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December 5, 2019

End gender-based violence: Integrated approaches from around the world

Gender-based violence (GBV) is an issue prevalent worldwide.

The World Bank’s research suggests that one in three women faces gender-based violence in their lifetime. Research also shows that it is likely to affect women in both developed and developing countries, regardless of socioeconomic background. In some places, forms of such violence is so normalised that women don’t report incidents. They do not feel they would get assistance from neither bystanders nor the local governance if they filed complaints.

If that is the case, then how should gender-based violence be mitigated?

Eliminating GBV requires strategies that protect, reduce, prevent and …

December 2, 2019

The green envoy: A step towards an environmentally-friendly BRAC

Bangladesh’s geographical position makes it one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. The impacts are clear: Increasingly frequent and devastating cyclones, floods and other climatic aberrations.

Disadvantaged communities are hit the hardest by climate change, and the livelihoods of people living in poverty are undermined. This results in widening inequalities and greater social injustices. At BRAC, we have been working to reduce social inequities for over 40 years, and integrating climate adaptation efforts into our interventions has become one of our prime concerns.

To ensure that our interventions work synergistically to combat the dynamics …

November 26, 2019

Digital cash: The future of humanitarian response?

At the end of 2018, 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, violence, conflict and human rights violations.

The future does not look any better.

UN forecasts predict that the number of environmental migrants could go upto 1 billion by 2050. This propels us to be prepared with innovative systems.

Humanitarian crisis and our preparedness to fight it can be questioned in so many ways. What works best for a humanitarian crisis situation?

Traditional humanitarian response was based on non-cash transfers, where goods and services were provided by aid workers. However, often in emergencies, …

November 24, 2019

Three ways BRAC creates a mental health-friendly workplace

Over six million people suffer from depression and almost seven million people have chronic anxiety in Bangladesh. For a country that loses an estimated number of over 10,000 people by suicide every year, Bangladesh spends only 0.44 per cent of its total healthcare expenditure on mental health. There is no social insurance programme that covers mental health services.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 31 per cent of Bangladeshi adults experience mental health issues. Due to the strong social stigma attached to it in society, its prevalence is likely to be underestimated. Excessive stress at work …

November 20, 2019

The right to a safe and happy childhood

One billion children experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence every year, according to United Nations. One child dies from violence every five minutes. Even if we cannot expect these numbers to go down overnight – let alone disappear altogether – we can still make a difference with the right initiatives.

BRAC’s founder, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, is a staunch advocate of children’s rights and believes that all children deserve a fair chance in life – to grow, and to live. Children undergo positive emotional and social development when their rights are protected.

BRAC’s ‘safeguarding for all’ approach …

November 7, 2019

The young Sylheti dream team on the radio

Radio is an inexpensive yet influential tool that can create positive changes in social belief systems and behaviours.

Community radio is especially powerful in the way that serves a local community, covering the interests and issues relevant to its members, which mass media outlets often overlook.

On the outskirts of Moulvibazar, north-eastern Bangladesh, sits a two-storied building abuzz with the young, powerful voices of Radio Pollikontho – an initiative of BRAC’s community empowerment programme. This community radio station is a platform for people in rural Sylhet to express their stories in their own language and style.

Having started its …

November 7, 2019

Revitalising livelihoods through self-help groups

Imagine a self-help group. A place where people unite to strengthen their rights and livelihoods.

A majority of these people once had no voice in the society. Women lagged behind due to the prevalent patriarchal culture. They were forced into marriages at early ages, deprived of education.

They lacked economic independence. Earning and decision making were left solely to men.

Things began to change when the country’s largest gas field started operations in their neighbourhood. It led to many people losing their land and usual sources of income. Uncertainty and vulnerability loomed.

The Jibika project was launched in 2015 …

October 24, 2019

Celebrating the stories of 2 million women

As a participant of BRAC’s ultra-poor graduation (UPG) programme, Lipi has achieved great success. When she joined the programme in 2015, she chose to build a ‘rice plus fish’ enterprise. After a training on managing business, she received a small plot of land to grow rice and fish.

Lipi had faced poverty and food insecurity her entire life, a reality made worse when she lost her home to the devastating Cyclone Sidr in 2007. She slept under the sky without food and water for days while along with her husband, worked to rebuild their home and care for their …

October 23, 2019

Taking on tech: 3 stages that every NGO needs to know

Two-year-old Ghislane Ihimbazwe was in pain for 48 hours before being taken to a district hospital in Rwanda.

It was too late by the time she arrived.

A blood transfusion was her last resort, but it would take a six-hour-long round trip for a blood donor to arrive.

Ghislane’s mother, having lost all hope, had already started to tell her family about the sad news.

Meanwhile, a lab technician’s phone flashed a message: two units of blood was on its way.

Soon the mechanic whir of a drone could be heard circling the hospital. It dropped a cardboard box …

October 22, 2019

Standing by those who have the least

She lived in a shack under a bamboo grove. The thatched roof had countless holes. The walls were made of loose sheets, torn sacks, and pieces of cloth. I feared that the house could fall apart any second.

She lived with her two children and husband, who suffered from a physical disability. I noticed they looked very pale – a sign of chronic malnutrition. The family relied on begging and often had only one meal a day. Sometimes they ate nothing. They had lived in isolation from society for so long that she could not muster the confidence to …

October 13, 2019

Tackling the mental health crisis during a disaster

In emergency situations like these, mental health conditions take a toll on affected populations, diminishing levels of wellbeing. It may take an infinite amount of time for these groups to heal as they find it difficult to cope and recover.

As physical scars resulting from disasters such as a flood can visibly outweigh the impacts of psychological trauma in affected communities, it becomes easy for emergency responders to turn a blind eye to the underlying need for psychosocial assistance. Hence, international guidelines recommend that psychosocial and mental health support remains a major priority during an emergency response.

In July …

October 13, 2019

Educating a generation: Bangladesh’s barefoot teachers

Rubia teaches 25 children with neurodevelopmental disabilities who would otherwise have no access to special education. She went through comprehensive training on how to work with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

“I have never stop learning as a teacher,” says Rubia Akhter, “I recently received vocational training so that I can help my students with their crafts, which helps to improve their sensory and motor skills.”

Rubia started teaching in 2003 in one of BRAC’s primary schools. She had no formal qualifications.

Now in 2019, more than 12 million children have graduated from BRAC’s pre-primary and primary schools because of women …