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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 …

March 24, 2022

“We are not just dreaming of a better world – we are building it” Asif Saleh on BRAC’s 50th

It’s been half a century.
Of resilience, of hope, of hard work.
Of getting up every day with a sense of purpose and not giving up.
It’s been a journey that has taken many turns – but there has always been one thread that has weaved through it all.
The conviction that things can change and that every single individual can bring about that change.

BRAC’s founder Sir Fazle used to say –
When people have the opportunity to realise their potential, it is as if a light gets turned on. We now partner with over 100 million people, …

March 22, 2022

An island in Bangladesh is facing a water crisis. This is how people are taking control.

For the first time, I did not get motion-sick during the 25-minute speedboat ride over the choppy waters of the Bay of Bengal to Moheshkhali, a remote island in Cox’s Bazar, southeast Bangladesh. My eyes were fixed on the picturesque island, a dark-green blob against the bluish-grey sea. As I set foot on the island, however, I was not ready to witness the stark challenge that the 257,000 inhabitants of Moheshkhali constantly face – a shortage of safe drinking water.

Walking for water

Growing up in Moheshkhali, Meena Begum struggled to access what many people on the mainland take …

March 20, 2022

An ode to BRAC and Bangladesh

He said we were a basketcase.

A man
In a big house
In a faraway land

Another told us not to speak our own language.

A man
In a big house
In a faraway land

A third said we could not save our own children from dying.

A man
In a big house
In a faraway land

There were many who did not believe in us.
But we believed.

When we say we understand struggle
It’s because we have struggled

Born from blood and cyclones,
Founded on freedom,
Crisscrossed with rivers – of fish and tears

Let no one tell …

February 27, 2022

Mobile money can be scary. How can we change that?

Selina Akhter*, the eldest of five sisters, is an aspiring entrepreneur from Habiganj in Sylhet, northern Bangladesh. Her husband is a migrant worker abroad. She is confident and determined to provide for her family, but does not use mobile money as a vehicle for saving, for the same reasons as many other women – primarily, poor digital literacy and socio-cultural constraints.

Selina invests in livestock and poultry. She works hard to save and make a living.

“I dream of my own farm. My husband loves the idea. I have to keep it a secret from my in-laws, though. …

February 27, 2022

“Hope lies in your hands – and you are well-equipped” Tamara Abed at BRAC University’s 14th Convocation

Congratulations, dear graduates. Each of you are part of an exceptional cohort – the first graduating batch of BRAC University since COVID-19. It is a momentous and special occasion for you and us alike.

I congratulate you not only for completing your undergraduate programme, but also for having persevered through the uncertainty of the past two years. Some of you have survived unimaginable losses. I extend my deepest sympathies. I, and everyone here today, is immensely proud that you are all here – and ready to take the next step into your futures.

I urge you to consider this …

February 9, 2022

Recapping 2021: Five highlights from BRAC International Microfinance

2021 can be summed up in three words for BRAC International Microfinance – determination, resilience, and growth.

We have directly witnessed the acute impact of COVID-19 on communities living in poverty. Yet, in the same year, we also witnessed the extraordinary creativity, resolve, and resilience of our clients and communities to face the economic brunt of the pandemic and rebuild their lives.

Operationally, it was a challenging year for us. We had to navigate through situations that were often beyond our control. Yet, we launched new products, made bold decisions, and unlocked new achievements in 2021.

We stayed close to …