Together in

Document Sample
Together in Powered By Docstoc
					6                                              8                                            11
Events                                         In news                                      Highlights of activities
Global AIDS Week commemorated in               Community initiative in re-building          Effort to create congenial environment
Bangladesh                                     school                                       for adolescents

                         Together in
Bangladesh Issue July 2007

Trapped in a vicious cycle: The jute mill
workers of Khulna

Thousands of jute mills workers in            son was disappointed about the whole          activists who later raised the issue in
Bangladesh's Khulna industrial region         issue and left his graduation in complete.    media. ActionAid provided food and
are at the verge of being starved due to                                                    medical support to the injured mill workers
non payment of their salaries and other       There are eight government owned jute         and their families. The food distribution
dues since declaration of lay off by the      mills in Khulna, four of them (People's       covered 322 families. ActionAid also
jute mills administration since April 18.     Jute Mill, Platinum Jubilee Jute Mill,        managed to provide legal aid to free the
Seven jute workers are reported dead          Crescent Jute Mill and Star Jute Mill) were   arrested mill workers and to contest their
during 6-11 June as family sources say        closed down and thousands of their            cases in the courts in collaboration with a
they died of prolonged starvation and         workers were laid off and have not been       local organisation Bangladesh Legal Aid
tension of being deprived of livelihood.      paid salaries and dues that sparked           Services Trust (BLAST).
                                              protests in April 2007 despite the state of
Reports reveal that three of the four mills   emergency in the country. It was              ActionAid supports the demands of the
reopened on June 18, 2007 after               mentioned in the newspaper that Police        laid off workers for the payment of their
continued protests by the mills workers       has beaten up mill workers and their          outstanding wages. ActionAid calls for an
and civil society including Actionaid but     families for waging protests. Labour          investigation through a proper committee
the issue of payment of dues still has not    unrest was high with 22,000 workers           to know why the jute mills are in loss, how
been resolved. The workers are still          protesting for their dues worth Tk 600        to resolve the lay off situation and
demanding payment of their due wages          million (GBP 4.61m). But out of total GBP     simultaneously take up this issue at policy
and salaries, arrears of payments,            4.61m, they have so far been paid only        level with the ministries of finance and
disbursement of weekly wages in time          GBP 1.53m (equivalent to their 5 week         industry.
and payment of arrear festival bonus          pay instead of 17-22 weeks pay).
and re-recruitment of sacked workers.                                                       At present ActionAid jointly with its partner
The demand also includes 50% due              Newspaper reports say that brokers are        organisaton Shomaj Progoti Sangstha,
payment of lay off period as per labour       playing havoc with those who got their        Jagrata Juba Shangha and Rupayan has
laws of the country.                          five week wage. The money they received       established a monitoring cell in Khulna to
                                              went straight to these brokers who had        get regular situation updates on
“Due to non payment of and arrear             purchased their salary slips by paying        Khalishpur Jute mill issue. As part of
wages of 21 weeks, I have no money to         them almost half the price of actual wage     another strategic intervention called
pay for school fees of my children and        slips which is an extreme example of          Longorkhana, led by Jatiyo Tran
buy food stuff. Now I am in debt trap and     exploitation.                                 Committee (National Relief Committee),
I don't have any job after lay off,” said                                                   was launched to provide the jute mill
Mozammel Haque, 58. While talking to          As an immediate response, official of         workers and their families meal for twice a
the reporters of a national daily, The        Livelihood sector visited the affected area   day for a period of time during this
New Age, he said his heart broke as his       along with a team of human rights             situation. But Government put a stop to its
2                                                                                                                          Bangladesh Issue July 2007

Editor's Note
I am pleased to present this new issue of our          activities on July 22 and arrested 4              were filed even against the family
newsletter “Together in Change” to our                 volunteer and threatened to refrain from          members as well as outsider's, without
innumerable valued partners in development
and other stakeholders. I am happy to                  these activities. Police also restricted the      even their names being mentioned, who
introduce our new Country Director, Farah              'Jatio Tran committee' volunteers from            did not take part in the demonstration.
Kabir who brings with her a wealth of                  distributing admission fees for enrolment
experience in development sector. While
welcoming our new Country Director, we also            of 60 students in the college, who are            The government advisor on ministry of
bade farewell to our Interim Country Director          families of the mill workers.                     textiles did not commit any concrete step
Shoaib Siddiqui, who has gone back to his                                                                rather sticks to the decision to lay off
original assignment at the ActionAid Regional
                                                       The jute mills workers lay off crisis does        14000 jute mill workers.
Office, Bangkok.
                                                       not seem to be on the agenda of the
The last six months have been very eventful for        caretaker government in Bangladesh as             Closure and privatisation of jute mills in
ActionAid and we hope that this newsletter will        they continue crackdown against the mill          Bangladesh started in 1990s when the
give a reflection on our activities. We have
commemorated the first death anniversary of            workers for what they call violating the          World Bank gave the country a package
our former Country Director Nasreen Huq who            state of emergency. The police                    'Jute Sector Adjustment Credit' under
was taken from us tragically in the April of last      registered cases against 2500 jute mill           which nine out of twenty nine state owned
year. Several memorial events in her name
paid a fitting tribute to the life and works of this
                                                       workers and hunt for arrest of them               jute mills were closed down. The package
renowned and dedicated activist.                       continues unabated. A lot of workers are          also included privatisation of 18 such mills
                                                       absconding to escape arrest. Cases                and downsising of staff.
On another note, Monsoon brings about
various kinds of disasters and emergencies - a
tragic landslide in Chittagong cost the lives of                                                                                           Tips corner
more than a hundred people. ActionAid was
directly involved in the rescue and relief works.
As the time of flooding is approaching,
ActionAid is also on the ground regularly                                          Raise the plinth of your house, latrine and tube wells above flood level,
                                                            TIPS FOR FLOOD         before flood strikes.
monitoring the situation and being prepared for
the intervention.                                         PREPAREDNESS TO
                                                                                   Keep a haricane/lantern, an umbrella and portable stove with fuel.
                                                             BE SENT TO THE
Unfortunately, the last six months seem to have
                                                               COMMUNITY           Keep carbolic soap in the room/house to avoid snake's presence.
brought along more than their share of
humanitarian crisis, the latest ongoing one                      AND TRY TO        Store some dry food, i.e. rice, flattened rice, molasses, Muri.
being the Khalishpur (Khulna) Jute mill worker
episode - thousands of laid off Jute mill workers         MOTIVATE THEM TO
                                                                                   Try to save money, if possible
and their families are suffering due to closure of              FOLLOW THE
the mills and non-payment of their wages
                                                             INSTRUCTIONS          Keep the valuable documents in a small water proof box or a bag.
including 7 workers dying of starvation.
ActionAid has taken a stand to support these
workers, through calling for an investigation by
a proper committee to know why the jute mills

