BRAC USA

Our mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Our interventions aim to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable men and women to realize their potential.
Jul 25, 2016

Afghanistan's Education Gap Narrows

Girls in a community-based school in Afghanistan.
Girls in a community-based school in Afghanistan.

Last year, we told you about a storytelling competition for primary school girls in Afghanistan. It aimed to foster communication skills in students, develop positive reading habits and improve awareness about personal health, hygiene, history and culture. It was one of the biggest successes of the year, and we hoped its popularity would prove contagious.

Thanks to your support, it did, and we far exceeded our storytelling competition target of 6,000 students - with almost 12,000 children participating, more than 90 percent girls! As the larger Girls Education project enters its final six months, we want to share with you some more of the key accomplishments you have made possible, as well as some of the toughest challenges.

In Afghanistan, girls face systemic, institutionalized barriers to receiving an education. This project set out to empower young women and girls by triggering the girl effect in Afghanistan: coordinating with government officials from the Department of Education, training female teachers, creating safe spaces for adolescents and educating primary school girls who otherwise would not receive an education – all to support Afghanistan as it works to ensure every eligible child is enrolled in school by 2020.

From the start, the project’s core was the establishment of many community-based schools, cutting down on the distance between girls and their schools, and making sure those schools were safe spaces to learn. With six months to go, we’ve again surpassed our goal, establishing 4,000 new schools. We also built 17 multiple-room schoolhouses and 22 separate modern toilets.

To staff these schools, you supported the training of almost 4,000 schoolteachers in English, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics, and 138 government officials. All received training to support gender inclusion and equity in the classroom.

Peer mentoring is another important part of the project. Studies show that one of the best ways to encourage new behaviour is through peer counselling. We continue to support the more than 4,000 girl mentors who were trained in specialized classes to help their peers.

Finally, girls can only have access to an education insofar as their parents support it. To ease the burden on the poorest families, BRAC instituted stipends for girls who had dropped out. These were girls with exemplary attendance records, but whose families could no longer afford to send them to school. The stipend innovation proved massively successful, ensuring high performance and attendance from 98 percent of the recipients. We are looking for ways to sustain this program past the project end.

From an original ten provinces, over three years the project expanded to ultimately include 12: Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Nangarhar, Parwan, Samangan and Maidan Wardak.  Throughout it, security remained a pressing concern, as did gender discrimination. BRAC also encountered unexpected challenges: students migrating out of their local school zone in the summer due to high temperatures; a dearth of quality female teachers in remote regions; difficulty locating at-cost land suitable for construction.

Still, after the project ends in February 2017, with your help, BRAC will have trained thousands of local women as community school teachers and set up thousands of primary schools for girls who would have otherwise been left behind. With your generous support, we’ve worked closely with communities to raise awareness of the importance of educating girls, and engaged other NGOs to help get girls in school.

We are grateful to you for supporting equitable access to quality education in Afghanistan. BRAC believes that a focus on women and girls is a critical component of achieving development goals and alleviating poverty worldwide. With your continued support, together we will ensure the education gap in Afghanistan disappears entirely, one day just a whisper of a tumultuous past.

Jul 1, 2016

Working together, achieving more

Sophia, a rural corn farmer in Tanzania.
Sophia, a rural corn farmer in Tanzania.

As the Livelihood Enhancement through Agricultural Development (LEAD) project rounds out its third year, we are excited to share a more in-depth and comprehensive update. As a supporter of this program, we want you to know exactly what you’ve helped achieve.

The ultimate goal of the LEAD project is to improve the lives of more than 100,000 poor Tanzanians – the majority of whom are women – by targeting rural, smallholder farmers and livestock keepers. Here is our progress on that goal.

During the most recent reporting period, BRAC Tanzania found particular success with its strategy of utilizing group-based learning and organizing.

One key tactic has been to form organizations of farmers called producer groups to share technical information and improve the flow of goods to the market. Comprised of 10-15 farmers and led by an experienced farmer, groups determined the roles and responsibilities for their members independently. Besides improving market access, the groups also encouraged better adoption of new farming techniques by meeting each month to discuss challenges and opportunities.

This past quarter alone, a total of 528 poultry producer groups were organized, bringing the cumulative total to 96% against the overall project goal. For corn farmers, BRAC is at 98% of the project goal. In total, a whopping 1,190 producer groups were formed.

In addition, BRAC also relied on workshops to connect farmers with markets. At these workshops, farmers shared information about their product and learned about new farming supplies and services they could engage. Overall, 12 workshops were held.

Finally, LEAD organized Farmer Field Days to help train farmers and encourage the adoption of best practices and new technologies. The 21 separate Field Days included demonstrations by farmers to share information about their own successes with each other. Equally important, the Field Days also created a platform for farmers to buy and sell products at reasonable prices.

During this period, trainings on improved farming and poultry-keeping practices, including the Field Days, were completed for 98,427 farmers. This is 94% against the project goal – with more than a year still to go.

These are some of the successes BRAC has found with the LEAD project in Tanzania. Ultimately, the most important achievement is that, with your continued support, LEAD will meet its goal of increasing the household income of 78,000 corn and poultry farmers this year alone.

That includes farmers like Sophia (pictured). Sophia farms corn in Kikuyu, part of the Dodoma district in Tanzania, and she is one of the thousands of local, rural smallholder farmers who benefits from your donation. As Sophia’s income rises, so too does her access to better health care, education for her family, and so much more.

Thank you for supporting Sophia and thousands of Tanzanian farmers like her. When we all work together, we can achieve so much more.

Sophia, in her corn field in Kikuyu.
Sophia, in her corn field in Kikuyu.
Jun 24, 2016

Rebuilding homes and communities

A widowed mother, Rita, in Kavre, Nepal.
A widowed mother, Rita, in Kavre, Nepal.

After the successful completion earlier this year of two demonstration houses for women widowed by the earthquake, BRAC participated in a series of consultations with the Nepali government and other aid organizations to continue to lobby for reconstruction of housing for the poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable households.

At the same time, BRAC organized focus groups with Nepalis in the Kavre district to better understand their most urgent needs. Those conversations led directly to the creation of a pilot project that was recently granted initial approval by the government to begin work in July.

The upcoming project has been organized in the Shyampati Village Development Committee (VDC). In Nepal’s districts, VDCs are similar to municipalities, created to foster strong partnerships between the communities, government, related agencies and NGOs.

With the new project, BRAC aims to train and equip a cadre of female community health volunteers to better deliver door-to-door health services to 850 households in the Shyampati VDC.

With your support, we will also establish ten adolescent resource centers, supplied with learning and play materials, and equip adolescent girls with life skills and financial literacy they require to start their own businesses.

Sanitation also surfaced as a pressing concern in the community. BRAC plans to repair or construct 100 public toilets to ensure proper sanitation and eliminate open-defecation in Shyampati.

BRAC maintains a commitment to improving the lives of Nepalis most affected by the earthquake. We are grateful to the many donors and supporters who have enabled these efforts. As our project evolves, we will update you on our progress and share stories about the people who benefit from these programs.

Through the end of June, GlobalGiving will match all new donations (up to $1,000) to our relief efforts in Nepal. Please share this project and help secure a healthy, safe future for the thousands of poor Nepalis who are struggling to rebuild their lives.

 

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