Programmes/Activities of BRAC in Poverty Alleviation

Programmes/Activities of BRAC in Poverty Alleviation


Our programme is specifically designed to meet the needs of households that are too poor to access traditional development interventions. We create and improve livelihoods for those at the base of the economic pyramid through our ‘graduation’ model, eradicating poverty in all its forms . Over 25 countries have adapted and replicated our groundbreaking model to date. 95 per cent of our participants graduate from ultra poverty. Globally, 75-98 per cent of the participants meet the country-specific graduation criteria in 18-36 months, according to reports from CGAP and Ford Foundation-funded pilots.
Graduation, measured through a set of criteria, occurs when households achieve economic  and social advancement over a period of 24 months.
  • At least three sources of income in the household within two years
  • Nutritious meals twice a day for every member of the household
  • Use of a sanitary latrine and safe drinking water
  • At least 10 ducks/chickens/pigeons owned by the household
  • Kitchen garden present in the household
  • Sustainable homes considering the geographical context
  • Children attend school
  • Four fruit-bearing or woody trees owned by the household, if space is available 
  • Eligible couples adopt family planning
  • Zero child marriage in the household

Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2016 :
86,975 households graduated from extreme poverty this year in Bangladesh, bringing the total number of households that have graduated from extreme poverty in Bangladesh to 1.77 million. 90% of households received healthcare. 86,975 households graduated from extreme poverty this year in Bangladesh, bringing the total number of households that have graduated from extreme poverty in Bangladesh to 1.77 million. 3,550 village development organisations covered 131,500 households. 4,200 women from our village development organisations participated in local committees and 132 women elected into local government administrative structures. 665 schools enrolled 17,200 students, of which 60% were girls.


As one of the largest providers of financial services to the poor in the world, we offer a diverse range of products and services to families across Bangladesh. Microfinance supports people living in poverty in myriad ways by facilitating easy access to credit and savings, from enabling investment in small enterprises, to helping families maintain spending on food, to accessing foreign employment opportunities, and offering coping mechanisms for emergencies. We directly contribute to achieving eight of the sustainable development goals – relating to extreme poverty, food security, health, education, gender equality, sanitation, inclusive economic growth and climate change resilience.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

We continued to expand our reach among poor women, farmers, salaried workers, migrant workers, and small entrepreneurs. We also disbursed more loans to households affected by disability, through specific targeting, recognising that households with disabled income-earners face additional barriers to accessing financial services. In 2015 our total number of borrowers grew 8 per cent from 4.5 million borrowers to 4.9 million; and our portfolio grew 24 per cent from USD 1.16 billion to USD 1.44 billion, the largest so far.
  • 246,000 clients received small enterprise loans
  • 94,000 clients received migration loans
  • 614,000 clients received agriculture finance
  • 20,000 households with disability in the family received access to credit and saving

A third of Bangladesh’s population is 10-24 years old and two million young people enter the labour market every year. Half of the population are illiterate or semi-literate however, and most young people end up with irregular, informal jobs. Bangladesh’s workforce is expected to reach 76 million people in 2025. We aim to use skills to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth and create decent employment opportunities for 500,000 young people within the next five years. We provide competency-based training, in line with the National Skills Development Policy, with a focus on women and marginalised groups. We strive to enhance employment opportunities through apprenticeships, institution-based training and enterprise development, focusing particularly on decent jobs in growth sectors.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2016 :

Our training intervention supported by UNICEF reduced early marriage by 62%. We opened doors for women in the pharmacy, hospitality and tourism sectors through successful projects with support from the International Labour Organization. Our institutional training enabled us to work with partners in the construction, electronic and energy sector at home and abroad. 11,689 people equipped with skills, 57%of whom were female and 10% people with disabilities, across 143 subdistricts. 931 women received training in traditionally male dominated occupations. 5,189 potential migrants reached with pre-departure, health and life skills training. BDT 7,668,500 recovered through social arbitration on behalf of migrant workers who faced fraud. 600,000 potential labour migrants and their family members equipped with information on safe migration, remittance and financial management.

4.  Disaster Management And Climate Change

Climate change is a rising global concern. Bangladesh, a low-lying river delta region, is particularly at risk. Our aim is to enhance our institutional capacity to respond to natural and human-made hazards through humanitarian response, and support communities in rebuilding their lives as quickly as possible. We also focus on empowering communities to sustainably reduce vulnerability of their populations. In alignment with the sustainable development goals, we strengthen resilience through community-based disaster risk reduction and adaptive strategies against climate change.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2016 :

444,000 people accessed agricultural services. 158,587 people supported before, during and after natural and manmade disaster. 56,600 women gained skills in nutri-gardening and 2,250 nutrigardens were established. 112,980 farmers gained skills in climate-resilient rice production technologies through 1,580 demonstration plots in 45 sub-districts. 34,000 farmers gained skills in wheat, pulses and oil crop cultivation. 8,430 farmers gained skills in fish-rice-vegetable integration in 100 pond-like structures (gher) and 20 seasonal floodplains. 165 rice germplasms conserved in on-farm conditions for broader genetic gain. 1,011 people received support, 10 latrines were set up and 7 child-friendly spaces created during the food crisis in Thanchi. 19,191 people in a waterlogged region of Jessore received water, sanitation and hygiene support. 21 new houses, 10 child-friendly spaces and a school were set up. 2,127 households received relief and 2,250 children were kept safe in 36 child.


Narly two out of three women in Bangladesh experience gender-based violence during their lifetime. Violence ranges from sexual harassment and emotional abuse, to child marriage, stalking, sex trafficking, acid attacks, rape and dowry killings. We work to combat violence against women and girls and to eliminate all forms of gender discrimination. Our aims are consistent with the national Seventh Five Year Plan and the sustainable development goal of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2016 : 
Published annual Violence against Women and Children report, summarising the incidents of human rights violations reported through our 12,350 ward-level and women-led institutions. 200,134 people, including men and boys, reached through gender integration efforts. 150,000 people reached on issues like violence against women, early marriage, and sexual harassment. 24,281 clients provided with legal services. USD 3.7 million recovered on behalf of female clients through 15,203 alternative dispute resolutions and court cases. 1,600 female village committee committee members participated in local government elections and 580 won seats. 1.2 million people living in poverty, most of who were women, accessed social safety net services. 82,058 women graduated from human rights and legal education courses. 69,527 violent acts such as child marriage, dowry and domestic violence, mostly against women, reported as prevented. Published annual Violence against Women and Children report, summarising the incidents of human rights violations reported through our 12,350 ward-level and women-led institutions. 3,178 survivors of domestic violence most of who were women, received emergency, medical and legal support.


Community development is not possible unless women living in poverty are given a voice. We provide women the tools to claim their entitlements, develop leadership, prevent exploitation, and play active roles in their communities. We strengthen rural communities by building institutions to close gaps between communities and local government. We increase access to information with a specific focus on reducing violence against women and children. We address the sustainable development goals of achieving gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls, and building effective and accountable institutions at all levels
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

Over 12,000 community-based organisations (polli shomaj) participated in a range of activities, from building access to local government services to preventing violence against women and securing positions for women in local power structures. The Government of Bangladesh honoured 1,068 women from our community-based organisations. with Joyeeta Nari Awards in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments. Our ‘strengthening local governance initiative’ aims to develop the capacity of local government to  engage in pro-poor governance, enhance transparency and accountability and promote participatory democracy. This year, 420 union council (union parishad) members were trained on improving efficiency and sensitised on being pro-poor. Our popular theatre groups performed 13,378 drama shows to disseminate information among communities. Polli kontho, our community radio, received the international ABU Prize 2015 and the Meena Media Award in four categories from UNICEF for its contributions in improving access to information. We addressed a total of 22,216 cases of human rights violations, such as child marriage, dowry, unlawful divorce, polygamy, domestic violence, and fatwa. We provided 9,277 survivors of violence with need-based support. Interactive communications materials were designed for our programme participants, including a book featuring stories of our successful female leaders, popular theatre and a polli shomaj implementation guidebook.


