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July 1, 2020

An Audacious expansion for BRAC’s global Graduation agenda

On 18 June, TED announced that BRAC was one of eight winners of the Audacious Project. An investment of over $60 million will significantly expand BRAC’s work to enable the adoption of Graduation programmes by governments across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Graduation approach was developed by BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation programme (previously known as Targeting the Ultra-Poor Programme or “TUP”), in 2002. Since then, a range of other international NGOs and UN agencies, inspired by BRAC’s work, have adopted and tested the Graduation approach in multiple contexts and countries around the world, citing consistently high and sustained impacts across …

June 29, 2020

COVID-19 will change many women’s lives forever in Bangladesh

This year marks 25 years since the most progressive blueprint ever was created for advancing women’s rights; the Beijing Platform for Action. It outlines a visionary agenda for empowerment and achieving gender equality.

While progress has been made over the last 25 years, 2020 has brought a pandemic that has deepened pre-existing gender inequalities and exposed vulnerabilities for women in social, political, and economic systems.

The role and work of women in every sphere has intensified in the wake of the pandemic. Globally, 70% of health and social service workers are women – think nurses, community health workers, …

June 28, 2020

COVID-19: Update from Asif Saleh (27 June 2020)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

Bangladesh crossed 100 days with COVID-19 this week. The number of confirmed cases have plateaued to a range of 3,300 to 4,000 this week, but so has the testing. There still has not been any decision on how red zones will be implemented in Dhaka.

Positive news after testing kits controversy

The government is planning to introduce multiple COVID-19 test methods from July, including antigen, nucleic acid, and antibody ‘dry and wet’ tests – which provide results in less time. The Directorate General of Health Services plans to import 100,000 to 200,000 kits at …

June 21, 2020

COVID-19: Update from Asif Saleh (20 June 2020)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

Mass confusion and curiosity about zoning, lack of adequate oxygen support for patients, and approval of the locally invented rapid testing kit dominated the headlines this last week.

The crisis in Bangladesh stepped into its fourth month. If there is one thing that can fundamentally articulate the response, it is confusion. Not only have the steps taken always one step behind and failed to appreciate the urgency, but inept crisis communication or the complete lack thereof made it infinitely worse. That was once again highlighted this week.


It was disclosed to the media …

June 20, 2020

Beyond survival: How Rohingyas have built their own space for women in Cox’s Bazar

Beyond Survival is a Safe Space for Women and Girls, situated on the edge of Camp 25. The space serves as a platform, allowing Rohingya women and girls to advocate for basic services, providing women access to community support networks and strengthening social relationships. It was designed and built by Rohingyas.

Read more: Celebrating World Refugee Day 

The forced displacement of almost one million Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh in August 2017 left the community feeling like a ship without an anchor. The loss of homes and possessions, temporary living arrangements in makeshift shelters and a denial of nationality …

June 20, 2020

Celebrating World Refugee Day

BRAC believes that every person has what it takes to build a better life for themselves and others. With dedication and commitment to do well by themselves and others, people’s strength will always prevail, no matter the extent of adversity. Today, we are sharing three such stories of compassion and perseverance.

“Only prevention can protect my community from this disease.

I am ensuring my family, neighbours, and everyone else in the camps knows about COVID-19.

We have been having one-on-one conversations about social distancing and hygiene measures and holding demonstrations. They have been demonstrating, perfectly, afterwards.”

Din Islam is …

June 19, 2020

This #WorldRefugeeDay, meet your mask-maker

COVID-19 is changing our world in almost every way. One of the most visible ones is the wearing of masks.

Face masks are here to stay, and, as the outbreak expands and then possibly recurs, the demand for them will continue to rise.

To meet the demand of masks in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, a project was initiated in the Rohingya camps. There, Sayeka Ali* is one of 127 women who has been sewing together hundreds of these life-saving items.

Read more: Celebrating World Refugee Day 

Sayeka learned to sew after joining the Multipurpose Women’s Centre in January last year. …

June 19, 2020

Using the Graduation approach to uplift refugees in a changing world: An Interview with UNHCR’s Ziad Ayoubi

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are currently over 79.5 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes. This includes 25.9 million refugees, with those under 18 years old making up half of this number. Not since the Second World War have so many people left their homes, and on this year’s World Refugee Day, the current pandemic crisis has exposed major issues within existing systems and development programming, and forced us to reconsider how to serve those most in need and often left behind.

BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation …

June 12, 2020

COVID-19: Update from Asif Saleh (12 June 2020)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

Bangladesh reopens, but is preparing to close again, partially. A budget speech admitted the ground realities but did not reflect it in the numbers and its ambitions. Bangladesh is starting to attract international headlines as a global emerging hotspot.

Bangladesh’s halting progress towards a new normal

It has been almost two weeks since my last post. Since then a number of very positive policy reforms have emerged but they continue to be one step behind from what is happening on the ground. First, the good news:

  • Going outside without wearing masks is now illegal
June 7, 2020

BRAC’s lessons from Ebola for COVID-19: Opt for safe not sorry, supercharge communication, focus on clients and look for opportunities

As the world finds itself in uncharted territory struggling to combat the rapidly escalating COVID-19 pandemic, BRAC’s work in Africa during the Ebola crisis can offer valuable lessons for responding to public health crises in low-income countries.

When Ebola hit Liberia in early 2014, Sadhan Chandra Dey was a managing director at BRAC in Liberia.

BRAC’s operations slowed down rapidly when the virus hit, eventually suspending altogether in August, when the country went into lockdown.

When the crisis was over, BRAC’s operations and clients came back strong. How did the team cope with – and recover from – Ebola? …

June 5, 2020

World Environment Day 2020: Time to look at how we will recover better

Bangladesh topped the list of the world’s most polluted countries in 2019, with an air quality index of 83.3. Our nearest contender was Pakistan at 65.81. India was 58.08 and China came in at 39.12. During the lockdown, particularly in the beginning, positive changes were noted in the environment. Air quality in the capital fluctuated from unhealthy to moderate, rather than consistently being unhealthy. TV reports showed dolphins swimming around the Cox’s Bazar seashore, and, in Patuakhali, large numbers of nomadic crabs could be seen traversing the Kuakata beach because of the absence of tourists.

In parallel, …

May 31, 2020

COVID-19: Update from Asif Saleh (30 May 2020)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

A unique dichotomy is in place as we speak.

The middle-class urbanites, on one hand, are hunkering down and getting ready with preparation for at-home care and what is to come during the next few weeks. On the other hand, people from low-income groups who are worried about their livelihoods are returning to Dhaka, leaving their futures to their fate.

Photo courtesy:

Image courtesy:

The lockdown – which bought us some time to plan for things – is ending, and will be replaced by limited scale general activities with certain restrictions from 31 May – 15 …