SKS Offered a Reception to its Joyeeta
“There is no life without struggle, and without struggle, there is no win. So, as a process of winning, we all must go through the struggle of which we should not be afraid; fear must be overcome.” Mahabub Ara Begum Gini, MP, and Whip of the National Parliament said this while she graced a reception to the Jayeetas as the Chief Guest. SKS Foundation offered the reception to its 27 Joyeeta recognizing their great job in their personal and social lives and as an inspiration for other women coming forward and following the pathway. The reception took place at SKS Inn, Gaibandha on 15 May 2023.
Nargis Jahan, Deputy Director, Department of Women Affairs, and Md. Fazlul Haque, Deputy Director, Department of Social Service attended the event as Special Guest with Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation in the chair. The reception was cherished by more than 100 dignitaries including government officials, LGI representatives, development professionals, local allies, and the media people.
Mahabub Ara Begum Gini, MP pointed out, “Behind all of the struggles of women, marriage & money-related issues i.e. early marriage, polygamy, and dowries are involved and it begins with child marriage. So, stopping child marriage is the prerequisite to stopping women’s struggle. To ensure marriage at the matured stage and let them become buffered, women’s education has been a key priority of the government. Thus, women can be well-prepared educationally and economically to meet the need of ‘Smart Bangladesh’ wherein every citizen must be educated to be a smart citizen.
Defining the Joyeeta ‘Icon’, DD, Department of Social Service said, “Other women will follow you, once your stories and accomplishments of becoming Joyeeta will get known. So let us share these stories and accomplishments with other women that will inspire them to get involved in social work.” He continued that the state has given them the acknowledgment. And now besides government NGOs, like SKS Foundation has come forward to foster these Joyeeta what others need to follow.
Dubbing all women as Joyeeta, DD, Department of Women Affairs said, “Joyeeta is a symbolic name given to the courageous women who face and overcome their struggles, and then help others to overcome their struggles. These women paid extra push and pull to change themselves and society and then have become examples to others. In the true sense, we, every mother in our house is Joyeeta, because we take the helm of our families and shape the families.” In her speech, she urged all stakeholders to search the Joyeeta living around.
Upholding the importance of women’s empowerment, Rasel Ahmed Liton said, “Half of the country’s population is women. Yet this half of its population (women) is disadvantaged. Leaving this disadvantaged group behind we cannot achieve SDGs. Thus, SKS Foundation wants this backward group to be advanced. As a development organization, SKS will take any initiatives towards the development of the women.”
Santona Rani, one of the Joyeetas from the Rajpur union of Lalmonirhat Sadar, said, “We have a guardian, he is none but Rasel Ahmed Liton, the Chief Executive of SKS Foundation, who has been guiding us. We, holding the hand of the SKS Foundation, have come to the limelight from the deep darkness. The Joyeeta Award has given me a lot of appreciation. Now, people respect me and have elected me their Union Parishad Member.”
Sahana Begum, another Joyeeta from Badiakhali union of Gaibandha Sadar recalled her past saying, “Like other girls, I was married off at the age of 15, and all of my struggles started after my husband got sick. Since then, I have been managing our 5-member family. To sustain, I fought, and I won over my struggle eventually. In this patriarchal society, we women have a lot of obstacles. However, in my troubles, I have found SKS Foundation beside me.”
In his welcome note, congratulating Joyeeta, Joseph Halder, Director, Advocacy & Communication, stated “SKS Foundation believes, to whom or with whom it works, they make SKS enriched. SKS Foundation in turn feels dignified to avail such opportunity of honoring them.” He also referred to the case study booklet ‘Amader Joyeetara’ and upheld that, “No element of the stories of the booklet is unfamiliar. The stories are about the usual events or problems that particularly the Jayeetas used to face and have overcome in their social and personal life. The hard work of this artwork will be paid off if the stories got circulated and other women get inspired.”
Applauding the initiative, the participating dignitaries urged all to foster Joyeeta in all possible ways and develop a database of Joyeeta targeting to utilize their services for the society in the proper manner.
