PRODRIPTA Project Launched
To promote community adaptation to disaster, SKS Foundation has launched the Promoting Disaster Ready Inclusive Preparedness towards Adaptation (PRODRIPTA) project in Gaibandha. Md. Oliur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner, launched the Project as the Chief Guest in an Inception Workshop on 13 June 2022. The District Disaster Management Committee members, District SHOUHARDO III Coordination Committee members, project officials from Care Bangladesh and SKS Foundation, and other relevant stakeholders took part in the Workshop held at the DC Conference Hall, Gaibandha. SKS Foundation is the implementing partner of this consortium project with Care Bangladesh, funded by Margaret A Cargil Foundation (USAID).
Appreciating the GO-NGO partnership in development, the Chief Guest said, “GO and NGOs had worked together to achieve the MDGs; similarly, we’ve been working to achieve the SDGs. We need to focus on people’s demand-based interventions. And we the duty bearers and service providers need to remind ourselves that people are the right holders, and we need to ensure quality services for the people.” Upholding the strategy and wishing good for the PRODRIPTA project, the DC added, “We cannot prevent disaster, but well preparedness towards adaptation can boost the capacity of the local community against disaster. If we have good preparation, we will be less vulnerable to the damage, and thus we will be more capable of adapting to any disaster.”
Wishing the successful journey of the project, Md. Rabiul Hasan, Additional District Magistrate, and DD– LG said, “Gaibandha is a flood-prone and an agricultural-dependent district. To increase the disaster preparedness of the people here, emphasis should be laid on flood-tolerant agriculture and the marketing system. The people, in turn, will be gradually adaptive to disaster.”
Upholding the importance of healthcare for disaster-affected families, Md. Saiful Islam, DD- Family Planning, said, “I hope this Project will also help to make the people aware of family healthcare while implementing disaster preparedness and adaptation initiatives. Because healthcare gets worse when a disaster occurs and we need to keep in mind that a healthy family is a healthy nation.”
KM Rezaul Haque, President, Gaibandha Press Club, said, “We should not disturb nature. Rather we need to take care of nature to minimize the brunt of disasters. So, man-made actions against nature should be stopped because man-made actions are apparently behind all disasters. Bangladesh emits very negligible Carbon dioxide of 0.25, yet we are the most sufferers of the global warming caused by Carbon dioxide. We need and it’s our right to get much more projects to tackle the climate change-induced shocks and stress.”
Earlier, Md. Bayezid Bostami, Technical Coordinator, PRODRIPTA Project, made a presentation on the Project. He upheld that the specialty of this Project is the interventions to be taken by the community. And the project will feed into their interventions. So, these will be community-driven interventions toward disaster preparedness and adaptation. The 3-year project will work with 22,248 participants covering Mollarchar and Kamarjani unions of Sadar upazila and Belka and Khanchipara unions of Sundarganj upazila of Gaibandha focusing on disaster preparedness and adaptation activities including sustainable agriculture and safe water management.
World Environment Day 2022 Observed
Centering the theme of the World Environment Day 2022 “Only One World: Living Sustainably in Harmony with Nature”, SKS Foundation celebrated the Day with due significance organizing rally, discussion forum, and distribution of saplings. To highlight the significance of the Day to the community people, SKS conducted rallies and discussion forums at 4 unions namely Bharatkhali, Saghata, Kamalerpara of Saghata upazila, and Boali union of Sadar upazila of Gaibandha on 5 June 2022.
Md. Mosharof Hossain, Sweet, UP Chairman, Saghata union, and Md. Faruk Hossain Mondal, UP Chairman, Bharathkhali union, respectively led the rally and spoke in the discussion forum at their unions while Sirajul Islam, UP Member, Kamalerpara union, and Samiul Islam, UP Secretary, Boali union led the rally and discussion forum respectively. Alongside, at Saghata union, 60 program participants were provided with saplings to make the event more relevant. Around 250 program participants including community youth, women, elders and other stakeholders attended the rallies and discussion forums. The program was organized under the Enhancing Resources and Increasing Capacities of Poor Households towards Elimination of their Poverty (ENRICH) supported by Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF).
As part of the observance, on 6 June 2022, SKS Foundation distributed saplings of fruit, forest, and medicinal plants among 200 poor families living alongside the river for tree plantation and homestead reforestation. Under the Expanding Livelihoods and Increasing Resilience to Flooding and River Erosion (ELIR) Project, supported by Andheri Hilfe, Bonn, Germany, SKS organized the Sapling Distribution Program at SKS Resource Center, Saghata, Gaibandha. Sardar Mostafa Shahin, UNO, distributed the Saplings as the Chief Guest while Md. Mosharof Hossain Sweet was in the Chair. Each family was given 10 saplings.
Underling the importance of tree plantation, the Chief Guest said, "We need to plant trees not only to protect ourselves from disasters but also to meet our food, nutrition, medicine, and financial needs. One of the reasons behind the rise in global temperature is deforestation and not planting plants. That is why we have to plant more plants and take care of the those.”
Mithun Kundu, PIO, Saghata upazila, said, “Trees supply us oxygen and we need oxygen to live. So, we need to plant trees more as we can. As the Sundarbans is protecting the coastal areas from disasters, in the same way, our localities will be saved if we can cover our locality with trees.”
Md. Abdus Samad, Project Manager– ELIR informed, “Under this Project, 50,000 fruit, forest, and medicinal plants will be distributed to 5,000 families in the next 3 years; which will play a huge role in protecting the environment, meeting nutritional needs and beautifying the area.”
The Chair ended the Program by saying, "Saghata is a flood and river erosion-prone area. Many trees in the area have been destroyed by floods and river erosion for years. But no more trees compared to destroying have been planted in the area. This is causing environmental damage as well as disaster here. So, we all need to plant trees, protect them and protect ourselves as well."
British Deputy High Commissioner Visited SKS Foundation
Mr. Javed Patel, Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, Dhaka, visited SKS Foundation. On 22 March 2022, along with a seven-member Delegation of the British High Commission, Dhaka, he visited SKS’s Head Office, Gaibandha, and some activities of its Action for Socio-Economic Security and Rights for Excluded and Marginalized Women and Girls (ASSR for EMWG) Project, implemented by the technical assistance of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and financial support from the Government of UK. Mr. Tom Burge, Head, Governance and Political Team, Mr. Matt Carter, Senior Governance Adviser, Ms. Tahera Jabeen, Social Development Adviser, Mr. Bishwjit Deb, Programme Management Adviser, Governance and Political Team, Ms. Afroza Chowdhury Mimi, Deputy Programme Manager, Mr. Ahsan Sajid, Champions and Partnership Manager were with the Deputy High Commissioner as delegates.
Welcomed by Mst. Parvin Akter, Vice-Chairperson of SKS Foundation flanked by Dr. Imrul Kayes Munirruzzaman, Deputy Chief Executive, Mr. Saiful Alam, Director- Development Programs, and Mr. Mahfuzar Rahman, Deputy Director, HR & Admin at SKS Head Office, Gaibandha, the Delegation had a view-exchange- meeting with SKS’ senior officials on the organization's profile, program, particularly its intervention areas on preventing the violence against women. Being informed of SKS’ development programs and achievements, the Delegation appreciated SKS Foundation for its contribution to women's development.
The Delegation had a visit to an adolescent group at Taluk Refaitpur village at Badiakhali union of Gaibandha Sadar upazila. They talked to the boys and girls about their witnesses, experiences, and roles in stopping early marriage in their locals. Learning the boys’ and girls’ exemplary steps in preventing child marriage, the Deputy High Commissioner said, “Your courageous acts in stopping child marriage are remarkable and praiseworthy that you need to continue to make and get a better future of children in your locality.”
Alongside, the Delegation also visited the victim women and parent group. Being at Jot-Gourh Sarkar village in Boali union under Sadar upazila, the Delegation listened to their difficult life stories of being married early in the law-house and overcoming their struggles. Listening to the struggle of women because of being married early and as a result of the dowry system, the Deputy High Commissioner said, "Your life struggles will teach the new generation about the harms of child marriage, and also protect your children from early marriage. Your development stories, however, will inspire and be an example of other women still struggling in their locality.”
Earlier, on 21 March 2022, at SKS Inn, Gaibandha, the Delegation also had a view exchange meeting with relevant officials of government departments involved with the program intervention of SKS Foundation to prevent violence against women in Gaibandha.
The visit was facilitated by S.M Jobair, Director, Monitoring & Evaluation, Sajjad Khan, Project Coordinator, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), and Khondaker Zahid Shorwar, Asst. Director, Field Operation, and Mst. Lovey Khakun, Project Manager, from SKS Foundation.
