All Blogs

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 …

July 15, 2021

How do we build forts of resistance against COVID-19?

According to data from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), more than half the country’s 64 districts are already classified as high-risk zones, where daily COVID-19 positivity rates cross 31%.

Under such circumstances, there is no alternative to investing in equipping communities with the right tools and knowledge to bring effective behaviour change against the spread of COVID-19.

Read more: Community-based healthcare for COVID-19 response: Option or necessity?

On 1 June 2021, the Community Fort for Resisting COVID-19 project was launched by BRAC, in partnership with CSO Alliance and under the leadership and guidance of  Directorate

July 15, 2021

The times they are a-changin’: Resilience of youth

As an organisation, BRAC has always thought about women and children first when coming up with designs for its many programmes. From its roots in the 70s with the oral therapy extension programme, to the skills development projects like STAR and PROMISE, women and the youth have always been central in every intervention.

So, it was quite natural that in due time BRAC would come up with a platform that would cater to the youth of Bangladesh, with specific interventions to support them to adapt to an increasingly dynamic world and address issues that young people are faced with …

July 13, 2021

Village cooperatives addressing COVID-19: Stories from the gas-field regions of greater Sylhet

COVID-19 is beyond a public health emergency in Bangladesh, where a majority of people are employed in informal sectors. With restrictions across the country, these people were hit the hardest. Members of rural cooperatives were no different – most earn their living through farming, small ventures and other daily endeavours.

Members of Jibika’s 110 village development organisations feared loss of livelihood, starvation and death. However, after a year, the following are their realities:

  • Average monthly household income reached 92% of pre-pandemic levels in February 2021, from 47% in April 2020
  • The organisations’ funds increased by 11% compared to the previous
July 13, 2021

COVID-19: Update from Asif Saleh (9 July 2021)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

The delta variant is spreading far and wide. Daily reported deaths have crossed 200. The under-equipped health system is stretched to its limit.

BRAC is building a fort of resistance within communities to combat COVID-19. Our community-level resilience-building work through the Community Fort in Resisting COVID-19 (CFRC) project in 35 districts – predominantly in the border areas – is progressing at full swing, and is starting to show encouraging results.

We are seeing a big uptick in people seeking tele-medicine support through our healthcare networks, which indicates the demand for services from home. However, …

July 13, 2021

Adapting the Graduation approach for urban poverty

COVID-19 has forced millions more people across the world into poverty, affecting largely informal workers who represent 50–80% of employment in many urban centres. According to the World Bank’s Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2020, those who have seen their incomes fall below $1.90 per day are more likely to be “urban, better educated, and less likely to work in agriculture than those living in extreme poverty before COVID-19.”

Read more: Dry fish, betel leaf and business: Three women challenging poverty in Bangladesh

Despite perceived benefits of cities such as dynamic markets, transportation networks, and diversity of employment …

July 13, 2021

Skilling the youth in a pandemic

Approximately 63% of Bangladesh’s population is within the age group of 15-49. The demographic dividends that can follow from leveraging this age group can only be enjoyed if the workforce is equipped with the right skills and knowledge.

Now more than ever, with the 24.5 million people newly pushed into poverty, providing employment opportunities is vital in order to combat the poverty induced by the pandemic.

An ordinary girl with extraordinary ambition

Kaniz Fatema Mohona is an undergraduate student working in the retail sector. She first learnt about BRAC Institute of Skills Development’s (BISD) skills training programmes through a …

July 12, 2021

How can behavioural insights help us to increase handwashing?

In response to the proliferating COVID-19 pandemic, globally, governments and NGOs alike have put hand hygiene (along with mask usage and social distancing) at the forefront. Drawing from previous successes like the prevention of diseases like cholera and diarrhoea, there are lessons to be adapted.

The Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) partnered with BRAC and the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to identify and address the existing barriers that prevent people in Bangladesh from frequently washing their hands.

First and foremost, people need access to handwashing facilities, and so 1,000 hand-washing stations were set up across the country by …

July 6, 2021

Putting farmers first: Introducing seasonal loans from BRAC Microfinance

More than 15% of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (2015-16) is generated from the agricultural sector. While agro-business is a prominent source of income for 45% of the working population, their revenue is not generated until their produce is sold.

Nurunnahar and her husband Ali Akbar found it extremely difficult to sustain their household with two young children and a debt with hefty monthly instalments.

They worked as labourers on other people’s farmlands, but the income generated from it was not enough to meet the family’s basic needs. They wanted to invest in their own ventures, but they had limited …

June 20, 2021

Snapshot: 10 ways BRAC has been supporting Cox’s Bazar through the pandemic

BRAC’s work in Cox’s Bazar is based on ensuring that sustainable humanitarian support is always available to save lives, alleviate sufferings and maintain human dignity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these concerns became more grave. This article outlines the work that has been done to ensure basic needs, safety and security, and socioeconomic opportunities in the camps and the host community for more than 1 million people.

1. Volunteers and community radio messages

Throughout the pandemic, 1.4 million people received life-saving awareness messages on COVID-19 safety and prevention, through volunteers and community radios. It was seen that misinformation was just …