                                                       Fighting against odds: the fishing
are in loss, how to resolve the lay off situation
and simultaneously take up this issue at policy
level with the Ministries of Finance and Industry.

It would not be complete without mentioning
                                                       community of Chandpur
some notable events at national and local level;
the Global AIDS week was celebrated in
Bangladesh, the Imagine New South Asia
(INSA) campaign is full swing, DIPECHO III             Over the years thousands of fisher                fishermen are being arrested and
project has recently ended with a lot of positive
impacts, the fishing community in Chandpur's           families in Chandpur are fighting against         assaulted by the law enforcing agencies
endeavor to survive as well as the community's         poverty in Bangladesh. A large portion of         everyday due to illegal fishing. Their
initiative to re-build schools in the char areas       them neither have land nor fishing net.           fishing nets and boats are also being
and so on. We have added a write-up of Afsan
Chowdhury an eminent development activist on           They do not even have their own boat.             seized and burnt.
climate change in this edition.                        In a situation like this a ban on fishing for
                                                       two months imposed by the Government              Whereas the fact is, that the fisher folk
Dilrose Hossain                                        has made the poor fishermen plunge                want to follow the regulations. They
Head, Identity & Resource Mobilization Department      into greater vulnerability. Lots of               become desperate as they don't have any
Actionaid Bangladesh
Bangladesh Issue July 2007

                                                                                                   Government now needs to take
                                                                                                   necessary and timely steps to resolve the
                                                                                                   sufferings of the fisher folk. Talking about
                                                                                                   various livelihood options, the advisor,
                                                                                                   fisheries and livestock ministry mentioned
                                                                                                   about growing agricultural product during
                                                                                                   the ban period. He also mentioned that if
                                                                                                   they are given IGA training and also made
                                                                                                   aware that it is more profitable to sell
                                                                                                   fishes than Hilsa fries, then the fishermen
                                                                                                   themselves will protect the fish. Various
Mohsin, a fisherman of chandpur speaks out their concerns at the dialogue
                                                                                                   recommendations were also presented
                                                                                                   and avenues of alternative livelihood were
alternative livelihood during the ban            A fisherman from Lakhipur gives his               explored by the participants at the
period. Many of them take loans from             testament, “Fishermen fishes to satisfy           seminar. The government has completed
local money lenders but at the end could         their hunger not for luxury. If we had            distributing 20kgs of rice sanctioned for
not pay it back. A good number of them           sufficient food, we would not engage              the fishing community. The secretary
have even died due to malnutrition. At           themselves in illegal fishing. Most of the        fisheries and livestock ministry concluded
times joblessness and inability to repay         time we do not get the money allocated            his speech saying, “The condition of the
their debt compel them to migrate.               for us from the Government and even if            fishermen has allured us. We have had
                                                 we do, it is not sufficient. Where the need       enough of seminars. Now we need to be
To address this vulnerability of the             is 5000 to 6000 taka (85.71 $ approx.),           in direct action.” As a result of this media
fisherfolk of Chadpur, Action Aid has            we get only 500 taka (7.1 $ approx.)              campaign and advocacy on ActionAid's
conducted a survey in three upazilas of          during the entire ban period. I think NGO         part, the Government has recently
Chadpur district on the condition of the         intervention will be helpful for us. It is        decided to ban hoarding and export of
lives of the fishermen. The survey               known to all the officials that Lakhipur is       Hilsha fish for the next six months to
depicted a very susceptible picture of           an island and there is plenty of land. But        increase its availability in the local market
the fishrfolk. The survey report was             most of it is encroached by the local             so that the price goes down. ActionAid
presented at an event, “Fish                     chairman and the hooligans. I personally          hopes that the Government will take other
preservation and fisher folk dialogue”,          request the advisor to allocate land to the       necessary measures in policy level to
organised jointly by Channel I,                  genuine fishermen. We do not want relief          save the fisherfolk from their vulnerable
Shaptahik 2000 and ActionAid                     from the Government. Ruther we can do             condition in future.
Bangladesh. The survey reveals that              farming if the Government sanctions
22900 families are affected due to ban           loans for us.”
on fishing in terms of livelihood security.
The amount of loss is 931.45 m. taka
(13.30 m. $ approx.) due to burning and
seizing fishing nets and boats. The Chief
Guest, honorable Advisor of fisheries
and livestock ministry, government and
non government representatives, media
and representatives of the fisher folk
were present at the dialogue. They
exchanged their views and discussed
the necessary steps to be taken
immediately to improve the condition of
the fishermen.
                                                 Discussants at the “Fish preservation and fisher folk dialogue”
4                                                                                                      Bangladesh Issue July 2007