World Water Day Seminar 2022
Depletion & Pollution of Groundwater is the Key Concern
‘Depletion and pollution of groundwater is the key concern for the invisible resource’ the speakers made this remark focusing the theme of this year’s World Water Day ‘Groundwater- Making the Invisible Visible’. The water experts, researchers and professionals in the water sector upheld their position in favor of saving groundwater as the most valuable resource for life while they took part in discussion in a Virtual Seminar. The Seminar Groundwater: Let’s Protect the Invisible Resource was organized today on 21 March 2022, the eve of World Water Day- 22 March. At the online Seminar hosted by SKS Foundation, the Secretariat of FANSA-Bangladesh, the speakers emphasized the importance of exploring, protecting and sustainably using the groundwater with due importance on this scarce resource.
A set of water experts and professionals enriched the Seminar as the panel discussants. Being the networking body in the WASH sector, FANSA-Bangladesh along with SWA, BAWIN, MHM Platform, FSM Network, IWA- BD Chapter, and WaterAid Bangladesh organized the Virtual Seminar.
Dr. Anwar Zahid, Director, Groundwater Hydrology, Bangladesh Water Development Board highlighted the global and national scenario of groundwater and its use as a very valuable resource. Presenting the Keynote, Dr. Anwar Zahid upheld the challenges relating to protecting the groundwater. He pinpointed, groundwater is the primary and valuable water source. But it’s being decreased due to unjustified withdrawal, and pollution by human activities i.e. deforestation, industry, agriculture and livestock farming, sewage and wastewater, stormwater runoff, oil pollution, radioactive substances, pathogens, saltwater intrusion, etc.
Referring to the challenges, Dr. Anwar Zahid pinpointed, “An estimated 32 cubic km of groundwater is withdrawn annually for irrigation (90%), domestic and industrial (10%) (The World Bank 2019). The shallow irrigation wells have been increased in numbers throughout the country from 133,800 in 1985 to 11,82,525 in 2006 and about 16,00,000 in 2019 (BADC, 2019). Due to the increased abstraction of groundwater, the groundwater table has been lowered from low with time and the permanent decline of water level is also observed at an alarming rate in urban areas and the Barind tract. As the water table has gone down, the cost of withdrawing water from the ground has become costly and unavailable. Again, 24% of the land area is exposed to extremely high to high risks of elevated arsenic, salinity, and groundwater depletion hazards (The World Bank, 2019).” He suggested utilization of available surface water and conjunctive use should be emphasized as per National Water Policy 1999 and other guidelines of the Government.
Among the Panel Discussants, Dr. Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, Professor, Dept. of Geology & Mining (Ex-Pro-VC), University of Rajshahi, said, “In the Barind tract, the groundwater crisis already prevails and the crisis is getting deep to deeper. Every year the layer of water level is going down and the existing Tube-wells are being left inoperative. We need a crop mapping and good governing in managing the groundwater.”
Dr. Dilip Kumar Datta, Professor, Environmental Science Discipline, Khulna University, said, “Managing groundwater is to be needed. But overall we need also a nature-based solution that will take care of nature too suitably and sustainably. To lessen the dependency on groundwater we must focus on surface water.”
Dr. Tanvir Ahmed, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET, and Director, ITN-BUET, said, “To meet the greater demand of readily available water in our economy including agriculture, extraction and over-extraction of groundwater is being taken place that is leading to a shortage of drinking water. Moreover, contamination of groundwater is not visible, unlike surface water that’s why we continue contaminating groundwater. This is also causing the decline of the available drinking water too.
Ms. Hasin Jahan, Country Director, WaterAid Bangladesh, said, “‘Water is a human right. Among all needs, water for drinking stands top. We mainly get drinking water from the underground source. Groundwater is inter-connected to surface water and the quality of groundwater is also related to the water table. As the water table is being lowered and the use of the chemical is increasing, the water quality is being contaminated. We need to stop it now. And water rule is needed to apply in the coordination of all relevant departments.”
Mr. Salahuddin Ahmmed, WASH Officer, UN Migration Agency, IOM, Bangladesh Mission, said, “Although Bangladesh is a riverine country, the groundwater is differentiated geographically across the country. At the Cox’s Bazar in the southeast of Bangladesh, the drinking water level differs in the locality. To lessen the dependency on groundwater, we need to concentrate on surface water and reservation of surface water is needed.”
Dr. Kazi Matin Uddin Ahmed, Professor, Dept. of Geology, Dhaka University, concluded the Seminar as the Chair. He said, “The groundwater crisis is the global problem. It is the most precious natural asset. In our country, we are heavily dependent on groundwater for all purposes without doing justice to this scarce resource. As a result, the water table is declining. On the other hand, pollution of groundwater is on the rise resulting in creating a safe water crisis for domestic needs. As we need water, the environment too needs water. So, we need to preserve it for us and the future. Although we have a water policy, the policy is not enough to preserve the groundwater and use it wisely. It needs a separate law and a separate institution that will manage the groundwater assessing, monitoring, and distributing this scarce resource.”
The Virtual Seminar was opened by a welcoming speech by Dr. Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Deputy Chief Executive of SKS Foundation. Among others around 100 participants from development partners, national & international organizations, academia and media joined the Virtual Seminar. Joseph Halder, Director- Advocacy & Communication, SKS Foundation moderated the Seminar.
Swedish Ambassador visited Saidpur FSM Plant
Alexandra Berg Von Linde, Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh, visited the Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) Plant at Saidpur, Nilphamari. On 17 March 2022, she visited some other activities of the WASH for Urban Poor Project implemented by Saidpur Municipality and SKS Foundation with the technical assistance of WaterAid Bangladesh and financial support from the Government of Sweden.
Welcomed by Rafika Akhtar Jahan, Mayor, Saidpur Municipality, Hasin Jahan, Country Director, WaterAid Bangladesh, and Dr. Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Deputy Chief Executive, SKS Foundation in the day-long visit, the Ambassador visited the newly constructed 'Sewage Treatment Plant'. Observing the FSM, she said, "The Sewage Treatment Plant is an important and bold step towards sustainable health care. We are proud to be a partner in the construction of the country's largest 'Sewage Treatment Plant' in Saidpur Municipality. Everyone in the city will get benefit out of this Plant.”
Alongside, the Ambassador visited the 'WASH Block' at Tulsiram Government Girls' High School in Saidpur. She exchanged views with the students on the benefit of WASH Block and their Menstrual Health Management. Addressing the students she said, “Cleanliness is not the individual issue only but also the collective issue. Thereby, the cleanliness learned from school should be disseminated among your neighbors. So that everyone can live and be healthy around us.” She continued, “Menstruation is a normal and natural biological issue of women, therefore, there is nothing for shy feeling about maintenance of menstrual hygiene. More importance should be given to the health care of girls during the period, and the misconceptions that people have about this need to be dispelled.”
Being at the Saidpur Municipal House, the Ambassador was briefed that the WASH situation of Saidpur Municipality had been improved as people have become aware of cleanliness & hygiene habits. Focusing the project objectives, the Ambassador said, “The relation between Bangladesh and Sweden is historic and long-standing; that had started with the recognition of Bangladesh by Sweden. In that way, Swedish people continue standing with Bangladeshi people, and this project, WASH for Urban, is supported by the Swedish people, for the greater view of development, particularly in WASH. Therefore, we need to take our ownership of the Project.” She reminded, “For the sustainable development, women empowerment and elimination of gender inequality are also essential. So, with other development, we need to focus on gender inequality too.”
Among others, the senior officials of WaterAid, SKS Foundation, and Municipality were also present during the visit.
Observance of International Women’s Day 2022
SKS Foundation observed International Women’s Day 2022 with due respect, focusing the theme "Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”. To uphold the significance of the Day, SKS organized a series of events i.e. Rally, Debate Competition, Discussion Forum, and Development Fair on 8 March 2022, the globally observed Women’s Day, at Gaibandha Pouro Park, Gaibandha.
The day-long celebration was opened with a colorful Rally brought and led by SKS’s program participants, staff, and mass people. Rounding the key streets of the town, the rally ended at the Central Shaheed Minar premises in Gaibandha. The rally was followed by a Discussion Forum at Gaibandha Pouro Park, Gaibandha upholding the theme of the Day.
Mahabub Ara Begum, Gini, MP, and Whip of the National Parliament, was the Chief Guest. Md. Oliur Rahman, DC, Gaibandha, was the Guest of Honor of the function while Nargis Jahan, DD, Department of Women's Affairs, Gaibandha, and Shahid Ahmed, Panel Mayor, Gaibandha Municipality, were the Special Guests with Dr. Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Dy. Chief Executive of SKS Foundation in the chair.
