THERE is a Luganda proverb that says it is the single pieces of firewood that make a bundle. The moral of the proverb is that everyone in a community, no matter how poor or illiterate, is significant. This is a creed that BRAC thrives on. Founded as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee in 1972 and later renamed the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC has gained global success and changed the lives of over 135 million people.
BRAC-Uganda was founded in 2006 and has steadily grown to cover 75 districts where it offers micro-finance, health and agricultural services to over 159,000 women in 10,087 groups. The groups often consist of the poorest women in the communities.
“Currently, we are operating programmes in micro-finance, small scale enterprise, agriculture, poultry and livestock. We are also involved in health, scholarships, youth empowerment and adolescent livelihood, in addition to the Karamoja initiative,” says Adepo Emmanuel Okaalet, the communications manager for BRAC-Uganda. “Our micro-finance programme is at the core of our intervention in Uganda and remains one of the key gateways to alleviating poverty,” he adds. BRAC-Uganda was the first runner-up in the non-governmental organisations (NGO) sector at the 2014 financial reporting awards.
The institute has won accolades for its outstanding financial reporting practices since the inception of the awards. Okaalet says BRAC’s major focus is to improve their services to clients and to serve large numbers of marginalised people with reliable access to cost-effective financial services.
Through agriculture, poultry and livestock programmes, BRAC aims at improving the livelihood and food consumption of rural populations by improving productivity. “We are providing training and credit services, supplying high-quality inputs, including disease-resistant seeds, fertilisers and pesticides at affordable prices.
“Our health programme aims at improving the health status of the population with special focus on children under five and women of reproductive age,” Okaalet says. In this aspect, BRAC’s main objectives include to lower morbidity and mortality among children under five from diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.
They also include improving maternal health through pregnancy-related care and improving access to a wide range of basic essential healthcare services and products in poor, rural areas. Okaalet explains that BRAC is extending from micro-finance services into health by appointing key women, called ‘promoters’, from the women’s groups who are trained to deal with some medical conditions. The promoters form a bridge between health service providers and the other women in the groups as they pass on their skills.
Through this project, BRAC aims at improving the nutrition status of small families with a focus on pregnant women, children under two, and adolescent girls. Currently, BRAC’s programmes are directly accessed by about 3.9 million Ugandans. Okaalet says their goal is to be accessible to 4.2 million Ugandans by 2016. BRAC also operates a scholars programme, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, which aims at assisting 5,000 young Ugandans with their education. “The scholarship will be given to 5,000 talented adolescents over an eight-year period.
This will enable financially-disadvantaged young people to have access to quality secondary and higher education. Currently, the programme supports 2,309 scholars,” Okaalet says. BRAC also operates an empowerment and livelihoods for adolescents (ELA) programme in Uganda that targets adolescent girls who are out of school.
The primary goal of the programme is to empower the girls, both economically and socially, to become agents of change in their families and communities. The programme includes training in innovative livelihood and life-skills, in addition to a customised microfinance programme for the older girls.
BRAC also has a Karamoja initiative which is a holistic programmatic response to the significant challenges faced by the northeastern sub-region of Uganda. The programme involves Karimojong youth, especially the girls, through our youth development centres. The programme has also pioneered BRAC’s work with boys in Uganda by establishing boys’ forums and providing boys with life-skills.
SOURCE: New Vision (Uganda)
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