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December 3, 2021

Ending poverty for people with disabilities: What will it take?

Rahima and Kashem started their business at the age of 50. The couple sells clothes in a van on a busy street in Kishoreganj, Bangladesh. These were the same streets where they would beg before.

Both Rahima and Kashem have visual impairments. They spent the majority of their lives in poverty. Their families could barely support them, and they were never able to find work they could do.

When the couple started their business, they thought about what could make it easy for them. The wholesale market of clothes is far from their home, so they bought a van …

November 22, 2021

Why we need to upskill women workers in Bangladesh’s apparel sector

The decreasing number of women workers can be attributed to a number of factors, but key among those are a lack of decent working conditions and a lack of adequate skill development. The industry has not ensured equal opportunities in supervisory roles, which has led to men holding the majority of supervisory positions.

95% of line supervisor jobs are held by men. Women are often not able to enter mid-management positions in the factories as employers often have a preconceived notion that women are incapable of handling these roles.

Read more: The garment industry needs more women leaders

Women …

November 18, 2021

Everyone needs access to a toilet. How can we ensure that?

Toilets. Do you have one?

If you have access to a well-equipped toilet in your home, office, or neighbourhood, you are luckier than half of the world. Almost 4.5 billion people still do not have access to a safe toilet. This has a price – poor sanitation costs the world USD 260 billion every year.

Bangladesh is a role model for safe sanitation. There are toilets everywhere, of every possible kind. Open defecation has reduced from 34% to almost zero over the past two decades, and having a toilet has become a status symbol in remote areas. Here are five …

October 21, 2021

Escaping poverty long term: Investing in the multidimensional needs of the next generation

People living in extreme poverty also lack access to food, education, and the resources and skills needed to develop a sustainable livelihood like financial services and access to available social services. Children born in these families get trapped in this cycle, with limited access to proper nutrition, sanitation, and education. Girls face even greater challenges such as child marriage and its subsequent health implications.

BRAC’s evidence-based, multifaceted Graduation approach provides a pathway out of extreme poverty that benefits participants’ entire households, including their children, by addressing their multidimensional needs. It connects families to essential social protection programmes and enables …

October 21, 2021

Packed spaces. Pandemic. How to stay safe?

The COVID-19 pandemic took a dangerous turn in Bangladesh in July 2021, and the country witnessed over 12,000 infected cases and 200 deaths daily. As Eid-ul-Azha approached, the key question was: how could we ensure the safety of millions of people in a densely-populated country like Bangladesh, where mimicking western policies such as social distancing may not work?

Eid-ul-Azha in Bangladesh is celebrated with a unique tradition of organising seasonal cattle markets. Millions of buyers and sellers from across the country gather in these markets to buy or sell sacrificial livestock, especially cattle.

These markets are packed – …

October 10, 2021

Culture, compassion and communities: A mental health strategy uniquely for Bangladesh

Mental health refers to the emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing of people and communities, and is the interaction between psychological, biological, social and environmental factors. Good mental health is an enjoyment of life, the ability to manage hardship and stress, having goals and fulfilling potential, and having good relationships. We all have mental health, ie, a state of mental wellbeing, in every stage of life – from birth to old age. It affects how we think, feel, and behave, and influences how we relate to others, manage stress, and make choices.

Mental health is not a fixed state, because

October 6, 2021

Amidst almost-empty classrooms in many schools, others have 90% of their students back. What’s their secret?

Many of BRAC’s schools reported 90% attendance in the first week of reopening. While this can be partly attributed to the excitement of schools reopening, and there are still significant challenges ahead in terms of keeping students engaged and addressing education gaps, it is an exciting start.

What are the likely reasons behind the high attendance?

One is teachers.

Teachers brought school to doorsteps during the pandemic. This was vital for BRAC’s students, many of whom are the first to attend school in their families. Students often do not have family members to support them with learning at home, …

September 23, 2021

Client Interaction Points: How BRAC is facilitating RMG workers to access financial services in Bangladesh

Bangladesh had an export value of USD 34 billion in 2019, as the world’s second-largest exporter of apparel products (Export Promotion Bureau, 2020). The growth in the RMG sector has significantly contributed to women’s empowerment and employment in the country. According to The Global Economy, the latest female labour force participation rate In Bangladesh is 36.37 percent (2019). Women comprise 70% of all RMG workers in Bangladesh, yet most of them have remained unbanked (ERMG Project, BRAC). Although RMG workers are included in the labour force, countless women are not a part of financial …

September 19, 2021

Schools in Bangladesh were closed for longer than in any other country. Here’s how BRAC is supporting their reopening

Initial predictions of learning loss from COVID-19 paint a dire picture. Studies conducted in Karnataka, India, show close to a year of learning loss as a result of the pandemic. Research conducted four years after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake found students affected by three months of school closures were catching up on the equivalent of 1.5 years of schooling. There is evidence for the effectiveness of mitigation measures however, with remediation potentially able to reduce long-term learning loss by half.

The challenge of reopening schools is two-fold: first, maximise the safety of students and teachers amid …

September 14, 2021

Climate solutions from Bangladesh: Climate-resilient housing

Floods and cyclones are the most common natural disasters in Bangladesh, a low-lying country situated in a delta. Naturally, the country has had to adapt.

Existing challenges are worsening however, with the rising impacts of climate change. Cyclones have intensified – every year, severe cyclonic storms uproot millions of people’s lives.

Bangladeshi coasts were hit by a super cyclone in 2020, uprooting the lives of 2.6 million people. The year before that, Cyclone Fani – with gusts of 127mph – caused damages worth USD 4.5 million. In 2018, Cyclone Titli, caused landslides in southern Bangladesh, killing at least four …

September 13, 2021

No alternative to community resilience against COVID-19: In conversation with Suzanne Mueller, Head of Cooperation/Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh

The pandemic is far from over in Bangladesh – with more than 3,000 new cases being reported daily. The Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh has worked to support Bangladesh through the pandemic for the past year and a half, including through BRAC’s Community Fort for Resisting COVID-19 (‘CFRC’ hereafter).

The CFRC project launched on 1 June 2021, and is making steady progress in supporting communities to become more resilient in the face of COVID-19 through prevention, masking, response and vaccination. Read more in the latest situation report here.

Read more: COVID-19 in Bangladesh: Update from Asif Saleh (6

September 7, 2021

COVID-19 in Bangladesh: Update from Asif Saleh (6 September 2021)

Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

Bangladesh is emerging out of its worst wave of the pandemic. Daily infection rates have dropped below 10 percent for the third day in a row.  This follows a typical pattern.  Since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has often followed a regular cycle.

In one country after another, the number of new cases has often surged for roughly two months before starting to fall. The Delta variant, despite its intense contagiousness, has followed this pattern. The question is whether Bangladesh is on the same path or not. That being said, the evidence on the effect …