Residents of Gaibandha Municipality Demanded Increased Allocation for WASH & Waste Management in 2024-’25 Budget

The civil society of Gaibandha urged the Municipality to allocate increased budget for WASH, waste and environmental management in the upcoming fiscal year's budget. This call to action was made in a Pre-budget Sava (consultation) held on 10 June 2024 at the Public Library, organized by Gaibandha Municipality in collaboration with SKS Foundation under its Rising for Rights for Strengthening Civil Society Network in South Asia to Achieve SDG 6 Project being implemented under the banner of FANSA- Bangladesh.

The residents of the Municipality concerned about the deteriorating weather and environmental conditions making the town increasingly uninhabitable were prominently voiced, leading to strong calls for effective environmental management and WASH initiatives. They focused on the urgent need for significant budget allocations to address the existing challenges. They emphasized the necessity for not only the formulation of a comprehensive budget but also stringent monitoring of its proper implementation. 

Special budget allocations for marginalized groups, including women, people with disabilities, transgender persons, and Dalit communities were also urged to aid their integration into the mainstream.

Presiding over the event, Mayor Md. Matlubour Rahman was joined by Md. Arshad Uddin, BPAA, Chief Executive Officer, and Executive Magistrate of Gaibandha Municipality, emphasized the importance of public participation in budget finalization. "The purpose of presenting the proposed budget to the public through today's Sava is to ensure accountability and responsiveness. Public opinion will be the final consideration in finalizing the proposed budget," stated Arshad Uddin. He assured that special emphasis had been placed on environmental protection, waste management, and sanitation.

Md. Abdul Hanif, the Pouro Nirbahi Officer (PNO), presented the proposed budget, while Md. Robiul Islam, Social Development Officer, Gaibandha Pourashava showcased a video reflecting public expectations and opinions. The total proposed budget for the fiscal year 2024-2025 is Tk. 922,730,000. Specific allocations include Tk. 1,620,000 for health and sanitation management, Tk. 1,500,000 for waste management, and Tk. 200,000 for tree plantation and monitoring.

Mayor Matlubour Rahman acknowledged the challenges in meeting all expectations but assured that efforts are underway to address the focused needs. "We are working to fulfill the expectations of the citizens," he stated. "However, there are limitations to our capabilities, and we cannot implement everything at once. People's cooperation and awareness are crucial for the successful implementation of the municipal plans. With your help, we will build Gaibandha Municipality into a well-organized city." The Mayor assured.

Khandoker Zahid Shorwar, Deputy Director, Development Programs of SKS Foundation, highlighted the critical role of public participation noting that municipal services are implemented based on taxes paid by the residents.

The event was participated by councilors, municipal officials, members of the Town Level Coordination Committee (TLCC), NGO representatives, political leaders, members of the women's forum, youth volunteers, journalists, and over two hundred residents, all contributing to a vibrant and participatory discussion.

SKS Employees Joined Universal Pension Scheme

Employees of SKS Foundation have officially joined the Universal Pension Scheme (UPS). The inclusion of SKS employees was declared on 25 May 2024 at a Discussion Forum on the Universal Pension Scheme held at SKS Inn, Gaibandha.

Kabirul Izdani Khan, Executive Chairman of the National Pension Authority inaugurated the inclusion of SKS employees into the Universal Pension Scheme as guest of honor while Md. Fasiullah, Executive Vice Chairman of the Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA) graced the event as chief guest. 

Chaired by Murshed Alam Sarker, Chairperson of the Executive Committee (EC) of SKS Foundation, Executive Secretary of People’s Oriented Program Implementation (POPI), and Chairman of the Credit & Development Forum (CDF), Dr. A.B.M. Abu Hanif, Director (Health) of Rangpur Division, and Sushanta Kumar Mahato, Additional Deputy Commissioner- (Development and Human Resource Management, Education & ICT) of Gaibandha attended as special guest. 

Emphasizing the importance of the Universal Pension Scheme (UPS), Md. Fasiullah, said, "No one in the country will be left behind. The Universal Pension Scheme embodies the dream of Bangladesh's independence, focusing on the economic liberation of the people. The government is building a well-organized social safety net to ensure the social and financial security of the elderly population, aiming to create a prosperous 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041. There are about 2 lakh employees and 4 crore people in around 600 institutions in the microcredit program of the country. We believe that all of them will join this pension scheme. This vast network can play a big role in realizing this dream."