ActionAid ensures market access for
women entrepreneurs

Women's participation in trade and           committed after construction. In some       environment in the market place. Along
business at the rural market places has      cases, though the lease agreements are      with ensuring individual allocation of
been an area of focus in the Women's         signed by women, male traders actually      shops to women traders a revolving fund
development policy of the Government of      occupy those through informal               is introduced to them to start new
Bangladesh, lest is the most neglected.      negotiation. Women traders who got          business and expand. Now they have
The common scenario in Bangladesh is         possession of the shops are also unable     been given proper training for income
men do the outdoor jobs and women are        to run business profitably due to lack of   generation and sustainability of their
responsible for household work. The rural    skill and cash capital. Women               business and a monitoring system
markets are not different from this          representation in the market committee      developed to assist them with their
traditional practice. To promote women's     was totally absent. In this context         business plan and risk management. A
rights to getting access to employment       ActionAid Bangladesh intervened to          strong relationship with the MMC, local
opportunities, Government of Bangladesh      address the livelihood rights of women in   govt. and banik samity (trader's
with assistance from international donor     trade and commerce, simultaneously          association) has been established. Now
agencies has initiated a programme of        support the government policies.            the women traders even have regular
introducing Women Market Section             ActionAid conducted survey in the           meetings with their spouse for better
(WMS) at potential Growth Centers and        markets of three areas Satkhira,            cooperation in their business and
Rural Markets (GCRM) across the country      Noakhali, Netrokona and Kurigram to         congenial environment. Even the
since early nineteen nineties. The aim       identify loopholes of the initiative and    community is supportive towards the
was to allocate shops to the women           come up with a solution. As a result of     traders.
traders through a proper selection           the survey ActionAid organised a special
process, lease sign off between individual   meeting with the women traders of           A perfect example of small scale women
women traders and market management          WMS, UP chairman, members and elites        entrepreneurship is Anoara Khatun of
committee and follow up support to the       of the area. This was basically to find a   Satkhira, a victim of early marriage. “I was
traders.                                     benchmark of operational conditions of      considered a burden to my family after
                                             WMSs and their impact on livelihood         being sent back from my in-laws house as
With an intention to monitor the situation   opportunities for women folk as             they ill treated me. I had to work day and
ActionAid Bangladesh found that the real     producers, buyers and vendors. At the       night to earn my meal for the day” says
scenario was far from what it should be.     same time effort was to enable women        she. Meanwhile a women market section
Many of the WMSs are not formally            to enjoy their market right through         at kalaroa upazilla was established and
handed over to the market management         planning of a women friendly working        she managed to take possession of a
                                                                                         small shop and start her tailoring business
                                                                                         with hope for a new life. But for lack of
                                                                                         monitoring and proper skills she lost her
                                                                                         business in a short time. When ActionAid
                                                                                         partner SoDESH intervened, Anoara took
                                                                                         a loan of 5000 taka without any interest.
                                                                                         She also received training on business
                                                                                         management. Now she is running her
                                                                                         business successfully. “I have my own
                                                                                         savings now. I am planning to supply
                                                                                         school uniforms for school children. I am
                                                                                         living a happy life. I even plan to recruit
                                                                                         women workers at my shop. I would
                                                                                         consider it as my success if I can create
                                                                                         employment opportunity for even one
                                                                                         woman in my community.”

Anoara khatun at her shop
Bangladesh Issue July 2007

Community Health transportation: a savior to
Kallyanpur char people

“Four years ago I was pregnant. I could         Sramajibi-O-Dustha Kallayan Sangstha
not go to the Doctor for regular checkup        (SDKS), a partners organisation of
as there was no health center or doctor         ActionAid working on the issue of
facilities in our char. The medical center in   increasing poor people's access to
the main land is far off and the                public health service, has identified the
transportation is quite expensive. We           problem that lies mainly with the
usually go to the local dispensary for          transportation system and lack of proper
treatment. It was a horrible experience         health service facility and in some cases
when I was in labor. I was bleeding             management of the health institutions.
continuously and felt like dying. My family     Availability of doctors, birth attendants
did not have enough money to manage a           and medical infrastructure is totally
boat and take me to hospital. I delivered a     absent in char areas. There are only a
dead child and I was sick for a long time.      few boats to carry patients to the upazilla
This is a common phenomenon in our              hospital which also provide scheduled
area. Many pregnant mothers are dying           service, twice a day. In case of
due to unavailability of transport and          emergency, patients have to pay a huge
health facilities in our char” a lady from      amount to the boat owners as transport
char Kallyanpur of Bera Upazilla                cost. In most cases, people can't afford it
                                                                                              Patients of char Kallyanpur are being taken to
describes her experience.                       and depends on quack doctors and the          the hospital by the river ambulance
                                                consequence is sometimes extreme,
The above statement reflects the                death.
                                                                                              2006 which is basically working as river
condition of about 80 percent of Bera
                                                                                              ambulance. The operation plans of the
(upzilla) people, mostly labourers, living in   With the aim of addressing the need of
                                                                                              boat were settled after several meetings
char area, isolated from the main land. On      proper transportation that emerged from
                                                                                              between char elite, teacher, Imam &
one hand they are vulnerable due to their       consultation with the people of the char
                                                                                              others. It was decided that the boat will
poor economic condition and on the other        area, SDKS has come up with the idea
                                                                                              provide service to the char people in
hand they are deprived of the public            of community transportation system.
                                                                                              return of a nominal travel expense. The
health services. The intervention of            SDKS already purchased one boat in
                                                                                              boat man will have a cell phone and
                                                                                              incase of emergency the patient will be
                                                                                              contacting the boatman from the cell of a
                                                                                              person who is familiar to him. This will
                                                                                              basically serve the security purpose. The
                                                                                              community will be responsible for the
                                                                                              management and security of the boat.
                                                                                              The whole process thus is a unique
                                                                                              example of community participation.

