During the 2021 calendar year, The Hunger Project New Zealand invested in the Garpara Union in Bangladesh as they seek to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into their communities. This methodology is used by The Hunger Project in Bangladesh as a way to end hunger and poverty and drive community led development in a country where the need is great. The methodology has received wide ranging support across different sectors in Bangladesh including the Government and private sector.
If you are not sure what the Sustainable Development Goals are you can find more here. In short, these are the 17 goals set out by the United Nations that need to be achieved to create sustainable peace and prosperity to all people.
So Where is the Garpara Union?
The Garpara Union is located in central Bangladesh and is part of the Manikgang District. For some reference, the Manikgang District comprises a land area of 1384 km2 and has a population of 1.7million people. So that's about 1/5 the land area of Auckland with a similar level of population.
The Garpara Union brings together 31 different villages with a total population of 27,664 people.
It is one of the most underdeveloped Unions in the District with high levels of poverty, hunger and illiteracy.
Work began in the Union with the establishment of Village Development Teams (VDTs). These teams are established to guide and coordinate the development activities of the villages and to oversee the work to achieve the SDGs.
In all 8 VDTs were established with 482 participants.
All team members took part in Participatory Planning workshops during the year which operate like a Vision, Committment, Action workshop. During these workshops the teams identify the issues in their villages and put in place actions to address the issues. This is the starting place for the work that needs to be done to achieve the SDGs.
In addition to the planning workshops, Capacity Building workshops were also held. These meetings help to build the leadership skills of participants. The workshops teach them the fundamentals of being a leader and also train them in the SDGs and how to build their village responses around these fundamental goals.
Youth Leaders from across the Union were also identified and 32 participants attended training over a four day period. From this training they gained an understanding of the importance of leadership and their rights and responsibilites as citizens. They learned about the dynamics of poverty and how they were capable of making change to create the end of hunger and poverty in their villages. These youth leaders were also part of the Capacity Building workshops that the VDT members joined, ensuring that these two groups of leaders were combined.
From these initial planning workshops, the work of the VDTs was prioritised and activity concentrated on 5 key SDGs during 2021. Work will continue into 2022 to progress toward achievement of all the SDGs.
Below is a highlight of all of the outcomes and activities achieved during 2021 and their corresponding SDG.
All of the activities undertaken in 2021 are aimed at providing the community with economic opportunity to reduce poverty. With the establishment of the VDTs a clear pathway forward to provide skills training for villagers has been developed. This will allow for people to increase their income earning potential.
As with eliminating poverty, Zero Hunger can only be achieved when all of the underlying causes of hunger have been erased. Specific work in 2021 included two trainig session in Homestead Gardening. Participants were taught the fundamentals of crop gardening to provide nutrition for their families AND provide a potential source of income. Each participant was also provided various types of seeds for planting.
Good health and well-being was a fundamental issue for the Union. Classes were held for pregnant and breastfeeding women. These courtyard meetings were organised at the community level and discussion topics covered the important facts about nutrition during pregnancy and newborn health.
The Union also worked to increase the benefit of community clinics which were meant to provide health service to the community but were lacking in management and supplies. Several sessions were held with management of 3 community clinics resulting in better services on offer to meet the needs of villagers.
Womens Self Help Groups are also encouraged as a tool to reduce gender inequality. These allow an opportunity for women to come together to collectively save money to be loaned to a member when starting a business or seeking skills training. 20 such groups have been established across these villages and the leaders have been trained in the fundamentals of running a self help group to ensure they are leveraged properly.
A key part of the work of The Hunger Project in Bangladesh is ending child marriage. Thread through all the work is the clear message that child marriage is not OK. In 2021, the Garpara Union organised a celebration on National Day of the Girl Child at the local high school to bring attention to the issue of girls and their importance to the community.
In addition, throughout 2021, the Garpara Union held Social Harmony and Citizenship workshops which 164 villagers attended. These workshops identify for participants their rights as citizens as well as their responsbilities. As more people are made aware of their rights, inequalities are reduced.