It Takes a Village

November 12, 2014

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Nestled among small straw-roofed houses, a group of villagers gather together in their first attempt to discuss community affairs. These villagers in Naodapara, a typical rural community in Pabna district, are the newest batch of inductees to BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor Programme (TUP).

GDBC gathering in Naodapara, Pabna.

GDBC gathering in Naodapara, Pabna.

Nestled among small straw-roofed houses, a group of villagers gather together in their first attempt to discuss community affairs. These villagers in Naodapara, a typical rural community in Pabna district, are the newest batch of inductees to BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor Programme (TUP).

The TUP programme builds the resiliency of its participants, enabling them to take control of their future. One way it meets this objective is through community mobilisation. Village committees, selected with input from participants, are formed and tasked with working on immediate as well as long-term needs of TUP clients. These committees, known as the gram daridrobimochon (village poverty reduction) committee (GDBC), consist of respected members of the community. Poised as the eyes and ears of the village, the GDBC is the ally of the beneficiaries – guardians of their security and safety. From seasonal blankets to sanitary latrines, the GDBC actively sets priorities for community betterment. They focus on specific requirements for individual households and families. Using the GDBC as its conduit, this innovative approach to rural development ensures that those it aids are fully aware of their potential to change their own outcome.

The GDBC are, in essence, an advocate for the ultrapoor and help maintain open lines of communication between BRAC and its stakeholders. An important component of the GDBC process is in its actual formation. While certain guidelines exist on participation, the responses of TUP members help inform the selection. Any political affiliations or ties to influential members could disrupt the confidence entrusted with the local community. To ensure a fair and unbiased process, members are asked in an open forum to submit names of their peers, those whose generosity knows no bounds and who are always willing to extend a helping hand. It is this exact reason why the GDBC is such an invaluable resource for the community; without it community members would not a have platform in which to voice their concerns free from fear of reproach.

Trying to guide one towards an increased sense of self-efficacy is a feat many have tried to reach through development initiatives, but few have succeeded in. The TUP programme has figured out the formula – with a combination of aid, training, advocacy and confidence building. Using the GDBC as a partner on the community-level, the secret to its success lies in coupling macro-level efforts with micro-level individualised attention. The famous Nigerian proverb proclaims, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Here in the TUP programme, we can say that it takes a whole village to help lift one out of poverty.

 

Afsana Hye is an intern with BRAC’s TUP programme in Bangladesh.

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