Bangladesh

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Overview

Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries with 161 million people, 31 percent of whom live below the national poverty line. In addition, child malnutrition rates of 48 percent are the second highest in the world, a condition that is tied to the low social status of women in Bangladeshi society.

Our Work

The Hunger Project has been active in Bangladesh since 1990 and is currently the country's largest volunteer-based organization covering all 64 districts.

The centerpiece of The Hunger Project's strategy is the training and ongoing support of more than 260,000 volunteer animators, 60 percent of whom are women, who organize mass action campaigns in their areas. The animators focus their actions in clusters of villages known as unions and work closely with the elected Union Parishad (local government bodies) members to encourage decentralization and increased access to resources. Union Parishads (UPs), which cover a population close to 20,000, are the unit of government closest to the people. UP-based initiatives include ensuring 100 percent sanitary latrine coverage, 100 percent birth and death registration, and open budget meetings to provide transparency and accountability.

The Hunger Project conducts trainings focused on gender issues and leadership to local women leaders in each area in which we work. These leaders then proceed to organize local meetings, lead workshops and initiate campaigns against early marriage and dowry, malnutrition, maternal and child mortality, gender discrimination, and inequality, illiteracy and corruption. In conjunction with our core strategies, The Hunger Project also works in the following capacities:

Strengthening Local Democracy

Shujan (Citizens for Good Governance) is a platform of committed, active and socially conscious citizens, mobilized by The Hunger Project, to strengthen grassroots democracy, ensure transparency and accountability of local government, and carry out advocacy initiatives at the national level. Shujan is also working for political and election reform. In 2007, Shujan expanded to include all 64 districts of the country, and Bangladesh Television telecast eight episodes of a talk show organized by Shujan.

Promoting Youth Leadership

Thousands of students participate in the Youth Ending Hunger (YEH) program, which mobilizes students across the country. In 2007, YEH volunteers organized 152 different campaigns, based on such issues as nutrition, education, family planning, tree planting and environmental education. They also arranged debates, math Olympiads, writing competitions, roundtables and blood donation camps. In December 2007, a National Youth Conference was held, attended by 800 students from all over the country, who shared their accomplishments and created strategies for 2008.

Reducing Gender Inequality

The Hunger Project catalyzed the creation of a national alliance committed to ending all forms of discrimination against girls. Each year on September 30, this alliance organizes National Girl Child Day events across the country. A formal alliance of 300 organizations, the Girl Child Forum, also works to address domestic violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS.