CARE Activities for Bangladesh:

CARE develops more female drivers
As a process of continued effort to improve gender equity in CARE Bangladesh's Transport Services Department (TSD), it has trained 11 more female drivers and auto-mechanics, raising their number to 25 in last three years.

A graduation ceremony for 15 apprentices that included 11 females was held at the CARE TSD office at Kawran Bazar on November 16 (Thursday). A welcome of 12 new apprentices was also held at the same occasion.

Steve Wallace, Country Director of CARE Bangladesh, welcomed the 4th batch apprentices while Hasan M. Mazumder, Deputy Country Director, handed over certificates to new graduates (3rd batch). Stav Zotalis and Andrea Rodericks, Assistant Country Directors, Md. Manzurul Haque, General Manager of TSD, Munmun Salma Chowdhury, GM HRD, among others, were present.

At the function, Steve Wallace said providing training to females on driving was a great initiative and it has changed TSD culture radically in last several years. He hoped that, in future, 1000 female-driven cars would be seen throughout Bangladesh as a result of the initiative.

Hasan M. Mazumder said CARE would try its best to accommodate newly graduated apprentices in the organization. Those who will not be accommodated will be recommended to other organizations.

CARE-PKSF to fight Monga jointly

SHOUHARDO program of CARE Bangladesh and Programmed Initiative for Monga Eradication (PRIME) of the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) here today (24 January, 2007) with a view to fight ‘Monga' situation in Lalmonirhat district jointly.

Faheem Khan, Programme Coordinator of Strengthening Household Ability to Respond to Development Opportunities (SHOUHARDO) programme and Mosharraf Hossain Khan, Acting Managing Director, PKSF, signed the MOU on behalf of their respective organizations.

Through this partnership, to begin with, the two programmes is expected to have an impact on enhancing the livelihoods of the poor and extreme poor to fight Monga .

SHOUHARDO is USAID's largest Food Security program in Bangladesh implemented in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh. This 113.5 million dollar programme working with 46 local NGOs, targets the poorest and the most vulnerable households, and of them, the emphasis is on the most poverty stricken areas and remote chars, haors, coast and urban slums. The program covers 493 unions, 137 urban slums of 16 Pouroshovas, 1 City Corporation and 2209 villages of 18 Districts in chars, haor and coastal regions. The SHOUHARDO programme also has a ‘Food Aid' distribution component mainly targeting pregnant and lactating mothers.

In Rangpur region, SHOUHARDO operates in 5 districts namely: Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Gaibandha and Kurigram and covers 23 Upazilas, 90 Unions and 5 Pourashavas.

PRIME started their work in Lalmonirhat district covering the poor and extreme poor households of all the villages under all the unions. It provides services like a) micro credit support throughout the year for the targeted community, b) creating wage employment opportunities during lean season, and c) building and enhancing skills and resource base of the vulnerable families for their future need.

This year, PRIME is planning to expand its coverage to other districts of greater Rangpur with an objective to create wage employment and self-employment opportunities for the Monga affected families.

CARE-NILG Sing Deal on Capacity Building of Local Government Bodies
CARE Bangladesh and National Institute of Local Government (NILG) signed a deed of agreement today (Dec 28, 2006) for strengthening capacities of local elected bodies, service providers and Pourashava and City Corporation representatives at a small ceremony at the NILG auditorium, Agargaon, Dhaka. 

Hasan M. Mazumdar, Deputy Country Director of CARE Bangladesh, and Md. Arfan Ali, Director General of the NILG signed the  agreement on behalf of respective sides.

CARE Bangladesh and Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperative (LGRD& C), under the leadership of the NILG, have initiated a one-year training program  funded by the USAID T o enhance the capacity of 11,550 representatives from 492 Union Parishads, 16 Pourashavas and 01 City Corporation within the SHOUHARDO program operation area.

The NILG, Dhaka, Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD), Comilla, Rural Development Academy (RDA), Bogra and Bangladesh Rural Development Training Institute (BRDTI), Khadim Nagar, Sylhet are arranging these intensive training programs.

At the ceremony, A.K.M Enayetullah, Director, BRDTI, Ferdous Alam, Director General RDA, Bogra, Quamrul Islam, Director General, BARD, Comilla, Farid Uddin Chowdhury, Director, NILG, Walter Shep h erd, Food for Peace Officer, USAID, Sajedul Hasan, Deputy Program Coordinator, SHOUHARDO and HK Das, National Technical Coordinator, SHOUHARDO, were also present.

CARE Staff donate one-day salary for flood victims
Staff members of CARE Bangladesh have donated their one-day salary for the flood-hit marginalized poor families living in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Jamalpur, Sirajganj, Tangail, Sunamganj, Netrakona and Kishoreganj districts.

Around 870 CARE Bangladesh staff working in different parts of the country came up with the noble gesture to stand beside the affected people. The mobilized amount will be added to CARE's relief fund and, therefore, be distributed among the poor families.

Earlier, CARE distributed 45 metric tons of high protein biscuits (BP-5) among 42,000 families in greater Rangpur, Tangail and Sunamganj districts. With the financial assistance from USAID, it is also distributing dry food ration (rice, lentils, oil, iodized salt) among 18000 families in six stated districts.