Highlighting the parents’ role in promoting the significance of the Day, the Chief Guest said in her speech, “Future generation needs to be educated so that both men and women can coexist with dignity. And this responsibility must be taken by every parent; so that their children show respect to the women. Not everything can be stopped by law. We need to be aware of ourselves to prevent violence against women.” She continued, “It has taken a long time to reduce the disparity of women in the garment sector. Similarly, to reduce women's wage disparity in agriculture, women need to come together and bargain. NGOs have had a big role to play in advancing women in this country. They went to the remote villages and made the women aware. As a result, the women are coming forward today from the villages.”
Upholding the role of women in nation-building, the Guest of Honor said, “The role of women in building the country is no less than men. They fought alongside men in our Liberation War and gave their lives. They also fought against British rule. Like the developed countries of the world, the women of Bangladesh are now advancing at an indomitable pace. The Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Parliament, and Opposition Leader are also a woman. Besides, women are working efficiently in different levels of administration of the country. Women must continue this progress.”
In the concluding remarks, Dr. Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman emphasized the importance of raising awareness on violence against women at the individual, family and society level and called upon all to come forward to prevent violence against women.
Earlier, a Debate Competition on “Rule of law alone cannot protect women” was held between SKS School & College, and SKS Nutonkuri Bidyapith while SKS School & College won the Competition. Alongside, a Development Fair was organized where varieties of products made by SKS Foundation’s female program participants were displayed at the stalls.
The day-long celebration was wrapped up with a cultural program.
Observance of International Mother Language Day 2022
Vow to Uphold the Glory of the Bangla Language
Celebrating the 21 February 2022, Shaheed Dibosh and International Mother Language Day, SKS Foundation laid a wreath at the Central Shaheed Minar in Gaibandha. Alongside, SKS School & College observed the Day with due significance organizing a wreath-laying, discussion meeting, and cultural program at its Shaheed Minar premises. Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chairman of SKS School & College, and Chief Executive of SKS Foundation presided over the event. SM Parvez Tamal, Chairman of NRBC Bank, graced the event as the Chief Guest.
The event was started laying wreaths at SKS School & College’s Shaheed Minar with due solemnity. Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Guest said, “We don’t value our language. The way we have got our mother tongue, none other countries in the world have got their language. We got the Bangla language through war, at the cost of our blood & lives. Ekushey February is now recognized as the International Mother Language Day only for our language- Bangla. The Bangla language has earned international recognition and we are a proud nation for that. My special appeal to our new generation is that we must love the country and the culture. So, we can protect the dignity of our mother tongue- Bangla. ”
In his speech, Rasel Ahmed Liton said, “We are proud that Bangla is now internationally recognized. The whole world has accepted our language. We should be proud of the Bengali language. We must make ourselves promise-bound today not to mix Bangla and English while speaking and writing. Regrettably, even though we are Bengali, many do not speak Bangla among ourselves. We have forgotten the real glory the Bangla language has brought to the nation. Inspired by the language movement in 1952, we won the Liberation War in 1971. So, let us set a promise, we will protect the dignity of Bangla; we will love our country”. Abdus Sattar, Principal, SKS School & College, also spoke on the occasion. Among others, teachers, students, parents, officials of SKS Foundation and SKS- NRBC Partnership Program were also present at the occasion. The event ended with a cultural program centering the Day, organized by the students of SKS School & College.
SKS Foundation Won the RTV NRBC Bank Krishi Padok 2022
SKS Foundation won the RTV NRBC Bank Krishi Padok 2022 in the Best Agricultural Organization category for its special contribution to the agricultural sector of Bangladesh. Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation, received the Award. Alongside SKS Foundation, the Award was given to 8 persons and other 1 organization at the Function on 1 February 2022 at an event organized at Pan Pacific Hotel Sonargaon, Dhaka.
Inaugurated by Dr. Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, MP, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture as chief guest, SM Rezaul Karim, MP, Minister, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, was present at the Function as the special guest. Among other dignitaries, Syed Ashik Rahman, CEO, Bengal Media Corporation Limited (RTV), SM Parvez Tamal, Chairman of NRBC Bank, Dr. Md. Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan, General Secretary, Dhaka University Teachers’ Association, attended the Function and upheld the role and contribution of the respective awardee persons and organizations.
Recognizing SKS Foundation as a development organization rooted in northern Bangladesh, the organizers upheld that SKS Foundation has been striving for sustainable development particularly of the disadvantaged people in the disaster-prone northern Bangladesh where flood and river erosion is the most frequent and major natural disasters. And as agriculture remains the main source of lives & livelihood of the marginalized amidst flood & river erosion, SKS Foundation has been undertaking sustainable and agriculture-friendly initiatives through various projects/programs targeting the betterment of the farmers, especially in the char areas. SKS Foundation’s major investment goes to farming i.e. paddy cultivation & rice processing, maize, chilly, pumpkin production, cow rearing, beef fattening, heifer rearing, fruit production, dairy farming, crop diversification, vegetable production, etc. Enhancing farmers’ resilience to climate change and producing nutritious food, SKS Foundation has been promoting inbred vegetable and fruits seed preservation. Furthermore, SKS has been encouraging farmers to focus on afforestation, using vermicompost and pheromone traps as a pesticide for sustainable and eco–friendly agriculture. SKS Foundation has also been designing context-specific agricultural programs/projects incorporating various farming assistances i.e. monetary and advisory support to reach the char farmers including women. It has worked in a systematic approach to organizing, mobilizing, and enabling farmers collectively as well as individually.
Receiving the Award, Rasel Ahmed Liton said, “About 3,50,000 farmers across the country are engaged with SKS Foundation’s programs. We are supporting the farmers in their fund generating, technical training, and market linkage between Dhaka and the respective farmers living in the villages. This acknowledgment of our efforts to the farmers & farming in Bangladesh will encourage us to work with more interest and dedication.”
SKS Got Special Honor on Developing the Marginalized
SKS Foundation received a Special Honor from NRBC Bank and Bangabandhu Parishad of Russia & the USA on the development of marginalized people in Bangladesh. Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation received the Crest from Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, Former Vice-Chancellor of Dhaka University. The Honor was given in unveiling the book Bangabandhu Theke Bishwo Bandhu ceremony on 28 December 2021, at Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad Auditorium of Bangla Academy, Dhaka. Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury inaugurated the event virtually as Chief Guest. Dr. Mashiur Rahman, the Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister, Poet Asad Chowdhury, Poet Nurul Huda, Director General (DG) of Bangla Academy, were present as special guests. SM Parvez Tamal, Chairman of NRBC Bank and General Secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad, Russia chaired the ceremony.
SKS Foundation’s Manager Conference 2021 Held
Managers are the heart and staff are the blood of an organization. Managers work as the driving force and staff propel the organization. SKS Foundation has thrived in its endeavor. Referring to the Core Values and Unique Features of SKS Foundation, the officials remarked these upholding the spirit of SKS Foundation at the Manager Conference of SKS Microfinance Program.
The Manager Conference titled Manager Sommelon 2021 was held in the spirit of the organizational motto “Striving for a Sustainable Change” at SKS Inn, Gaibandha, on Saturday, 1 January 2022. More than 400 Managers from 168 microfinance branches across the country attended the Conference. Md. Ayub Ali, the Chairperson, flanked by other members of the Executive Committee of SKS Foundation attended the Conference while Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive, Directors, Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors, Coordinators, and Zonal Managers played the facilitating role of the Conference.
The Conference reviewed the last 1-year performance of SKS’ Microfinance Program aligned with Work-plan, gave new directions to fetch new targets and discussed & exchanged views centering the wellbeing of the staff to keep up the programming spirit.
Pointing to the Vision of SKS Foundation, and facilitating the main session of the Conference, Rasel Ahmed Liton said, “SKS envisages a poverty-free society and Microfinance Program directly contributes to eliminating poverty by providing monetary support to the poor & disadvantaged who are excluded and left behind. SKS Foundation, as a development partner of the government and committed to nation-building, has been working on poverty alleviation of the marginalized implementing various development ventures. And SKS Microfinance Program is playing the pivotal role in financing the poor to eliminate the poverty.”
SKS has the target to extend its microfinance branches from 168 to 220 covering areas i.e. Kushtia, Meherpur, Tangail, Gazipur, Cox’s Bazar by this year with loan outstanding from 600 core to 1000 core to cover more disadvantaged people with its convenient financial support, Rasel Ahmed Liton mentioned. He continued “We must focus on the quality than quantity to serve the disadvantaged people across the country. Our program expansion is to reach the disadvantaged group of different parts of the country. And for this, we also need to work together to uphold our nation in the spirit of freedom fighting.”
While speaking on other supporting domains of development, Dr. Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Deputy Chief Executive said, “The COVID-19 crisis was a big blow for the microfinance operation. Now, the quick recovery from the impact of COVID-19 is one of the big challenges of the Managers to keep their branches on track. The challenge can be overcome through planning & designing new microfinance products, picking good borrowers, and increasing communication.”