                                                                                              The community people are now enjoying
                                                                                              the boat service which has been an
                                                                                              enormous help for them. The success
                                                                                              gives the people of char Kallyanpur the
                                                                                              strength to fight for their right to public
                                                                                              health services in future. This example of
                                                                                              char kallyanpur is a model for replication
                                                                                              by others to achieve their health rights in
                                                                                              remote areas.

The river ambulance of Kallyanpur
6                                                                                                                                              Bangladesh Issue July 2007


                                                                                        memora   tion of the 1
                                                                                    Com                     n Perveen
                                                                                    Anniversa ry of Nasree
                                                                                                                                             rsary of Nasre
                                                                                                                       st death annive                                    sh.
                                                                                                    07 was the fir                                    nAid Banglade
                                                                                    24 April 20                                   irector of Actio
                                                                                                        , the  Ex-country D                        ries of ev   ents was
                                                                                    Perveen Huq                               niversary, a se
                                                                                                          ate the first an
                                                                                    To commemor                                 ril.
                                                                                                           eting the 24 Ap
                                                                                     organised targ
                                    petition                                                                                                                       human
                 e painting com                                                                                                                  indefatigable
Children at th                                                                                                               reen Huq, an
                                                                                     To celebrate        the life of Nas                             sed  'Nasreen
                                                                                                                                 ladesh organi
                                                                                                            ActionAid Bang                             d on his / her
                                                                                      rights activist,                               activists base
                                                                                                                 Six voluntary                                      s/her
             Global AIDS                                                              Memorial Awar
                                                                                                                              social injustic
                                                                                                                                                  es and also hi
                          Week                                                         performance
                                                                                                           in combating                     awarded. Th      e awards wer
             commemora                                                                                       societal    change were                       aming disa     bled
                         ted in                                                        contribution in                                ng for mainstre
                                                                                                                  who are worki                                      hi (ethnic
                                                                                              n to teachers                                       worker, adivas
             Bangladesh                                                                 give
                                                                                        students into
                                                                                                            school, acid su
                                                                                                                                 rvivor, sex
                                                                                                                                                     char ar   eas who are
                                                                                                                                   en activist in                           close
                                                                                                             nalist and wom                             e issues were
                                                                                        minority), jour                               activity. Thes
            Various activiti                                                                                  ed  in awareness                      nate advoca      te for
                            es and events                                                actively involv                          was a passio                                   A
           ActionAid, its                 were organise                                                      heart and she                                      es were Ajoy
                          partners and
                                                        d by                             to Nasreen's                      g her lifetim   e. The awarde                   children
           commemorat                                                                                         ose durin                                     ucation of
                         e the Global AI            to                                   working on th                                   Begum for ed
                                        DS week from                                                                rights, Saleha                                      , Shamima
           26, 2007.                                   May 20 to                          Mre   e for Adibashi                       r teaching     of the disabled
                                                                                                               Abdul Karim fo                                 for sex worke
                                                                                          in char areas,                                       taj Begum
            An event "Mee                                                                                        Surviv    or rights, Mom                       en Huq's     mother,
                                t the Press" w                                             Akhter for Acid                                  nalism. Nasre
                                                  as organised                                                           Akhter for jour                               ard
            Bangladesh at
                                the National Pr                     by APACHA              right  s and Nazneen                     the Chief G    uest at the aw                  si
            main topics of                          ess Club in D                                               Khanum was                                       ulptor Ferdou
                               discussion wer                         haka. The            Poet Zaheda                                        fighter and sc
           HIV/AIDS in Ba                          e access to tre                                             d renow     ned freedom                         n the sam    e day,
                                ngladesh as w                          atment for           ceremony an                                    ecial guest. O
                                                   ell as funding                                                       present as sp                                     e was
           the country. Th                                            for HIV in                  obhashini was                                        ngladesh offic
                              e event was at                                                Priy                                   e ActionAid Ba                 gurated by he
           of print and el
                             ectronic med
                                                  tended by a w
                                                                     ide number              the conferen      ce room of th                    Huq and inau
                                              ia representa                                                        e nam    e of Nasreen
                                                                tives.                       dedicated in th
          To pay homag                                                                              her.
                             e to the victim                                                  mot
         light memoria                         s of HIV/AIDS                                                                                                        Collective
                           l event was or                          a candle                                                                       Development
                                              ganised at th                                                                  Reseach and                    '. The lecture
         Press Club, D
                           haka. This was                      e National                     ActionA     id jointly with                 Lecture 2007
        ActionAid and                           jointly organise                                                    re  en Memorial                            ned w   omen's rights
                            the key actors                          d by                       organised 'Nas                              Kamal, renow
        field of HIV/A                          who are worki                                                         vocate Sultana                                ernment, on
                          IDS in Bangla
                                            desh includin
                                                                   ng in the                   delivered by Ad                  the former      care taker Gov
       Government                                            g the                                         and advisor of                                    y Free from
                         and UN repres                                                         activist                                  am of a Societ
       positive peop                        entatives. So                                                           archy and Dre                         udhury of Dha
                         le also took pa                      me HIV                            'Women, Patri                         rajul Islam Cho
       spoke about                          rt in the even                                                        . Professor Si                               t. Th  e program also
                        living with HIV                       t and candidly                    Exploitation'                               n for the even
      in their lives.                       and the impa                                                               the Chairperso                           tistes and was
                        They requeste                        ct it had mad
                                                                             e                   University was                             by eminent ar
      the program to                       d all who wer                                                             ra l performance                       her work.
                           work towards                      e present at                        featured cultu                           Nasreen and
      people with H
                        IV in society.
                                             removing the
                                                                stigma of the                    dedicated to       the memory of
                                         This event was                                                                                                                          emises
     covered by th                                             also widely                                                                                      nAid office pr
                       e national prin                                                                                                       nised at Actio
                                          t and electroni                                                             ee  ting was orga                      n staff. Th   e programme
                                                             c media.                             A memorial m                            er organisatio                               tal
     District level ev                                                                                                staff and partn                                  as well as reci
                         ents and activ
                                           ities where al
                                                                                                   for ActionAid                   discussion,     reminiscence                  d by the
    Sylhet, Jessor                                                                                                       tion of                                  as organise
                       e, Faridpur, C                        so held in                            was a combina                                ltural show w
                                         hittagong and                                                                       y Books. A cu                                  d in the name
    .The local com
                       munity STAR                          Dhaka areas                             fro m different Hol                 , a drop in ce
                                                                                                                                                          nter dedicate                   r.
   like rally and                        groups underto                                                                appy Home'                                        p formed by he
                     blood donatio                             ok activities                        children of 'H                                  r, a music grou
  aware about                          n camps to m                                                                     uq, an   d Panchamsu
                    HIV and AIDS.
                                        Art competitio
                                                         ake the societ
                                                                           y                         of Nasreen H
  with the them                                            n for children
                     e of HIV/AIDS
  cultural progra                       as well as folk
                      ms with the m                        drama and
 place in the co                        essage on HIV
                     mmunity to cr                          /Aids took
 remove stigm                          eate awarenes
                    a in society ab                        s and
                                       out this issue.
Bangladesh Issue July 2007