Highlighting the operational system of the Universal Pension Scheme, Kabirul Ezdani Khan said, "In realizing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's dream of an equitable society, his daughter, Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has introduced the Universal Pension Scheme to provide the elderly population with a sustainable and well-organized social safety net. This initiative is a landmark, people-oriented step in Bangladesh's history, offering financial freedom in old age for all citizens. In the future, a large portion of the country's population will be over seventy, creating potential challenges. This program will be invaluable as a proactive solution to that challenge."

Dr. A.B.M. Abu Hanif remarked, "Families are becoming nuclear day by day. This Pension Scheme is crucial for the care of the elderly in such family structures. We must advocate for all eligible individuals to join this Scheme."

Sushanta Kumar Mahato called the Universal Pension Scheme a historic initiative, saying, "We must remember that the government guarantees everything done through the law. This is the government guarantee. We need to raise public awareness about this Scheme."

In the concluding speech, Murshid Alam Sarker urged collective effort to extend the Universal Pension Scheme to all segments of the population. "If we can motivate people, many will join this program. Propelling the country forward, SKS Foundation will continue its efforts in this regard," he said.

Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation, opened the Discussion Forum with a welcome speech, stating, "SKS Foundation works as a partner of the government to protect and enhance the quality of citizens’ lives. Today's event formally includes SKS employees in the Universal Pension Scheme. Additionally, we have launched a strong campaign to encourage all stakeholders associated with our programs to join this Pension Scheme."

Along with SKS Staff, a huge number of intrigued people including teachers, freedom fighters, businessmen, religious leaders, NGO professionals, cultural activists, LGI representatives, media professionals, and SKS’ program participants from Gaibandha district attended the event. They shared their views on various aspects of the Pension Scheme and gathered the necessary information from the day-long program on the Universal Pension Scheme.

World Water Day 2024

Water Crisis Deepens with Climate Change, Data Gaps Threaten Freshwater Supplies

Water is a global crisis intensifying with climate change, placing immense strain on freshwater resources. The crisis is further compounded by data gaps, unreliable monitoring systems, and a lack of investment in research, education, and public awareness. Experts emphasize a collective responsibility- locally, nationally, regionally & globally- to ensure a sustainable water future for all. This call for action came up in a webinar titled "Water for Peace: Where Are We?" organized today, 21 March 2024, the eve of World Water Day 2024.

To mark World Water Day 2024, FANSA- Bangladesh hosted by SKS Foundation as its Secretariat of FANSA-BD organized the webinar, wherein about 100 WASH professionals attended, and highlighted the global & local challenges to water security, and emphasized the importance of cooperation for a sustainable water future, particularly in Bangladesh.

Aligned with World Water Day 2024 theme, ‘Water for Peace’, the event emphasized the significance of water in fostering global stability and prosperity. Dr. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies, chaired the event. Dr. Md. Mujibur Rahman, Professor of Civil Engineering, United International University (UIU), and Ex-Professor & Head of Civil Engineering, BUET & Ex-Director of ITN-BUET, presented the keynote, followed by a panel discussion with specialists & professionals in the field of water & climate change who upheld their valued insights concerning water governance, integrity to end water poverty & instability.

Global Water Crisis:

The keynote stated that over 2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Nearly half of the world's population experiences water scarcity and 80% of wastewater flows untreated, further jeopardizing water quality.

Bangladesh: Water Paradox

Despite being a nation crisscrossed by abundant rivers, Bangladesh faces a water paradox. Millions lack access to safe drinking water due to a confluence of challenges. Contamination is a major culprit: arsenic lurks in groundwater, poisoning wells. Rising sea levels push saltwater inland, tainting coastal freshwater supplies. Declining river flows and diminished rainfall, fueled by climate change, further strain resources. Over-extraction of groundwater resources depletes reserves, while untreated industrial and domestic wastewater further contaminates freshwater sources.