Out of these 27, three are from Lalmonirhat, and the rest of them are from Gaibandha and have been awarded as Jayeeta in 4 categories namely Prevention of Repression; Economic Development, Social Development, and Successful Mother out of the 5 categories under the national initiative titled ‘Joyeeta Onneshone Bangladesh’.
As a token gift from SKS Foundation, each Joyeeta received a booklet ‘Amader Joyeetara’ written on their struggles and successes, and a monetary honorarium of BDT 10,000 handed over by the Chief Guest.
PKSF Managing Director Appreciated SKS’ Development Drives
“Once, we were very poor. Now, we are poor. And in the future, we won’t be poor”, Most. Monowara Begum, a char dweller and a program participant of SKS Foundation shared the livelihood status of her group members with Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, Managing Director, Palli Karma-Sayahak Foundation (PKSF). In a reply to a query from Dr. Nomita Halder, Most. Monowara Begum, a member of Jayanti Mahila Samiti, said, “With the support of SKS’ Credit Program, we have improved our economic condition through integrated crop and livestock farming at Nilkuthir char.” under Fulchari, Gaibandha. Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, met the Samiti members on 14 March 2023 while visiting different programs of SKS Foundation in char areas of Fulchari and Saghata upazila of Gaibandha. Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive of SKS Foundation, and other senior officials of SKS Foundation accompanied Dr. Nomita Halder during the visit on 14-15 March 2023.
Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, visited an integrated crop and livestock farm, spoke to the samiti members at the courtyard meetings and visited the group member’s farms & households. The members expressed themselves about the improvement of their financial condition by cultivating various seasonal crops and rearing cows, goats, poultry birds, etc., getting soft & easy loans, awareness & capacity building, and marketing support, etc from SKS Foundation. Pleased by seeing the change, Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, said, “You’ve changed your condition with the support of SKS, and SKS is supported by PKSF. Thus, we all stand side by side. In the same way, every woman, besides every man, in char should become an entrepreneur and besides economic development, child marriage and dowry should be stopped to make the community stable with the economic upliftment.”
While visiting a 'Portable Storage', a crop storage facility for char farmers, jointly set by the Swiss Contact & SKS Foundation at Fulchari Bazar, the char farmers informed Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, in the meeting that they had kept the production of one crop after another. They are preserving their products as & when needed and making good prices and profits to compensate the production cost, flood damages, etc. Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, urged the farmers to ensure the use of organic fertilizers which will help to increase the demand for crops as well as their price.
Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, also visited and observed the operation of the Food Bank at Gobindi in Saghata union of Saghata upazila. The river-raged vulnerable char women shared that their group members congregated to meet their problem by fist-hand rice norm and defined it as Food Bank. Under this Food Bank system, any member, at any emergency can avail of support in the form of rice or, money, from their Food Bank without any service charge for a certain time. Talking with the members of the Food Bank, Dr. Nomita Halder highly appreciated such an innovative mechanism for self-help rather than depending on others. She was informed that SKS Foundation set up 15 Food Banks at flood-raged 15 villages of Fulchari and Saghata upazila of the district.
Observing the ethnic Santal people’s participation in SKS Foundation’s Socio-cultural development and Microfinance Program at Vutgari village, in Kamdia union, Gobindaganj, Gaibandha, Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, encouraged the marginalized group to get involved proactively in the development works. She said, “It’s great that you are engaged in the development process. You have to start your development with whatever you have. And real development lies on the internal will power than external help.” Sushanta Kumar Mahato, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC–General), also joined the meeting directing the people on the availability of their services.
Dr. Nomita Halder, ndc, concluded the 2-day visit by observing the services & performances of SKS Hospital, SKS Eye Hospital, SKS School & College and other Social enterprises of SKS Foundation and exchanging views with the officials of SKS Foundation in a meeting at its Head Office, Gaibandha. She appreciated the endeavors in development and urged SKS Foundation to discharge its commitments in a bid to reach the benefits of its programs & services to the doorsteps of the common people to have a better society.