        Development and climate change: The post-modern challenge
        There are many changes in the developing world that needs to be understood if it's to remain relevant as the modern era ends
        and we enter post-modernity. The development world is moving from the charity mode to the functional or operational post-
        modern descriptions. Tools are not value laden but are functions of objectives.

        This transition has made many of us uncertain and almost all of us confused. Are we part of a global fight against a set of
        countries, civilizations and therefore proxy warriors on behalf of the underprivileged? Or are we a routine bunch of intelligent
        people trying to convince the powerful but wayward leaders of the world to take the right path?

        This crisis is partly generated by the demise of the modern era that is industrialization and inequity which spawned the sources
        of development work, religion based charity efforts and help for the less fortunate, the emotional source of development
        thinking. The post-modern era has disarrayed all previous arrangements. Development is no longer s matter of doing the right
        thing but doing the essential thing necessary for survival.

        Beyond charity to survival
        A good example of this issue is climate change. To some it's about saving the environment, to others about fighting the greed
        of capitalism and so on. A few think this as learning to live responsibly. To others its about developing a balanced production-
        consumption model for sustainability.

        Yet to much of the western world, climate change is an environmental issue which the world will fix with technology while
        causing a tolerable degree of suffering. Climate change induced death, pestilence, loss of livelihood etc are all reserved for the
        developing or the poor word. Climate change is at best an inconvenient truth.

        However, the west will not be able to avoid dramatic distress as a result of climate change. The West will be affected in ways it
        can't even predict. It no longer runs the world alone so demands for capping carbon emission by two countries that really
        matter will almost certainly be ignored. India and China are not going to give up their legitimate development aspirations so that
        the West can sustain their existing life style. Nobody can afford to reduce poverty reduction targets least of all these two

        Post-modernity has shown that conventional security systems no longer apply. Political monopoly has been replaced by or
        oligopoly including with informal components. Non-conventional forces including those called “terrorists” are now part of this
        new reality. Technology has ushered in post-modernity without preparing the world leaders for its reality show.

        The modern age ushered in industrialization which created higher employment, prosperity for the west, technology but also has
        caused economic inequity, environmental degrading and legitimacy of unfair socio-economic systems. It also awarded a death
        sentence on its next historical through the rise of climate change.

        As we ponder an uncertain future, we should remember that development needs to described far better, and the development
        worker must recognize that our battles from now on are not about improving the world for the poor and the disadvantaged but a
        complex mix of activities which includes saving the world first and then explaining to the rich world that if the poor do not
        survive the rich will not survive either.

