April 2008: Update to the Global Board (Bangladesh)

animator

The Hunger Project works in partnership with grassroots people in Bangladesh to develop effective bottom-up strategies to overcome hunger and poverty. Three elements are critical in this process: mobilizing people at the grassroots level to build self-reliance; empowering women as key change agents; and forging partnerships with local government. The Hunger Project's approach is different from the conventional, top-down planning used by many development agencies and governments. These top-down approaches follow a service-delivery model and often undermine our most important resource: the creativity and self-reliance of people living in conditions of hunger and poverty themselves.

Below is a table outlining the detailed achievements that took place in Bangladesh during the period October 2007-March 2008. This report was submitted to the Global Board Directors in preparation for the April 2008 meeting.

Social Mobilization for Self-reliant Action

Area of Activities

Program Description

Accomplishments

Animator Training

Animator Training is a highly empowering, inspiring and motivational training program. It is the key to all of our activities. During the last decade, we gave Animator Trainings to nearly 100,000 social-activists, who have been catalyzing a social movement, involving people from all walks of life, to create a hunger-free, self-reliant Bangladesh.

During the period October 2007 to March 2008, we have delivered Animator Trainings to 7,061 new social activists, out of which 3,198 are women and 3,863 are male. As a part of the continuous empowerment and mobilization process of the trained animators, an experience sharing meeting of the animators was held on February 9, 2008 at Saver, Dhaka where about 15,000 animators gathered. The participants themselves bore their transportation and part of their food expenses. The Hunger Project-Bangladesh only provided lunch. This reflects their commitment to change the society.

Vision, Commitment, and Action Workshops (VCAWs)

The VCAW is also one of the most powerful mobilization tools of The Hunger Project.

725 VCAWs were organized, in which 41,932 participants took part during the period. 16,588 of the participants were women.

Local Organizations

Local organizations are formed by our trained animators and grassroots people. Through the organizations, they collect savings from the members and provide loans among members for income-generating activities. These organizations also run various awareness programs like mother and child health care, nutrition, environment, and sanitation as well as skills development training.

During the reporting period, 123 local organizations have been formed. Total numbers of members are: 2,080 of which 853 are male and 1,227 are female. Out of the 123 organizations, 71 are led by women. These organizations have collected millions of taka as savings and provide loans to their members to run income-generating activities.

Skills Trainings and Income-generating Activities

The Hunger Project-Bangladesh is providing skills development training in areas such as mushroom cultivation, fish cultivation, and tailoring to young men and women to create self-employment opportunities in rural and urban areas.

About 1,192 men and women have received skills training. Out of this, a good number, approximately, 600 people have already started income-generating activities. This has enhanced the importance of these young men and women in their respective families.

Interventions for Gender Equality

Area of Activities

Program Description

Accomplishments

Year-long Special Training Course on Gender Issues

Like others countries, women in Bangladesh are also deprived of their rights and subjugated. To empower and unleash the catalytic leadership qualities of the subjugated women, we have delivered special trainings focusing on gender issues to the grassroots women leaders who in turn mobilize others grassroots women against social injustice, discrimination, dowry, and early marriage and to make room in decision making processes from the family level to the state level.

During the last six months, these special trainings on gender issues were given to 675 grassroots women leaders, and 80 follow-up meetings were arranged. These trained women then organized 375 workshops and 175 skills development trainings in their localities, where about 50,000 women and men participated. These trained women also arranged 600 courtyard discussion meetings and carried out 150 campaign rallies through their own initiative and finance to raise awareness against early marriage, dowry, and malnutrition. During the period October 2007 to March 2008, they stopped 302 early marriages, arranged 65 dowry-free marriages, and formed 115 women groups/organizations.

100 Success Union

Our trained animators are intensively working in 508 unions following 10 steps to bring overall improvement to the quality of life of the people of their unions and to become a model for other unions.

During the last six months, through the coordinated actions of all concerned, both individual and groups, the following accomplishments have been made:

  • Primary education rate: 75% to 90%
  • Immunization coverage of children: 85 to 95%
  • Sanitary latrine coverage: 80% to 100%
  • Early marriage: 35% to 20%
  • Birth registration: 100%
  • Dowry: 40% to 30% average

Strengthening Local Democracy and Promoting Good Governance and Human Rights

Area of Activities

Program Description

Accomplishment

Local Democracy and Mobilization of Local Elected Representatives

Strong and effective local government is one of the preconditions to building a hunger- and poverty-free self-reliant Bangladesh. Elected representatives in the local bodies are very close to the grassroots poor people. They know each other very well. Local elected representatives can easily solve many local problems without any monetary involvement, only by mobilizing, motivating and organizing the grassroots people So, we have been mobilizing the elected representatives to raise their voices for decentralization of power and resources.

