All Blogs

September 6, 2021

‘New poor’: Ensuring inclusive growth amidst the new challenges of the pandemic

Johura Begum and her husband used to work at a garments factory in Chattogram, southern Bangladesh. Their collective incomes provided for their three children with ease, and allowed them to support their parents. Everything changed when the pandemic hit. The factory they worked at closed, leaving them both without two months of salary. They ran out of savings, could not pay rent, and debt started piling up.

Johura is one of the 24 million people in Bangladesh who newly fell into poverty as a result of the pandemic. Sudden job losses, interrupted value chains and drops in sales had …

September 5, 2021

Demonstrating the impact of client-centric microfinance

At BRAC, achieving impact at scale is our only bottom line. In the five decades since inception, BRAC’s microfinance programme in Bangladesh has grown to serve 6.5 million clients (8.1 million including savers). Ninety percent of these clients are women. Outside Bangladesh, we have built strong microfinance entities in six countries across Africa and Southeast Asia, serving more than 650,000 clients, of whom 96% are women. In the next five years, we anticipate growing our client base by more than one million in Bangladesh, and by another million in Africa and Southeast Asia regions. Through this, we aim to …

September 5, 2021

One man’s journey to get education to every child in Bangladesh: Dr Safiqul Islam

Bangladesh has seen a paradigm shift in the education sector. The year-wise dropout rate decreased from 47% to 19% between 2005-2017, and there are now more girls than boys in school. Dr Islam is one of the people who led these changes, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of education leaders.

When BRAC began its journey in the newly-liberated Bangladesh, the food/population nexus was the most worrying issue in the country. Education took a back seat. There were several fundamental problems, with inadequate geographical reach of the formal education system being key amongst them. Many villages did …

September 5, 2021

Bridge Schools: A second chance at education in Bangladesh

Kanakchapa was studying in class 2 in a remote haor (wetland) region of Sunamganj, Bangladesh, when her mother died. Kanakchapa’s father had to juggle working as a day labourer and raising six children. Though Kanakchapa was still at an age where she required someone to look after her, she became a full-time guardian for her younger siblings. Eventually, she dropped out of school, while her father and elder brother worked to provide for the family.

“I used to look out the window and see my friends going to school. I wanted to go back to school, but I had …

August 22, 2021

Building rural forts of resistance against COVID-19: What we are learning in Bangladesh

Lockdowns are being implemented around the world to contain COVID-19 cases. In a country where 87% of the labour force is employed in the informal sector though, staying home for indefinite periods of time is simply not possible. In Bangladesh, misinformation regarding the virus is rampant, and mask-wearing has not become a habit yet for many. Cramped living conditions in informal settlements and the cost of hygiene items make it even more difficult for people in low-income communities to maintain health guidelines.

Read more: COVID-19 in Bangladesh: Update from Asif Saleh (31 July 2021)

BRAC is supporting communities across …

August 19, 2021

‘Sisters of peace’: The women supporting mental health in Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps

On 22 March 2021, an estimated 48,000 Rohingya individuals looked on as everything they owned was reduced to ashes.

The immediate response to the devastating fire, which tore down nearly an entire camp, involved ensuring accommodation, food and medical supplies for the survivors. Infrastructure was gradually rebuilt over time, but the trauma that the Rohingya persistently lived with remained.

Psychological first aid and psychosocial support is not only just as important as ensuring basic health, it is a crucial intervention. The reason for this is simple – there can be no health without mental health. For the people in the …

August 19, 2021

This World Humanitarian Day, meet BRAC’s humanitarians

Hasina Akhter Huq
Area Director, BRAC Humanitarian Crisis Management Programme

Hasina leads BRAC’s work in Cox’s Bazar, focusing on providing humanitarian assistance and development support to communities affected by the Rohingya crisis. A humanitarian by heart, passion, and profession, Hasina joined BRAC in 2017, and has been stationed in Cox’s Bazar since 2020.

Hasina realised that this was the line of work for her in 2004, during the Indian tsunami. She travelled to South India to provide emergency support as part of a post-tsunami recovery project. In addition to essential items, they brought crayons and toys for children, to help…

August 19, 2021

A super cyclone, flooding and a pandemic: The year Bangladesh had three humanitarian crises at the same time

Extreme and overlapping natural disasters are part of a new normal for the world. The rapidly warming planet has led us to the hottest summers in recent history, with July 2021 officially being the hottest month ever recorded. How does the world counter? By equipping those closest to the challenge.

People closest to the challenge are often closest to the solution. Community is at the centre of BRAC’s approach, with all its staff and volunteers from the community itself, creating systems and allowing immediate response when disasters strike. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Bangladesh in March 2020, equipping people …

August 8, 2021

Development that works for indigenous people in Bangladesh

Advertisements about Bangladesh prominently depict indigenous people living colourful lives – wearing rich dresses, celebrating festivals, enjoying longhold traditions amidst beautiful landscapes and folk music. While all of these are true, this colour depicts only part of their lives.

85% of indigenous people in Bangladesh do not own their own land. They are employed as sharecroppers – working on other people’s lands – or as wage labourers. Lack of access to formal employment, poor literacy rates, lack of representation in national forums and language barriers hinder socio-economic development.

BRAC’s indigenous project has been working with people from indigenous communities

August 2, 2021

COVID-19 in Bangladesh: Update from Asif Saleh (31 July 2021)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

The Delta variant is continuing to spiral, fuelled by the large crowds celebrating Eid-ul-Azha, one of the largest religious festivals in the world.

The first nationwide lockdown of 2021 was imposed from 1 July in Bangladesh, but restrictions were relaxed from 14-22 July to celebrate Eid. Mass public awareness was undertaken in the lead-up to and during the festival, including antigen testing booths set up in key cattle markets, but inevitably some markets became hotspots. The lockdown was reimposed from 23 July and is expected to continue until 5 August.

The lockdowns

July 29, 2021

Jamdani and Aarong: A love affair spanning half a century

The word ‘Jamdani’ is derived from the Persian words ‘jam’ (floral) and ‘dani’ (vase), and refers to an intricate traditional weaving technique usually done on a handloom, using fine silk or cotton. Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of weaving because of the richness of its motifs (usually based on flowers or plants), which are created directly on the loom, and often made into sarees.

Jamdani is recognised by UNESCO and included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity now, but it was under threats just decades ago. In a survey conducted …

July 27, 2021

Early childhood development should be a global priority

A central feature of the Global Education Summit is the pledges made by international donors to help the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) reach its target of at least USD 5 billion over five years, along with commitments from GPE partner countries on domestic financing for education.

As a Summit delegate representing BRAC, I am excited to share experiences with leaders of governments and other organisations. Through the Summit, we seek to enhance education for all children, achieve gender equality, and sustain education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report that deserves great consideration in this context has been published …