The founder of BRAC, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has been laid to rest today, Sunday, 22 December 2019 at the Banani graveyard in Dhaka city. Thousands of people from all walks of life paid their last tributes and participated in his Namaz-e Janaza prior to the burial.
People began to gather from the morning at the Army Stadium premises. The vehicle carrying Sir Fazle's body arrived at 10.30am. Major Ashiqur Rahman, private secretary to military secretary to the Honourable President, and Colonel Md Saif Ullah PSC, deputy military secretary to the Honourable Prime Minister, placed wreaths at the coffin on behalf of the head of state and head of government respectively.
Immediately after, Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Honourable Speaker, and Fazle Rabbi Miah, Honourable Deputy Speaker of National Parliament paid their tributes, followed by Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda.
Obaidul Quader, Honourable Minister for Road Transport and Bridges and General Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League, led a group on behalf of his party in paying homage. The group included central leaders, among whom were party joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif, senior leaders Jahangir Kabir Nanak and AFM Bahauddin Nasim and Jubo League Chairman Sheikh Fazle Shams Parash.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, General Secretary, BNP, accompanied by senior leader Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury and others paid homage on behalf of the party. Rashed Khan Menon, President, Workers' Party of Bangladesh, Shirin Akhter, General Secretary, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Anisul Islam Mahmud, lawmaker from Jatiya Party placed wreaths on behalf of their respective political organisations.
Dignitaries also spoke to the media about Sir Fazle as they paid their last tributes.
Obaidul Quader, General Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League:
“He has left behind an irreplaceable gap. He can only be compared to himself. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed had always been one to avoid the spotlight. He spread various social interventions across every level of society in silence and humility. BRAC's programmes have spread to every corner of Bangladesh and even beyond. He established many kinds of organisations that have been working to the benefit of the grassroots people. His contributions will last forever. The nation will forever remember in respect.”
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, General Secretary, BNP:
“Sir Fazle Hasan Abed will forever live in the golden memory of people for his great contributions to change the world, particularly in establishing the rights of women.”
Professor Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank:
“He was the kind of person who was not an expert but still went on to do incredible work from sheer willpower. There is a great lesson there for the younger generation. I would implore the youth of today to take these lessons and learn to stand tall through the trials of life.”
Dr Anisuzzaman, Professor Emeritus, University of Dhaka:
“My friendship with Fazle Hasan Abed goes back to the year of 1972. I have closely observed his work. When he started his relief organisation in 1972, we never thought his efforts will spread all over the world. There was immense dedication in him. Every work that he took on, he made sure to complete it with beautiful perfection.”
Atiqul Islam, Mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation:
“Before he went to do anything, he first understood the whole of it, he went to the field and made sure that things were implemented just according to the plan.”
Earl R Miller, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh:
“He helped raise people out of poverty, inspired and improved the lives of millions of people not in Bangladesh only, but around the world.”
Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Professor
“He would invite the best of teachers, those who would be able to advise him the best. There is a saying, small is beautiful. He added to it: ‘Large is essential.’ Remaining small isn’t enough - expansion is needed. He applied this model everywhere.”
Sara Zaker, Theatre Actor and Executive Vice Chairperson, Asiatic Experiential Marketing Ltd:
“His door was open whenever I went to him for advice. He was a people’s man. I have never worked at BRAC but have been involved in some of their activities. I want to remember him as Abed bhai as I have always known him. Bangladesh has lost an irreplaceable asset.”
Other dignitaries, government officials, local and international organisations who were present:
Government organisations and present and former government officials
Salman F Rahman, Political Adviser to the Prime Minister; Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister; Md Shahab Uddin, Minister for Environment and Forest; Microcredit Regulatory Authority; ATM Shamsul Huda, former chief election commissioner.
Dr Kamal Hossain, eminent lawyer and politician; Enam Ahmed Chowdhury, senior Awami League leader; Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh MP; Akbar Ali Khan and AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former advisers to Caretaker Government; Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, former finance minister Bangladesh Chhatra League Dhaka University branch.
Ambassadors of Spain and USA to Bangladesh.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), UNDP, UNICEF, UN Bangladesh.