        That job describes what the post-modern social worker must do. Its not about charity or ideology, it's about universal survival.

        Afsan Chowdhury
        Director Advocacy and Human Rights
8                                                                                                           Bangladesh Issue July 2007


Community initiative in re-building school

South Santosh Obhiram Government               the need of re-establishing the school.       government stared to search for a
Primary School was established in 1969         Since the area was selected as the            suitable location to build the school. With
in the Gunaigach union of Ulipur Upazilla      working area of Disaster Risk Reduction       their own initiative community selected a
of Kurigram District. Only two years back      in Schools project of ActionAid, PVA          piece of land for the school, donated by a
the surrounding areas of the school was        exercise got underway and community           wealthy person. Community people, local
covered with greenery. The river Tista         people identified having “no school” in       government representatives and local
was 2 kilometres away from the school. In      the area as one of their major                NGO collaborated both financially and
June 2006, heavy rain for several days         challenges. They put the issue of             non-financially in rebuilding the school.
caused increase in river water. A massive      constructing a new school building on         The Union Chairman has promised to
flood was anticipated. But quite               the top of their action plan. According to    construct a connecting road to the school
unexpectedly, the river Tista suddenly         that, the School Management                   in near future. Right now the school is
started eroding dreadfully. As a result,       Committee members of the eroded               operating in full swing.
120 families along with two schools,           school with the help of the local
several mosques, and clubs were eroded.
The affected families took shelter in the
nearby desolate and very sandy char
(River Island).

Since river erosion had taken away two
schools of the union, children of the area
were deprived of their last hope for
learning. Few days after the primary
shock of the massive erosion, people felt
                                               South Santosh Obhiram Government Primary School after being re-built

Prantajan, network of poor people’s organisation

Building ultra poor people's organisation      (SLP) model, former Fourth Fisheries          grow conceptually as well as ensure
to enhance their capability as an active       Project (FFP) and DA program with             success execution at implementation
player in the market and to achieve basic      partners Amra Kaj Kory and Unnayan            level. The major objectives will be, to
rights including their rights to capital are   Sangha.                                       develop central policy, guideline and
among ActionAid strategies to address                                                        implementation procedure to ensure a
the extreme poverty level. Thus ActionAid      To promote and practice the idea of Self      generic form of SHG approach, capacity
aims to build and strengthen Self Help         Help Group (SHG), a network has been          enhancement of the network members,
Groups or Poor People's Organisations as       formed last month named "Prantajan"           advocacy and networking at national and
a model of good governance and                 (The Marginalised People). The founder        international level, forward and backward
democratic practice, where participation       members of Prantojan are the partners         market linkage, progress follow up and
and transparency would be ensured. This        and SHGs, Lokokendras, Federations            problem solving, identifying best practices
approach also promotes poor people             who are practicing this approach with         and learning sharing.
owned and managed savings and credit           support from the Livelihood Promotion
system to create capital, enhance skill        theme of ActionAid. The aim of                Prantojon will get formal registration for
and establish backward-forward market          Prantajan Network is to work with an          NGO bureau by next few months and
linkages. The worth and potential of Self      independent identity.                         then the membership will be open to the
Help Approach has been proved effective                                                      other partners/groups supported by other
through Sustainable Livelihood Program         It is expected that Prantajan will be the     themes/sectors of ActionAid.
                                               platform to promote SHG approach, to
Bangladesh Issue July 2007

Imagine New South Asia (INSA):
a campaign for ending poverty in South Asia

Imagine a New South Asia is conceived          perspective of a plural federated and       including those who have traditionally
as a broad based citizen's initiative to       vibrant South Asia, involving people of     been excluded from decision making.
advance a shared sense of South Asian          all walks of lives. The way the citizen's
vision and mission. The campaign               would be approaching the campaign           Recently on May 17 and 18, 2007, a
promotes more policy convergence on            would be in a) policy work for              roundtable on “Towards a new South
key issues, increase regional cooperation      institutional framework for South Asia b)   Asia: working out strategies” was jointly
and joint initiative at the government as      mobilising networks alliances and           organised by Bangladesh Unnayan
well as civil society level. It seeks to       movements to strengthen people'             Parishad ( BUP), Indian Social Institute
promote the vision of a peaceful,              aspirations c) engaging the media for       (ISI), Sustainable Development Policy
prosperous just and democratic South           mobilising people's opinion and d)          Institute (SDPI) of Pakistan NGO
Asia. This initiative is planned as a broad    celebrating and connecting cultures for a   Federation of Nepal and ActionAid.
based process that would work with             new vision.                                 Delegations from Bangladesh, India,
existing networks, alliances and South                                                     Nepal and Pakistan who represent INSA
Asia wide initiatives and campaigns. It is a   The four thematic clusters of research      took part in the roundtable. It was decided
wide platform to promote a free and fair       that would work as the basis of             at the roundtable that INSA would be
South Asia. The dream of the INSA              advocacy for a vibrant and united South     moving forward with its campaign to free
campaign is a new South Asia of                Asia include economic management,           South Asia from Poverty and all other
realisation of freedom, attainment of          natural resources and sustainable           socio-economic discrimination. INSA's
prosperity, celebration of diversity and       environment, human rights democracy         future plans amongst others include
unleashing of pluralistic democracy            and governance and finally, peace and       awareness programs through organising
                                               justice. The management issue includes      freedom festivals in all the countries of the
INSA is also a citizen's initiative of         a participatory process especially          region which would have representation
building a broader and visionary                                                           from all social strata.

