*This interview about ZF Program Director Kemal Birru’s field assessment in Bangladesh was conducted by ZF Writer, Abbas Haleem. Transcript...
Zakat Foundation in Bangladesh
After the chaos following the partition of British India after the Second World War, what is now Bangladesh was then part of Pakistan. After a brief but violent fight for independence led by Bengali nationalist movements, East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971. The two decades following independence were highly unstable as political rule passed through a series of military dictatorships. After the restoration of formal democracy in 1991, Bangladesh has seen considerable social and economic development, but many serious challenges remain.
Bangladesh’s erratic, often extreme, climate with annual monsoon floods and cyclones plays a major role in the persistence of poverty. Extensive annual flooding can destroy crops, livestock, homes, and livelihoods. In such dire situations, agricultural skill-training is necessary to ensure sustainable food production for rural communities.
In Bangladesh’s urban settings, educating poor children and providing their parents with vocational training is crucial. Healthcare is critical as well with an estimated 40% to 60% of Bangladeshis having little or no access to quality medical care.
Zakat Foundation of America’s office in Bangladesh works to address these and other issues through free health clinics, vocational training facilities, an orphan-care center, seasonal feeding programs, relief assistance during times of emergency, and other initiatives targeting these areas.
Sources: UN Stats | World Bank | Pew Research Center