To ensure safe drinking water in the flood affected urban areas, CARE has already set up two water treatment plants in Sirajganj and Jamalpur towns. Each of the plants has the capacity to purify 10000 liters of water.

On August 11, CARE Bangladesh Acting Country Director, Hasan Mazumdar, visited flood affected areas of Jamalpur to distribute relief packages containing rice, lentils, cooking oil and salt to the disaster affected people

CARE Bangladesh has been active in providing relief and other help to the flood affected victims.  From the very early stage of flooding, field staff of CARE and its partners started assessing situation in the affected areas. At the beginning, CARE and partners were engaged in evacuating extremely poor and vulnerable families in high flood risk areas using country boats provided either by CARE or by the partners.

So far, CARE distributed 45 MTs of high protein BP-5 biscuits gifted by the Norwegian Government. A total 42,000 families in extreme vulnerable communities in greater Rangpur, Tangail and Sunamgonj received the BP-5 biscuits.

On August 6, CARE Bangladesh attended a tele-conference with CARE International members and explained the situation and needs. A positive response has been received from the German MoFA and they are willing to support CARE relief activities with 100,000 EUR. Meanwhile, CARE Canada has also offered 15,000 Canadian Dollar for providing relief and other support to the flood affected people.              

CARE Rushes Aid to Affected Areas
CARE Bangladesh rushed support to cyclone-ravaged areas to help the affected people. In collaboration with partner NGOs -- Prodipon, SAP-Bangladesh, RIC and Coast, CARE delivered emergency food ration, plastic sheeting, candles, and plastic water containers to 5,000 families, once the storm passed. It has also provided 15 pumps to remove polluted salt water from areas where it is likely to cause contamination.

Meanwhile, CARE has sent five mobile water purification plants, each capable of producing 10,000 litres of fresh drinking water a day, to Khulna.  Five medical teams are kept on stand-by to move to affected areas to extend medial support. 

Today, (Monday) CARE Bangladesh's New Country Director, Nick Southern, visited the most affected Tafalbaria Union of Rayenda thana and Sadar union of Morelganj upazila of Bagerhat district. Others accompanying him are – Wayne Ulrich, Regional Coordinator of CARE’s International Response Team, Suman SMA Islam, Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, Jamil Ahmed, Civil Society Outreach Coordinator and Munshi Obaidul Islam, General Manager Administration.

The team distributed relief materials among the cyclone victims in the relief camps setup by CARE partners. They also met local administration, media personnel, civil society members and NGOs with a view to achieving better coordination among relief agencies.

During the visit at Tafalbaria Union, one of the hard-to-reach areas in the district, local people demanded improvement of infrastructure. Based on the request, Nick Southern assured the villagers of taking CARE projects in this impoverished area. 
CARE provided emergency support to thousands of people during the worst part of the floods, and has been involved in helping recovery and rehabilitation efforts since then. 

Greater Participation of the Poor and Women to Strengthen Local Governance
A seminar on Local Governance: Grassroots Experiences and Perspectives' was organized by Sharique , a local governance program, at Lake Shore Hotel today ( 12 Sept, 2007 ) with the call to strengthen local governance for greater participation of and benefits to local population, particularly those who are among the weakest segments of society. .

The objective of the seminar, which was organized at the conclusion of the first year of the program's field implementation, was to focus on the grass-root experiences and diverse perspectives on local governance in rural Bangladesh, particularly in the context of the regions in which Sharique works.

At the beginning of the session, Prasanta Kumar Tripira, Coordinator of Sharique program gave an overview of the impact of the program by last one year. He mentioned that more than 5000 participants both citizen and UP representatives took part in the local governance self-assessment exercises during the period while development of 'local governance improvement plans' was executed in 35 UPs; participatory planning and budgeting held in 29 UPs and co-financing support provided to 35 UPs .

Local Government secretary noted that there are existing laws and guidelines that are meant to promote people's participation, accountability and transparency in local governance at the Union level. Problems and challenges lie at the level of operationalizing existing laws and guidelines.

Safar Raj Hossain said that the government guidelines for the use of development funds lay down clear directions for developing, implementing and monitoring projects by involving and benefiting local people, including women and the poor. In this regard, lessons learned by Sharique in trying to operationalize such guidelines should be useful for other local government actors, he said.

At the end of inaugural session, Local Government Secretary unveiled cover of four books and manuals. These are: Compendium of laws in regard to UPs; Study on the local governance situation in Rajshahi and Sunamganj; UP gender analysis guidelines for facilitators, and Local Governance Self-Assessment Guidelines for Facilitators.

MAU signed on life insurance and health coverage for sex workers
CARE Bangladesh's partner Durjoy Nari Sangha and Pragati Life Insurance Company have singed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) here today (March 18, 2007) to provide group life and health insurance support to street-based sex workers.
An agreement to this effect was signed between Durjoy, a self-help group of street-based sex workers, and the Pragati Life Insurance Company at CARE Bangladesh Headquarters in the city's Kawran Bazar area this morning. Shanaz Begum, President of Durjoy, and M. Shefaque Ahmed, Managing Director, Pragati Life Insurance Company, signed the agreement on behalf of respective sides.