NGOs and corporates
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra; Rasheda K Chowdhury, Chairperson Gono Shakkhorota Ovijan; Shipa Hafiza, Executive Director, Ain o Shalish Kendra; Aroma Dutta MP, Executive Director, PRIP Trust; UCEP Bangladesh; CARE; Proshika; TMSS; Safer World; Dustho Shasthya Kendra; BURO Bangladesh; Badiul Alam Majumder, Secretary, SHUJAN; Federation of NGOs in Bangladesh (FNB); CDF; Action Bangladesh; Oxfam; ALRD; VARC; Maya website; ASA; Ubinig and Nari Grantha Prabartana; Concern Worldwide; Shakti Foundation; Bastab; Grameen Phone.
Social organisations, intellectuals, artist, writers
Abul Khair Litu on behalf of Gyantaposh Abdur Razzaq Foundation; Luva Nahid Chowdhury on behalf Bengal Foundation; Bangladesh Sthapati Institute; Monirul Islam and Hashem Khan, eminent painters; Shahidul Alam, eminent photographer and founder of Drik; Liberation War Museum; Bangmoy.
Professor Mohammad Tamim, BRAC University Pro-Vice Chancellor; Ahsan H Monsur, Chairman, BRAC Bank; BRAC Net; IPDC; Guardian Life Insurance; Bkash; Baniachang Aysha Abed Foundation.
The Namaz-e Janaza was held at 12.30pm led by Moulana Ahsanullah, Imam of Gulshan Central Mosque.
His body was taken to Banani graveyard afterwards, where another Namaz-e Janaza was held. He was laid to rest at 2.30pm.
Earlier in the morning, Sir Fazle's body was taken to BRAC Centre, his long-time workplace. His relatives and colleagues paid respects to him and participated in his first Namaz-e Janaza on the office premises at 9.45am. Afterwards, his body was taken to the Army Stadium.
Books of condolences
A book of condolence in memory of Sir Fazle was opened at 2pm on Sunday at BRAC Centre. From Monday, 23 December, books of condolences will be open at Aarong outlets, BRAC Bank offices and BRAC University. From Tuesday, 24 December, books of condolences will be open at all BRAC regional offices. All the condolence books will remain open from 10am to 5pm until 30 January, 2020.
With profound sadness, BRAC, one of the world’s leading development organisations, announced today the passing of its Founder, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG. He was 83 years old.
Sir Fazle breathed his last this evening while undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospitals in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was battling a malignant tumour of the brain.
His body will be placed on the Army Stadium premises in the capital on Sunday (22 December) from 10.30am to 12.30pm to allow people from all walks of life to pay their last tributes. His Namaz-e-Janaza will also be held there at 12.30pm. He will be laid to rest at the graveyard in Banani, Dhaka on the same day.
Ms Ameerah Haq, Chair, BRAC Global Board said in a statement, “Unfaltering dedication, focus and work ethic are what we have always experienced in Sir Fazle, or Abed Bhai, as the BRAC family calls him lovingly. He always put others before himself and let his work speak for itself. Even when BRAC attained its global stature, his concern and focus were on the less fortunate in society and those whose potential needed nurturing. He embodied the highest level of integrity, humility and humanity, which continues to be the essential guiding spirit of BRAC.”
The Honourable President of Bangladesh Mohammad Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina both expressed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
Sir Fazle started BRAC in 1972, at the age of 36, as a small relief and rehabilitation project in north-eastern Bangladesh. Over the past 47 years, BRAC has grown to be one of the most effective non-governmental organisations in the world, touching the lives of over 100 million people worldwide. BRAC is a unique ecosystem comprising development programmes, microfinance, social enterprises, a university, bank and a range of mission-aligned investments. BRAC currently operates in 11 countries in Asia and Africa, with affiliate offices in the USA, UK and the Netherlands.
About Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
Sir Fazle was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He studied Accountancy in London, qualifying as a Cost Management Accountant in 1962. While he was working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell Oil, the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh dramatically changed the direction of his life. He left his job and moved to London, where he helped initiate Action Bangladesh and HELP Bangladesh in support of the Liberation War.
Early in 1972, after the war was over, he returned to the newly-independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. The return of 10 million refugees who had sought shelter in India during the war called for urgent relief and rehabilitation efforts. Sir Fazle established BRAC to address the needs of refugees in a remote area of north-eastern Bangladesh, guided by a desire to help people living in poverty develop their own capacity to better manage their lives.
