On October 20, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. GMT, Rabeya Yasmin, the director of BRAC's graduation program targeting the ultra-poor will take and answer questions via Twitter. We invite you to participate and submit questions ahead of time using the hashtag #BRACultrapoor.
After a few years of trail and error, BRAC figured out a way to make sure those living in poverty and those living around poverty are "in the room," or in other words they play a major role in deciding which household among them really is the neediest.
At a ceremony this Sunday, the Food and Agriculture Organization will recognize countries that have achieved Millennium Development Goal number one, to halve their proportion of hungry people. Bangladesh, once labeled a basket case, will be one of them.
Putting women in the driver's seat as a metaphor is becoming something of a cliché in development policymaking circles. In countries like Bangladesh, literally putting women in the driver's seat is still a revolutionary idea.
Variously called targeting the ultra-poor, just TUP, or more famously the graduation program (which we're not always sure is the right title), BRAC's work with the ultra-poor is officially titled Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction - Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR-TUP). A mouthful yes, but not nearly as many mouthfuls as there have been recently about the effectiveness -- or lack thereof -- of a core component in the program: livelihoods training.
"The global financial crisis has turned us into a world of savers," The Washington Post reported recently. "Including the poorest among us." Of course people all throughout history, in every culture, have found ways to store away money for a rainy day. The difference today is the growing access to more organized, safer ways to save money. Access is not the same as adoption, however. For the poor to adopt new savings tools, requires, as the story notes, "building the trust of the poor, penny by penny," which can be very slow. It shouldn't surprise you to learn that
"People are poor because they are powerless," says BRAC Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed. But power isn't necessarily a zero-sum game. It takes work, but you can create it, because power comes from relationships and you can give people a safe space (or as some say a platform) to create and strengthen real world social networks they might not otherwise have time or space to build.
Yesterday from the Philippines to Dhaka to South Sudan to New York City, BRAC staff, volunteers, clients, interns and supporters participated in One Billion Rising, which invited women and those who love them around the world to "WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND" an end to violence against women.