students that designed Onnesha, Bangladesh’s first nano-satellite, begs to differ.

“Bangladesh needs eyes in the skies precisely because we’re facing so many problems on land!” exclaims Md Shourobh, the ground station team leader.

Onnesha might be a tiny box orbiting in space, but her mission is paving the way for Bangladesh’s future generation of scientists – and helping us all to make a world that works for us all.

Her journey started aboard the SpaceX Dragon on the Falcon-9 rocket on its second cargo mission to the International Space Station. Falcon-9, a part of Elon …

June 22, 2017

The mother of ducks

As the western sky grows rosy pink, and the paddy fields on the east turn deep green, hundreds of brown little dots are suddenly seen scrambling in the horizon. Within minutes, a flock of quacking ducks approach the main road, and amongst them, walks a woman in a bright blue saree.

Banumoti’s ducks wriggling their way through the main road

Meet Banumoti. She is bringing her 400 ducks back home.

“Hey, don’t scare them!”, she scolds a boy running at her army of ducks. “If you scare the ducks, they won’t lay eggs.”

Banumoti will typically make just over USD

March 7, 2017
BLOG Youth

Kicking it like a girl

But is she, really? How are you so sure that no one is bothering her at school or in her workplace? Can you, as a father, always ensure that you will be around to protect her?

A recent finding by BRAC shows that at least 20 reported violent acts were committed against women every single day between January to December in 2016.

Long-term behavioural change initiatives are crucial, but they are not going to keep your daughter, sister or wife safe right now.

Equip her with confidence. What is the best way to do that? It starts in the way …

February 22, 2017

The 202 billion dollars we cannot see

It is estimated that 624 million people around the world could have their vision restored if they could access eye glasses. This lack of access is costing the global economy a whopping USD 202 billion per year.

Presbyopia is one of the most common vision impairments. It reduces the ability to focus on near objects. People with presbyopia often complain of headaches and eye strain, and hold objects away from their eyes in order to be able to focus on them. It is simply a result of the eye’s natural ageing, and easy to live with, as long as …

December 14, 2016

Client-centricity at scale: The BRAC Smart Certification journey

As a non-profit dedicated to poverty reduction, client welfare has been central to BRAC’s mission since its inception in 1972. In Bangladesh in general, almost all microfinance institutions are non-profits, and so microfinance has always been seen as a tool for alleviating poverty in the country.

Why, then, did BRAC feel the need for Smart Certification? BRAC has always been a vocal advocate of financial services as a key tool to empower the poor. But in making this promise we wanted to be absolutely certain that we were doing everything we could for our own products to live up to …

August 16, 2016

Avoiding the supposedly unavoidable

Flooding is not a new phenomenon, and yet it continues to be treated with surprise. Almost one fifth of our country goes underwater every year. The geography and topography of Bangladesh means that we will always be prone to flooding, and the situation will only worsen with climate change.

This year’s devastation was avoidable. The reason why so many homes were destroyed was not only because there was more water than usual, but also because of the collapse of flood infrastructure, including over 53 kilometres of embankments in locations such as Sunamganj, Fulchari of Gaibandha and Dimla of Nilphamari.

The …

June 30, 2016

Post-disaster recovery: Don’t forget the children

“What’s there to be afraid of?” they shot back, shrugging their shoulders with cheeky smiles.

This was their reaction to Cyclone Roanu, which swept the coast of Bangladesh on 21 May 2016, killing 21 people and destroying 200,000 homes.

Kutubdia, a strange little island off the coast of Cox’s Bazaar, was one of the regions direly affected by the cyclone. The ponds are mossy green and the town is quiet with no visible signs of the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Post-disaster recovery

The north and south sides of the island, however, tell completely different stories.

The north has waters seeping …

April 26, 2016
BLOG General

A tribute to a champion of the deprived

I can think of few people who have done more for the world’s deprived population than Fazle Hasan Abed. His contribution spans Bangladesh where BRAC, the organisation he founded in 1972, services close to 10 million of the country’s underprivileged households. Through Abed’s commitment to serve the world’s deprived, BRAC has now extended its reach across the globe. It has invested its experience in rehabilitating the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka and the war-ravaged population in Afghanistan where two of its officials, working in high risk areas, were held hostage by the Taliban. BRAC is now reaching out on a …

March 22, 2016
BLOG General

March 1971: “I want to help young Bangladeshis with vision for the future”

1971- Bangladesh embarked on a war that would bring about its liberation. Fast forward to March of the following year, BRAC emerged as a small relief operation faced with huge challenges- a broken economy and abject poverty.

As we celebrate 44 years of BRAC and the long way Bangladesh has come since its liberation, we also take pause to reflect on the incredible events and the sheer faith and determination of the individuals who made this journey possible. This post is the second in a series of blogs looking back at the early days of Bangladesh and the birth of