Today BRAC is one of the largest NGOs in the world, operating across eleven countries in Africa and Asia. Its primary objective is to empower people living in poverty and inequality. In 2019, for the fourth year in a row, BRAC was ranked first among the world’s top 500 NGOs by Geneva-based NGO Advisor; based on its impact, innovation and sustainability.
Sir Fazle was honoured with numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the Yidan Prize for Education Development (2019), LEGO Prize (2018), World Food Prize (2015), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Inaugural WISE Prize for Education (2011), David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), UNDP Mahbubul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development (2004), Olof Palme Prize (2001) and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).
He has also been recognised by Ashoka as one of the ‘global greats’; and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. He was a member of the Commission on Health Research for Development (1987-90), the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (1991-92) and the High-level Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (2005-2008). In 2010, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. Sir Fazle was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. Sir Fazle was honoured with a Dutch Knighthood in 2019.
The Nippon Foundation, a Japanese private non-profit organisation, will donate USD 2 million (over BDT 169 million) for BRAC to scale up its education programme for the displaced Rohingya and host communities’ children in Cox's Bazar. The grant will help build 50 two-story prefabricated movable steel structures to be used as learning centres for 8,000 displaced Rohingya children. Besides, 100 pre-primary learning centres will also be built for the host community’s children.
BRAC and The Nippon Foundation announced the partnership at a press conference today on Wednesday (11 December) at BRAC Centre in Dhaka city. Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, Executive Director of BRAC, Asif Saleh, Director of BRAC Education Programme, Dr Safiqul Islam, officials of the two organisations and Japanese Embassy in Bangladesh were present at the event.
Chairman Yohei Sasakawa said, "The objective of our initiative is to create education opportunities for the displaced Rohingya children so that they can also learn alongside the host community’s children. We hope that the displaced Rohingya children will be able to continue learning as they return to their homeland."
BRAC’s Executive Director Asif Saleh said, "55 per cent of the people who came from Myanmar are children. So we are focusing on their education."
Officials of BRAC informed the press that right from the beginning of the new influx of the displaced Rohingya people into Bangladesh in 2017, BRAC undertook the education programme for their children as the largest partner of the government in this regard. The learning curriculum for the displaced Rohingya children includes pre-primary education, alphabets and numbers, life-saving information, psychological counselling and life skills development. BRAC is also developing education materials for classes I-IV for the displaced Rohingya children.
Currently, over 61,000 children of 4-14 years of age are receiving basic education in its 759 learning centres at the Rohingya camps in Ukhya and Teknaf sub districts of Cox's Bazar. Fifty-one per cent of these children are girls. 722 children are disabled among them. Also, 57 per cent members of the managing committees of these learning centres are women.
The separate 100 pre-primary learning centres BRAC will build with The Nippon Foundation's support will accommodate 3,000 host community children of 5-6 years of age.
Professor Mushtaque Chowdhury, Advisor and Founding Dean of the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, has been made a member of the Management Advisory Group for the Director General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome. In a recent letter to Dr Chowdhury, Dr Qu Dongyu, the new Director General of FAO, said, “I will count on your frank advice and positive feedback in supporting FAO to further strengthen its activities in assisting countries to realise the potential of their agriculture and food systems. Together, we will work to create a more prosperous world for all. Your experience and insight will contribute greatly to this joint effort”. FAO is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
Dr Chowdhury is also a Professor of Population and Family Health of Columbia University in New York. He is a Senior Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and a Senior Adviser to the International Growth Centre of the London School of Economics. He made significant contributions to the academic sector by publishing over 200 scientific papers in different national and international journals. One of his co-edited books, ‘From the Ground Up: BRAC’s contributions to agricultural development in Bangladesh and beyond’, published by the University Press Limited, was formally launched in Dhaka last week.
Dr Martha Chen
Dr Martha (Marty) Chen is a lecturer in urban planning and design at the Harvard Graduate school of Design and co-founder, international coordinator emeritus and board member of the global network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). An experienced development practitioner and scholar, her areas of specialisation are employment, gender and poverty with a focus on the working poor in the informal economy.
Before joining Harvard in 1987, Dr Chen had two decades of resident work experience in Bangladesh with BRAC, and in India with Oxfam America. She co-founded and, for 20 years, led the WIEGO network which is well known worldwide for its work to improve the status of the working poor in the informal economy through stronger organisations, improved statistics and research and a more favourable policy environment.
