Give some warmth this winter!

December 11, 2014

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Did you know that last year 80 people died in northern Bangladesh from the cold? It is unacceptable that people are dying from the cold when in some cases warmer clothes and blankets could make the difference between life and death.

warmththiswinterblog

Did you know that last year 80 people died in northern Bangladesh from the cold? It is unacceptable that people are dying from the cold when in some cases warmer clothes and blankets could make the difference between life and death.

Each year, the winter weather affects thousands of households across Bangladesh. The most vulnerable people are those already living in poverty; people who live in open areas like bus or railway stations or slum dwellers who can’t afford to buy warm clothing and whose houses provide little protection from the weather.  This seasonal cold weather increases the occurrence of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. During the winter of 2012/2013, over 2 million households were affected and temperatures reached a record low of 3°C.

For the past few years, BRAC has provided people with blankets and warm clothes, taking donations of items from its staff and other organisations. This year BRAC has committed to give 100,000 blankets to the people who need them most. BRAC is collaborating with Aarong, a BRAC social enterprise and one of the leading retail brands in Bangladesh, to collect blankets, jumpers and shawls in the BRAC head office and at Aarong outlets. These will be distributed throughout the month in the coldest districts.

“This is an exciting opportunity for BRAC to combine Bangladeshis’ giving spirit with BRAC’s mission to help as many  vulnerable people as possible, hopefully preventing many deaths and illnesses. We at BRAC invite people to be a part of the solution–even if you are only able to give 100 taka it can make a difference.” – Asif Saleh, BRAC, Senior Director, Strategy, Communications, Empowerment

For the first time ever, BRAC is also accepting donations through bKash from the public. The idea to crowd source money in this way came from an engineering student from Chittagong, Parijat Prashun Purohit. He submitted the idea as part of the Innovation Fund for Mobile Money Challenge last spring. Here’s what he had to say about it, “Collecting relief aid is very time consuming and inefficient – using mobile money can be a good alternative. Social media is being used more and more to raise awareness. How if you have a cell phone you can easily make a donation.” It was then selected as one of seven mobile money pilots.

This project is led by the BRAC Disaster Environment and Climate Change Programme. Previously, BRAC did not have a formal way to collect funds in Bangladesh. We recognise that transparency is important to maintaining the public’s trust. To address this, we have created a website which allows you to see how much money has been collected and will provide regular updates of our activities and how the money is being spent.

This kind of formal mechanism for ordinary citizens to give philanthropically is uncommon in Bangladesh. Many donate to people in their extended families or social circles.  We believe people would like to help, but don’t have many convenient and trusted ways to do so. We are hoping that this campaign will help to fill this gap. If this initiative is successful, BRAC will use this platform to respond to a wider variety of crises, more quickly.

Please log on to www.brac.net/warmththiswinter for more information.

Miriam A Kennedy is a senior manager with the BRAC Disaster Environment and Climate Change Programme. Amanda J Misiti is a knowledge management and communications officer with the BRAC Social Innovation Lab.

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