The United States Agency for International Development-funded Strengthening Political Landscape Program awarded certificates to 23 young political leaders from across Bangladesh at a Young Leaders Fellowship Program (YLFP) graduation ceremony in Dhaka. The graduates are active leaders of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, and Jatiya Chhatra Samaj. This is the 20th class of young leaders graduating from the YLFP. During four months of training, fellows gained a broad knowledge of politics, leadership, democratic practices, conflict mitigation, political party building, and working with the media. So far, 489 young political leaders have successfully completed the programme implemented by Democracy International. The YLFP aims to enhance the political skills of young leaders, advance their careers within their parties, foster empathy for their counterparts in other parties, and create professional relationships that can overcome the polarisation of the political landscape in Bangladesh. At the graduation ceremony, Awami League Cultural Affairs Secretary Sri Ashim Kumar Ukil MP, BNP Information and Research Affairs Secretary Azizul Bari Helal, Jatiya Party Joint Secretary General Golam Mohammad Raju, and Democracy International Chief of Party Dana L Olds presented certificates to the fellows. Read: Mahmuda gets USAID's Laura W. Bush Award Ashim said: "Once I led the student council at Dhaka University. Student politics is a leader-making factory. Democracy International is doing a remarkable job through this programme. I hope DI will continue its university-based training all the time." Helal said: "The politics of this country developed in the background of student politics. An essential aspect of student politics is the campus issues student politicians are working on across the student organisations of political parties with the help of Democracy International." "To be an efficient political activist, you need to acquire political knowledge. The beauty of democracy is showing kindness to all." Raju said: "The situation of sterility, political instability and making student organisations as an incumbent tale of mother political parties that was created in the student politics of the country after the 90s. But the training of Democracy International is helping to reduce this instability." Dana said: "You are the first group composed exclusively of university students. I am impressed with your innovative ideas to address political apathy among youth. You prove it's possible to build relationships across political parties for the benefit of all students."
The USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity published the Easy Export Series for the Bangladeshi fresh fruit and vegetable, frozen foods, and processed food exporters to understand compliance with international food safety standards. On Monday, the Trade Activity launched the first of the series, ‘Food safety guidelines for exporting fresh fruits and vegetables to Europe’ at the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the capital. AHM Ahsan, Vice Chairman, Export Promotion Bureau was the Chief Guest of the ceremony where Dr Syed Md Rafiqul Amin, Director, Plant Quarantine Wing, Department of Agricultural Extension, and Professor Abu Noman Faruq Ahmmed, Chairman, Department of, Plant Pathology, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University were the special guests. The event was chaired by Mashuk Al Hossain, Deputy Chief of Party, Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity. According to the Trade Activity officials, the Easy Export Series will be released quarterly, with the first module addressing Bangladesh’s regulatory requirements for exporting fresh fruits and vegetables; the second module will address the EU’s food safety requirements for the import of fresh fruits and vegetables. The third module will address international food safety requirements for food processors in GCC countries, and the fourth module will tackle the food chain traceability system. The USAID Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity supports the Government of Bangladesh in bolstering economic growth and food security by improving trade facilitation, enhancing market access, and improving the business-enabling market. The Activity provides technical assistance, training, institutional strengthening, and other direct support to the Government of Bangladesh and non-governmental partners. It also promotes greater collaboration among the government, private sector, and civil society organizations.
Mahmuda Rahman Khan has been chosen as the recipient of USAID's Laura W. Bush Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Global Women's Equality. USAID Bangladesh made the announcement on Tuesday. Mahmuda is USAID's longest-serving gender advisor in Asia -- and likely in the rest of the world. She has 17 years of dedicated, exemplary service. Mahmuda's many achievements include fostering collaboration with the government of Bangladesh (GOB) and other stakeholders to advance women's empowerment, helping the GOB develop its National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, integrating gender in its various Five Year Plans, initiating the Embassy's first-ever celebration of International Women's Day in 2006 -- and every year since. Read: Make world free from threat of nuclear weapons: Dhaka Mahmuda has worked tirelessly working to build the capacity of USAID and Embassy staff, as well as USAID partners, to integrate gender into their work. "Congratulations, Mahmuda! We are so proud of you and grateful for your contributions to USAID and Embassy Dhaka -- and to gender equality in Bangladesh," USAID Bangladesh said in a Facebook post.
