Proper housing for the people living in urban poverty is a prerequisite to achieve SDG-11
Experts says at the National Housing Convention

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People’s migrations towards urban settlement in search for a better livelihood are increasing day by day. Every year more than 5 lakh people come to live in the Dhaka city from all over the country. While the population of the city is increasing every day, one in every three of its inhabitant’s lives in the slums is deprived of basic facilities. In this context, proper housing for the people living in urban poverty has become a prerequisite to achieve sustainable development goal or SDG-11 (pertaining to shelter and settlement), and to ensure planned urbanisation and continued economic progress of the country.

Experts and public representatives expressed these views at a programme titled National Convention on Housing Finance for People Living in Urban Poverty' held on October 15, 2017 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. The Urban Development Programme of BRAC, in partnership with the National Housing Authority (NHA), Urban Development Directorate (UDD), Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP), Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) organised the convention. 

Chief Guest of the convention Engineer Mosharraf Hossain MP, Minister, Ministry of Housing and Public Works said, 81 per cent of houses of the country are in the rural areas and 80 per cent of these are of low quality. The country is losing 235 hectares of farmland every day, which is transformed for making residence. He told that the government has already formulated a law titled "Urban and Regional Planning Act, 2016" for making a planned housing system not only in the urban areas but also in the rural areas. "Under the law, rural people will have to take permission from union parishad chairman or municipality mayor or upazila nirbahi officer for constructing house," he added. 

Engr. Mosharraf said the government has a plan to construct about 10,000 apartments for the slum people to ensure their basic needs. "As the population pressure in the city is increasing, it shows that more slums are being developed. Thus, it is not possible to deal with the housing problems. It has to be closed," he added. The minister also called for making a planned housing system in the both urban and rural areas to stop housing on arable lands.To solve the problem, he suggested that BRAC may collaborate with the government in this initiative, the housing Minister said.

Chaired by BRAC's Senior director for Strategy, Communications and Empowerment Dr. Asif Saleh, the event were also attended by Secretary to the Housing and Public Works Ministry Md. Shahid Ullah Khandaker, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Mr. Sayeed Khokon, Rajshahi city Mayor Mr. Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, Barisal city Mayor Mr. Ahsan Habib Kamal, Bangladesh Institute of Planners General Secretary Prof. Dr. Md Akhtar Mahmud, BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, MAB President Mr. Alhaj Md. Abdul Baten, Urban Development Directorate Director Dr. Khurshid Jabin Hossain Toufiq, and National Housing Authority Chairman and Additional Secretary Mr. Khandakar Akhtaruzzaman as Special Guests.

The aim of the convention was to establish multi-level partnerships for pro-poor city planning and housing financing to achieve the targets of National Housing Policy and SDG-11. A key note and three evidence-based housing models: BRAC Jhenaidah community-led housing model, UNDP Sirajganj housing model and NHA low-income housing model were presented at the convention.

The speakers focused on stronger collaboration between the government and non-governmental agencies and involving mayors, other public representatives and relevant actors to promote urban planning facilitating the people living in urban poverty and providing them with housing loan services. 

National Convention SH

Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Head Urban, Climate Change and Environment (UCCE) cluster of BIGD also attended the event as a panel discussant on the plenary session titled Partnership and Collaboration on Housing Finance. Advocate Azmat Ullah Khan, Adviser, Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) presented the keynote paper, where Mohammad Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, Mayor, Rajshahi City Corporation chaired the session.

Around 75 mayors including five city mayors attended the event. The 300 guests included representatives and officials from UNDP, Policy makers, Government and Non-Government stakeholders discussed on pro-poor city planning and housing financing solutions at the convention. 

Nutrition Governance Seminar
Good nutrition is linked with social and economic development of the country
says experts

Maximum importance should be given to the children and pregnant mothers in order to eliminate the malnutrition of the country and make successful the nutrition programme of the state, said Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Advisor Dr. Moshiur Rahman at a seminar on Nutrition Governance.He also emphasised on the diversification of crops and the spread of social security programmes. He also said the government must work to ensure nutrition for children which are a prerequisite to attain its mission to achieve SDGs by 2030. The seminar was organized by the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University at a city hotel in Dhaka on 12 September, 2017.

“Agriculture is the centre of the discussion on nutrition since the agricultural policies affect the national health of a country” said Food Laureate and Co-winner of World Food Prize 2016 and founding director of HarvestPlus, Dr. Howarth Bouis, while presenting a keynote paper titled ‘Agriculture’s Primary Role to Provide Nutritious Diets for National Health’. He suggested that bio-fortification in agriculture would be cost-effective to arrange nutritious food varieties for the poor families.

Adequate zinc consumption is a must to ensure nutrition for all as deficiency of the essential mineral is one of the major barriers to the country's progress in nutrition indicators, he added. Zinc is essential for the function of many enzymes and metabolic processes, and the regular consumption of zinc can reduce different common infant morbidities, like diarrhoea, pneumonia and stunting, he said.