Upholding the importance of microfinance in the development sector, Md. Saiful Alam, Director, Development Program, said, “Microfinance is not the separate issue apart from development issue. Even, microfinance is the main issue of development that provides money for the people to regulate their desired development.”
Emphasizing communication, as an essential tool of growth-making, Joseph Halder, Director, Advocacy & Communication, said, “Better relationship between service providers and receivers lays on the communication skill. And the communication skill ultimately helps the branch to grow its performance in terms of trust and goodwill building among the program participants.”
Reazul Islam Chowdhury, Director, Social Enterprises, said, “The quality services i.e. education, health, are being provided to the disadvantaged people under social enterprises targeting to enhance the microfinance support.”
Underling the database financial analysis and decision-making of a branch manager in microfinance, Khokon Kumar Kundu, Director, Finance, said, “Foremost, Branch Manager must have numeric data on his branch’s performance over the other perceptions to rightly present his branch.”
Outlining the Manager Sommelon of the Microfinance Program, Imran Kabir, Deputy Director, Microfinance, said in his Welcome Speech, “The Manager Conference of microfinance branch manager is to keep the organization on right track in terms of financial flow of the organization.”
Md. Ayub Ali, Chairperson of SKS Foundation made the closed day-long Conference with his concluding remarks. He said, “The growth of an organization depends on the growth of its human resources and its capacities, as its human resource drives the organization, the organization goes in that direction. So, each manager is the director of the respective branch and his directions help the growth of the respective branch. The role of a Branch Manager is to keep up the growth of his branch and in turn contribute the organization to run its mission.”
Based on the last year’s growth and performance, 10 Microfinance Branches were awarded at the Conference. Alongside, a lifetime award was given to Md. Mosharraf Hossain Khan, former chairperson of the Executive Committee and member of General Council of SKS Foundation, for his dedicated support to SKS Foundation. The event wrapped up with the cultural program performed by the program participants and artists.
LGRD Minister visits Saidpur Fecal Sludge Management Plant
Hon’ble Minister Md. Tazul Islam, MP, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives visited the Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) Plant at Saidpur, Nilphamari on 22 October 2021.
The country’s one of the biggest Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) Plant covering 170 decimal areas has been initiated by Saidpur Municipality with support from WaterAid Bangladesh and implementing partner SKS Foundation.
Md. Helaluddin Ahmed, Senior Secretary, Local Government Division, Md. Saifur Rahman, Chief Engineer, Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), Md. Abdur Rashid Khan, Chief Engineer, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) accompanied the Minister during the visit. Rafika Akhtar Jahan, Mayor, Saidpur Municipality; Hasin Jahan, Country Director, WaterAid, and Dr. Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Deputy Chief Executive, SKS Foundation, welcomed the Minister and the delegate at the FSM Plant.
Visiting the Plant, the Minister expressed his satisfaction and reiterated the government's commitment to the promotion of Fecal Sludge Management.
Ahsan Adelur Rahman, MP, Nilphamari-4; Md. Hafizur Rahman Chowdhury, DC, & Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, SP, Nilphamari; Md. Moksedul Momin, Chairman, Saidpur Upazila; Md. Shamim Hossain, UNO along with senior officials of WaterAid, SKS Foundation, and Municipality team members were also present during this visit.
Partnership Banking launched at more 19 Microfinance branches
SKS Foundation has extended its Partnership Banking with NRBC Bank to more 19 Microfinance branches to reach the people living in far-flung areas of the country. By launching Partnership Banking at the respective branches, the program participants along with others will be able to do banking and micro-financing as well.
The Launching Ceremony was held through a Video Conference on 21 October 2021 at SKS Inn, Gaibandha. SM Parvez Tamal, Chairman of NRBC Bank Ltd, inaugurated the Launching of the branches as chief guest while Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation, was in the Chair.
Speaking to the program, Chairman, NRBC Bank, said, “The partnership banking has targeted village and village people to create job opportunities at the village, and prevent village people move to the city for their livelihood. This joint venture is to cover the villages in remote areas where people are unserved. Financial inclusion through banking is targeted to pave the way to improve their living standard. SKS Foundation and NRBC Bank are jointly working to improve the lives & livelihood of the village people.”
Chief Executive, SKS Foundation said, “We would like to offer all the modern services of banking and Microfinancing to the general people living in far-flung areas and unserved clients to give them financial choices as like the services in the city. So, they can make their future by themselves.”
Among others, Reazul Islam Chowdhury, Director- Social Enterprise, SKS Foundation; Golam Awlia, MD, Harunur Rashid, DMD and CFO, NRBC Bank, were also present at the program.
The Launching Ceremony simultaneously covered all the 19 branches with attendance of the respective Upazila Parishad Chairman, Municipality Mayor, UP Chairman, and mass people online from the branch offices.
World White Cane Safety Day 2021 Observed
To recognize the active participation of blind people in society and celebrate their achievements, SKS Foundation, along with Saghata upazila administration and Social Service Department, observed the World White Cane Safety Day, 15 October 2021. In observance of the Day with this year’s theme “Digital Sadachari, Nirapodey Poth Choli”, SKS Foundation conducted an awareness rally, discussion, and white cane distribution program on 15 October 2021.
SKS Foundation organized the program at Saghata upazila auditorium, Gaibandha under its Resilience through Economic Empowerment Climate Adaptation Leadership & Learning (REECALL 2021) and Social Inclusion of Disability and Sustainable Livelihood Improvement Project, supported by Oxfam in Bangladesh.
Sarder Mostofa Shahin, UNO of Saghata upazila, Gaibandha led the program and called for people’s support towards the visually impaired community and spread awareness about the significance of the white cane in their lives.
Abu Mohammad Sufian, Upazila Social Welfare Officer, Md. Enayet Hossain, OC (Investigation) Saghata thana, Md. Masud Parvez, Technical Officer, Disability Inclusion Project, SKS Foundation, and Baharam Khan, Project Coordinator, REECALL 2021 project, spoke in the program. The speakers urged to recognize the importance of white canes for blind people, who want to safely travel and maintain their liberty.
Visually impaired people from different parts of the upazila participated in the program. They participated in the awareness rally brought out from the upazila auditorium and ended therein followed by the discussion. A total of 15 white canes were also distributed among visually impaired people on the occasion.
Eye Camp on the World Sight Day 2021
SKS Foundation organized a free Eye Camp with support from Andheri Hilfe, Bonn, Germany, on the occasion of World Sight Day, 14 October 2021. GM Selim Parvez, Chairman, Upazila Parishad, Fulchhari inaugurated the Eye Camp on 14 October 2021 at SKS Vision Center in Kalirbazar area of Fulchhari upazila, Gaibandha. Md. Abdul Awal, Eye specialist doctor of SKS Eye Hospital conducted the Eye Camp.
At the Eye Camp, hundreds of patients were given free eye check-ups and prescriptions, while 27 people were diagnosed with eye cataracts who will undergo cataract surgery at SKS Eye Hospital, Gaibandha free of cost.
Alongside, SKS Eye Hospital and SKS Vision Centre have jointly adopted various initiatives to provide eye care services for the poor and marginalized people of the remote char areas including raising awareness about receiving eye care treatments.
Country Director of Save the Children’s Program Visit
Onno Van Manen, Country Director of Save the Children in Bangladesh visited SKS Foundation & Save the Children partnering projects- Promotion of Maternal and Newborn Health (MAMOTA), Integrated Child Development Program (Shishuder Jonno), and Emergency Flood Response 2021. He visited the respective project fields in Gaibandha district and interacted with the community people on 10-11 October 2021.
On 10 October 2021, Onno Van Manen visited Kamarzani union under Sadar upazila, a flood-affected area, where Emergency Flood Response is being conducted. The Country Director along with the UNO of Gaibandha Sadar upazila, Md. Abdur Rafiul Alam attended a Hygiene Kit Distribution event.
On 11 October 2021, the Country Director visited Padumshahor Union Health & Family Welfare Centre (UHFWC) covered under MAMOTA project. Interacting with the UHFWC committee, Onno said, “Good facility like doctors, nurses & midwives is only one part of ensuring healthy mothers & children. The other part that we know is when a mother is well-aware of nutrition, of diet diversity- a mother gets strong & healthy, success for the baby might trigger. This also comes from education. If a young girl is educated and marry a little bit later then there will be stronger and better security of families and lives of their children.”
Later the Country Director visited Saghata Union Parishad and interacted with UP representatives relating to the ongoing project Shishuder Jonno. He emphasized special child care and the continuation of education in the isolated char area. He underscored the development and wellbeing of children, “It is not an a-year project, the project will continue as the development and wellbeing of children are important to us. The project goes slowly but constantly, and finally, success & sustainability take place.”
Emphasizing partnering, Onno Van urged the community to act together to make things successful. “Only way to make thing successful by doing that jointly,” he said to the community people, “when we Save the Children, SKS Foundation, the community, and the local authority jointly work, we will make it successful and sustainable.”