The Power Division and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cut carbon emissions in Bangladesh, helping ensure the country's energy security. Power Division Deputy Secretary Nirodh Chandra Mandol and Rebecca Robinson, acting director of the Economic Growth Office of the USAID, signed the MoU in Dhaka Sunday to implement the project "Bangladesh Advancing Development and Growth Through Energy (BADGE)." Under the project, $17.2 million will be spent to cut carbon emissions in the country, Power Division Secretary Habibur Rahman said. Read: AIBL signs agreement with Padma Diagnostic According to the Power Division, the project will also help increase the cooperation between the private sector and educationists in reducing carbon emissions. The BADGE project will also help improve regulatory oversight of energy systems by creating transparent and efficient energy markets, it added. Power Division Additional Secretary Md Mohsin Chowdhury, Bangladesh Power Development Board Chairman Mahbubur Rahman and Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain also spoke at the event.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D. Haas and USAID Mission Director Kathryn Stevens on Tuesday concluded a multi-day trip to Rajshahi from July 24-26 to promote US higher education and US government funded-exchange programmes, economic engagement, and law enforcement cooperation in the region. They met with local government leaders, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, US Department of State exchange programme alumni, students, and teachers. The delegation paid a courtesy visit to Mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation AHM Khairuzzaman Liton to discuss the US government’s collaborative efforts in partnering with the government of Bangladesh through the Department of State, Department of Justice, and USAID programmes over the past five decades. Ambassador Haas and Mission Director Stevens attended a USAID-funded “Fight Slavery and Trafficking in Persons” project event to celebrate the formation of a counter trafficking task force including special tribunal judges. Applauding the work of the judges and the prosecutors, Ambassador Haas said, “The establishment of these tribunals and task force reflects the Government of Bangladesh’s sincerity in punishing the perpetrators of human trafficking.”
The congressionally mandated watchdog for U.S. assistance to Afghanistan is accusing the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development of illegally withholding information from it about the American withdrawal from the country last year and current policy. Amid a spat over what the Biden administration believes to have been an overly critical report about the American pullout, the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, said the State Department and USAID were refusing to cooperate with his staff in violation of the law that created the office. Read: Afghanistan quake kills 1,000 people, deadliest in decades The allegations were made by in separate letters from Sopko to lawmakers and to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and by Sopko's general counsel to the top lawyers for each agency. The letters were obtained by The Associated Press. The State Department did not deny it had cut off cooperation with the watchdog. But it complained that the special inspector had not given the administration a chance to respond to its latest report covering the withdrawal that was released last month. The department said the report was unfairly negative and did not represent the administration's view of the events surrounding the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover. In his letters, Sopko was blunt, seeking immediate action from Congress, Blinken and Power to restore the cooperation his office has had with their agencies in the past. “I respectfully request that you direct State and USAID officials to cease their illegal obstruction of SIGAR’s oversight work and to provide the requested information and assistance without further delay,” he wrote to Blinken and Power. Sopko said his staff had requested numerous documents and interviews with officials who were involved in the chaotic withdrawal and aftermath last July but had been stonewalled for several months. He said those requests involved information about the evacuation and resettlement of Afghan nationals as well as ongoing humanitarian aid and questions about whether that assistance might be transferred to the Taliban. Read: 1.1 million Afghan children could face severe malnutrition “It is now evident that offices and staff who have cooperated with similar requests in the past were being silenced or overruled by officials opposed to SIGAR’s independent oversight,” Sopko wrote. The State Department said both it and USAID remain committed to assisting SIGAR's mission and would respond to the watchdog's allegations. But the department said it “had concerns about how some of SIGAR’s requests for information relate to their statutory jurisdiction." The department said it had responded to a SIGAR complaint in April by pointing out that much of the information it was requesting was already being provided to Congress and an internal review of Afghanistan policy being conducted by