Citing a recent study, Howarth said approximately 70 percent people of Bangladesh do not have adequate zinc, thereby suffering from zinc deficiency. The government needs to put emphasis on the consumption of zinc and other nutrients, he said. It also needs to promote the crops containing nutrients to improve dietary quality, said Howarth.

Good nutrition is linked with effective intellectual capacity and higher productivity - this is critical for the social and economic development of the country, said Mr. Edouard Beigbeder, the country representative of Unicef Bangladesh. He also said the period of vulnerability to nutritional deficiencies starts when a child stays in the mother's womb, and it continues until the child becomes two years old, when brain develops significantly. “If a child is undernourished during this critical window of opportunity, the damage is irreversible and the potential to fully thrive in life will be lost,” he said.

Although the country has made a significant progress in the past decade in reducing chronic malnutrition, one in three children here are stunted which accounts for nearly 5.5 million of them being deprived of their right to survival and development, said Edouard.

Ms. Anuradha Narayan, nutrition section chief of UNICEF Bangladesh, said child stunting affected school readiness and performance as well as impacted the country’s economic productivity. She said the impact of nutritional deficiencies in food intake could reduce adult earning of the country by up to 15 per cent.

BIGD research fellow Dr. Shanawez Hossain said a collaborative effort was needed to solve problems in reaching remote areas with nutrition projects and detection of acute malnutrition. Chaired by BIGD executive director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, the seminar was also addressed by parliament member Mr. Farhad Hossain, Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition director Professor Sandy Thomas, Brac Health, Nutrition and Population programme head Mahfuza Rifat, James P Grant School of Public Health Professor Dr. Malay K Mridha and Dr. Md. Tanvir Hasan, Bidyanondo Foundation Finance Secretary Mr. Jakir Hossain, among others.

Keynote Presentation: Agriculture's Primary Role to Provide Nutritious Diets for National Health

Paper  1: Accelerating Reduction of Under-Nutrition in Bangladesh

Paper 2: Improving Multi-Sectoral Collaboration for Scaling up Nutrition-Specific and Nutrition-Sensitive Interventions in Bangladesh

Paper 3: Community Participation in Nutrition Interventions: Experience of BRAC

Paper 4: Nutrition Governance: Coordination, Cooperation and Collaboration

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International Symposium
on Women’s Labour Market Participation and Gender Norms:
The Cases of India and Bangladesh Held

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Center for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST), BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, in collaboration with British Academy and Manchester University organized an International Symposium on Women’s Labour Market Participation and Gender Norms: the Cases of India and Bangladesh on 30 August 2017at a city hotel in Dhaka.

The Symposium presented findings of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research project on ‘Gender norms, labour supply and poverty reduction in comparative context: evidence from rural Bangladesh and India’. The research examined how poverty programmes have affected peoples' lives in rural Bangladesh and India, focusing on women, work and attitudes to women’s work. The study was a collaboration between the University of Manchester, UK, Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi, India and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development of BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The symposium consisted of three sessions titled Women’s Labour Market Participation Trends: Research Findings, Methodological Innovations for Assessing Labour Force Participation and Labour Market Participation and Changing Gender Norms. BIGD’s Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman; Dr. Selim Raihan, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and Executive Director, SANEM and Dr. A T M Nurul Amin, Chair, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, BRAC University chaired the sessions respectively.

Among others the programme was attended by Dr. Wendy Olsen, Professor of Socio-Economics, Department of Social Statistics, University of Manchester; Ms. Simeen Mahmud, Head, Gender Cluster, BIGD, Mr. Amaresh Dubey, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Mr. Anup Mishra, Banaras Hindu University; Mr. Santosh Kumar Singh Jawaharlal Nehru University; Ms. Sayema Huq Bidisha, Dhaka University; Ms. Maheen Sultan, Dr. Sohela Nazneen, Adjunct Fellow, BIGD; Ms. Lopita Huq, Research Fellow; Ms. Sahida Khondaker, Research Associate; BIGD.
BIGD is now the Approved Centre of CIPS

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University recently achieved the certificate of approved study centre of The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), UK and ranked up from the registered study centre to approved study centre authorized by CIPS. Till now BIGD is the one and only exam centre of CIPS in Bangladesh. BIGD applied for the study centre approval in the year of  2016 and now it has become the approved study centre in Bangladesh for providing Diploma, Advance Diploma and Professional Diploma of CIPS to achieve the MCIPS awarde from Bangladesh.   CIPS has a network of almost 100 study centres in the UK, and more than 150 centres worldwide.
After two years as an approved study centre, BIGD will be able to apply for an upgrade to ‘Centre of Merit’ and following a further two years’ continuing demonstration of additional criteria, BIGD will also be able to achieve ‘Centre of Excellence’.
Approval certificate

Mobile Banking Improving Rural Economy

mobile banking

The economy of Bangladesh has grown at a rapid rate over the past years, driven by the remarkable growth of the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. Mobile banking puts an immense impact on the economy of rural households through its fast and affordable cost of money transferring options. But to keep pace with the growing economy, vocational training programmes in such growing sectors can reduce skill gaps and improve income and employment potentials, experts said at a conference.

