Bangladesh is a land that takes enormous pride in its rich cultural heritage, its creativity and its resilience in the face of challenge – both natural and man-made. One generation of freedom fighters won its independence from Pakistan in 1971, and today new generations of freedom fighters work for freedom from hunger and poverty. Bangladesh was founded on democratic principles and, while it is a majority Muslim country, on respect for its religious minorities.
Bangladesh is also an inspiring source of innovation in development, from the success of the Grameen Bank, to progress in child survival and family planning, to the growth of very large scale local NGOs and low-cost solutions. It is perhaps most often in the news by its willingness to provide shelter for nearly one million Rohingya fleeing genocidal violence in neighboring Myanmar.
The Hunger Project Bangladesh was initially established by university students in 1990 who mobilized Youth Ending Hunger (YEH) groups to advocate for the 1990 World Summit for Children and to serve as first responders during the 1991 cyclone – and youth mobilization continues to be a major thrust of its work today, with more than 100,000 YEH members at any given time.
Under the leadership of Prof. Badiul Alam Majumdar, The Hunger Project has evolved into the largest volunteer-based development organization in the country. It implements gender-focused community-led approach to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in more than 100 village clusters (“unions”) level, through the SDG Union Strategy. The strategy builds grassroots civil society from the bottom up and builds a partnership among civil society, elected representatives, and government service providers.
The Hunger Project-Bangladesh innovated key elements of The Hunger Project’s global strategies – the Vision, Commitment and Action workshop for community mobilization – and the Animator Training, that has strengthened the leadership skills of more than 150,000 community volunteers.
The Hunger Project-Bangladesh’s great strength lies in its ability to catalyze and support national networks. In addition to Youth Ending Hunger, these include:
- The National Girl Child Advocacy Forum which comprises 200+ organizations that implement National Girl Child Day and other initiatives to advance girls equal rights throughout the year.
- SHUJAN – Citizens for Good Governance which brings together respected individuals in every district of the country to work for non-partisan reforms.
- Unleashed Women’s Network – 12,000+ women leaders educated on a comprehensive set of gender issues, and who are uniquely equipped to be welcomed into conservative rural households and hold sensitive conversations to keep girls in school and prevent child marriage.
- People’s Researchers – in each community, this program organized the “ultrapoor” into self help groups trained in Participatory Action Research (PAR) to analyze and create solutions to overcome poverty.
- Peace Facilitators – in each of 50+ sub-districts, groups are formed that have developed skills to detect, prevent and mitigate incidents of religious intolerance or politically-motivated violence.
The Hunger Project-Bangladesh was also our first program to successfully attract and implement funding partnerships with major international donors such as UN agencies, the World Bank and bilaterals from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the US and UK.