Dr Chen received a PhD in South Asia Regional Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She was awarded a high civilian award, the Padma Shri, by the Government of India in April 2011; and a Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War award by the Government of Bangladesh in December 2012.
Dr Chen is chair of the BRAC Global board, having earlier served on the BRAC Bangladesh board, and chair of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) board.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman
Economist and social thinker, Hossain Zillur Rahman is a leading policy voice of Bangladesh with wide-ranging experiences within and outside government. Holding a Masters in Economics (Dhaka University) and Ph.D in Political Sociology (Manchester University), Dr Rahman founded the Dhaka-based think-tank Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) in 1996 and was elected Chairperson of BRAC, Bangladesh in 2019. He led the internationally known 62-village Analysis of Poverty Trends Project at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (1989-98) and was Lead Consultant in drafting Government of Bangladesh’s poverty reduction strategy in 2004. He was appointed a member of the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (2003-06) and also served on the board of the central bank of Bangladesh. Dr Rahman has authored influential works such as Rethinking Rural Poverty (SAGE, 1995), Local Governance and Community Capacities (UPL, 2002); Governance and State Effectiveness in Asia (PPRC/IDS: 2006); Unbundling Governance (PPRC, 2007); Researching Poverty from the Bottom up (PPRC/Grameen Trust, 2007); Bangladesh 2030: Strategy for Accelerating Inclusive Growth (DCCI/PPRC, 2010); Bangladesh Urban Dynamics (PPRC/World Bank, 2012); Bangladesh: Primary Education Stipends (PPRC/UNICEF, 2013); Social Protection in Bangladesh (UPL, 2014); Road Safety in Bangladesh (PPRC/BRAC, 2014); Realizing UHC Goals: Challenges & Opportunities for Bangladesh (PPRC, 2016); The Urban Spectrum: Metropolitan to Mofussil (PPRC/BBS, 2016); Exploring a more effective pro-poor targeting approach (PPRC/USAID, 2018). Dr Rahman was a key contributor to the adoption of a national social security strategy and remains an active policy researcher on issues of sustainable urbanization, social protection, health, inclusive growth, quality education, governance, WASH, road safety and population policies.
Dr Rahman served as Advisor (Cabinet Minister) for the ministries of Education and Commerce in the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh (2007-08) and was credited with a lead role in the subsequent return of Bangladesh to electoral democracy. He was awarded the Dr. John Meyer Global Citizenship Award by the Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University in 2009. Dr Rahman was one of the three awardees of the Gold Medal Award 2013 of Rotary International Bangladesh for his services to humanity.
Ms Ameerah Haq is a former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support. She held the position of Under-Secretary-General from 2009 till her retirement and was the senior-most Bangladeshi national in the United Nations during those years. She most recently served as the Vice-Chair of the High- Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations for the UN. She has over 39 years of UN experience, including 19 years in field assignments. She was the last Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in the UN Integrated Mission in Timor- Leste. She has also held the positions of Deputy SRSG and UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, as well as Deputy SRSG and UN Resident Coordinator in Afghanistan. In addition, Ms Haq has held senior positions within the UN Development Programme (UNDP)and has served as United Nations Coordinator in Malaysia and Laos.
Ms Haq currently serves on the Board for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, on the Group on Human Rights Up Front, and on the Board for the Peace Operations Training Institute, Williamsburg, Virginia. She is also a Advisor to the United Nations Foundation in Washington and a member of the Special Advisory Group of the Challenges Forum of the Folke Bernadette Academy of Sweden. Ms Haq lectures frequently at universities and speaks at seminars hosted by think tanks and non-governmental organisations.
During her service in the UN, Ms Haq was awarded the highest Presidential Medal in East Timor by President Jose Ramos Horta, the highest civilian medal of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Malalai Medal of Honor from President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, which is among the highest civilian honours given for courage and dedication. She is also the recipient of the Julia Taft Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award during the time she served as Humanitarian Coordinator for her work in Darfur, Sudan.
Ms Haq received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio in 1969. She subsequently went on to receive a Master of Science degree in Community Organization and Planning from Columbia University, New York in 1972, and a Master in Business Administration from New York University in 1974.
Ms Haq is the mother of two children, Sheehan Perera and Nadina Perera.
