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May 6, 2018
BLOG Health

International Midwives Day 2018: Midwives leading the way with quality care

Growing up, Saima Begum did not wonder what career she would pursue. Her father wanted her to be a health professional, and she followed his wish. She thought she would be a paramedic like her aunt, but upon learning of BRAC University’s midwifery course, she chose that instead.

Two years ago, Saima was a fresh graduate, aged 23, working her first job as a midwife at her local upazila (sub-district) hospital in Sylhet. Although her internship had proved she was competent, she still lacked experience.

One night, at 2am, she was thrust into a life and death situation. A woman

April 30, 2018

IamBRAC: Money, guns and thugs in Bangladesh

Nazma Parveen is the area manager for BRAC’s microfinance programme, stationed in Daulatpur, Khulna of south-western Bangladesh.

The youngest of ten siblings, Nazma had only her sister’s support to continue her education instead of marrying a stranger just after finishing 12th grade. She won that battle, with her sister’s help, and went on to graduate from university.

Even after getting an education, her choices were not easy. She married a man from a reasonably well-to-do family, who immediately started frowning at her ambitions:

“What will our neighbours say?”

“Women in this family stay home and take care of the family.”

April 26, 2018
BLOG Health

How to eliminate malaria: At the last mile in Bangladesh

The disease is concentrated in 13 endemic districts in Bangladesh that border Myanmar and India, meaning that 17.8 million people at a risk of contracting malaria.

The Chattogram Hill Tracks (CHT) are the highest risk region in the country and account for 93% of the total reported cases. Only 29,247 cases of malaria were reported in 2017 though. Concerningly however, 9% of these cases were children.

Sumaiya, a seven-year-old girl child, does not have the privilege of living with her parents. They work in the ready-made garments sector, and she spends most of her time in the guardianship of her

April 23, 2018

IamBRAC: Women stand strong when the going gets tough

Shahana is stationed in Kotwali of Chattogram district where she lives with her daughter. She and her team identify small entrepreneurs who are not able to go through the extensive documentation process required by mainstream banks to get loans.

There are times when clients refuse to pay on time or, worse, disappear. “You are a woman, why come to the shop for money?” is a common reaction she gets when she pursues in person. She thinks that is perhaps out of the embarrassment of facing a female debt collector.

Shahana does not back down. “It is never easy. It was

April 16, 2018

A complete solution for smallholder farmers in Tanzania

In Tanzania, poverty is concentrated in rural areas. Of the 13 million Tanzanians living in poverty, 85% live in rural areas. These people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods for both income and food security.

It is important to address the challenges that rural agricultural farmers face to address the issues of food insecurity. These include the dependence on rain, poor access to information, imperfect markets, transportation constraints, lack of proper storage facilities, not enough capital to invest, and high input cost – all of which result in low rates of technology adoption, and low production and income. BRAC started

April 15, 2018

Women on wheels in rural Bangladesh

Mitali still remembers the exact date she joined BRAC, back in 1993. She had just completed her masters, and found herself stationed at Habiganj riding a bicycle, sometimes a motorbike, to work. This was a locality where people had never seen women riding bikes.

She once had an accident one monsoon season and needed to get stitches. The doctor ordered weeks of rest. Accident or not, frowned upon or not, her love for her work saw her back on the bike.  “There were no roads at all in some places, but only narrow tracks which would get slippery when it …

April 11, 2018

How do you confront taboos in a humanitarian crisis?

Noor Hasina–a Rohingya refugee and new mother–spent a good part of her morning at one of BRAC’s primary healthcare centres with her six-month-old daughter, Israa. First, they saw a doctor for a diaper rash Israa was having, and then, Noor had her second breast feeding counseling session with one of the nutritional counselors. She finished her time at the centre passing by a midwife to request a pregnancy test. As she moved from the nutritional corner with Israa to the midwife room, I got to learn more about her story.

Noor Hasina with her daughter, Israa.

Before Noor Hasina and

April 5, 2018

IamBRAC: Putting the law to work in remote Bangladesh

“What is the minimum age that your daughter can get married at?”

“18!” A group echoes in unison.

“If you marry off your daughter even a day before, what will it be?”

“Child marriage.” The group answers.

“Do we support child marriage?”


“Say it out loud. We do not support child marriage,” Sufia Begum tells the group.

A manager in the human rights and legal services programme in Nilphamari, Sufia is no stranger to the trauma of child marriage. She herself was married at 16.

There are more concerted efforts to prevent child marriage than ever before, but the

April 5, 2018

Violence Against Women campaigns: Is raising awareness alone enough?

One Billion Rising (OBR) was first launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012 as a “call to action” to end violence against women. The name reflects the statistic that 1 in 3 women worldwide have been beaten or raped during their lifetime, according to a publication by the World Health Organisation.

The theme of the 2018 campaign was “Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women”, and on the 14 February 2018, BRAC in Uganda, Nepal, Myanmar and Pakistan, and other organisations, groups and individuals all over the world participated in events to raise awareness of violence against women (VAW).

Members of

March 27, 2018

“The idea behind BRAC is to change systems of inequity” says Sir Fazle

This interview was originally posted on NGO Advisor.

Jean-Christophe Nothias (JCN): Being ranked #1 (again in 2018) is an achievement and a fantastic recognition, but it is also challenging. Is there a “too big to fail” risk associated with BRAC?

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed (Sir Fazle): First, on behalf of the entire BRAC family, allow me to express my deepest gratitude for NGO Advisor’s recognition. There are many civil society organisations in the world today working diligently to bring about change in their societies. For BRAC to be placed at or near the top of such a list

March 22, 2018

Localisation of humanitarian response: A proven frontier for BRAC

The idea of localisation was first reinforced at the first World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, when government delegates, donors, philanthropists and civil society organisations committed to a package of reforms to strengthen humanitarian financing. In what is the known as the Grand Bargain, civil society organisations demanded that at least 25% of humanitarian funding should directly go towards local and national organisations.  

Localisation, very simply, means strengthening systems, procedures and capacities of local governments, the first responders (which include volunteers, fire service, civil defense and armed forces), civil society organisations and state authorities, so that they can respond to disasters,

March 22, 2018

When nature gives you resources, store it

Abdus Salam Sheikh is one of 4.3 million people in Bangladesh without access to safe drinking water. The 58-year-old man lives alone with his wife in a remote village in Mongla of Bagherhat in south-western Bangladesh. Salam speaks up about the many years he spent in the struggle of collecting water, stressing on how he did not want his children to live there – an area where the water crisis governs their lives. Apart from arsenic and salinity in water, pond water riddled with pathogens has already caused many episodes of diseases in his family.

The nearest water collection