The 2-day visit ended on 12 October 2021 with a meeting with the senior management team of SKS Foundation led by Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Ph.D., Deputy Chief Executive of SKS Foundation.
Khaleda Habib, Senior Project Manager, Hosneara Khondker, Project Director, Md. Abdul Alim, District Manager, Gaibandha, accompanied the Country Director on behalf of Save the Children during the visit.
The visit was facilitated by Md. Saiful Alam, Director, Development Program, Khondaker Zahid Shorwar, Assistant Director, Shumsuzzman Azad, Project Coordinator, MAMOTA, and Md. Jamal Uddin, Project Coordinator, ICDP on behalf of SKS Foundation.
Food & Fodder Bank is the Lifeline of Helpless People in Crisis
“We must get rid of relief-dependent culture and move to self-reliant culture to establish our rights as a human, and the true Human rights will be established when the community people will stand themselves by their own inner strength than waiting for others’ help. To stand by own, Food & Fodder Bank can be a model to make a self-reliant community. Therefore, a formal recognition and institutionalization of Food & Fodder Bank need to cover more distressed people in an indigenous manner.” Famous economist and Former Governor, Bangladesh Bank, Dr. Atiur Rahman said this in a Virtual Seminar focusing on the effectiveness of Food & Fodder Bank.
SKS Foundation organized the Webinar titled "Effectiveness of Food & Fodder Banks in Overcoming Food Uncertainty during Disaster" on 28 September 2021 under its Resilience through Economic Empowerment, Climate Adaptation Leadership & Learning (REECALL 2021) project implemented supported by Oxfam in Bangladesh. Dr. Atiur Rahman graced the Webinar as the Chief Guest. Sadekur Rahman, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), Gaibandha was the Guest of Honor while Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation, was in the chair.
The Guest of Honor, Sadekur Rahman said, “The Food Bank is a groundbreaking concept. The Food Bank helps not only in disasters but also at all times. It has been helping helpless people in different forms,” he continued, “before establishing the Food Bank, there was a tendency to borrow at a high-interest rate, which is not now happening there. It has prevented many people in char land from being starving during flood.” He emphasized on the government, private and individual collaboration for institutionalization and expansion of the Food & Fodder Bank model.
Upholding the essence of the Food & Fodder Bank in his presentation, Bahram Khan, PC- REECALL 2021, SKS Foundation described that the Food & Fodder Bank idea had come with the help of marginalized people who run out of both food and money during any disaster. With a primary view of dealing with the food crisis, community people particularly women keep aside fist-rice and store in Food Bank in normal times, get back when they need or allow others in exchange of getting back. Under REECALL 2021 Project, SKS Foundation is working covering the most disaster-prone 15 villages of Fulchhari and Saghata upazila, Gaibandha where 442 flood-distressed families are directly getting benefits of Food Bank storing and getting benefit of their rice or money during emergency.
Prof. Dr. Ahmed Parvez, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Disaster Management, Patuakhali University of Science and Technology, SM Bipplob, Gaibandha District Correspondent of Boishakhi Television, and Most. Yarun Begum, a CBO President of Fulchhari Upazila, Gaibandha took part in discussion as Panelists. They said, the project has promoted the concept from family to the community at the local level as a collective effort. With introduction of Food Bank, borrowing money from money lenders at high-rate and selling advanced labor and cattle at cheaper rate has decreased. Now, no one goes to starving at least. They suggested, along with rice, other agricultural products that are available depending on the geographical or regional conditions of the country, can also be brought under this concept.
The Chair of the Seminar called upon all concerned to uphold the concept and effectiveness of the Food & Fodder Bank. He said, “In crisis, helpless people have solved their own problems without waiting for relief- this is the true strength of society. The Food & Fodder Bank model is just standing on the power of people’s collective effort.”
Kazi Rabia Amy, Rural Manager, Oxfam in Bangladesh, welcomed the participants. Joseph Halder, Director- Advocacy & Communication, SKS Foundation, moderated the Webinar.
ToT to Combat the Spread of Communicable Diseases
SKS Foundation conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Disinfection, and Waste Managementtargeting to improve WASH and IPC facilities at Health Care Facilities (HCF) to strengthen COVID-19 response and to build the resilience of health care facilities in Gaibandha. The government health professionals including 24 doctors, 7 nurses, and a hospital ward master participated in the training course.
SKS Foundation organized the Training under the “Improving WASH and IPC facilities to strengthen COVID-19 response and to build the resilience of health care facilities in climate-vulnerable areas of Bangladesh Project”, supported by WaterAid Bangladesh, IEDCR, WHO, DPHE, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The ToT was held on 6 September 2021 at SKS Inn, Gaibandha.
With Dr. A. M. Akhtaruzzaman, Civil Surgeon, Gaibandha, in the chair, Dr. Md. Mahbub Hossain, Superintendent of the Gaibandha General Hospital, graced the training as the Chief Guest. Dr. Tanveer Ahsan, Director, TA-HUB, Dr. Md. Ferdous Rahman Sarker, Senior Scientific Officer -IEDRC, and Dr. A S Nurullah Awal, Health Advisor, WaterAid Bangladesh, and Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Ph.D., Deputy Chief Executive, SKS Foundation, were present as Special Guests. In the welcome speech, Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, PhD, Deputy Chief Executive, SKS Foundation, underscored the importance of the training and improvement of health care facilities to combat the spread of communicable diseases.
The special guests made their valuable remarks on the objectives of the training and appreciated health professionals for their services in this pressing situation of COVID-19 in the opening discussion.
Later, the Deputy Chief Executive of SKS Foundation handed over some equipment to Dr. Md. Mahbub Hossain, Superintendent of Gaibandha General Hospital. The equipment package covered 8 Smart TV for health awareness message dissemination at hospitals, 8 generators for operation theaters, 5 disinfectant spray machines, 5 thermal guns, 10 electric kettles for the respective hospitals. Alongside, one set of health and safety gear (PPE, KN95 mask, a packet of 50 pieces surgical mask, a packet of 10 peers hand gloves and safety goggles) for each doctor, nurse, technician while one protective gear set (PPE, reusable mask, one peer industrial hand glove, one peer gumboot, and a safety goggles) for the admin staff, aya, cleaner.
The Working Session of the ToTfocused on the content i.e. Introduction & the importance of IPC in healthcare facilities: Role of WASH; IPC in HCFs: Hand hygiene and Standard precautions; PPE and environmental cleaning: Transmission based precautions; and Medical waste management and Hands on session (PPE, Mask, Handwash, etc.) to strengthen the capacity of the 32 participating trainers. The participants finally came up with the action plan to train 370 health professionals including the doctors, nurses, and technicians at their respective Health Care Facilities (HCF) on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and 220 admin staff, Aya, Cleaners, and Peons on Disinfection and Waste Management to prevent communicable diseases including Covid-19 by September 2021.
The ToT was facilitated by the Medical Experts from IEDCR Dr. Md. Ferdous Rahman Sarker, Senior Scientific Officer, &Dr. Md. Omar Qayum, Curator, and Dr. A S Nurullah Awal, Health Advisor, WaterAid Bangladesh.
Poor but Talented Students Got Stipend
Under its Scholarship Program for the poor but talented students, SKS Foundation provided 57 Higher Secondary Students (HSC) with education stipend in partnership with Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF). A total of Tk. 684,000 was distributed as Stipend while each of the students got a bank cheque of Tk. 12,000. The Stipend Giving Ceremony was held on 17 June 2021 at the SKS School & College Conference Hall, Uttar Horin Singha, Gaibandha.
Abdul Matin, Deputy Commissioner, Gaibandha distributed the bank cheques of the Stipend among the students as Chief Guest with Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation in the Chair.
In his speech focusing on education at the ceremony, Abdul Matin called the students fortunate and urged them to make fortune for other 10 unfortunate students each in future as a payback of this valuable Stipend. The DC asked the students to be more serious in study to make good results in all exams including public one to be worthy citizens of the country so that they could serve the nation with patriotism. He also urged the students to do some better work to push the country forward to reach its desired development.
Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation said that SKS Foundation has been working on the promotion of education particularly of the meritorious students from poor families along with its other development initiatives and the distribution of Education Stipend is a part of that endeavor. He also upheld that SKS Foundation had introduced Bangabandhu Higher Education Scholarship under which 3 university students were getting Tk. 5,000 each per month.
The function was also addressed among others by the Principal of the SKS School & College Md. Abdus Sattar, Vice-Principal Dr. Anamika Saha, and high officials of SKS Foundation.
Then the DC formally distributed the cheques of the Stipend to the students. Getting the Stipend, the beneficiary students expressed their gratefulness and also made commitments to stand beside the poor but brilliant students of the society with positive attitude to help run their studies in future.