Helping vulnerable communities to cope: ActionAid's
Risk Reduction theme works with the DipEcho III project

Responding to disasters and emergencies
has been one of the key features of its
work since ActionAid's inception in
Bangladesh in 1983. Though initially risk
reduction was a concern within the area
of livelihood security, ActionAid advanced
the issue of risk reduction and carried out
a number of activities within vulnerable
communities which also included part of
the livelihood promotion programs.

The ECHO, European Commission's
Humanitarian Aid office and its special
approach DIPECHO ( Disaster
Preparedness-ECHO) works to improve
the capacities of communities at risk to
                                               Volunteers at the simulation session
10                                                                                                                 Bangladesh Issue July 2007

better prepare and protect themselves                                                               A unique and important part of this
from natural and man-made disasters.                                                                project is training volunteers to respond
The third project in Bangladesh is                                                                  in emergencies for which 350 volunteers
DIPECHO III, Reducing Risk of                                                                       have been equipped with working
Vulnerable Communities to Flood and                                                                 knowledge skills to deliver first aid
Earthquake ( RRVC) implemented by                                                                   services promptly during earthquake,
ActionAid along with Concern Universal,                                                             flood and emergencies. This would help
Handicap International, Islamic Relief and                                                          them to utilize their skills and apply
                                               Participants certificate receiving at the fair
Oxfam. The project covers 12,693 direct                                                             knowledge to bring relief and build
beneficiaries for a duration of 15 months.     preparedness were also broadcast in the              community based response groups.
The working areas are: earthquake prone        flood prone areas. An important part of              Refresher training and simulations were
areas of Chittagong and Rangamati as           the training and capacity building were              also complimentary to the courses to
well as flood affected area of Kurigram        mock exercises and simulation drills to              gain first hand experience.
and is implemented through 7 local             enable the community to take quick
partners.                                      action in case of such a disaster.                   For the first time ever in Bangladesh
                                                                                                    Search and Rescue teams ( SAR)
“To increase its effectiveness Risk            To reduce the potential risk of the                  were formed and trained to deal with
Reduction should be considered as a            earthquake vulnerability, an earthquake              worst case scenarios. The volunteers
cross cutting issue and included as a          vulnerability atlas was developed in 23              who are a young and enthusiastic group
component throughout all development           wards of Chittagong city corporation                 of young students and community
work. In this aspect the power of              (CCC). The objective was to influence                people were also trained in PVA and
DIPECHO is to mobilize people and pilot        CCC so that they could use the atlas as              enabled to develop their own risk
innovative ideas to advocate for disaster      a data bank while preparing the city plan.           reduction plan.
preparedness.” - according to Catelijne
Mittendorf, Project Manager, DIPECHO III.      Capacity building of hospitals,                      Volunteers during the mudslide
                                               schools and garment factories: The                   tragedy:
Some of the main components of the             RRVC project also focuses on
project include “Participatory Vulnerability   preparedness activities in schools,                  Chittagong, second largest metropolitan
Analysis (PVA)” which is used by               hospitals and garments factories. School             and the port city of Bangladesh was
ActionAid in its overall disaster              based earthquake preparedness                        affected by devastating landslide on
preparedness approach.                         activities include simulation to raise               June11,2007 due to torrential rain.
                                               awareness of safe evacuation.                        According to estimations around 123
The third action plan of the DIPECHO III                                                            people were killed and missing.
project, RRVC has given priority to target     Two hospitals in Chittagong were                     ActionAid volunteers, recruited and
areas based in north, north eastern and        selected to model safety measures                    trained under the DIPECHO project,
central districts, coastal belt and major      taken during earthquakes, as well as                 played a vital role in search and rescue
metropolitan cities where the main             “mass casualty management” trainings                 operations right from the start of the
targeted hazards are floods, earthquakes       for staff of various health care centers in          disaster
cyclones, tidal waves and tsunamis.            the city as well as garments factories.
Public awareness raising, capacity
building and policy advocacy are main
                                                 Volunteers on the front line:
                                                 “after joining the volunteer team I have received an orientation on earthquake preparedness
The RRVC project used the radio, a               and taken the responsibility of a ward volunteer. After the training I realise the risk and
powerful medium to disseminate disaster          severity of the earthquake and how a volunteer can help vulnerable people in any casualty,
preparedness messages, to develop folk           its a great experience for me. Everyone should realise what would happen to their life in
songs with earthquake preparedness               case of an earthquake”
messages and broadcast on radio
                                                 - Delwar Hossain- volunteer of Phirengeebazar ward, Chittagong.
Chittagong. Folk songs on flood
Bangladesh Issue July 2007

I am happy that the knowledge I got from
                                                                                                Volunteer mela:
the first aid training could save the life of a
human being. I hope that I can use it                                                           On 9-10 April, 2007 a “Volunteer Mela” or
more and more to help my community. I                                                           fair was organised at Cox's Bazar. This was
encourage this first aid training to be                                                         mainly arranged to honor the volunteers,
imparted more amongst the community                                                             share their experience and inspire each
people so that everyone can help to save                                                        others. The fair included display of Radio
                                                                                                Operating System, water drill, search and
a life.”- Abola Rani ( 42, of Uliur,
                                                                                                rescue drill, kite competition, drama, folk
Kurigram) ,a first aid qualified volunteer
                                                                                                song and experience sharing.
who saved the life of a drowning child.
                                                   Volunteers at the Volunteer mela


