A YEAR IN
Early learning is crucial for children’s long-term education
why Plan works in Bangladesh
Za • Challenging discrimination against women and children, and promoting their rights and their participation in the development of their communities
• More than a third of children do not finish primary school • Half of all children under five years of age are underweight
• Only 64 per cent of families have decent sanitary conditions
• Raising the standard of education and childcare Salween Nu
• Giving families access to better healthcare, hygiene and sanitation
• Supporting families to increase their incomes and boost their financial security
‘For Shabana, taking the first step to save with CTS meant she could leave poverty behind’
Ayey a r wa
domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains a developing nation. The annual GDP figure (per capita) for 2009 was US$1600. The main industries are cotton textiles, jute, garments, tea processing, paper newsprint, cement, chemical fertiliser, light engineering and sugar.
Economy: Despite continuous
widely spoken. Climate: Bangladeshi climate is tropical with a mild winter from October to March and a hot, humid summer from March to June. A warm and humid monsoon season lasts from June to October and supplies most of the country’s rainfall.
Capital: Dhaka Population: 156 million Languages: Bangla. English is
A Village Development Committee meeting
BANGLADESH Country Office Program Units
Focus on: boosting incomes
Half of Bangladesh’s population is struggling to survive on less than US$1 a day, the internationally recognised poverty line. Plan is committed to helping poor families improve their finances and food supplies. This includes supporting vocational training for women and young people. We are training communities in better
agricultural techniques, helping them to increase their crop and vegetable yields and diversify their food production. We are also promoting small business development and ensuring families have access to basic financial services.
Children in class at a learning camp
a better life in Betbari
The Bigger Picture
Every item of clothing Shabana sells in Betbari, the village where she lives in northern Bangladesh, brings her closer to achieving her dream of giving her children a better life.
Shabana decided to join CTS and save a little each day from her earnings. When she had saved 500 takas (about A$9), she applied for a loan, explaining that Asif would like to start a business as a rickshaw driver.
‘I aspire that my children will become educated and respected persons in society,’ she says.
CTS agreed to lend Shabana and Asif 3000 takas (about A$54), enough to buy a secondhand rickshaw. Within nine months, Asif and Shabana paid off the loan and applied for another 6000 takas (A$108). They sold the second-hand rickshaw and bought a new one to replace it.
All parents will understand Shabana’s ambitions for her family, but few have had to work as hard as she has to fulfil them. Like many of their neighbours, Shabana’s family are among the poorest people in Bangladesh. Until recently, Shabana’s husband Asif worked as a casual labourer, but did not earn enough to meet the needs of their seven children. Shabana turned to begging, seeking a few Bangladeshi takas to buy provisions for the family. Although it helped, Shabana knew it wasn’t a long-term solution to the problems they faced. Business development It seemed as if she had little choice, however, until she attended a meeting run by Plan’s partner organisation in the village, Came to Save (CTS). It was here she learned that she could qualify for the savings and loans facility offered by the group. At first sight, Shabana appears an unlikely candidate for financial services. She has little money, and no collateral to offer as security against a loan. Indeed, like many poor people in Bangladesh, she would be refused by traditional banks. But to Plan and CTS, Shabana is ideal. Research in developing countries has found that even the poorest people can put small amounts of money aside if they are given the opportunity. Working with CTS, Plan offers people like Shabana the chance to become a member of a savings group, making regular, limited cash deposits and drawing down loans when they need them. CTS advises group members on how to use the loans to set up small businesses, like snack stalls or trading in household items. When the businesses make a profit, the loans are repaid with a fair rate of interest.
Produced for Bangladesh by Plan International Australia.
Alternative to begging Business was booming and the family began to enjoy a better standard of living. But something was wrong. The children were being teased at school – so much so that they started missing class. The cause of the teasing was simple: Shabana was still begging, an occupation scorned by the rest of the villagers. In response, CTS and Plan decided to bring together all those involved in begging in Betbari to discuss alternative ways of making a living. CTS advised them that they too could apply for a loan to start a business, with no interest on repayments. With guidance, Shabana took another loan and started selling clothes in the village. Since making that decision, she has not looked back. Between them, she and her husband earn between 150 to 200 takas a day, enough for the family. She has won the respect of the villagers, and inspired others who have begged to make a living to set up their own enterprises. More than this, her children are back at school.
Plan is working with children, families and communities to find sustainable solutions to the challenges in Bangladesh. We have only given you a small insight into Plan’s work in Bangladesh with this report but over the past year we also: • Protected the health of very young children by helping to set up 177 mother support groups to promote breastfeeding • Gave children the chance of a good start in life by offering 778 parents and caregivers training on early childhood care and development • Saw 649 young people graduate from Plan supported vocational training with the skills to find paid employment • Worked to keep children safe from harm by training 2567 community members and volunteers on child protection Your support as a sponsor is crucial to achieving these results. With the resources provided by sponsors, Plan expertise and the collaboration of communities and local partners we are making a big difference to the lives of people in Bangladesh. Thank you for your involvement!
To learn more about Plan’s work in Bangladesh visit plan.org.au/ourwork/asia/bangladesh
For Shabana, taking the first step to save with CTS meant she could leave poverty behind her. There will be no more begging: instead she has big plans for the future. ‘I shall work very hard so that with my earning we can have a clothes shop in the market,’ she says.
Some names have been changed for child protection and privacy reasons
‘Research in developing countries has found that even the poorest people can put small amounts of money aside’