Cooperation: The Path to Peace and Prosperity

The webinar emphasized that water transcends borders. Effective management of shared water resources with neighboring countries is crucial for Bangladesh's future. Collaboration on knowledge sharing, water management expertise, and infrastructure investment can foster regional stability and economic development.

A Call to Action

The event highlighted the need for improved data collection and monitoring systems for informed decision-making. The event recommended investment in research, education, public awareness of water conservation, and increasing cooperation and collaboration on water management strategies at local, national, regional, and international levels is a must for ensuring water security & safety.

Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar

Handed Over in Festive Celebration

SKS-sponsored Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar 2023 was handed over on 9 February 2024. The second edition of Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar was handed over in a festive celebration held at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka.

Masud Ali Khan, an Ekushey Padak-winning renowned actor, graced the award-giving ceremony as the Chief Guest. Mamunur Rashid, another Ekushey Padak-winning renowned theatre activist, was present as the Special Guest. Among other dignitaries, renowned theatre activist & organizer Nasir Uddin Yusuf, Chairperson, Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar Bastobayon Committee; Sara Zaker, Co-chairperson of Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar Bastobayon Committee, and Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation- the sponsor of the event, attended the celebration. Tariq Anam Khan and Kamrul Hasan Rawnak moderated the celebration with their attractive anchoring role-playing.

A 9-member Jury Board watched and evaluated 33 dramas staged in 2023 for the award. The Award was given in 9 categories: Prachyanat’s play ‘Achalayatan’ (Best Production); Azad Abul Kalam (Best Director); Bakar Bakul (Best Playwright for the ‘Adam Surat’); Fauzia Karim Anu (Best Female Actor for Anuswar’s production ‘Hermachis Cleopatra’);  Ramiz Razu (Best Male Actor for Theatre Factory’s production ‘Respectful Prostitute’); Anik Kumar (Best Light Designer for Aarshinagar Dhaka’s production ‘Siddhartha’); Saiful Islam (Best Set Design for Prachyanat’s play ‘Achalayatan’); Jeenat Jahan Nisha and Nusrat Jahan Jisha (Best Costume Design for ‘Siddhartha’); and Neel Kamrul (Best Music Designer for ‘Achalayatan’).

The Best Production Award-winning theatre group received Tk. 100,000 as prize money, crest & certificate while winners in other categories each received a crest, certificate and Tk. 25,000 as prize money.

Introduced in the past year, Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar 2023 award was presented in memory of the late noted thespian Ishrat Nishat. With cooperation from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Ishrat Nishat Natya Puraskar has turned to be a national festival of the theatre-loving people.



SKS Won the Agri & Farming Awards

SKS Foundation was honored with the ‘Best Supporter (NGO) Award’ at the prestigious ATN News Agri & Farming Awards- 2023. This recognition crowned SKS’ unwavering commitment to promoting, innovating and sharing knowledge in agro & farming, and empowering marginalized farmers across different zones.

Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Agriculture Minister, graced the Award Giving Ceremony at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Auditorium, Dhaka on 4 December 2023. Alongside Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman, Chairman, ATN NEWS and other dignitaries were present at the ceremony. Md. Saiful Alam, Director- Development Programs, SKS Foundation, received the Award amidst a gathering of distinguished guests & audiences.

Referring to SKS’ contribution to the field of agriculture, the organizers upheld that SKS Foundation has been focusing on socio-economic development for marginalized communities recognizing & promoting agriculture as the main means of their livelihood and in turn contributing to the food security in Bangladesh. SKS Foundation equips its program participants with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive. Monetary and advisory assistance, coupled with facilitating farmer groups, linkages, and climate-resilient crop adaptations, empower these communities to take control of their agricultural endeavors. This unwavering focus on agricultural growth has directly touched the lives of SKS’ program participants.


SKS Foundation’s selection for the Award was judged on its multifaceted development programs prioritizing agricultural activities. The majority of SKS’ people, especially the marginalized, rely on agriculture for their very survival. Alongside other development components, SKS prioritizes agricultural advancement, and this award is a testimony to the success and a badge of honor for SKS’ program participants. The Agri & Farming Award- 2023 has validated SKS Foundation's unwavering dedication to empowering marginalized communities through agricultural development.

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