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG
Mark Malloch-Brown is president of the Open Society Foundations, the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. In his career of service, Malloch-Brown has worked to advance human rights, justice, and development in a variety of roles: serving as deputy secretary general of the United Nations under Kofi Annan; heading the United Nations Development Programme; directing external affairs at the World Bank; and working as a British government minister.
Malloch-Brown co-founded Crisis Group, which works to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. More recently he chaired Best for Britain, an organization advocating internationalism as a practical approach to global problems. He has worked with a range of private companies and has led the boards of the Royal Africa Society, the UN Foundation, and the Business Commission for Sustainable Development.
An international thought leader and advocate on human rights, gender and social justice issues, Irene Khan is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and Distinguished Fellow at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva. Ms. Khan was Secretary-General of Amnesty International from 2001 to 2009, and Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) from 2012 - 2019. Prior to that, she worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for 21 years at headquarters and in various countries.
Ms Khan sits on the Boards of several international NGOs and think tanks, and has been a member of the World Bank’s Gender Advisory Council. She has received several honorary degrees and prestigious awards, including the Sydney Peace Prize in 2006 for her work to end violence against women and girls. Her book, The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights, has been translated into seven languages. Born in Bangladesh, Ms Khan studied law at the University of Manchester and Harvard Law School.
Raymond C Offenheiser
Raymond C Offenheiser is Director of the McKenna Center for Human Development and Global Business, part of the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, where he also serves as Senior Advisor to the Dean and Distinguished Professor of the Practice providing strategic leadership to the McKenna Center’s academic, research, and public policy activities. A widely known nonprofit leader, innovator, and international development expert, Offenheiser served as President of Oxfam America for 20 years. Prior to joining Oxfam, Offenheiser represented the Ford Foundation in Bangladesh and the Andean and Southern Cone regions of South America, as well as directing programmes for the Inter-American Foundation in Brazil and Colombia.
At the 2012 G20 Summit, Offenheiser was appointed by the Obama Administration to represent civil society on the leadership council of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa. He currently is the Chair of the Board of BRAC USA and a member of the board of BRAC Global which oversees the work of all BRAC affiliated entities across the world. He is also a board member of the Oxfam America Action Fund and the Consensus Building Initiative. He also serves on the Forum for Corporate Responsibility for BHP Mining Corporation and the Development Partners Initiative. Offenheiser was a co-founder of the ONE Campaign and the Washington, DC based, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, and the Food Policy Action Network. He has also served on the advisory boards of the World Economic Forum, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute, the World Agricultural Forum, the Gates Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, and both Harvard and Cornell Universities.
Ken Caldwell has held a wide variety of executive and non-executive leadership roles in international development and humanitarian organisations over the past 30 years.
He has served as Global Programmes Director at Save the Children, and Executive Director of WaterAid International. He is Chair of the Board Programme Committee at Oxfam GB, and has also served as a board member of the Institute of Development Studies, as a member of the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Development, and as the Founding Chair of BOND (the representative body for UK INGOs). He has worked with a wide range of leading global NGO federations, providing advice on global strategy and governance issues, and has published research on INGO governance.
Ken was elected as Chair of BRAC UK in May 2021, and joined the BRAC Global Board in June 2021.
Dr Zainab Usman
Zainab Usman is a senior fellow and director of the Africa Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Her fields of expertise include institutions, economic policy, energy policy, and emerging economies in Africa. Prior to Carnegie, Usman served at the World Bank as a public sector specialist where she was concerned with social sustainability, policy reforms, natural resources management, and disruptive technologies. She has worked on these issues in Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Congo, Serbia, Tanzania, and Uzbekistan. She has also worked at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and has consulted for the Department of International Development (DfID).
Usman’s research has been published on various academic, policy, and media platforms. She is author of the book Economic Diversification in Nigeria: the Politics of Building a Post-Oil Economy, which was selected as one of the Best Books of 2022 on economics by the Financial Times. She is also co-editor of the book The Future of Work in Africa: Harnessing the Potential of Digital Technologies for All. Usman contributed to the World Bank’s flagship report on Rethinking Power Sector Reforms in Developing Countries. Usman’s other analytical pieces have been published in the journal of African Affairs, the World Bank’s Policy Research and Working Paper Series, and as book chapters in edited volumes with Oxford University Press and James Currey. Her written and broadcast commentary has appeared in Al-Jazeera English, BBC, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Project Syndicate, and The Washington Post, among others.