Mobile banking improved the economy of rural households and they reduced borrowing, increased savings and saw gains in health, education and agricultural productivity, said Prof Jonathan Morduch of New York University at the conference titled “Seeds of Change in the Garment Industry”. The conference was jointly organized by International Growth Center (IGC), Innovations for Poverty Action and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University on 16 July 2017 at a city hotel.

“They also saved more and were less likely to be poor. Overall, the results suggest that mobile banking has an insurance function. It increases the welfare of rural households but has mixed effects on the welfare of migrant workers,” said Prof Morduch while presenting his paper titled “Poverty and Migration in the Digital Age: Experimental Evidence on Mobile Banking in Bangladesh”.

According to another recent study titled “Overcoming barriers to female managers in the RMG sector”, more than three-quarters of sewing operators are women but at the same time, number of female sewing supervisors is only fiver percent. The study prepared and presented by Prof Christopher Woodruff of the University of Oxford, also revealed that, in last 25 years economy of Bangladesh grown high with the remarkable growth of RMG sector.

Three other papers titled ‘On-The-Job Training Increases Employment for Rural Poor in the Manufacturing Sector: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh’ by Prof Abu Shonchoy of the New York University, Monitoring and Improvement in Physical Working Conditions: Evidence from The Accord Initiative in Bangladesh by Dr. Atonu Rabbani of the University of Dhaka and ‘Consequences of Imperfect Information about building safety and garment workers and factories’ by Laura Boudreau of the University of California Berkeley were also presented at the conference.

“The progress was generally slower for the types of problems that require larger fixed costs,” said Dr. Rabbani in his presentation. Prof Abu Shonchoy’s study shows that vocational training programmes in growing sectors can reduce skill gaps and improve income and employment potentials.

President of the Bangladesh Employers’ Foundation (BEF) Mr. Salahuddin Kasem Khan was the chief guest and Chief Executive Officer of the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) Mr. Ali Ahmed was the special guest in the programme.

In his speech, Mr. Khan said that RMG sector is playing a key role in the economic growth of Bangladesh and research in this area is very important. “I think such researches would also help add value to this important sector,” he added.
Administrative decentralization required to make Dhaka city liveable
igc bigd roundtable

Administrative decentralization is necessary to reduce pressure on Dhaka and make the city liveable. Many people will relocate from Dhaka if they get different facilities including good educational institutions, healthcare services and employment opportunity in other districts, said urban experts and economists in a roundtable.

The roundtable titled “Migration, Spatial Planning and Housing Pressure in Asia Mega Cities: Lessons for Dhaka” was jointly organized by International Growth Centre (IGC), A2I project under PMO and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University on July 20, 2017 at the city.

Fourty four percent of the country's formal employments are in greater Dhaka, which is only one percent of the country's territory. Thirty-six percent of the country's urban population also lives in Dhaka, said Prof. Tony Venables, CBE of the University of Oxford while presenting a keynote paper titled “Migration, Spatial Planning and Housing Pressure in Asia Mega Cities: Lessons for Dhaka”, at the round table.

In his lecture, Prof. Venables spoke on the most challenging urban issues in Bangladesh – land use, planning and its enforcement, 'livable' and affordable housing in the wake of a rising middle class, and the efficient supply and sustainable management of public services, especially utilities, associated with rapid migration. He said that Bangladesh experienced faster urbanization than South Asia as a whole between 2000 and 2010 and according to the prediction it will be 45 percent in 2030 and 55 percent in 2050.

Prof. Venables has offered evidence from his work on how coordinated public policy is essential in addressing interrelated constraints to affordable urban housing. Poor land administration policies are responsible behind urban housing being prohibitive for low-income groups.

Executive Director of BIGD and Country Director of IGC, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman moderated the round table in the presence of Hossain Zillur Rahman, former caretaker government adviser; Wahiduddin Mahmud, renowned economist; Professor Emeritus of BRAC University Dr. Ainun Nishat; Professor of geography and environment department of Dhaka University AQM Mahbub and other urban experts and economists.

Dr. Ainun Nishat said, preference should be given to the flood action plan for preparing urbanization plan in Bangladesh. Dhaka's drainage system is very vulnerable as we are still continuing the drainage system from the British period. It is necessary to upgrade the system.

Hossain Zillur Rahman said that the urban development plan of Dhaka is not being implemented because of political interests. There is a lack of good governance in every level of the country. Although there are investments in infrastructure for the development of the country, there is hardly any investment in their management.

Wahiduddin Mahmud said, urban development is essential for the overall development of the country. Urbanization is important to reach the middle income country.

AQM Mahbub said although most of the raw materials of garments industry are supplied from other regions, 80 percent of the country's garment factories are located in Dhaka. And all the development of the country is centered on Dhaka. Emergency services are not available in rural and municipal areas. Decentralization of government services should also be done.

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