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July 14, 2022

Creating opportunities for youth in Bangladesh’s retail sector

Nahidul’s work day typically starts with checking into the showroom at 9am. He works as a salesperson at Walton, a renowned electronics appliance company in Bangladesh which employs over 30,000 people. His sales approach and depth of product knowledge are highly valued.

Nahidul works in Bangladesh’s retail sector, which employs over six million people and is growing fast. Much of the growth can be attributed to the country’s rapid urbanisation. The sector has the potential and the demand to employ huge numbers of skilled young people, but vacancies remain unfilled at many super shops. The conundrum can be attributed …

May 28, 2022

Menstruation. What’s the shame in it?

Misconceptions regarding menstruation can be deadly for women. The subject remains a taboo in many cultures, perpetuating ignorance and vulnerability. In Japan, some people believe that women should not be sushi chefs because periods can throw off their sense of taste. Girls and women in India can be prevented from entering places of worship and even their own kitchen during their periods, because of the notion that they are ‘unclean’.

Some communities in rural Bangladesh think chutney – a widely used savoury condiment – will turn rancid if touched by a woman during her period. Some families consider it …

May 26, 2022

Digital doctor: Bridging healthcare gaps in remote areas

Popi Akhter’s village is shaped like a bowl. It remains submerged in water for half of the year. During those times, getting anywhere is a near-impossible task.

Ajmiriganj is located in the remote haor region – wetlands – in eastern Bangladesh. When 21-year-old Popi was pregnant with her first baby, she experienced complications and needed to consult a doctor urgently. The nearest hospital was 10 kilometres away, and the road was too broken and dangerous for her to make the journey.

A crisis was averted when her aunt, a member of a village development organisation, registered Popi for a …

May 16, 2022

Data for good: Doing development with digitalisation

BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation programme has been evolving as the needs of the people living in extreme poverty change. In December 2021, the programme went digital, creating easier and faster ways of meeting our participants’ needs. In the 20-years journey of the programme, it’s one of the major milestones achieved.

Why was digitalisation needed?

The success of the Graduation approach can largely be attributed to the close interactions between participants and BRAC’s staff members. In the first 12 years of the programme’s operations, these interactions happened face to face, where staff members would spend the whole day in the field – …

April 27, 2022

Malaria elimination: Ambitious or achievable?

The clock is ticking away for the world to reach its malaria targets by 2030.

The World Health Organisation estimates 241 million cases of malaria in 2021, which took approximately 627,000 lives globally. Despite the breakthroughs in health, Bangladesh still accounts for 0.15% of the total estimated malaria cases in southeast Asia.

Shrinking the malaria map 

Bangladesh’s malaria programme has tailored interventions to achieve the targets of National Malaria Strategy 2021-2025. Its phase-wise elimination targets different zones – Mymensingh, Sylhet, Chattogram, and Cox’s Bazar – and aims to reduce the burden of the disease in three districts in the …

April 27, 2022

Superheroes on the ground: BRAC’s frontline health workers

Warriors, superheroes, guardians.

These words might remind us of tall, muscular characters, perhaps with superpowers. People with a responsibility of saving the world from decay.

Looking back at BRAC’s 50 years journey, we would like to challenge this popular idea by highlighting superheroes of our own – our community health workers and volunteers.

They do not have supernatural powers, but they save lives. They challenge gender stereotypes and break barriers everyday to safeguard the wellbeing of their communities. We invite you to read the inspiring stories of three of our superheroes on the ground.

Shipra Rani Mridha, community health

April 21, 2022

Tackling water scarcity by harvesting the sky

Lokkhi Mondol is surrounded by water. The sun glitters across the river on the right and ponds are filled with shrimp on her left. But Lokkhi cannot drink from any of it. Her community is part of the 2.5 million people in Bangladesh who are struggling from a lack of drinkable water because of climate change.

There is no drinkable water left in Mongla.

Residents have two options: they can pay for water – which can cost up to BDT 10 a litre, depending on who is selling and how high the demand is; or they can collect water …

April 21, 2022

Time for ground-up climate policy

The disappointment of many with COP26 is understandable. Yet again, historical carbon emitters failed to extend the requisite support to countries most impacted by climate change. The deep injustice in the matter is palpable, especially as these countries have contributed the least to the problem at hand.

Thus, countries like Bangladesh – one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – are strengthening its leadership role among the countries affected, through platforms like the Climate Vulnerable Forum, consisting of 55 developing countries.

Last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report published the latest …

April 7, 2022

Living behind the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label

Moyna lives in an informal settlement in Gazipur, an industrial area near the capital Dhaka, in Bangladesh. She works in a garment factory, six days a week for 11-15 hours on average. She earns approximately USD 96 every month – the average monthly salary of garment workers in Bangladesh – and sometimes a bit more if she does overtime. That money vanishes instantly, in rent, utility bills and groceries. Health insurance, or saving for the future is a distant dream.

Women like Moyna are the backbone of Bangladesh’s ready-made garments industry, which is the second largest exporter of garments

April 7, 2022

50 years of serving Bangladesh: Community healthcare to pandemic response

BRAC’s health programme began its journey in 1972 with four clinics in Sulla, a remote area in northeastern Bangladesh. The doctors and health workers at the clinics were mostly men.

Despite having trained health workers, BRAC realised that it was failing to reach the underserved in the last mile. Digging deeper, it was discovered that women living in rural conservative societies did not feel comfortable to seek healthcare services from men.

As a result, although the services were accessible, women could not avail them.

Taking the lesson learned from Sulla, and combining it with the concept of China’s ‘barefoot

April 4, 2022

The importance of social empowerment to break the poverty trap

On a warm day in the Bangladeshi district of Rangpur, Shahina and the group of women she sits among take turns sharing their stories – the glowing, late afternoon sun paints golden streaks of light on the brick walls behind them.

Since completing BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Programme in 2006, all of these women sitting together have been out of extreme poverty for more than 16 years. While pride beams from their eyes in recognition of how far they and their families have come, there is also a subtle sadness as the group recounts their past struggles, 16 years …

March 24, 2022

Diagnostics on wheels: Combating tuberculosis in the Rohingya camps of Bangladesh

Since August 2017, the influx of one million forcibly displaced Rohingya population has severely strained existing health facilities in Cox’s Bazar, making it challenging to combat infectious diseases.

The mortality rate from tuberculosis has reduced by more than 50% over the past few decades, resulting from the expansion of community-based testing facilities, identifying people with symptoms, and ensuring treatment adherence. Despite that, Bangladesh still remains one of the 30 countries with the highest tuberculosis burden. 

Tuberculosis in the Rohingya camps

Tuberculosis is a global public health concern which caused 1.5 million deaths in 2020. In Bangladesh, it is responsible …