Fundraising | Blogs

  • Five unique fundraising ideas


    March 9th, 2016

    Breaking news guys…fundraising can be tough. We get it. Your potential donors are bombarded with demands for their hard earned cash from breakfast to bedtime, so making your fundraising request cut through the noise can seem impossible. We’ve put our heads together and come up with some donation-driving schemes which are a little bit different, to keep your potential donors interested and stop you from losing your mind.

    If you’re burnt out by bake sales and run down by races, why not try one of our unique fundraising ideas?

    • Used book sale.

    used book saleBasically, it’s easier to make people give money if they’re getting something in return, so try dipping your toe into the world of second hand book-selling. Have an epic clear out of all your old books, and encourage your colleagues, friends and classmates to the same. There are few things more liberating than finally getting rid of that book on French philosophy you bought to impress the cute guy on your commute (just us?).

    Once you’ve gathered your spoils, set up a stall in your workplace, or outside your house, and be prepared to haggle. You could even leave out some Practical Action literature alongside the books, so everyone knows that the proceeds are going to a great cause.

    • Karaoke evening.

    Karaoke evenings are the cheesy chips of social occasions – you either love them, hate them, or you won’t go near them until you’ve had a few drinks. Whichever camp you fall into, getting your friends together for a night of caterwauling and showing-off is a great way to raise money.

    If you’re based in London, we’d recommend booking your event with Karaoke Network, a comprehensive compendium of karaoke venues, including bars, clubs and restaurants. The song list has everything from Gangnam Style to Gangsta’s Paradise (though we’d probably choose to belt out some Britney).

    Prices on Karaoke Network start from £4 per person, so charge slightly more than that for tickets and your event has the potential to raise a lot of money. It’s worth a try, as how often do you get to embarrass yourself on a night out and feel good about it the next day?

    • Language fines.

    If you work in any kind of office environment, you’ve probably been subjected to corporate slang at one time or another, whether it’s someone wanting to “touch base” or someone else suggesting you “blue sky this”. In order to end this sickening behaviour forever, and raise some money for charity in the process, introduce fines for particularly egregious jargon use. Hey, it’s worth running this idea up the flagpole and grabbing some low hanging fruit (sorry).

    • Put on a festival.

    put on a festival

    Fancy yourself a bit of an Emily Eavis? Hosting your own music festival involves a heavy dose of mud, sweat and tears, but it will probably be an experience you’ll never forget.

    We spoke to Emily at the Nozstock festival who gave us their top tips on putting on a festival, to help you throw a charity event to rival Live Aid.

    ‘Festivals are all about balancing many plates at once. The biggest challenge is keeping true to your vision, when there are so many amazing different directions you could go in. At Nozstock The Hidden Valley, we have always been devoted to being a festival that anyone can come to. We’ve had 4 generations of one family at the festival and we want to keep it that way.

    Apparently, event organisation is in the top 5 most stressful jobs. To keep your head is key. Do whatever it takes to get perspective when things get stressful – take the dog for a walk, sit in a quiet place for a minute, make a nice comprehensive list, remember that it’s not life or death – it’s about having fun. Manage all that and you’ll probably be fine!’

    • Clean miles.

    For a fundraising opportunity that’s super relevant to Practical Action, get your friends and family to sponsor you for every “clean mile” you travel. That’s basically a mile in which you use no energy to get from a to b – sounds doable right?

    Cycling is one of the best ways to do this, and we’d recommend using an app to keep track of your progress.  Strava is popular, and with good reason. The streamlined, clean interface lets you know how many miles you’ve cycled or run, as well as your speed and how many calories you’ve burned. You can even share the results of your rides on social media so you can humblebrag about how much energy you’re saving. Practical Action are committed to ending energy poverty so you’ll be raising awareness too.

    Whatever route you decide to take with fundraising, good luck! If you have any more unique fundraising ideas, why not share them with us on Twitter?

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  • Practical Action’s favourite 5k runs


    February 23rd, 2016

    Sponsored runs are one of the easiest ways to fundraise – all you really need is a good pair of trainers runningand the tenacity to hound friends, family and colleagues for money. However, if you’re only used to tackling the distance between the fridge and the sofa, a long run can seem pretty daunting.
    We’d suggest trying a 5k run to begin with. Short enough to be achievable yet still challenging enough to be rewarding, a 5k charity run is perfect for beginners and is guaranteed to make you feel great about yourself. Raising money for charity and getting fit?! I’m sorry, your halo is blinding me.