Usman obtained her doctorate (DPhil) from the University of Oxford.
BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, is pleased to announce that it is scaling up its global ambition to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. BRAC aims to reach at least 250 million disadvantaged women (and their dependents), youth, and people living in poverty around the world, including Bangladesh, within the next 10 years.
BRAC Founder and Chair Emeritus Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we made a commitment to the people of the world to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. With 10 years to go to achieve the SDGs, we need to set in motion an accelerated path.”
He further said, “BRAC has always believed in creating impact at scale. Small is beautiful, but scale is needed for greater impact. With 47 years of experience in working with the people of Bangladesh and 17 years of international experience in Africa and Asia, BRAC is ready to collaborate on a global scale and to share our learning with public, private and non-governmental partners.”
BRAC’s global strategy outlines three priority goals: empowering at least 250 million people to have control over their own livelihoods; reaching at least 30% of the participants with multiple interventions; and leading innovation and the dissemination of learning in the development sector.
BRAC has formed a Global Board, with three initial members, to guide the implementation roadmap of its global strategy. The principal role of the BRAC Global Board will be to ensure that BRAC has the right strategy, resources and governance to support its vision.
There will be no other immediate change to BRAC’s existing Boards and governance structure. In future, the BRAC Global Board will review its activities and governance mechanisms, as needed, to consolidate BRAC’s unified global strength as ‘One BRAC’ in support of its vision.
The BRAC Global Board will be chaired by Ms Ameerah Haq, currently Chair of the Supervisory Board of Stichting BRAC International. Ms Haq is a former UN Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support (2012-2014). She held the position of Under-Secretary-General from 2009 until her retirement and was the senior-most Bangladeshi national in the United Nations during those years.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, currently Chairperson of the BRAC Bangladesh Board and a renowned academic, economist and policymaker, has been nominated as the Senior Trustee of the Global Board. Dr Rahman is a leading policy voice in Bangladesh and was an Advisor (Minister) for Commerce and Education in the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh in 2008. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the think-tank Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC).
The third member of the Global Board is Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG. Lord Malloch-Brown served as the Deputy Secretary-General and Chef-de-Cabinet of the UN under Kofi Annan. Before that, he was Administrator of UNDP, leading the UN’s development efforts around the world. He later served as a Minister of State in the Foreign Office, covering Africa and Asia, and sat in Gordon Brown’s cabinet.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC and Dr Muhammad Musa, Executive Director, BRAC International welcomed the formation of the BRAC Global Board, marking it as an important step towards the worldwide scale-up of BRAC’s impact.
Founded in 1972 in Bangladesh, BRAC currently operates in eleven countries in Asia and Africa, reaching over 100 million people. The countries of its operations are: Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nepal, Myanmar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Besides, BRAC’s ultra-poor graduation approach, an integrated model to address extreme poverty, has been adapted in more than 40 countries by NGOs, governments and multilateral institutions.
Quotes from the BRAC Global Board
Ms Ameerah Haq said, “It is a huge honour to serve as the Chair of the BRAC Global Board. I am very proud of the work that the entire BRAC family does as a truly purpose-driven organisation. We aim to effectively scale up our learning and proven approaches from the Global South to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs by 2030."
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said, "BRAC excels in finding community-led, innovative approaches to eradicate extreme poverty. I am proud to serve on its global Governing Body which will lead in up-scaling adaptive models in the most deprived communities of the world through the exchange of knowledge, empowerment of women and inclusion of the excluded."
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG said, "Now is the time to act together if we are to deliver on our promise of eradicating extreme poverty. BRAC’s effectiveness in solving complex social, economic and environmental challenges shows how much can be achieved through human ingenuity and listening and learning from our beneficiaries and local partners. I look forward to working with my eminent fellow Board members and the BRAC team across the globe to champion inclusive development, build partnerships and jointly advance our vision."
Planning Minister of Bangladesh and the chief guest, Muhammad Abdul Mannan said, "There was once a scarcity of food in Bangladesh, but not anymore, due to our agriculture. We must be vigilant in all possible agricultural cases" at the launch of the book ‘From the Ground Up: BRAC’s innovations in the development of agriculture in Bangladesh and Beyond’ at BRAC Centre Inn today.
