BRAC executive director Asif Saleh explains the emergency assistance programme
BRAC executive director Asif Saleh explains the emergency assistance programmeBRAC

BRAC has allocated a budget of Tk 150 million (15 crore) for low-income families in urban slums, semi-urban and hard to reach areas whose livelihood has been impacted due to the social distancing measures of COVID-19 pandemic. Tk 1500 will be provided to each family as an emergency food assistance fund, starting from Thursday (2 April).

At the first phase, 100 thousand families will be covered through BRAC’s own funds, and disseminated through its Urban Development Programme, Ultra Poor Graduation Programme, Integrated Development Programme and Humanitarian Programme.

BRAC’s assistance will enable a family of four to buy essential food items for two weeks. Low-income families in 12 city corporations, 8 municipalities, 38 sadar upazilas, haor villages, neighbourhoods and market areas near river ports as well as host community living adjacent to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar will receive this assistance.

Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, said about this initiative, "COVID-19 is a humanitarian crisis with a public health dimension. In countries like Bangladesh, it also has a dire economic consequence. According to World Bank data, only 15% of Bangladesh’s population makes more than Taka 500 a day. Most villagers depend on remittances from the cities or abroad. Because this is a global crisis, people everywhere are out of work. Income has stopped.”

“Our emergency assistance will be targeted towards low-income families who have lost their source of income due to coronavirus. We will support 100,000 such families. However the requirements are far greater. I urge compassionate individuals and organisations to come forward and help us scale up the initiative to reach many more,” he added.

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Asif Saleh further said this activity would be implemented in close coordination with the local public representatives and administration, particularly to avoid duplication.

BRAC’s assistance will enable a family of four to buy essential food items for two weeks. Low-income families in 12 city corporations, 8 municipalities, 38 sadar upazilas, haor villages, neighbourhoods and market areas near river ports as well as host community living adjacent to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar will receive this assistance. BRAC staff will carry out the operation with assistance from the local public representatives and communities.

BRAC has also launched a fundraising appeal to scale up the effort and increase the coverage. Individuals and any organisation can donate. Details are available on BRAC website: https://www.brac.net/covid10/donate/

BRAC's Urban Development Programme will lead the distribution among 61 thousand families in 12 city corporations and eight municipalities. BRAC's Ultra Poor Graduation programme will carry out the operation in 38 sadar upazilas under which 16 thousand families of hawkers, rickshaw and van pullers and domestic helps will receive the money. The Integrated Development Programme will provide the assistance to eight thousand families living in haor areas and markets and neighbourhoods near river ports. Also 15 thousand families in the host community in Ukhya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazar will receive the assistance.

BRAC is also driving a nationwide hygiene awareness and behavioural change campaign with its network of over 100 thousand staff, volunteers and health workers with the support of the local administration.

It is distributing protective wear and hygiene products in which 568,095 units of liquid soap, bathing soap and sanitisers, and 106,519 units of protective wear such as masks and gloves were distributed to staff and community.

Also 200 thousand reusable masks and 2 thousand PPE have been produced through hygienic home-based production mechanisms and already distributed. More masks are in production right now.

BRAC is running an extensive public awareness campaign through social media and mass media, involving among others, eminent physicians and public health experts, policymakers, artists and BRAC's senior leadership team.

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