Later, DC Abdul Matin also inaugurated a corner in the name of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the Institution’s campus with the goal to help the students know Bangabandhu.
SKS Vision Centre Visited
The SKS Vision Centre was visited by Shankar Patrick Costa, Country Director, Andheri Hilfe Bangladesh Office and Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation. The visit took place on 13 June 2021 at the Centre located at Bonarpara College Road, under Bonarpara union of Saghata upazila, Gaibandha. SKS Vision Centre was set up on 15 December 2020 with assistance from Andheri Hilfe Bonn, Germany with the goal to serve the poorest eye patients at the remote areas who cannot afford for their eye care.
During the visit, they observed and exchanged views on the existing eye machineries & facilities and activities of the Centre. They also talked to the eye patients and got their feedback about the services. The eye patients expressed their satisfaction for having the eye care services free of charge at such a remote area. The visitors shared their further plan to ensure optimal eye services of the Vision Centre.
The Vision Centre is equipped with Auto Refractometer, Silt Lamp, etc. The regular service of the Centre is facilitated by an Ophthalmic Paramedics while an Eye Medical Officer serves the Vision Centre on each Wednesday. Having provision of male-female segregated waiting room with well-furnished WASH facilities, the Center serves patients from 9 am-5 pm remaining open from Saturday to Thursday. The Vision Centre is visited by 20 patients on an average per day.
All the eye patients get screened by the Vision Centre are also eligible for free cataract operation. Since inception, the Vision Centre has checked-up and prescribed 1,617 eye patients. Among them the Centre identified 103 cataract patients while 86 of them were referred to and got their cataract operated at SKS Eye Hospital, Gaibandha. Some 308 patients with other major problems were referred for better treatment.
To expand the Vision Centre’s utility, the visiting team agreed to introduce telemedicine and install modern equipment to serve the needy in a more convenient way. The visit was accompanied by some other high officials of SKS Foundation.
Persons with Disabilities Got Assistive Devices
SKS Foundation has supported 19 persons with disabilities distributing assistive devices to the poorest persons in Shaghata union of Shaghata upazila and Udakhali union of Fulchari upazila under Gaibandha. The distribution ceremony took place on 3 June 2021 at the Probin Samajik Kendra (center for the elderly people) adjacent to Shaghata Union Parishad complex following COVID-19 health guidelines. The persons with disabilities from respective unions have got assistive devices according to their disabilities while 2 wheelchairs, 4 hearing aids, 10 walking sticks, 2 black glasses and a commode chair were distributed.
SKS Foundation provided the devices under its Social Inclusion of Disability and Sustainable Livelihood Improvement Project in partnership with Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF). The project intervention has been supporting to establish a rights-based smooth society for the persons with disability making them self-dependent socially & economically. Distribution of assistive devices is a regular drive of the Project alongside other feasible activities.
Md. Mosharaf Hossain Sweet, Chairman, Shaghata UP distributed the devices being present as the chief guest. In his address, the Chairman said, “Bangladesh Government has taken various initiatives to include persons with disability into SDG goals. But still, all persons with disability are not covered under this service. Alongside government services, some NGOs are sharing their resources to uphold the rights of this respective segment of the society. It’s appreciable that SKS Foundation has included the persons with disabilities in their development goals.”
Samsul Haque Akando, a well-known social worker, said in his speech as guest of honor, “I had a hearing problem for few days, and that made me realize how it is difficult for a person with hearing loss. Poor people cannot afford hearing aid devices. But a device can help him or her to be back in a normal life.”
Dudu Mia, a van driver from Bashata village under Shaghata union, got a hearing device as a person with moderate hearing loss. He said, “After damaging my hearing, I stopped driving my van on crowded roads and my income dropped sharply. Now, this hearing device will help me to hear better and I will be able to manage driving my van well and increase my earning.”
Rumon, an 8-year boy with multiple disabilities, came from Poschim Shalua village of Udakhali union with his mother. His mother said, “I cannot carry him on my arms and take around anymore as he is growing bigger. This wheelchair will help him and me to lessen our burden.”
Alongside creating sustainable livelihood improvement of the persons with disabilities, SKS has so far supported 130 persons with assistive devices.
Women's Protective & Dignity Kits Distributed in Gaibandha
Gender-based Violence (GBV) in Emergency Network has distributed women’s protective & dignity kits among the poor & destitute women who suffered a lot during the last monsoon flood 2020. With support from UNFPA and ActionAid Bangladesh, 10 organizations of the GBV Network, Gaibandha took part in distributing the protective kits in 3 upazilas of Gaibandha district as a humanitarian response.
Gender-based Violence in Emergency Network has been providing health, illegal, and humanitarian supports, and awareness-raising targeting to ensure protection of vulnerable women from violence caused before, during and after a disaster. The GBV Network, Gaibandha is in action with the engagement of different national & local NGOs. UNFPA and ActionAid Bangladesh are providing technical support while SKS Foundation is performing as the Secretariat of the Network.
During the monsoon flood 2020, the poor and vulnerable people of Gaibandha Sadar, Saghata, Sundarganj and Fulchhari upazila suffered a lot and still facing the effect of sustained damage. Alongside, COVID-19 has worsened the situation and deteriorated the health of people, particularly the destitute women’s physical and mental health in these areas. Considering this situation, the GBV Network, Gaibandha distributed a total of 2,172 women’s protective and dignity kits to the poor and disadvantaged women. Out of the total packages, 1,822 kits were distributed covering a no. of days in March 2021 and 350 kits were distributed on 12 May 2021. The poor women from 8 unions namely Belka, Tarapur, Gazaria, Fulchari, Fazlupur, Uria, Kamalarpar & Jumarbari of Saghata, Sundarganj, and Fulchhari upazila got these dignity kits.
Mostly the breastfeeding mothers and middle-aged poor women got these dignity kits. The package of each dignity kit contained a saree, a towel, a menstruation pad, a shampoo bottle, a flashlight, toothpaste and toothbrush, a comb, a soap case, a flute, 3 panties, 6 bathing soaps, 6 packs of detergent powders, and shaving cream with razor & brush. All the items were packed into a UNFPA logo attached bag. The distribution of the dignity kits was conducted by the GBV Network Member organizations i.e. Sinnomul Mohila Somity, UDDYOG Foundation, SDRS, Polli Agragoti Sangstha, Gaibandha Rural Development Foundation, Abalamban, GKS Gaibandha, Udayan Swabolombee Sangstha, Women Development Program and SKS Foundation in coordination with the local Union Parishad and local women volunteer team maintaining social distance and all other hygiene protocols.
Centering the distribution on 12 May 2021 at Tarapur Union Complex premises, Aminul Islam Lebu, Chairman, Tarapur UP said, “The poor people lost their means due to the flood occurrence and they are in trouble to buy their hygiene kits managing their meals. The dignity kit would be handy to the poor people amid the second wave of COVID-19. These kits would lessen the women’s daily burden in maintaining their hygiene habits.”
Jahanara Begum, Female Ward Member of Tarapur UP said, “The Ward no. 9 is lying on the river bed and got mostly affected during the last monsoon flood. The people of this Ward earn their daily bread by day-laboring. The second wave of COVID-19 has taken away their means. This support will lessen their burden.”
Rahen Begum (28) is a widow and mother of two grown children from Tarapur Village said, “The flood is a regular sorrow for me. COVID-19 has also taken away my means on tailoring and daily laboring. I’m a left behind without any aid from any corner. Thanks to the GBV Network for bringing a little support before Eid.”
SKS Foundation - NRBC Bank Partnership Program
With a view to bringing the banking services to the doorsteps of the marginalized people and making the supply of capital money easier with more institutional security, SKS Foundation and NRBC Bank launched a Partnership Program on 28 March 2021 at the Head Office of SKS Foundation in Gaibandha. Targeting to maximizing access to the banking system in the micro-financing sector, means receiving cash from customers and paying out cash more easily particularly of the marginalized people as the specific objective, SKS Foundation has opened this new door through joint venture with the NRBC Bank Ltd.
Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation, SM Parvez Tamal, Chairman of NRBC Bank Ltd. and Matlubur Rahman, Mayor of Gaibandha Municipality were present in the Launching Ceremony while they jointly announced the inauguration of 10 Branch Offices virtually. Senior officials of SKS Foundation and NRBC Bank were present on the occasion. People from different sects attended the Event at the respective Branch Offices.
In his introductory speech, the Chief Executive of SKS Foundation said, “The initiative is an excellent example of the corporate investment that can be incorporated into development programs. The joint venture will ensure the development of poor and the marginalized providing them with the provision of more institutional funding services. The two different institutions will complement each other and play a role in the overall development of the country by keeping the development wheel of the marginalized people in motion.” SKS, being a development organization, holds and commits to a customer base with its limitation for financing. The provision of necessary capital and its successful use is needed to ensure overall development including human life and livelihood. SKS Foundation will continue to support the development drives of the marginalized by providing required funding, he added.