We scale BRAC’s impact through influence and partnerships. We ensure sustainability through advocating for changes to be incorporated into national laws and policies. We mobilise government, communities, and non-government actors, and facilitate social dialogue to promote people-centric policies and programmes. Additionally, we work with both internal and external stakeholders to translate development experiences into knowledge resources for future interventions.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

We continued strong advocacy efforts in the areas of health, education, ultra poverty, road safety and climate-resilient technologies. We organised two mayoral debates in Dhaka in collaboration with multilevel stakeholders in an effort to enforce good governance. Voters were able to watch debates live on television and directly share their problems with the candidates. We scale BRAC’s impact through influence and partnerships.

We ensure sustainability through advocating for changes to be incorporated into national laws and policies. We mobilise government, communities, and non-government actors, and facilitate social dialogue to promote people-centric policies and programmes. Additionally, we work with both internal and external stakeholders to translate development experiences into knowledge resources for future interventions. We developed a database with information on existing development interventions in the wetland regions, which will be shared online for easy public access. This will help us to identify potential service needs and identify the communities that are deprived of coverage. We influenced the highest legislative authority to rethink the reform of the Road Transport Act.We developed a national database to address the absence of a comprehensive information repository on road accidents. We strengthened knowledge sharing and collaboration with BRAC’s sister concerns, introducing the Advocacy Forum to synchronise research and advocacy initiatives between BRAC and BRAC University and its institutes.


We aim to make Bangladesh’s urban spaces more liveable for all residents. Our interventions are pillared on the sustainable development goal of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). Urbanisation is intensifying across the country, and by 2050, an estimated 50 per cent of the country’s population will live in urban areas. We aim to ensure access to affordable, quality basic services for marginalised communities in urban areas. We will address systemic inequalities and empower people to demand their rights to lead better lives. Simultaneously, we will strengthen urban local governance institutions to develop, adopt and effectively implement pro-poor policies and services in urban spaces.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

19,013 people across five city corporations and one municipality accessed the services of government and non-government providers for a wide range of services. MoUs signed with five city corporations and one municipality, and we are working to sign up other city authorities, NGOs and private service providers for coordinated service delivery. These MoUs will direct both parties to take joint initiatives for slum upgrading, citywide planning, and subsidised service delivery. City authorities are involving us in planning interventions. We are focusing on urban street children, in the areas of education, food and space for sharing. Provided a wide range of support to community development organisations to develop community action plans to make slums more liveable. Provided post-fire support, relief coordination and helped rebuild 649 houses in Korail and Saat Tola slums in partnership with local community organisations and Dhaka North City Corporation.


Access to justice is defined as the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through formal or informal institutions of justice, in compliance with universal human rights standards. We believe that in order to facilitate a smooth access to justice pathway, it is necessary to uphold the quality of justice services particularly through legal aid and legal awareness, strengthen the capacity of civil society, exercising equal and fair application of the law, promote transparency in the judicial system, and uphold professionalism in service delivery. Our efforts address the goal of promoting the rule of law at the national level and ensure equal access to justice for all.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

Our legal aid clinics received a total of 23,913 complaints, of which 13,338 were resolved through alternative dispute resolutions. 5,763 complaints were sent to court through our external panel of lawyers. • We recovered a total of BDT 266,390,712 on behalf of our HIGHLIGHTS 2015 clients through alternative dispute resolutions and court cases. • Our land entrepreneurs provided 24,664 clients with paid land measurement services and 1,054 clients with free land measurement services through the property rights initiative. • Land entrepreneurs earned BDT 9,953,080 through measuring a total of 1,046,228 decimals of land. • 228 new land entrepreneurs, including 45 women, were equipped with the skills to measure land.


 Mothers and children die every day from preventable causes and diseases. We aim to change that, by ensuring that underserved populations in rural and urban Bangladesh have access to health, nutrition and reproductive services. Our focus is on scale and impact, but without compromising quality, equity and sustainability. Over 100,000 of our frontline community health workers offer healthcare and nutrition services and connect communities with healthcare facilities, keeping communicable and non-communicable diseases a priority. Our interventions ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 : 120 million people were reached through our service delivery programmes. 15 million women counselled on modern contraceptive methods. 2 million adolescent girls and pregnant women counselled on recommended dietary practices. 2 million new mothers counselled on exclusive breastfeeding or minimal acceptable diet. 1.3 million people screened for TB symptoms and 149,228 TB patients enrolled in treatment. 95% treatment success rate of new smear positive TB cases registered in 2015. 153,930 people accessed community-based screening for diabetes mellitus and hypertension. 18,900 malaria cases treated. 714,770 pregnant women accessed 4+ antenatal care visits. 12,400 people benefitted through the installation of 1,285 new latrines and 820latrines converted from unhygienic to hygienic. 5,400 village WASH committees and 1,500 urban WASH committees formed. 2,580 improved water sources installed, benefitting 21,700 people. Reached a milestone in our work in vision: 1 million eyeglasses distributed to people with presbyopia (shortsightedness)