    We’ve scoured the country to bring you our favourite 5k runs, which combine stunning scenery with a friendly, fun atmosphere. All you need to do is sign up and get fundraising!

    South-East – Windsor 5k Fun Run

    • Where: Windsor
    • When: 19th March

    Located in the hallowed grounds of Eton College, the Windsor and Eton Fun Run is a family friendly dash just fifteen minutes from London. Eton College hosted the rowing and canoeing events in the London 2012 Games, so whether you’re an Olympian or just limping along you’ll be racing in iconic surroundings.

    South West – Supernova 5k

    • Where: Bournemouth
    • When: 1st October

    A run with the visual aesthetic of a rave, the Bournemouth Supernova 5k is a pretty unforgettable experience. Runners are supplied with LED wristbands and encouraged to wear fluorescent clothing, and the run takes place at dusk, creating a moving spectacle of light.

    Midlands – Spire Bushey 5k

    • Where: Hertfordshire
    • When: 3rd July

    Winding through and around the charming town of Bushey , the Spire Bushey 5k is a relaxed run through leafy (or should that be Bushey?) scenery. The best thing about this run is that it’s part of the annual Bushey Festival, so once you’ve cooled off you can enjoy local music, art and food.

    North West – John West Spring 5k

    • Where: Liverpool
    • When: 30th April

    Probably the only race to have samba band entertainment partway round the course, the John West 5k takes the concept of the “fun run” seriously. After you’ve slogged through beautiful Sefton Park, you can unwind with face painting and a free massage – one of which will probably be exactly what you need.

    North East – Great North 5k

    • Where: Newcastle
    • When: 10th September

    Don’t feel quite ready for the Great North Run, but fancy soaking up the atmosphere anyway? Try the Great North 5k. The UK’s leading half marathon is preceded by a 5k run which gives you the scenic drama of running over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in a starter pack distance. It also means you won’t be all sweaty when you go celeb-spotting at the main event later in the weekend. (Mo Farah’s been known to make an appearance).

    Are there any great 5ks near you? Let us know and we can include them!

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  • Transforming lands, transforming lives

    Nazmul Islam Chowdhury

    December 15th, 2015

    In Bangladesh, the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers are both vital and threatening to nearby inhabitants. Monsoon rains cause these great rivers to swell, often flooding villages and fields.

    However, during the other months, drought leaves crops, livestock and communities praying for water. Land is scarce, population density is high and poverty and food security are major concerns, especially in the face of this seasonal feast and famine.

    The pumpkin harvest

    It is in this environment that Practical Action’s Pathways From Poverty project was launched in 2009 in the north west part of Bangladesh to lift 31,850 households out of poverty.

    The project goal is to reduce the vulnerability of men, women and children to the physical, social and economic effects of river erosion, flooding and other natural disasters in the five districts in northwest Bangladesh. It aims to help those whose villages and farms have been lost through river erosion and are forced to live illegally on flood protection embankments. We offer these communities a wide range of technological support programmes in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, food processing, light-engineering, disability, education, health and nutrition to improve their ability to manage productive livelihoods, including our sandbar cropping project.

    A life changing innovation to eradicate extreme poverty

    The sandbar cropping project started with the objective “something is better than nothing” but today it has transformed the lives of the landless poor through access to barren transitional sandy land.

    Sandbar cropping is a ground-breaking approach to ensuring these harsh landscapes provide for their inhabitants. After each rainy season, large islands of sand appear in the main rivers of Bangladesh. These ‘lands’ are common property resources that generally tend to disappear during the following wet season and, until now, have not been used for any productive purpose. However, this project has successfully used this ever-changing landscape to demonstrate that the growing of pumpkins in small compost pits dug into the sand is both possible and profitable. Large-scale irrigation is not necessary as the land is close to the river channel.

    From 2005 to 2014, a total of 15,000 farmers, many of who were women, produced over 80,000 tonnes of pumpkins worth £5.5million at farm gate price by utilising 7,973 acres of sandbar land…and the technology is now spreading to new areas, with a further 15,000 individuals benefiting from it in north west Bangladesh.

