Save the Children: Projects and Programs in Bangladesh
Save the Children in Bangladesh
Save the Children has worked in Bangladesh since 1972. Today, our programs help improve the lives and well-being of millions of the country’s poorest and least-served children and families. Our work in health, education, food security and disaster preparedness, our ability to reach children and families in their communities and our partnerships with dozens of government agencies, community groups and nongovernmental organizations to bring programs to scale has made Save the Children one of the premiere child-assistance organizations in Bangladesh.
Challenges for Children
Over 40 million people in Bangladesh live below the poverty line. Most of these families do not own land, but live and farm in flood-prone areas. They face yearly natural disasters, inefficient agricultural technologies, limited employment, low wages, low education, a polluted environment and poor access to health services. Children’s malnutrition is widespread – some 50 percent of children under age 5 are malnourished. While significant strides have been made in school enrollment, primary school completion rates, particularly among girls, remain very low, at less than 40 percent.
Numbers at a Glance
- Some 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line;
- The infant mortality rate in Bangladesh is 41 deaths per 1,000 live births; and
- One-third of the population is under 15 years of age.
Save the Children addresses high neonatal mortality by improving newborn care services and the practices of mothers relating to breastfeeding, keeping infants warm and dry and other essential interventions. Our child malnutrition programs focus on improving household practices and knowledge, distributing micronutrient and de-worming medicines, providing forums to demonstrate active feeding and rehabilitation opportunities for severely malnourished children. We reach primary school children with school-based health and nutrition activities that help them remain in school, and we collaborate with communities and local governments to provide drinking water and hygienic sanitary facilities for schools. Save the Children’s HIV/AIDS responses in Bangladesh are highlighted by our lead role in a 17-partner consortium that seeks to prevent the spread of HIV among adolescents and young people ages 10 to 24. We target adolescents with an initiative that offers access to reproductive and sexual health information, including HIV/AIDS, and supports them by linking with existing services, as well as with informal sources of support, such as peers, parents and teachers.
Save the Children’s education initiatives reach children beginning in preschool and carry through to primary- and secondary-school levels. Our early childhood development program seeks to increase the proportion of children who enter primary school. At the primary school level, Save the Children partners with five respected regional nongovernmental organizations to decrease the number of children who drop out or repeat a grade. Our goal is to help children successfully complete their education and attain their full potential by working with teachers and communities so that they can create “child friendly” classrooms.
In a nation where a staggering number of children under age 5 are malnourished, Save the Children’s work in food security and nutrition promotes household food production, improves access to and the quality of basic health and nutrition services and improves families’ resilience to sudden changes in their ability to improve livelihoods.
Save the Children maintains the capacity to respond to major emergencies in Bangladesh through the distribution of food and water, as well as the ability to open child protection centers quickly and conduct family tracing for separated and unaccompanied children. We also focus on strengthening community preparedness and local disaster-response resources, such as the country’s cyclone preparedness program.
Plans for the Future:
The reach of Save the Children in Bangladesh is wide — it is estimated that our programs impact almost one-third of the country’s population. We plan to maintain the momentum of existing responses and introduce new initiatives as appropriate, including the following:
- Diversify our geographic presence by expanding programs in the Meherpur, Barisal and Sylhet areas;
- Build our child-focused response through stronger links with the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare;
- Remain a national leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS;
- Invest in training to ensure that our food security interventions remain strong; and
- Strengthen our emergency preparedness and response capacities.
Eight-year-old Shah Alam is so excited that he will finally enter primary school next year. Accidentally burned when he fell into a fire at age 1, this school-aged boy has not been allowed to enter the government school because his badly burned hands could not hold a pencil. But Shah Alam enrolled in a home-based preschool that Save the Children helps sponsor; the supportive staff gave him extra attention and provided his parents with advice on how to assist him at home. Now Shah Alam can hold a pencil and write numbers and the Bangla alphabet. With the individual care he received, Shah Alam has conquered his disability and has been promised a place in the government school in the coming academic year.
Prevention Of HIV/AIDS among Young People
Through a partnership with the Government of Bangladesh and funding from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFTAM), Save the Children, as a managing agency, works through a wide range of implementing partners to prevent HIV infection among young people (ages 10-24).Working on a national scale, Save the Children and its partners have effectively reached 38 million youth in Bangladesh with HIV prevention messages, utilizing innovative approaches such as TV drama series, talk shows, and traditional folk shows. The program is also integrating HIV prevention education into secondary schools and higher secondary curriculum. Other activities to increase HIV prevention and enhance care and support services for youth include life skills education training, the development of youth friendly facility-based health services, and the provision of a social marketing program for condoms targeted to young people. In addition, Save the Children works to develop an enabling and supportive environment through advocacy and sensitization programs involving religious and community leaders, parents, and policy makers.
HIV Prevention and Control among High Risk Populations and Vulnerable Young People
Save the Children, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh and implementing partners, is targeting HIV prevention among those considered most at risk with an emphasis on vulnerable youth. Over the next five years this GFTAM project aims to provide harm reduction services for injecting drug users; care and support for the most affected communities (including female sex workers); information and life-skills support for garment-industry workers; and capacity building for implementing partners and government institutions. Save the Children will also scale-up existing advocacy and HIV awareness efforts, while advancing the development of national standards for Youth Friendly Health Services and the implementation of HIV education curricula.