Annual General Meeting 2021-’22 Held
The Annual General Meeting 2021-’22 of SKS Foundation was held on 24 September 2022 at SKS Inn, Gaibandha. All the 22 members of the Executive and General Committee attended the Meeting with SKS Foundation’s Chairperson Md. Ayub Ali in the chair. Rasel Ahmed Liton, the Chief Executive (Member Secretary) of SKS Foundation facilitated the Meeting.
The AGM reviewed the last 1-year performance of the Organization in line with the Annual Budget and Work-plan 2021-’22. The Meeting also discussed and approved the Work-plan & Budget for the year 2022-’23 passing necessary directions. The AGM also approved 3 members’ replacement in the SKS Foundation General Committee.
The Annual Report 2021-’22 upheld that 34 development projects were in operation covering 3,227,546 people. Among them, 128,823 were served under the Social Empowerment Sector, 556,754 under the Economic Development Sector, 54,643 under the Environmental Justice Sector and 2,523,326 under the Social Enterprising Sector. SKS’ Microfinance Program, in the year 2021-’22, included 53,827 new program participants and it plans to include around 100,500 new program participants in the year 2022-’23. Alongside, an Action Plan for the Social Enterprising Sector for the year 2022-’23 was approved. Finally, the Meeting approved SKS Foundation’s budget Tk. 30,898,166,094 for the FY 2022-’23.
Dr. A.B.M. Abu Hanif, Deputy Director, Health, Dhaka, and Abu Mohammad Sufian, Social Service Officer, Palashbari, Gaibandha were present at the AGM as guest observers. Expressing views on SKS’ AGM, the Deputy Director, Health, Dhaka said, “I think, SKS Foundation has been able to make a positive impact in the society despite global recession due to having a proper strategic plan, which I’ve understood from the presentation on various programs in the Meeting. I wish SKS Foundation every success in the days to come.” The Social Service Officer said, “I am happy that SKS Foundation has approved a budget of around Tk. 3,090 crore for the well-being of the marginalized. I consider this as the success of the Department of Social Services.”
The Chair of the Meeting concluded the AGM by saying, “The program implementation based on a budget of around Tk. 3,090 crore also apprehends some challenges to face. However, we seek everyone's cooperation in implementing such a big budget amid the global economic recession.”
Poor Talents Got Stipend
SKS Foundation, in partnership with Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), supported 34 poor talents under its Scholarship Program. The stipend distribution ceremony was held on 28 July 2022 at SKS Head Office, Gaibandha. Rasel Ahmed Liton, Chief Executive, SKS Foundation handed over the stipend cheques among the students as Chief Guest with Khokon Kumar Kundu, Director-Finance, SKS Foundation in the chair. A bank cheque of Tk.12, 000 was given to each of the selected higher secondary level students from Rangpur, Bogura, and Gaibandha district.
In the ceremony, Rasel Ahmed Liton urged the students to be serious in their study, continue with their exemplary results and establish themselves as a good citizen. He told the students, “You have to prepare yourselves in tune with time and era. For this, you must be educated in contemporary and vocational education. Along with education, good manners should be developed. Because the nation cannot be served if good manner does not exist in education. So, you have to have them both to be successful in life.” He added, “SKS Foundation is supporting the talented students so that they are not dropped out due to financial crisis. In relation to this, SKS is aiming to increase the number of talents to be provided with the stipend. Alongside, SKS Foundation has already introduced a scholarship for higher education.”
Khokon Kumar Kundu said, "SKS Foundation has so far provided this stipend support to 1,125 students. Besides, SKS Foundation is providing Bangabandhu Higher Scholarship to 6 university students which will be continued throughout their education in university."
Receiving the stipend, Maryam Akhtar Nisha, a 12th Grade Student of Gaibandha Government College said, “My father who was the only breadwinner in the family died after I started college. So, my study would have been stopped if I didn't get this stipend. This stipend has helped me continue my study, and I am thankful for this support. I wish to be a BCS Cadre and serve the nation.”
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.Read More