    Transforming barren landscapes

    pumpkin storeThe pumpkins produced on these sandbars can be stored in people’s houses for over a year. They help poor households both in terms of income generation and year-round food security and lean season management. Sandbar cropping has transformed a barren landscape, and these ‘mini deserts’ have now been turned into productive, green fields.

    This innovative cropping technology opens up otherwise unproductive lands and is ideally suited to adoption by displaced and landless households. The technology appears to be low risk, yet shows an impressive financial return. Sandbar cropping is so simple and yet, to our knowledge, no one had thought of this application until the project was first experimented with in 2005. The technology would seem to have a much wider application in other dry areas and could even become an important coping strategy in some areas both at home and abroad adversely affected by climate change.

    Revolutionary socio-economic changes for millions

    Anwar with pumpkinAn earmarked policy for the erosion-affected communities to use transitional sandy land for 5-6 months of a year can bring revolutionary socio-economic changes for millions on production, processing and marketing chain on the ground.

    Barren land management will enable food production to meet the demand of local, regional and national markets. It will support families by ensuring year-round food security and nutrition, income and employment.  It will reduce dependency on external relief and migration to urban areas in search of employment.

    The tested innovation can be disseminated in a number of erosion prone districts in Bangladesh to benefit hundreds of thousands of the poor embankment dwellers, affected by river erosion.

    Want to help?  You can donate to Practical Action’s Pumpkins Against Poverty appeal.  This is matched pound for pound by the UK government until 31st December, doubling the impact of your donation.

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  • Coping with frequent flooding

    Katharine Wrigley

    December 11th, 2015

    The weather is always a great conversation topic for us here in the UK.  And when it is as extreme as Storm Desmond in the north of England, our hearts go out to those affected. But listening on the radio this morning to Marcus Davidson of Corbridge in Northumbria, I couldn’t help comparing his experience with those of families in Bangladesh.

    Shaylo and her son Gias are just one of hundreds of thousands of families in Bangladesh living with the everyday reality of devastating floods.  Not just once, but almost every year.  They’ve moved five times, not because they were moving into a nicer part of town or so they could have an extra bedroom; but because the floods have destroyed their home.

    I really can’t imagine what it must be like to rebuild your home on what seems to be an annual basis; and not just the functional structure of a house, it’s all the other bits that make it your home. The little trinkets that are filled with memories: the drawing your child has brought home from school where you kind of look like a potato – but you don’t mind because it was a present from them to you, so you love it anyway. How do you start over again and again with all that? And climate change will make these events more frequent.

    The experience of losing your home and personal treasures to flooding is equally bad for families in England and in Bangladesh. It is in the aftermath that make things are so much worse for Shaylo.  She has no insurance or savings, there is little local authority support or helpful service providers to help her get her back on her feet.  She is reliant on the support of her community, most of whom are as poor as she is.

    Shaylo Balo, 50, Bangladesh

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    Marital status: Widow

    Job: Labourer, seasonal

    Dependents: Gias, aged 14

    An average working day for Shaylo involves some physical labour during the harvest season. She could be cutting mud for roads or husking peanuts, and will take home 80 taka (less than £1) for a 12 hour day.

    Shaylo usually gets one meal a day, consisting of potatoes or rice. Like any mother would, Shaylo often gives up that meal to make sure Gias is getting enough food.

    Shaylo is expecting this year to move for the sixth time in six years. Her home is usually built using materials left behind from the floods, and she and Gias will do the work to rebuild themselves.

    flooding

     

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    How can we help these families get themselves out of this desperate situation?

    InfographicWhat on earth can you grow in sand left behind by floods? This summer, despite having perfect soil and great weather conditions for them, I failed miserably at growing some courgettes. I say growing, but what I really mean is replanting a courgette plant from a pot into my garden. Anyway, the fruits of my labour were pitiful and barely worth mentioning. So, again I ask – what can you grow in sand?

    As a charity focused on using really simple technology for problems just like this, Practical Action has a solution. Pumpkins. Yep, that’s right. The humble pumpkin is the hero of this story, usually only brought out for Halloween or Thanksgiving, to be carved or turned into a pie, and no doubt thrown away afterwards. Pumpkins grow really well in sand. Not only that, they then provide the much needed nourishment families in Bangladesh are struggling to get – and can also provide a source of income for them. What’s more, the seeds can be regrown, so it’s a long-term, sustainable solution to the problem.