Pragati Life Insurance is the first ever (life insurance) company in Bangladesh that came forward in developing a product that would meet the needs of one of the most marginalized members of our society. Under the MoU, members of the Durjoy Nari Sangha will enjoy group life insurance benefit and health coverage from Pragati Life Insurance company. At present, Durjoy has a membership of over 2500 members. It is based in Dhaka with branches in Rangpur and Khulna.

CARE Bangladesh has been working with HIV/AIDS vulnerable groups since 1995. One of the key strategies of the HIV Program is to facilitate the development of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) of communities vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and, to enable them to improve their quality of life. The program facilitated the development of a number of Self-Help Groups since its inception . Durjoy Nari Sangha is one of the main groups CARE has been working with.

Since July 2006, the HIV/ AIDS program has been making concerted efforts to strengthen the Self Help Groups through their institutional development and financial and business development services. Insurance is a key strategy for social protection and risk management for women with limited incomes who do not have the capacity to absorb shocks like sudden illness and can easily fall in to extreme poverty. The current MOU leads the way to developing affordable health and life insurance products that provide security and safety net for the self help group members.

Ms. Rukhsana Ayyub, Senior Advisor, Dr Munir Ahmed, Team Leader and Kaiser Ahmed, Project Development Officer of HIV/ AIDS Program, Asif uddin Ahmed Economic Empowerment Coordinator CARE Bangladesh and senior officials of Pragati Life Insurance Company were present at the signing ceremony.

CARE developing next stage of Bangladesh cyclone relief
With the emergency life saving phase of CARE's relief efforts in Bangladesh nearing completion, CARE is starting to shift its focus to support that will enable people to return to their villages and rebuild their lives.

In the two weeks since Cyclone SIDR, struck Bangladesh 's coast on November 15, CARE, working with local partner NGOs, has provided emergency food packages and relief materials to 37,000 families, or roughly 185,000 people.  By the time the current phase ends in early December, CARE will have supplied a total of 85,000 families, or 425,000 people.

Bangladesh authorities estimate the final casualties from the cyclone at more than 3,200 people killed, another 35,000 injured and nearly two million acres of crops destroyed. More than a million homes were damaged. 

Although substantial amounts of food are now moving into the cyclone affected area, distribution has been uneven, with some villages getting sufficient supplies, and others being bypassed.  CARE's advantage is its long-standing relationship with local NGO partners, Prodipon, South Asia Partnership, Coast Trust and Resource Integration Centre.  CARE is continuing to distribute 1,100 tons of wheat provided by USAID's SHOUHARDO program to 60,000 families in Barguna Sadar and Patharghata, two of the worst hit sub-districts, where the damage from Cyclone SIDR was nearly 100%.

CARE is also working with the Dhaka Community Hospital (DCH) to provide 25 mobile medical teams now traveling through stricken villages have provided had consultations with 17,261 patients. More than 6,000 had injuries from the storm.  In addition,  CARE has been providing safe drinking water to thousands of people with then help of four mobile treatment plants that can filter 12,000 liters of fresh water a day, each or a total of 48,000 liters.

At the same time, CARE is continuing to distribute conventional supplies. CARE just received a donation 25,000 blankets and 12,500 plastic water containers from Britain 's Department for International Development. People will also need help earning a living while they rebuild their communities. Livelihoods are an important consideration, says CARE's Nick Southern.

The second phase of CARE's relief efforts is expected to last through February, but it is now expected that the overall recovery effort will last at least a year.

A Press Release
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Provides $ 5.2 million for Strengthening Dairy Value Chain Project

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides grant $5.2 million to CARE Bangladesh for strengthening the dairy value chain in Bangladesh to increase the productivity of small-scale dairy farmers and link them to the formal dairy market.

Bill Gates , co-chair of the foundation, announced the funds for the over four years "Strengthening Daily Value Chain (SDVC) Project" as part of a package of agricultural development grants at a press conference at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland on 25 January, 2008.

Dr Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO of CARE International, Amos Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and Robert B. Zoellick , President of World Bank, among others, were present.

CARE will use the grant to provide landless and smallholder farmers with the opportunity to enhance their participation in and profit from the dairy value chain in Bangladesh, where 80 percent of the population of 147 million people lives in rural areas and cattle are an inseparable part of the farming system. Milk production remains primarily in the hands of the rural poor with households averaging two to three cows who produce more than 90 percent of the milk in the country. Their manner of production, transportation and transaction remains informal and inadequate.

This generous grant will allow us, initially, to improve the lives of 35,000 families who earn their living from dairy farming. But, ultimately, this project has the capacity to benefit 2 million households, said CARE President and CEO Dr. Helene Gayle. Through working with private and public sector partners, we will create best-practice models that address the major obstacles for small-scale dairy farmers and demonstrate environmentally-friendly practices.

The project includes establishing 21 chilling plants and house-to-house milk collection systems around which farmers will organize; improving the transportation system linking chilling plants with processing facilities; and training and hiring para-veterinarians.