Winter Relief

January 18, 2015

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This winter, BRAC reached out to distribute over 100,000 blankets and warm clothes all over Bangladesh. Lives are lost every year in the country due to the cold spell that affects the poor and homeless who cannot afford warm clothing and appropriate housing. The Give Warmth This Winter campaign was launched in December 2014 with the aim to effectively ensure that warmth reaches those who are in need.

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This winter, BRAC reached out to distribute over 100,000 blankets and warm clothes all over Bangladesh. Lives are lost every year in the country due to the cold spell that affects the poor and homeless who cannot afford warm clothing and appropriate housing. The Give Warmth This Winter campaign was launched in December 2014 with the aim to effectively ensure that warmth reaches those who are in need.

BRAC, sent out 100,000 blankets to 103 sub-districts in 33 different districts, which are severely affected by the cold every year. Using its vast network of programme staff all over the country, BRAC formed a committee, which assessed the vulnerable communities to select who would be most affected by cold spells. The committee prioritised providing the blankets to women, beggars, women-headed households, pregnant women, those with no land assets, and those who are disabled.

During the initial blanket distribution, feedback was received identifying locations and poor communities that were hit the hardest. More than 12,000 extra blankets have thus been sent out fulfilling the needs that were raised. These include reaching out to remote char (riverine island) areas, indigenous communities, artisans of Ayesha Abed Foundations as well as street children and slum dwellers in urban Dhaka. Delta BRAC Housing Finance Corporation Limited donated an additional 2,000 blankets through BRAC. Apart from blankets, 783 warm pieces of clothing were collected from the BRAC Head Office in Dhaka and distributed to districts in the northern region. Additionally, customers donated over 14boxes of warm clothes at Aarong outlets throughout the country.

For the first time, BRAC encouraged individual donor contributions. More than BDT 152,000 was collected through bKash, the country’s largest mobile money service provider and BRAC Bank. This new method of collecting donations through mobile money is part of a pilot project with BRAC’s social innovation lab. Collecting donations electronically means that anyone with a bKash account can donate easily and efficiently so that the money collected can be used to help those in need faster. With the donation collected through bKash during the campaign, 600 more blankets are being granted to children of six Snehalaya centres; these are slum-based day care initiative by BRAC for children with working mothers.  A website was also set up to increase transparency and give contributors updates on how their money was being spent. This ‘m-relief’ funding system can also be used in future for the collection of relief donations for other natural disasters or national crises.

As the initiatives for giving warmth continues, BRAC endeavours to ensure that the help reaches those who are suffering the most.

Bithun Tasnuva Mazidis senior sector specialist and Miriam Kennedy is senior manager at BRAC’s disaster, environment and climate change (DECC) programme.

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