NRBC Bank Chairman SM Parvez Tamal said, “SKS is a believer in deeds, not words. We are happy to be associated with such a development organization. NRBC Bank's partnership with the SKS Foundation is promise-bound to change the general perception that ‘banks are not for the common people’. This Partnership Program will enhance the banking facilities and services concentrating on the micro-financing sectors as well as development of the rural people’s livelihood.”
Gaibandha municipal mayor Matlubur Rahman said, “Gaibandha is proud of SKS Foundation. The Organization is working with honesty and determination for the development of marginalized people in different parts of the country including Gaibandha. I wish every success & prosperity of this joint venture.”
The association will allow NRBC Bank to disseminate financing facility in the development sector while SKS Foundation will mobilize the customers providing them with a wide variety of development ventures. The association will mean to work side by side, act together, by aiding the customers who seek avail micro-finance for designated development drives.
With this launching, initially, the operation of the stipulated services shall be provided in 10 branches/outlets that are fully equipped and structurally ideal for providing the services to the customers. The service under the Partnership Program will be made available in all the 131 branches/outlets of SKS Foundation by 30 June 2021.
A Discussion Forum held on Bangabandhu’s Life, Works & Visions
“His ability to unite people was outstanding. He was as brave as kind. All he had love for Bangladesh.”
“Bangladesh would not have been born without Bangabandhu. Bangabandhu and Bangladesh are in the same spirit. He was not afraid of anything even of death.” The speakers made this statement reflecting on Bangabandhu’s life, works and vision in a Discussion Forum.
The Discussion Forum was held marking Bangabandhu’s Birth Centenary and Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh. Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKS) & SKS Foundation jointly organized the Discussion Forum at SKS Inn, Gaibandha on 23 March 2021. Abdul Motin, DC, Gaibandha was the Chief Guest and Md. Abu Bakar Siddik, Secretary General, Gaibandha District Awami League was present as Special Guest of the Discussion Forum with Md. Saiful Alam, Director- Development Programs of SKS Foundation in the Chair.
Featured discussion by Johirul Kaium, Professor of Sadullapur Govt. College, Gaibandha; Abu Jafar Sabu, General Secretary, and K. M. Rezaul Haque, President of Gaibandha Press Club called upon the young generation to focus on substantial and quality research on Bangabandhu’s role in the birth of Bangladesh.
Abdul Motin, DC, emphasized on young generation’s study on Bangabandhu. He mentioned, “Our country’s history is full of what Bangabandhu did in his lifetime. Now the books on Bangabandhu are available everywhere. During our time in school, we had very limited books or research on Bangabandhu. Now, you can get lots of book on Bangabandhu. Do study on him and follow his novelty.”
Professor Johirul Kaium, referring to his researches on Bangabandhu said, “Bangabandhu was as brave as kind. When he saw someone in tear-dressed, he used to give him his own shirt. Bangabandhu was also dare to ask then Indian Prime Minister to withdraw the Indian army soon after the Liberation War.”
Md. Abu Bakar Siddik upheld many different occasions & events where Bangabandhu spoke to the people and inspired & motivated them.
Journalists, teachers, students, NGO representatives took part in the Discussion Forum following the health guidelines.
World Water Day Seminar Held
Valuing Water Emphasized to
Save Freshwater & Nature
‘Water for people, water for nature and water for development must be ensured’, the speakers made this remark focusing the theme of this year’s World Water Day ‘Valuing Water’. The water experts, researchers and professionals in the water sector upheld their position in favor saving freshwater as the most valuable resources for life while they took part in discussion in a virtual Seminar. The Seminar Valuing Water: Where We Are was organized on 21 March 2021, the eve of the World Water Day- 22 March 2021. At the online Seminar hosted by FANSA-BD, the speakers emphasized the importance of conserving, improving and distributing water with due importance on this scarce resource.
Chaired by Dr. Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus of BRAC University, and Water Resource & Climate Change Specialist, a panel of water Experts and Professionals enriched the Seminar as the designated discussants. Being the networking body in the WASH sector, FANSA-BD along with SWA, BAWIN, MHM Platform, FSM Network, IWA- BD Chapter, and WaterAid Bangladesh organized the virtual Seminar. Around 100 sector specialists & representatives from the government, UN-bodies, development partners, national & international organizations, academia, and respective stakeholders from the civil society & mass media joined the Event.
Dr. Ainun Nishat said, ‘water is a human right, but it is very sad that water is not considered as a right in Bangladesh. It is not yet thought even. Valuing water in a justified way can be done declaring it as a human right.’
At the beginning of the Seminar, Dr. Tanvir Ahmed, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET & Director ITN-BUET highlighted the global and national scenario of water and its use as a very valuable resource. He pin-pointed that there is only 3 percent fresh water in the world.
The people of the world are not yet aware of this scarcity of fresh water. Many of the people around the world have started talking about the economic value of water. He reminded that besides the financial value of water, it also has cultural and social value which is not visible, must be well-acknowledged.
Participating as the Panel Discussant, Dr. Md. Mujibur Rahman, Ex Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, BUET and water expert said, ‘water regulates the life and nature. But we have failed to protect our water resources. Contaminated water is polluting clean water and in turn the environment. The more this pollution, the more there will be a crisis of pure water for living. It needs to be prevented.’
Dr. Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, Professor (Ex-Pro-VC), Dept. of Geology & Mining, University of Rajshahi, said, ‘the groundwater level in the Barind region is going down day by day. The rain is also irregular. Water conservation and irrigation are becoming difficult there. Rainwater harvesting and renovation/excavation of the surface sources for conservation and management of freshwater should be taken into consideration.’
Dr. Atikul Islam, Professor, Environmental Science Discipline, Khulna University said ‘people of the coastal belt especially the south-west coast are not yet aware of the good use of water. Water is still being used in agriculture in an unjustified manner. They are pushing the salty water into the community for shrimp farming and that’s ultimately destroying the health, life & livelihood of the coastal people. While Rainwater has appeared as the only option for drinking and household chores, but the coastal people are not much aware of that.’
Highlighting statistics, Hasin Jahan, Country Director, WaterAid Bangladesh said, ‘rich people use water three times more than the poor. She mentioned that somewhere 14 liters of water costs 20 taka. Again, the price of 1 liter of water is 20 taka in the slums. The price of water varies from place to place, community to community. Determining the equivalent price of water must be ensured as a means of valuing water.’
Sheikh Rokon, Secretary General, Riverine People, Bangladesh said, ‘once in India people did not need money to buy flowers. Now you have to buy flowers with money. Water was not worth it either. Now I have to buy water to drink. Before thinking and saving water, the source of water must be saved. The river is the source of water. The rivers have to be saved first.’
Buddhajyoti Chakma, a journalist from Bandarban said, ‘the water sources in the hill districts have dried up. The water crisis has been created due to the increase in population pressure while doing development work there. Many localities have been relocated & migrated due to the water crisis. If this problem is not solved, the crisis will be intensified like anything in the hilly areas.
SKS constructed 2 wooden bridges in Gaibandha
The prolonged flood this year has left a lasting impression in the rural communities of Gaibandha. Although flood control dams were protected in different parts of the district, about 24,206 km of roads were partially damaged. Most of the roads and bridges that used to come from the char areas to the plains have become impassable to water. Roads, ghats, bridges and culverts in Fulchari and Sundarganj upazilas of Gaibandha were washed away by the flood waters recently.
People are spending their days in Gaibandha suffering from floods and COVID-19pandemic. Even though the flood waters have receded, people are still in dire situation. Suffering does not seem to be ending. Repairing of houses, Tube-wells, latrines and road bridges from remote areas to local or urban towns have become urgent.
The wounds have woken up as a result of the water receding. To facilitate the movement of people in these two upazilas, SKS Foundation in collaboration with local Union Parishad have constructed 2 bamboo and wooden bridges at Tarapur in Sundarganj and Katlamari village in Gazaria Union in Fulchhari, Gaibandha. As flood-water has receded, with request of the locals and Union Parishad, SKS Foundation has arranged the construction of the bridges in partnership with Start Fund Bangladesh.The bridges made opened for public communication on 3 September 2020.
Relating to the opening of the bridges, the Kazi Lutful Hasan, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Sundarganj said, “The low-lying chars had been inundated by flood-waters for about one & half months. The road communication has faced a massive disruption. So is the case for the char people who suffered a lot during this prolonged flood. Flood-water has receded and now is the time to repair & reconstruct the roads, bridges, culverts, etc. We are taking the possible steps from the government’s part. Thanks to SKS Foundation for taking the initiative in constructing 2 important bridges. The bridges will help the char people a lot in coming to their normal mobility.”
Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation, said, “The construction of the bridges has been costed Tk. 425,500 while Tk. 65,500 has been shared by the local people as the community contribution. With the allotted money various materials including bamboo, iron, poles, wood have been purchased as construction materials. About 15,000 people are depended on these 2 bridges for traveling to/from different chars daily.”The local Union Parishads and people of the villages volunteered to help building the bridges. The upazila administration has monitored the implementation of the construct work, he added.
Aminul Islam Lebu, Chairman, Tarapur Union Parishad, Sundarganj Upazila, said that about 5,000-7,000 people commute daily from Khorda and Char Khordagram of Durgapur Char Tarapur Union to various markets and banking needs of the Upazila Sadar. Among them are school students, community clinic service providers and recipients, businessmen, day labors and various professionals. There used to be a bridge here which broke in the last flood, causing problems for the movement of people on both ends.
Shamsul Alam Sarkar, chairman of Gazaria Union Parishad of Fulchhari Upazila, said, “About 5,000-6,000 people used to cross the canal with bamboo bridges around Katlamari, Nawabganj, Majhipara and flood control dams. When the water broke in the last flood, there was a problem in the movement of people on both sides. A bridge built over the broken site with bamboo and wood by SKS Foundation has lessen the pains of the local people.”
Jasijal Haque, a farmer from Katlamari village in Fulchhari upazila, said, “Various crops and vegetables including paddy, wheat and maize produced on the land have to be sold in the market. But due to the flood-damaged road, people have to travel 3 km to Fulchhari Upazila Sadar and Gaibandha District Town.Transportation costs are going up. But since SKS has built a bridge in the broken place, there is no problem for us to travel.” Sagar Mia, a college student from the same village, said, “The construction of the bridge has reduced the suffering of the children, the elderly, women and the sick people of the area”.
Flood-hit families of Saghata got cash support & hygiene kits
The Monsoon floods coupled with prolonged inundation and the COVID 19 pandemic has an exacerbating effect on the flood affected people. Therefore, making 2020 monsoon flood more complex than ever; as there is an important practice of social distancing and handwashing which is quite impossible to maintain as flood affected people are displaced and evacuated to shelters where it is congested and WASH facilities are also compromised. It has been comparatively tough for the low-income people in the northern char areas to cope with this complex situation.
Under its on-going initiative to support the flood-hit low-income people focusing the char areas, SKS Foundation, in partnership with the Save the Children, has supported 443 flood affected families of Saghata upazila, Gaibandha while a total of TK. 19.935 lakh and hygiene kits have been distributed on 18 August 2020. The distribution of cash money and hygiene kits took place at the SKS Resource Center premises, Bharatkhali under Saghata upazila.
Md. Abdul Matin, Deputy Commissioner, Gaibandha addressed the event as the chief guest with Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation in the chair. Speaking at the event DC Abdul Matin upheld that SKS Foundation is always standing beside the vulnerable groups during any emergency with the spirit to complement to the government initiatives. He shared that the government is quite aware of the flood situation and taking necessary steps in supporting the affected people.
The DC also appreciated the partnership between Save the Children and SKS Foundation targeting to standing beside the flood-hit families of the upazila with cash and hygiene kits aimed at mitigating their sufferings caused by recent floods amid COVID 19 pandemic. The DC urged the beneficiaries to use the cash support and hygiene kits properly to pass the critical time during the flood and its post period as well. Later, the DC formally distributed cash money and hygiene kits to the selected flood victims.
Each of the beneficiaries received cash support of TK 4,500 and a basket with 10 items of hygiene kits. Receiving the cash support and hygiene kits, the beneficiaries became expressed their gratefulness to SKS Foundation and Save the Children. They expressed themselves that the cash money and hygiene kits would help them pass their hard times during the flood.
The event was attended by peoples including public representatives, social workers, local allies and media men maintaining personal hygiene and social distancing.
SKS Under17 Woman Football League Started in Observance of Mujib Year 2020
Centering the occasion of the centennial birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman titled as Mujib Year, SKS Foundation jointly with Gaibandha Football Association organized The SKS Under17 Woman Football League under PKSF-supported Culture & Sports Program. Mahabub Ara Begum Gini, MP and Whip of the National Parliament inaugurated the League as the Chief Guest on 22 February 2020 at Shah Abdul Hamid Stadium, Gaibandha. Deputy Commissioner of Gaibandha Md. Abdul Matin; Police Superintendent of Gaibandha Muhammad Towhidul Islam; Mayor of Gaibandha Pourashava Advocate Shah Masud Jahangir Kabir Milon, and Chief Executive of SKS Foundation Rasel Ahmed Liton were present as Special Guests. The opening match was held between SKS School & College and Palashbari Piyari Pilot Girl’s High School. The Football League will continue till 3 March 2020.
SKS Opened 7 New Microfinance Branch Offices
With a view to reaching financial support at the door-step of the poor & the marginalized, SKS Foundation opened 7 new branch offices in 7 upazilas under its Microfinance Program. The upazilas included Sadar & Peerganj of Thakurgaon, Beerganj of Dinajpur, and Tunirhat & Tentulia of Panchgarh district, Rangpur and Rayganj & Shahjadpur of Sirajganj district, Rajshahi division. The branch offices launched their opening from September 25-29 while representatives from local administration, LGIs, banks, educational institutions, commercial & development organizations were present in the Inaugural Ceremony along with participation of the poor & marginalized people. These new areas were selected based on the socio-economic status of the respective communities at the remote & pocket areas and the enclaves.
Training of GBViE Platform Held
A Training on Prevention of Gender-based Violence during Emergencies of the newly formed Gender-based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE) Platform was held on 22-24 September 2019 at SKS Inn, Gaibandha. Total of 32 participants including the Chief Executives and senior officials of the platform partners including national & local NGOs of Gaibandha & Kurigram district attended the Training, organized jointly by ActionAid Bangladesh and SKS Foundation with support from UNFPA. Taslima Akhter, Deputy Manager, WRGE, ActionAid Bangladesh conducted the Training as the chief facilitator.
The 3-day Training covered the specific topics like gender, gender & sex, gender equality, gender role, gender-based violence, disaster, types of violence during disaster, violence prevention and post-disaster services focusing gender security at the center. At the end, an Action-plan was prepared covering October-December 2019 based on the area & situation of gender-based violence.
Co-compost Plant Installed
A delegation of high officials from WaterAid UK, WaterAid Country Office and SKS Foundation visited the Co-compost Plant and other WASH facilities in Saidpur Municipality, Nilphamari on 26 July 2019. The Co-compost Plant has been installed at Saidpur Municipality in partnership between WaterAid Bangladesh and SKS Foundation, supported by Saidpur Municipality. Thomas Palakudiyil, Regional Director-South Asia; Ian Stuart Gavin, Regional Program Manager from WaterAid UK; Dr. Khairul Islam, Country Director; and Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation visited the Plant along with other officials while Amzad Hossain Sarker, Mayor, Saidpur Municipality hosted the visit.
The delegation visited the Plant and observed the Dying Bed, Polishing Pond, Mixing Zone, Turner Point Recharge Center, etc. The team also visited the household waste collection program through entrepreneurship and the Saidpur Modern Public Toilet. They spoke to the entrepreneurs and observed the Public Toilet management system. The delegation also visited hygiene sessions, hygiene activities and community toilets and discussed with CBO leaders about community toilet management. Finally, the delegation met the Mayor at his office and discussed about the present and future WASH activities of the Municipality and especially the proper operation & sustainable management plan of the Co-compost Plant in partnership with WaterAid and SKS Foundation. The delegation expressed their satisfaction defining that Co-compost Plant under Saidpur Municipality was going to be an exemplary one.
Public Toilet Complex Opened at Fulchhari Hat
Advocate Fazle Rabbi Mia, MP, Deputy Speaker, National Parliament, inaugurated the newly constructed Public Toilet Complex at Fulchhari Hat on 7 July 2019 as the Chief Guest. Mohammad Abdul Halim Tolstoy, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Fulchhari was present as guest of honor while huge no. of local people gathered at the Event. SKS Foundation constructed the Complex in partnership with Fulchhari Upazila Parishad and Fuchhari Upazila administration with support from Oxfam in Bangladesh.
The Public Toilet Complex has been constructed to ensure the safe sanitation facility as around 5,000 people travel daily to & from the chars through the Fulchari Ghat. The Fulchhari Hat (weekly bazar), organized at the Fulchhari Ferry Ghat is the main connecting channel for commercial dealings of the people of 3 char-unions under Fulchari upazila, Gaibandha. However, there was no hygienic sanitation facility at the Hat before. The newly opened Public Toilet Complex has ensured the safe sanitation and drainage facilities having separate chambers for women and men coming to the Hat.Read More