People’s Participation, Self Help Groups and NGOs in Bangladesh
06 / 1994
The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC)is regarded as the pioneer for target group strategy and participation of the poorest of the poor in programmes directed towards their own development.
BRAC aims at changing the condition of the rural poor not merely by macro-economic growth-oriented programmes but by making the poor aware of the reasons for their poverty.
The main strategy followed by BRAC is to make the target group members aware of their own problemsand to give them the tools to unite in homogeneous class and interest groups and to secure their due rights.
Once the target group members achieve a degree of self reliance and are able to function within informal groups, the members participate in programmes designed by them, selected by them and which are for their own benefit.Thus only conscientised villagers are capable of participating in projects.
The target population of BRAC is landless people. Extensive field surveys have been conducted to ascertain the condition of the landless.Two types of surveys have been carried out; one deals with demography while the other with income, assets and agriculture.
The surveys also include questions to provide details on the social status, literacy rate, employment, family patterns, indebtedness, landownership and socio-economic problems.
Upon being identified the landless deprived groups undergo a training course to bring them out of their age-old socio economic isolation.
The trainers assess the training needs of the landless groups and design training courses to meet specific demands. The target groups are offered training in human development, agriculture and occupational skills.
Human development training involves promoting leadership in group management and bringing about project organisational skills among the poor.
The major areas covered by the training are consciousness raising, leadership, entrepreneurship and management development, functional education teacher’s training, group dynamics, development communication and health communication. This training is important in that it stresses the solidarity of the poor and that they alone can solve their own problems.
Agricultural training helps members use their available resources more effectively.
Occupational skills enable members to undertake economic activities effectively. Skills training is provided on animal husbandry, crop cultivation, irrigation and water management and energy saving methods.
The training, apart from imparting essential knowledge, is important for binding group members to work for a common cause. During the training the members are taught to start saving on a modest scale and what is saved need not necessarily be money. It could be done by putting aside a fistful of rice everyday. It is merely to teach the beneficiaries how to save, and thus what is saved is not of prime importance. Upon the completion of the training, the members organise themselves into formal groups to activate the credit scheme. When all these requirements are met, the target group is readyto be accepted into the credit scheme.
BRAC follows a method by which beneficiaries are made aware of their problems and motivated to begin a process of solving them before actual credit is disbursed. This enables the beneficiaries to fully understand the aim and expected results of the credit scheme and prevents them from having to plunge into amounts of money they have never had before.
CHOWDHURY, Aditee Nag, THE UNIVERSITY PRESS LIMITED,DHAKA, BANGLADESH, 1989 90 (BANGLADESH)
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