all agencies in the administration. State Department spokesman Ned Price did not have a direct response to the allegations in Sopko's letters but voiced the administration's unhappiness with SIGAR's last report, which concluded that the withdrawal had been poorly managed and that the collapse of the Afghan government and military had not been correctly predicted. “Our view is that the report does not reflect the consensus view of the State Department or the U.S. government," Price told reporters. "Many parts of the U.S. government, including the State Department, have unique insights and developments in Afghanistan last year that were not captured in the report and we don’t concur with many aspects of the report.” In addition, Price said the special inspector did not seek State Department input while drafting the April report and did not give the department the opportunity to review the draft before it was published.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing over Tk 2.3 crore ($244,680) of emergency funding to deliver critical relief to families and communities hit hardest by floods.The emergency support is coming in response to record-level rainfall and catastrophic flooding across areas of northern Bangladesh. Read: Flood claims 22 lives in Sylhet division in 7 days, says divisional health director“Some of these areas have not seen floodwaters like this for over 120 years. The United States continues to stand by the government and the people of Bangladesh during these challenging times and will support our partners on the ground to deliver crucial assistance to people in areas most affected by the deluge,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Helen LaFave on Wednesday.
USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman has said there are some “structural issues” that need to be addressed in Bhasan Char before more people move to the Island. Those already there need help to meet their basic needs with more livelihood opportunities, she said. “We did talk about more livelihood opportunities for the people who are living in Bhasan Char. Housing (in Bhasan Char) is certainly an improvement over Cox’s Bazar (camps),” she said during an interaction with a small group of journalists at American Centre on Wednesday. Also read:USAID launches $20mn project to protect critical forests, wetland areas in Bangladesh Coleman who visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char said it is “more expensive” to support refugees in a “more isolated and remote area” while they will continue to work with their Bangladesh counterparts on the “issues of concerns.” Talking about environmental impacts, she said it is not yet known. She noted the government’s efforts to protect it from flooding through embankments as it is a “fragile and vulnerable” area. The efficacy and strength of the infrastructure of Bhasan Char and its disaster protection measures have been tested during the deadly cyclone AMPHAN, says the government of Bangladesh. To address any extreme situation, it said, there are arrangements for evacuation in a timely manner as per disaster response management framework. Coleman, who is not optimistic about any immediate repatriation, said every single Rohingya that she met wants to go home but they want to make sure that a safe environment is in place for a “dignified, voluntary and peaceful” return. “We must all remain hopeful that there will be a day when they will voluntarily return,” she said before wrapping up her five-day Bangladesh tour which she says impressed her due to “incredible progress” that Bangladesh has made on socioeconomic front. Coleman who will also visit Thailand and Laos as part of her tri-nation tour laid emphasis on giving access to education to all Rohingya children and noted the progress that has been made so far. Earlier, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, during a meeting with Coleman, stressed that the US may influence ASEAN members to persuade the Myanmar government to stop atrocities on its own nationals and take the Rohingyas back to their own land. Momen appreciated the announcement of the US government to contribute US$ 152 million under JRP 2022 for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis. Also read:USAID Deputy Administrator Coleman in Bangladesh Coleman deeply appreciated Bangladesh for hosting such a big number of Rohingyas from Myanmar stressing on improving provision of basic education, livelihood, communication, and transportation facilities in Bhasan Char. Responding to a question, she said the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has put an enormous strain on global humanitarian assistance. “We’ll always stand by Bangladesh and the Rohingya people” However, she said they also have to be cognizant of the strain on the global humanitarian assistance right now in an unprecedented way. “It’s truly unprecedented,” Coleman said, noting that the food crisis around the world with increased food prices is a very big global issue that is affecting humanitarian issues around the world. Coleman said they are committed to continuing their support for the Rohingya response making sure that the refugees who are here receive what they need and their basic needs are met. “It’s a priority for us.”