    £38.26 is all it takes to give a family everything they need to start growing their own pumpkins in Bangladesh. Less than £40. I’ve been known to spend twice that on my vain attempts to de-frizz my hair, or on a new pair of shoes that have some kind of sparkly element to them. Less than £40 can change lives in Bangladesh.

    I would urge you to read more about this wonderfully simple solution and about how you can help to change their lives, and really know you’ve helped someone who needed it.

    Make your donation here

    UK-AID-Donations&flag-RGBThe UK Government will be matching your donations, pound for pound up until 31 December, so if you donate now, your impact will be doubled – and the number of people that can be helped will be doubled too.

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  • What if you don’t have a toilet, build one now !

    Ananta Prasad

    November 23rd, 2015

    “Eagles come in all shapes and sizes, but you will recognize them chiefly by their attitudes.” – E. F. Schumacher

    The curiosity was quiet evident on the faces of hundreds of people knowing the fact that, they were being gathered to celebrate World Toilet Day. People in general do not like to talk about ‘shit’ and that has been a global challenge now. Amidst the number of popular days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Water Day and many others we celebrate one more addition is now for Toilet Day and yet people have apprehension about that.

    Yes, in a country like India where more than 50 per cent people defecate in open, talking about ‘shit’ is treated as shitty here. In such a contest there are instances and places where defecating in open is being treated as social and cultural practice. In many villages women actually get chance to mingle with themselves while they go toilet to open field at the dawn.

    Mobile-Toilets-in-IndiaBreaking the barrier of such myths, Practical Action has been advocating for better sanitation practices. In its major initiative in urban wash, in India Practical Action has started intervening in the faecal sludge management for two major urban municipalities. Newly launched Project Nirmal is targeting on a holistic approach to fight against the menace of poor sanitation practices and also exhibiting a model faecal sludge disposal mechanism in both the cities.

    So on 19 March 2015, two major events were organised on the eve of World Toilet Day in both the cities such as Angul and Dhenkanal. women SHG members, school children and civil society members joined in large numbers to mark the occasion. In Angul, the Municipality Chairperson and other council members along with the executive officer graced the occasion and shared how the importance of toilet in public life is now a much-talked topic and why it is needed to have toilets.

    Issues starting from girls and women defecating only during dark like before sunrise and after sunset leading to social security is now a concern everywhere. There are instances of molestation of young girls midnight and also instances of life loss by insects such as snakes and other insecticides.

    There have been constant health hazards such as diarrhoea and children in india are being growing stunted because of open defecation. All these things were the points of discussion while the district collector and municipal chairperson and other senior officials in Dhenkanal urged to build toilet as an essential part of daily life. Like mobiles and other necessities toilet is something which every household must have and all the guests vowed for a message of toilet for all.

    This was also added by Practical Action representative talking about the proper disposal mechanism of human excreta and faeces by setting up a proper faecal sludge management system in both the cities with the help of municipalities and efficient community participation.

     

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  • Practical Action’s unsung heroes

    Carol Reesby

    October 16th, 2015

    Heroes come in many forms, and each individual will have their own definition of a hero. Some may think it’s a soldier fighting for their country; a firefighter entering a burning building; or the crew of a lifeboat launching into rough seas – heroes who risk their lives for others.

    toiletBut there is another type of hero – the unsung hero! Someone whose daily life may seem pretty unremarkable but who help to change the lives of thousands of people by one simple act – being a Practical Action supporter.

    It’s hard to believe in the 21st Century that people still have no access to basic services such as clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, have no electricity and still cook over open fires, are undernourished, and cope with the devastation of natural disasters. Our supporters are helping to change this. By supporting the work of Practical Action our unsung heroes make a difference to people living in extreme poverty in the developing world.

    Last year our supporters enabled us to change the lives of 1.2 million people. They helped to improve access to water and sanitation services for over 240,000 people; give 200,000 people access to sustainable electricity services; help 650,000 people improve their food security and livelihoods; and reduce the risk of disaster to 60,000 people – changes that could not happen without their support.