The book is published by University Press Limited (UPL). It has been edited by Mushtaque Chowdhury, Muazzam Husain, Md A Saleque and Hugh Brammer. Chapters are written by Dr Jiban Krishna Biswas, Professor S D Chowdhury, Dr A K Fazlul Haque Bhuiyan, and Professor Md Saifuddin Shah. Mushtaque Chowdhury said “This book journals the significant contributions of BRAC in agriculture for the past 40 years.”
The special guests were National Emeritus Scientist and the former chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Dr Kazi M Badruddoza, the senior secretary of the planning commission Dr Shamsul Alam, the secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Md Nasiruzzaman, the advisor to former caretaker government and former secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture AMM Shawkat Ali and the director and founder of Channel I Shykh Seraj. Asif Saleh, the executive director of BRAC, opened the event with his remarks. “BRAC first brought the Amrapali mango to Bangladesh. Even small contributions lead to big results that is unknown to most people. The book highlights such contributions.”
BRAC chairperson Hossain Zillur Rahman, who chaired the event, remarked, “With Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s guidance, there have been a lot of innovations in agriculture. Agriculture is not just a proud history for us, but also holds the key to a bright future.” Agricultural development was one of BRAC’s early interventions, which resulted in a direct impact on food security and poverty reduction in the country’s most vulnerable areas.
Planning minister MA Mannan said, "The main reasons for perpetuating poverty in the haors are injustice and discrimination. The influential and powerful elites who live in the cities are exploiting people in haor with illegal means. It's time to take stern action against them."
He also observed, "Elimination of extreme poverty from haors is difficult by any single organisation. It needs essential collaboration from all those concerned, in both public and private sectors." His views came at a national-level meeting BRAC organised on Wednesday, November 27, at the CIRDAP auditorium in the capital to exchange views on haor development.
Styled on the theme "Collaborative initiatives for haor development", the meeting was organised by BRAC's integrated development programme (IDP). BRAC’s executive director Asif Saleh presided over the event.
Designed especially for the haor region, the implementation of IDP began in 2013. With an integrated strategy of action, it formed 3,550 women-led village development organisations. Through these organisations, BRAC is implementing a series of programmes in the areas of education, healthcare, nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene, preventing violence against women, improving living standards and alleviating ultra poverty through financial inclusion and information delivery. Currently, IDP is covering 900,000 people in four subdistricts of four haor regions - Baniachang of Habiganj, Dirai of Sunamganj, Itna of Kishoreganj and Khaliajuri of Netrokona.
In these four subdistricts, only 10 per cent of the families could access different essential services, while the coverage has increased to 75 per cent through IDP interventions. Since 2013, 96 per cent ultra-poor women who were covered by IDP graduated from extreme poverty. At the same time, sanitation coverage in the programme area has increased from previous 17 per cent to 72 per cent now. A total of 47,524 children are going to school, while 90 per cent of the inhabitants of the areas can access healthcare facilities. The programme participants also receive improved quality seeds, training on climate-resilient cultivation method, cattle and poultry vaccination, financial inclusion, family planning services, ante-natal and delivery care and information services.
A presentation was also given at the event on BRAC IDP's learnings from implementation of different initiatives in the haor. A special discussion titled "Future vision for integrated development in haor" followed, moderated by KAM Morshed, director, BRAC Advocacy for Social Change programme. Dr Ali Muhammad Omar Faruque, deputy secretary and deputy director, Department of Bangladesh Haor and Wetlands Development, Anna Minj, director, IDP, Community Empowerment Programme, and Gender Justice and Diversity Programme, Walter Mwasaa, chief of party, Souhardo-III of Care Bangladesh, Anjela Naumann, first secretary and head of aid, Australian High Commission, and Professor Siddiqur Rahman of Jahangir Nagar University, participated in the discussion, among others.
Discussants said the dwellers of the haor regions are troubled with multifarious setbacks. The regions suffer from regular natural calamities, perpetuating an intergenerational fear of instability. Their asset base of land, cattle and poultry and others is very low, while the natural disasters further strain whatever assets they have. Difficult physical communication prevents consistent and quality delivery of essential services including education, health and livelihood, causing perpetuation of poverty. The speakers said only a singular platform competently designed with custom-based services for haor areas can break through this chain of setbacks and bring development at the doorsteps of the haor inhabitants. They said to make that happen, all the government and private development bodies will have to act together.