A new $20 million ecosystems project has been launched to protect critical forests and wetland areas in Bangladesh from degradation. Planning Minister MA Mannan and USAID Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming Isobel Coleman jointly launched the new five-year project. The launching ceremony was held in a city hotel on Tuesday afternoon. Also read:USAID Deputy Administrator Coleman in Bangladesh USAID Mission Director Kathryn Stevens also joined to launch the new project along with other senior government officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; and the Ministry of Land, including the Department of Fisheries, Department of Environment, and the Bangladesh Forest Department. The project will bring together government agencies and local communities to protect critical ecosystems, and build resilience to climate change impacts in the Sundarbans Reserve Forest in Khulna, and forests and wetland ecosystems in Sylhet. The project targets two key areas, including the Sundarbans mangrove forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the Royal Bengal tiger, and forest and freshwater wetland ecosystems of the Sylhet border region in northeastern Bangladesh. The project will also help communities build long term climate resilience by adopting climate-smart agriculture approaches and learning business skills to diversify and increase their incomes, moving away from reliance on natural resources from forests for their livelihoods. The new “Protibesh” programme builds on a long-standing partnership between USAID, the government of Bangladesh (GoB) and local community leaders to protect and sustainably manage the country's biologically rich landscapes and ecosystems. Also read: USAID launches $5 mn project to empower women in RMG factories Applying lessons learned from previous interventions to strengthen environmental governance and sustainable forest and wetland management, “Protibesh” will be locally led by community members and GoB counterparts, including the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Land, and the Bangladesh Forest Department. As a result of “Protibesh” conservation, and climate adaptation and mitigation activities, Bangladesh will be able to combat the effects of climate change, protect the country's critical natural resources a rich source of life and livelihoods for the people of Bangladesh and build resilience to climate induced natural disasters, said the USAID. Over the past 25 years, USAID has worked closely with Bangladesh to combat climate change and strengthen environmental conservation. Over this period, USAID has worked with local communities and government of Bangladesh officials to protect more than 2.5 million acres of wetlands and forest areas. With Bangladesh among USAID target countries in USAID's Climate Strategy, USAID is working to substantially reduce carbon emissions and help countries adapt to the climate crisis.
USAID’s Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman is now visiting Bangladesh as part of her tri-nation tour. After wrapping up her Bangladesh tour (May 7-11), she will travel to Thailand and Laos, according to USAID. Also read:USAID launches $5 mn project to empower women in RMG factories During her Asian tour, she will assess the needs of regional humanitarian crises, including the Rohingya refugee problem. The United States appreciates Bangladesh’s compassion and humanitarian response to support over one million Rohingya refugees currently living in Cox’s Bazar district and Bhasan Char Island. On April 4, USAID’s Administrator Samantha Power met with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and discussed Rohingya refugee policies, joint climate action to promote clean energy solutions, and methods for improving Bangladesh’s business environment and galvanizing investment. Administrator Power and Minister Momen commemorated 50 years of Bangladesh-US bilateral relations and reaffirmed their longstanding partnership on development. The Administrator celebrated the strides Bangladesh has made in health and economic development with the United States at their side, and noted Bangladesh’s promising path to achieve upper middle-income country status over the next ten years. Also read: USAID hosts workshop for DCAB members During her trip, Coleman will also advance the United States’ partnership with ASEAN member countries, including Thailand and Laos, on the shared priorities of COVID-19, climate action, economic recovery efforts, and inclusive development. Throughout the trip, she will also meet with women leaders and entrepreneurs, and local climate and health experts on the frontline of the global COVID-19 response.