    This remarkable group of people are our heroes!  Their one small but beautiful act of generosity enables Practical Action to make a huge impact on the lives of millions of people. Without them our work wouldn’t be possible.

    To our many supporters we say a huge ‘Thank you’ – you really are amazing people and our unsung heroes!

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  • Pumpkins Against Poverty

    Amanda Ross

    October 1st, 2015

    Every year monsoon rains cause the three major rivers of Bangladesh, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna to swell, resulting in devastating floods. These wash away fertile land and destroy homes and pumpkins against povertylivelihoods.  Every year hundreds of families are forced to find a new place to live and a new means of earning a living without land to cultivate.

    Sandbars emerge as the rivers recede, the soil is barren but can be made productive by using the technique of pit cultivation for pumpkins and other crops. Practical Action has been working with communities in the Rangpur area of Bangladesh to help landless families overcome seasonal hunger and increase their income.

    UK-AID-Donations&flag-4CLast month I visited Rangpur and met a family that have built a better life through growing and selling pumpkins, a highly nutritious vegetable.  I found it hugely inspiring that such a simple idea could make such a big difference.

    Today we’re launching our Pumpkins Against Poverty appeal to help even more families like Anwar’s. And the great news is that the UK government will match your donation, pound for pound, meaning if you donate between now and Christmas you will double your impact!

    Pumpkins offer Anwar a way out of poverty

    Anwar ul Islam, his wife Afroza and two children live in Rangpur District, an area afflicted by land erosion caused by heavy monsoon rains swelling the rivers from June to October. Anwar lost everything when floods swept away his house and land. He was earning less than £2 a day working as a cycle mechanic.

    Pumpkins against povertyBut with the help of Practical Action, Anwar has found a way to feed his family, improve their health and earn a good income.

    Once the rainy season ends and the monsoon waters drain away, large sandbars appear in the rivers. This land is common property but, prior to Practical Action’s intervention, had never been used productively. Working alongside communities who live on the river embankments, our teams have shown it’s possible to grow pumpkins in small pits dug into the sand filled with compost.

    Last year Anwar produced 600 pumpkins. After selling 450, he had enough to feed his family as pumpkins can be stored for over a year. With the income he bought a cow and some chickens and can now afford to educate his children. They have a secure home and he is passing on his knowledge to others.

     

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  • Why flexible funding is vital for innovative development

    Andrew Clenaghan

    September 3rd, 2015

    Co-authored by Barnaby Peacocke

    The Department for International Development (DFID) is undertaking a review of the way it works with NGOs between July and November this year. This week they have asked which type of funding models, in which contexts, are best to develop effective civil society that meet the common goals of civil society and organisations like Practical Action. This is our response:

    Flexible funding should play a central role in development. Arrangements can be designed to help partnerships get established, introduce social and technological innovation, test it across different contexts, learn through practice – including failure – and communicate this learning to decision makers and practitioners.

    How this should happen when development partnerships are increasingly looking to address complex challenges that require a systemic response tailored to a particular context is inherently unpredictable. So while effective design does improve the chances of better results and sustainability, genuine impacts are achieved where issues of power and exclusion are addressed alongside the better provision of access to products and service. Addressing this reality requires a range of process, technological, partnering, and paradigm innovations that have seldom, if ever, been funded through individual projects. By allowing development actors to move beyond the high entry costs and inherent unpredictability of short-term project models, flexible funding offers a unique vehicle by which NGOs, the private and public sectors can better absorb risk and explore long-term opportunity.

    Used well, PPA funding has been a good example of this. At Practical Action PPA flexibility has allowed investments in process innovations like ‘Participatory Market System Development’ and given space to learn and refine this and other initiatives. It has enabled investment into establishing long-term partnerships with the private sector in areas like risk financing, and with other NGOs in impact investment. It has facilitated our entry into new contexts to test alternative funding models and our ability to make learning about development practice available to others through knowledge services. PPA funding has allowed Practical Action to invest in the skills of technical teams on the ground and supported our global advocacy in support of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. No other current funding vehicle has carried this wide-ranging ability to transform organisational practice.