11.      EDUCATION

In line with the National Education Policy 2010, our strategic vision for the next five years ensures inclusion, equitable quality education and promotes lifelong opportunities for all . A core challenge for Bangladesh, as a country with an emerging economy, is to ensure that its growth strategy addresses equity. Education for all children, which ensures economic and social inclusion, is a key element of that strategy. We aim to provide a full range of education opportunities from early childhood to adolescence, focusing particularly on girls from disadvantaged areas.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :
Our students exceeded the national average in PECE & JSC exam results, and matched the SSC national average. 3.5 million children, over half of them girls, enrolled in 48,000 schools and centres. 200,000 children accessed primary education through the shishu niketon programme, our fee-based school system. 400,000 children were supported through their secondary educational journey through our Advancing BRAC Graduates programme. 40,000 of our students were from 56 different ethnic communities. 1.5 million children across Bangladesh engaged in reading, socialising and activity-based learning in our adolescent development clubs, travelling libraries and multipurpose community learning centres. 35,000 of the children enrolled in our schools and clubs had special needs. 400,000 students, who would have not enrolled or finished their education, completed primary education through our non-formal primary education programme. 


In spite of the overall development and economic growth of the country, poverty is still very prevalent in the hard-to-reach areas of Bangladesh. We work for underserved communities that are socially and geographically detached from mainstream development interventions. We realise that poverty is multifaceted, especially in the hard-to-reach wetlands (haor), riverine islands (char) and among indigenous populations in north-western Bangladesh. We offer multi-faceted support, covering a range of sustainable development goals such as ending poverty and hunger, ensuring education and wellbeing for all and promoting sustainable economic growth.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

Education and empowerment: We formed and trained 3,292 village development organisations to empower women. 27,091 students living in the haor (wetland) areas were provided access to BRAC pre-primary and primary schools. Over 1,414 popular theatre shows were staged. 50 per cent of 556 legal complaints received were resolved through alternative dispute resolution. Four media advocacy meetings were held to create awareness for indigenous rights at the sub-district level. We organised 17 solidarity meetings with union councils, and 1,333 courtyard meetings involving 9,405 participants.

Health and sanitation: We provided over three postnatal care visits to 11,602 mothers and over four antenatal care visits to 15,880 pregnant women. We established 26,183 sanitary latrines, 110 deep tube wells and 24 community latrines. 105,463 households involved in homestead gardening were able to meet their nutrition demands. We distributed micronutrients among 2,16,035 members.


Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, facing extreme events that continually affect crop production. We are committed to developing and disseminating a diverse range of climate-smart agricultural technologies to ensure food security. We design our interventions to meet the sustainable development goals of achieving food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

We developed three hybrid rice, three hybrid maize, three inbred rice, four vegetables, one pulse and one oilseed variety for commercial cultivation. We developed aromatic rice Kalijira PL9 through pure line breeding. This variety has a much higher yield potential and shorter maturity period than usual Kalijira rice. Approximately 117 aromatic and 77 non-aromatic traditional rice varieties were maintained for on-farm rice biodiversity conservation. Research on four crops in a yearround cropping pattern was successfully completed. We demonstrated new agriculture and aquaculture technologies to 88,821 farmers. A total of 156,352 farmers in 51 sub-districts across Bangladesh were trained on improved technologies. 6,693 farmers were introduced to an environment-friendly system of rice intensification. The initiative covered over 1,332 hectares of land across 73 sub-districts, mostly in the drought-prone northern regions of Bangladesh. Sunflowers were cultivated on 6,565 hectares of land. Homestead vegetable cultivation and dyke farming were introduced to 19,344 farmers to meet nutritional demands and ensure year-round availability of vegetables. Aquaculture was introduced into 30 seasonal floodplains in 16 sub-districts, helping to conserve indigenous fish species.