Due to our work and advocacy, the government appointed The Global Vice President and Country Director of The Hunger Project-Bangladesh as one of the members of the committee formed by government for making recommendations for strengthening local government. The committee, in November 2007, submitted its report to the government. One of the most important recommendations was the reservation of 40% of the seats for women representatives in Union Parishads, the lowest tier of the local government. This is a milestone toward women's empowerment. It will call the women forth in local leadership and will enhance the political voice of women. The Self-governing Union Parishad Advocacy Group organized four roundtable discussions to pressure the government to implement the recommendations. It is hoped that the government will implement the major recommendations of the committee. The following accomplishments were also made during the reporting period:

  • About 150 Union Parishads have 100% sanitary latrine coverage.
  • 125 Union Parishads have declared 100% birth and death registration coverage.

SHUJAN:
Citizens for Good Governance

SHUJAN (Citizens for Good Governance) is a platform of committed, active, honest and socially conscious citizens, created by The Hunger Project-Bangladesh. The purpose of SHUJAN is to work as a pressure group at the local level for strengthening grassroots democracy, ensuring transparency and accountability of local administration, and carrying out advocacy initiatives at the national level to reform and formulate pro-people policies. SHUJAN is also working for political and election reform so that honest and competent people can be elected both in the legislative house as well as other administrative tiers.

During the last six months, SHUJAN’s activities have expanded to one more district, including thirty Upzilas (sub-districts) and fifty unions. All districts and 251 Upzila out of the 461 Upzila of the country are now within the network of SHUJAN. During the period, SHUJAN organized 12 roundtable discussions. Bangladesh Television, a state-run electronic media company, telecasted 21 talk-shows, organized by SHUJAN. SHUJAN also organized 20 election debate competitions to increase awareness and encourage people to raise their voices as well as create pressure on policy makers.

National Girl Child Advocacy Forum

The National Girl Child Advocacy Forum is the only forum in Bangladesh focusing on the girl child and eradication of all forms of discrimination against girl child.

During the reporting period, activities of National Girl Child Day have expanded to another 15 districts, 19 Upzilas and 30 unions. Ten more organizations have become members of the Forum. National Girl Child Day and International Women's Day were celebrated in 800 and 660 places spectively across the country with about one million men and women participating.

Participatory Action Research (PAR)

The Hunger Project recently initiated a program called Participatory Action Research (PAR) in order to help the most deprived and disadvantaged group of the society think together and take responsibility for and be authors of their own future. These deprived poor people themselves analyze the causes of their own poverty and come to realize that individual and collective leadership can enable them to improve their own conditions. This program is now running in five districts and about 15,000 poor people are involved in the program. Local animators are playing the role of facilitators.

During the last six months, PAR activities extended to eight unions. PAR activities have formed 20 new poor people's organizations aimed to change their socio-economic conditions through different types of activities. There are now 201 organizations with 4,519 members. They have collected about two million takas in savings and are operating a microcredit program for their members. They have stopped five early marriages, reconstructed 2 km of roads voluntarily, and delivered skills development training to 25 members. They also arranged eight dowry-free marriages.

Youth Ending Hunger

Youth Ending Hunger (YEH) is a forum of meritorious students. The Hunger Project-Bangladesh is mobilizing students across the country under the banner "Youth Ending Hunger" to unleash their leadership, creative thinking, mental faculties as well as to develop a sense of social responsibility. Thousands of students are members of this forum.

YEH volunteers organized 125 different issue based campaigns such as nutrition, education, family planning, tree planting, and environment. They also arranged 20 debates, 18 math Olympiads, 15 easy writing competitions, 60 roundtables, and 10 blood donation camps. In December 2007, a National Youth Conference was held, which 800 students from all over the country attended.

Special Activities

Area of Activities

Program Description

Accomplishment

Documentation

Documentation is one of the most effective areas of work, as it shows where we are, what to we should do next, and how we should do it. This unit also keeps all the records of every activity of all the other units.

  • Data entry of 90 batches of animators
  • Data entry of all skills trainees
  • Reconstruction of National Girl Child Day Website
  • Dynamic module for monthly priorities
  • Inserted all event data
  • Developed a database for women leaders, VTR and barefoot researchers
  • Complete address database

Relief and Rehabilitation Work


Thousands of our trained animators stood beside the people affected by the devastating cyclone SIDR. They collected the relief materials and distributed them. The Hunger Project-Bangladesh also carried out massive relief and rehabilitation work.