    DFID can work towards flexibility and innovation in several ways:

    1. Tailor flexible funding to support systemic approaches and on-going adaptation: Access to goods and services depends on effective systems in which a range of public, private and civil society actors work. Collaborating agencies need the flexibility to respond to shifts in the ways social, financial, technological, institutional, environmental and policy arrangements operate in a system when particular actions are taken. It also requires a strong emphasis on iterative learning with constant feedback about what does and does not work.
    2. Create a mechanism that balances accountability and flexibility: this implies a focus on accountability to process indicators like the quality of relationships between partners, as much as it does to measuring target outcomes. Development partners should also be expected to report on areas of learning such new business models and strategies.
    3. Use strategic funding to accelerate organisational transformation. Ensuring flexible funding supports the engine room of organisations will be essential to its success: in building the skills of front line staff to build effective partnerships; empower women and girls; apply effective monitoring and evaluation strategies; capture and share learning will bring both quantitative and qualitative changes in peoples’ lives and a better respond to learning, and; avoid the tendency of project funding models to encourage overly positive reporting on achievements.
    4. Structure flexible funding to encourage cross-sector collaboration: Ensure a proportion of funds are used to target collaborative ventures. Given the importance that partnerships are given in development, it is essential that flexible funds include a strong reporting focus on collaboration performance and learning, across agencies, and technology sectors.
    5. Iterative funding arrangements: rather than apply for sequential project funding, flexible funds can be allocated over the longer term to agencies that show each of the above steps alongside independently verified evidence of success. Through this model, funding tranches can be planned into the medium to long-term under the understanding that specific allocations will be made to successful partnerships and withdrawn where limited success is shown. Overseeing this will require a combination of fund and technical management skills in the donor and implementing partners.

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  • A day in the life of Tillotama and Rabinarayana

    Ananta Prasad

    September 2nd, 2015

    By Ananta Prasad & Warwick Franklin

    Yesterday we visited two communities who will be included under a new water and sanitation project in Odisha, India. Leaving the hotel at 4.30am(!), we first arrived at Gurujang Jabardastpur in Khurda Municipality while it was still dark. Everyone was still asleep and the silence was deafening. The only noise being the barking of the semi wild dogs that patrolled the single street.

    Rabi Narayan & Tillotama Sahu Our first impression was of a few old people walking down the street with small pots carrying water. As we followed them, we could see a number of men defecating in the nearby field.

    Gradually as the sun came up, families awoke, began to light their indoor cooking stoves, wash off the dishes at the open wells and go to the field which they used as their toilets.

    We were invited to spend the morning with Mr & Mrs Rabi Narayan Sahu and Tillotama Sahu, and their young daughter (16) and son (7).  They were happy for us to film and photograph their daily routine.

    They showed us the well that they shared with five other families for all their household needs such as cooking, cleaning and drinking, and told us of having to go to a plot of land behind the house which was used as a toilet. Mrs Sahu explained that she and her daughter only went there in the early morning and evening to avoid male eyes. However, this brought with it the danger of snakes (particularly deadly cobras) and insects. They have to collect 35-40 bucket loads of water a day for the household.

    We saw the son leave for school and the daughter (who finished school last year, because they could not afford her education) begin to clean the house and prepare their food on a smoky clay stove, which filled our eyes and throats with choking fumes.

    Mrs Sahu working on her loom

    Mrs Sahu then explained her weaving work on a hand loom. Mr Sahu was then preparing to leave in search of work as a daily labourer.  She could earn 80p from making a saree  (5 hour’s work) while he could earn £3 per day for 8-10 hours physically exhausting toil. However, there was no guarantee of his getting such work.

    Mr Sahu explained that they had no savings and they spent what little they earned on food, electricity (a few light bulbs, two fans and a TV), medicines and the education costs for his son.

    Mrs Sahu and her husband looked forward to escaping from the shame of open defecation and the availability of clean water.

    We all felt a privilege to have been able to share a few hours with this family and look forward to their being part of the new project and enjoying a significant improvement to their daily lives.

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  • Factors make a case successful or failure

    Mokhlesur Rahman

    August 22nd, 2015

    Whenever we pay any field visit to see the intervention at the ground or understand how our beneficiaries are being helped, we always get stuck to one point ‘what works and what does not’. We realize that it is not a generalizable issue. It works very individual level. It also shaped by power structure of the community. As poverty is a multi-dimensional aspect, therefore, the factors that may help one person to get out of poverty may not work others.