Access to safe water and sanitation are basic human rights. Inability to access them can lead to a wide variety of social impacts, from water-related diseases and malnutrition, to low school attendance rates and loss of productivity. We have been working to improve services relating to water, sanitation and hygiene in Bangladesh since 2006. So far, we have provided these services across half the country, ensuring sustainability through community ownership, developing linkages with local governments, and supporting local entrepreneurs. From 2016, we will expand our reach into urban and hard-to-reach areas, contributing to the sustainable development goal of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

Significant progress has been made since the inception of the programme in 2006. As of December 2015, we have helped 2.3 million people gain access to safe drinking water. This includes arsenic and saline-prone areas, which benefitted from the installation of deep tubewells, piped water supply systems, pond sand filters and water treatment plants. We helped 41.6 million people gain access to hygienic latrines. We provided loan support to poor households and grant support to ultra poor households to encourage them to build latrines. Outcome monitoring shows that 78 per cent of the households in areas where the programme has worked for more than eight years now have access to hygienic latrines. All adult members and children (above 6 years) in 97 per cent of these households use the latrines regularly. Over 5,600 schools in rural areas have been provided with separate latrines for girls, which included facilities for menstrual hygiene management. We have recently started providing separate latrines for boys along with piped water systems in schools in both rural and urban areas. Every year we provide hygiene education to an average of 13.9 million people in communities, and 2.9 million students in schools.

15.      MIGRATION

A combination of factors - lack of proper information, inadequate services from government and nongovernment agencies, absence of proactive migration policies and a lack of policy implementation mean that migrants face challenges when leaving home, when working abroad and when returning. We provide support at every step of the journey to try and change that, to ensure that migrant workers know their rights and can exercise them. Our goals are to create an environment for orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration  and promote safe and secure working environments for migrant workers.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

We were awarded for outstanding contribution in the area of migration by the Government of Bangladesh. We oriented 250,000 potential migrants on safe migration, and built the capacity of 700 migrant workers through pre-departure and life skills training. 1,770 women received training on safe migration and antitrafficking. Seven government-run counter-trafficking committees were restructured to more effectively prevent trafficking of women. BDT 3,781,000 was recovered through social arbitrations and BDT 7,535,066 was received in death benefits from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training. 220 returnee migrants were trained for economic reintegration. Of them, 48 were provided with economic grants for entrepreneurship development. 10 received financial assistance for medical treatment. 87 partnerships were established with community-based and nongovernment organisations to bring our services to the doorsteps of migrants. We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives of the University of Victoria, Canada, to exchange interns to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing on migration. We introduced the first media award for local and national level journalists for their contribution to raising mass awareness on migration, migrant rights and welfare.


We are a social organisation constantly evolving to the changing needs of society. Whether in education, health or community mobilisation, our unique models bring services to the doorsteps of those living in poverty. We aim to achieve self-sustainability in everything we do. As part of the financial strategy, we invest in socially-responsible companies that assist us in our mission to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Our six investments help us reach the goal of sustainable social development.


There is an increasing urgency among developing economies to promote market-based initiatives that offer sustainable business and consumer solutions to disadvantaged populations. This is exemplified by the social enterprise model for business, which promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Our continuous presence in the rural economy has helped us understand the challenges that rural and disadvantaged communities face. These challenges hinder economic growth and social empowerment. We invest in business solutions that engage rural and urban small/micro enterprises as suppliers, producers and consumers, ensuring affordable products and services that give families across Bangladesh the opportunity to lead better lives.
Statistics under BRAC Annual Report 2015 :

Aarong Dairy accounts for 22 per cent of Bangladesh’s total dairy market share. The cattle development fund provided subsidised artificial insemination services to 6,500 farmers, vaccinated 25,600 heads of cattle, delivered 8,000 kg of free fodder seed and trained 2,000 farmers on animal husbandry methods. In 2015, we collected over 16 Olympic-sized swiming pools, or 42 million litres of milk through our extensive network of rural dairy farmers.

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