Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has won the 2015 World Food Prize for his incomparable efforts in reducing both poverty and hunger primarily in Bangladesh and several other nations. BRAC, Abed’s organization founded in 1972, stands for the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. BRAC was created to help alleviate Bangladesh from economic struggles brought on by a war with Pakistan and destruction from a tropical cyclone. Since its inception, BRAC has blossomed into the largest nongovernmental organization on the planet.
Abed was selected as the 2015 recipient of the World Food Prize specifically because of BRAC’s unprecedented success in pulling people out of poverty. According to The Guardian, BRAC has alleviated approximately 150 million people from poverty since it began in 1972.
The organization’s effectiveness comes from an extreme hands-on approach spearheaded by Abed himself. He is quoted as saying, “We went to every household in Bangladesh teaching mothers how to make oral rehydration fluid at home to combat diarrheal deaths. That also made it possible for BRAC to become a very large organization very quickly and to expand our programs throughout the country.” By taking a grassroots approach, Abed has integrated BRAC with the everyday problems of poverty and drawn out solutions.
What sets BRAC apart from other relief agencies, as well as makes Abed a unique individual, is the empowerment it gives to those in poverty. Specifically, BRAC gives the most power to women and young girls.
Abed explains this rationale in an article published by Agri-Pulse. He said, “In situations of extreme poverty, it is usually the women in the family who have to make do with scarce resources. Only by putting the poorest, the women in particular, in charge of their own lives and destinies will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth.” Abed’s thinking has been a clear success as BRAC has only become more effective in the 43 years it has been serving the poor around the world.
– Diego Catala