They further observed that the government should increase the coverage of its social safety net programmes especially for haor areas. Opportunities for demand-based service delivery will also have to be much increased. To bring the haor people into the fold of mainstream development, well-designed, collaborative and integrated initiatives have to be taken for sustainably tackling natural disasters, creating employment opportunities and skilled manpower at the local level.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG, Founder and Chair Emeritus of BRAC, has been decorated Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for his longstanding, dedicated and successful work in alleviating poverty especially of women and children.
Sir Fazle accepted today the insignia of the Royal Knighthood bestowed upon him by H. E. Mr. Harry Verweij, Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh, on behalf of His Majesty King Willem Alexander of The Netherlands.
A brief ceremony took place at Sir Fazle's residence in Dhaka city in the evening. Sir Fazle's family members along with representatives from the Netherlands embassy were present at the event.
"On behalf of His Majesty the King it is my great honour and privilege to present to you the insignia of Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau,” Ambassador Verweij said.
Sir Fazle expressed his delight at the acknowledgement by the Dutch Crown. "Being named an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau is an immense honour," he said. “The Netherlands has been a great friend and supporter to BRAC over the decades and our connection with the country has deepened since establishing the base of our international operations there 10 years ago. This recognition is a testament to that friendship. As BRAC expands globally, we look forward to working together to advance the causes of people living in situations of poverty and deprivation”.
The ambassador in his speech highlighted Sir Fazle's holistic vision and entrepreneurial approach to poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. “Sir Fazle has always strived to uphold human dignity, resilience, integrity and inclusion - these values have been at the heart of the successful development of BRAC."
“The fact that, for BRAC, the empowerment of women is not a secondary aim but a guiding principle of all of its programmes and enterprises, is greatly appreciated. BRAC’s anti-poverty work is recognized across the world, including in The Netherlands,” the ambassador further stated. He also mentioned the long-standing and close connection between BRAC and his country.
The Order of Orange-Nassau is awarded for longstanding meritorious service to society, the State or the Royal House of The Kingdom of The Netherlands.
BRAC’s climate change programme organised an event titled "Youth convention on climate change" on Sunday, November 17, 2019, at BRAC Centre in the capital.
Thirty per cent of Bangladesh's population are youth who are already engaged in many different initiatives to promote and adopt sustainable solutions. A number of universities in the country have developed their own initiatives to address different climate change issues.
The youth will lead mankind in tackling the impacts of climate change. They will do it by spreading awareness on environment preservation and climate education, inspiring people about sustainable living and livelihoods, and adopting recyclable energy sources. The speakers expressed these views at the convention.
Dr Ainun Nishat, eminent environment expert, former vice-chancellor of BRAC University, and currently adviser to the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, BRAC University, was present as the chief guest in the event. Dr SM Munjurul Hannan Khan, additional secretary to the environment, forest and climate change ministry, and Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association, were present as special guests. Dr Md Liakath Ali, director of BRAC’s climate change programme, chaired the convention.
Students from eight public and private universities, namely Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh University of Professionals, BRAC University, North South University, United International University, Ahsanullah University of Science, and Independent University, Bangladesh, attended the convention. Only 10 per cent of these participants had attended any climate conference beforehand.
Dr Md Golam Rabbani, fellow, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, presented the keynote report on the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh. Mr Abu Sadat Moniruzzaman Khan, head of BRAC’s climate change programme gave an introduction to the event.
Speakers said the roadmap to address climate change impacts has already been prepared and the youth groups have now started its enthusiastic implementation.
Dr Ainun Nishat said, "Weather is increasingly becoming unpredictable. The seasons of autumn, late autumn and spring are disappearing. We have experienced heavy rainfall in October in which Rajshahi was flooded. On the other hand, you will not find enough water for jute retting. We started destroying the environment with the start of industrial revolution in 1860, and we began our account of destruction only in 1990. The less carbon dioxide and other harmful gases are emitted, the better for our earth."
Dr SM Munjurul Hannan Khan praised BRAC for its role in engaging young people in climate change actions, saying, "The industrially developed countries are spreading pollution and the entire planet has become its victim. Today children are born in an atmosphere that is four degrees Celsius warmer than that in which their parents were born. If this situation continues, the world will be in an unbearable condition by 2050, when 9.3 billion people will be living on earth."