Efforts to create congenial environment
for adolescents

                                                                                               Bangladesh that suggest traditional
                                                                                               discouragement of girls towards
                                                                                               education. Through the study research
                                                                                               (conducted by Shuchi karim) it is shown
                                                                                               that socio-economic causes like poverty,
                                                                                               early marriage and dowry, severe forms of
                                                                                               eve-teasing and lack of social security,
                                                                                               sexual abuse by male teachers,
                                                                                               derogatory modes of punishment, lack of
                                                                                               clean toilets in school and lagging behind
                                                                                               in studies due to huge amount of
                                                                                               household chores at home all create
                                                                                               gender disparity in education. The study
                                                                                               was conducted through questionnaires
                                                                                               and focus group discussions in 18
                                                                                               schools of urban, semi urban and rural
High school teachers at the training session
                                                                                               areas. The stakeholders were
                                                                                               adolescents, parents, school personnel
“Sometimes the distance to school is too          drained out!” -Moushumi, a school going      and civil society.
far and not everyone can afford to take           girl in Boufal upazila.
rickshaw or a van. Many of us have to                                                          ActionAid hopes that the study would act
walk this distance, and because of eve-           The adolescent theme of ActionAid has        as an initial manual for finding out the
teasing or even the fear of it we can't           launched a research publication              causes of inequality and discrimination
stop anywhere and take rest! We                   "Gendered violence in education: realities   against girls in education. It is a guideline
become so tired, especially during                for adolescent girls in Bangladesh" on       for all those involved in policy planning to
summer when the sun is burning. By the            occasion of International Women's Day        ensure a universal and gender sensitive
time we reach the school, we are simply           2007. The study highlights trends in         educational system in Bangladesh.
12                                                                                                                              Bangladesh Issue July 2007

With the similar motive, ActionAid            curricular activities among the                              development of adolescents that has
organised training for the 291 teachers of    adolescents. The orientation was                             significant impact on their upbringing.
107 Government, Non-Government and            introduced to the Head masters of the                        After we received the training we have
city corporation high schools in Dhaka,       schools to make the training more                            learnt that to make education a success
Comilla, Chittagong, Rangamati, Khulna,       effective. After the training the teachers                   we have to create a congenial
Rajshahi and Manikganj. The aim was to        submitted an operational plan to follow                      environment for the adolescents and be
orient the teacher on various issues of the   up the training issues.                                      friendlier with them”, says a teacher after
adolescents including introduction of the                                                                  receiving the training.
significance of “Adolescents Family Life      “The school curriculum does not include
Education” and promotion of extra             the issues related to the mental

Cutting across the barriers of diversity

Diversity & Citizenship theme of              films. The objective of this festival was                    indigenous women regarding inheritance
ActionAid in Bangladesh has been              basically to make people aware and                           rights, education, employment, marriage
working for establishing the rights of the    sensitive on the issues of the avidashis                     and divorce, children, social safety or
communities of the diverse origin based       and their rich culture. The effort was                       decision making in family. A National
on ethnicity, language and religion for       basically to link the cultural heritage of                   Seminar on “Mobile School Program for
quite a long time. ActionAid dreams of a      indigenous people with the mainstream                        the Nomadic Bede Community” was
non-discriminatory society where              culture of Bangladesh.                                       organised to encourage the Bede
everyone can live together in peace with                                                                   community and make Directorate of
equal recognition and diversity will be       To establish the fact that the people                        Primary and Mass Education,
celebrated through various festivals and      speaking different languages need                            Government of Bangladesh, UN
occasions. People of ethnic diversity will    opportunities to get education in their                      agencies, NGOs and philanthropists to
get the opportunity to participate at local   mother tongue, the Diverisity and                            work for creating education opportunities
and national policy making levels. This       Citizenship theme has developed a                            for the Bede community.
will enable them to identify, establish       documentary named “Mayek Katha”. The
and claim their own rights. With this view    documentary was filmed in Channel I on                       A seminar on tea garden workers aimed
the Diversity and Citizenship theme           the occasion of International Mother                         to make the Government to take some
oganised a series of events.                  Tongue day. Another documentary                              necessary measures to prevent the
                                              'Bipanna Bhumija' depicts the continuous                     deterioration of state of the tea workers in
A 5 day long national festival “Jati          struggle of the Adivashis for their land                     terms of wage, education, food security,
Boichitra Shammilonee O Prothom               rights.                                                      discrimination, humiliations and so on.
Jatiya Adibashi Nattya Utshav” was                                                                         This program made the government take
jointly organised with Oxfam GB and           A sharing meeting on “Violence against                       some instant initiatives like supervision
VSO. The festival included Adibashi           women & girls: in the context of Adivashi                    through a special committee in favor of
music, dance and theater play, research       Women” was organised to commemorate                          the tea garden workers.
presentation by eminent researchers,          the International Women's Day 2007.
discussion, screening of documentary          Discussion was on the rights of the

                                                 House#8, Road#136, Gulshan-1, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh, Post box-6107
                                                 Telephone: (880-2) 8837796, 9894331, 9894216, 8835632, 8835398, Fax: (880-2) 8815087
                                                 E-mail:,, Web site: