Life had not been kind to 12-year-old Shohag. Living in a Dhaka slum, home to some of the worst forms of poverty and depravation in Bangladesh, Shohag lacked access to basic rights such as a secure shelter, food, drinking water and an education. His father died in a construction accident a year ago and when his mother remarried, he found it difficult to see eye to eye with his stepfather. Shohag preferred to face the harsh realities of Dhaka’s streets, looking to earn money any way he could to avoid sleeping hungry at night.
Across the murky waters of Banani Lake from BRAC's headquarters in Dhaka, Bangladesh, lies Korail, one of the country's largest slums, jam-packed with over 40,000 people. I have always seen the slum from a distance, but knew very little about what goes on inside. Typically, slums are illegal land settlements littered with crime, invariable health-hazards and acute poverty. But what I saw recently on my first visit was beyond my expectations.
GlaxoSmithKline and Save the Children have joined together to create a $1 million Healthcare Innovation Award, awarding $300,000 to BRAC. The funds will be used to pilot BRAC's Manoshi program in Freetown, Sierra Leone, after having tremendous success in the urban slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
As the world moves rapidly towards a new policy agenda for the post-Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era, emerging priority themes include universal health coverage, sustainable cities, and the demand for human rights and accountability. It’s a fact that the world is rapidly urbanising with significant changes in our living standards, lifestyles, social behaviour and health. Thirty years ago, four out of every 10 people were living in cities, but by 2050 the UN predicts this number will grow to seven out of 10.
reflects that its development was far more consistent compared to the development of neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Nepal. Although Bangladesh has progressed significantly in adverting maternal and neonatal deaths, reducing transmission of communicable diseases, ensuring food security for all, but poverty still remains as a frontline concern for the country.
It can seem so easy. Give a slum-dweller a three-wheeled vehicle. She creates a mobile tea business. Income increases from 100 Bangladeshi taka to 400 taka per day. She leaves her backbreaking job as a brick-maker, quadruples her income, preserves her health, restores her dignity. Rinse, repeat.
We are currently in the midst of an important week for BRAC’s Road Safety Programme, in particular its newest, most attention-drawing, yet perhaps most potent component for bringing about social change – the BRAC Driving School
The eviction of thousands of slum dwellers of Korail slum in the recent past has been one of the most controversial acts of eviction in the Dhaka City. Several humanitarian and development organisations, along with BRAC, stood their ground against this coldhearted act, which, despite being legal and seemingly the ‘right thing’ from the authority’s view point, was utterly inhumane.
During the Social Innovation Lab’s last field trip to Hazaribag – a very poor area on the edge of West Dhaka– the team met Feroz (on the far left of the picture, wearing an orange lungi) a rickshaw-puller in his early thirties.His wife and three children are still in their home district of Rongpur.
On April 4, one of the largest forceful slum evictions in Dhaka’s history took place in Korail bustee, located near BRAC’s head office. Households and shops within twenty meters of the road were bulldozed, with approximately 2,000 structures affected.