    In a recent field visit to our largest project Shiree in Gangachora Upazila of Rangpur division, I personally observed some interlinked psycho-social parameters that contribute beneficiary to become successful or failure to get out of poverty. Even process of intervention supports are similar to everyone, but results and impacts have significant variations.

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    The author is interacting with project beneficiary

     

    During the visit, I talked with number of project beneficiaries in the said location.  Based on the observation, in this post, I would like to focus dynamism of the problem and psycho-social parameters that contribute beneficiary to be successful (or even failure) in his or her livelihood endeavor.

    Some of the factors contribute to failure:

    As I observed, in brief, following are the elements for which the beneficiary could not secure expected progress as follows;

    • Dowry
    • Intra-household gender relation
    • Sickness ( physical unfitness)
    • Gendered exploitation in the society

    The first case we found is a divorcee mid-aged woman, who has been living with her mother in a river embankment in the said area. Her husband was working as guard in a cinema hall. He demanded BDT 30 Thousand as dowry which her family could not met. Thus, he divorced her but it was done through a cheating process. Her husband took her signature in a paper which he mentioned was for taking loan from a micro finance agency. But later she realized that it was divorce paper, in conspiracy with local marriage registry office, he cheated her and got married with another woman. She did not go to police station or any local elites as she believes nobody thinks for poor people rather it may welcome further problem. As in her words,

    Ki hoibo matbor ba thanay gele? Goriber jonno kei nai (nothing will happen if I go to local leaders or police station. Nobody is there to help poor people.

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    The beneficiary is sharing her life struggles including how her husband divorced her

     

    Since then Yesmin has been living with her mother in maternal house with her 4 years old son. She has another sister who has some sort of mental disorder, and only brother lives in Dhaka and works in readymade garments. He hardly helps them. In his word; “how can I help three people by one’s earning? ” Thus, she leads a traumatized life because of cheating by her husband, got affected by some diseases like asthma and found no hope to regain her life spirit.

    However, Practical Action, Bangladesh through local NGO (UDPS) has selected her as beneficiary in 2012 and decided to provide supports so that she could uplift herself. She was given supports for pumpkin cultivation (in 100 pits) like many other female farmers. Initially, the pumpkin plant was good but after few days of work she became sick as her asthmatic problem was increased. Therefore, she contracted (on 50-50 crop sharing condition) another male farmer who could provide physical labour, but unfortunately he also cheated her while sharing the crops. Therefore, when she received supports from the project second time and she tried to do the cultivation by herself and her mother. Most of the works at field were done by her mother. It was not easy job for them. However, they were happy as at the end, they got good harvest of pumpkin, and sold them by 3000 Taka. By the income, she circumcised her son and maintained some other family expenses.

    Later when GMS (Graduate Monitoring Survey) identified her as less progressed beneficiary, project came up with further support. In April 2015, she was given a heifer (worth of BDT 13700; 13000 from the project and 700 was own contribution). Now, they are rearing it and hoping for good return from it.

     

    Factors contribute to success:

    Through interaction and observation, I found some factors that play significant role in uplifting beneficiaries’ economic status (including overall living standard).  Besides the support selection process, there are some socio-cultural and health issues that determined final outcome of the intervention at individual level. Some of such socio-cultural and health issues are mentioned below;

    • Relationship with family members and relatives
    • Supports from family members (son and daughter in law)
    • Alternative option for earning even for some times
    • Not consuming capital assets at any circumstance/ earning from sources to meeting daily expenditure
    • Physical fitness
    • Aggressive attempts to help own self

    How the above issues work at a individual level can be discussed by case studies description. Masuma Begum (60 +) is a beneficiary of the same project who has received a heifer support (worth of 1331o) in March 2013. Since then she has been rearing it. In the meantime, it gave birth a heifer and will give another one soon. The cow gave milk around five months. They sold the milk to the market and earned around BDT 5000. She bought a goat by 2500 Taka and some hens by Taka 600 and spent rest of the amount to build a cowshed. Now she has the following livestock;

    Cattle Present market value
    1. Cow 35000.00
    2. Heifer 20,000.00
    3. She goat 5,000.00
    4. Hen 1800
    Total 78,000.00

     

    Her only one son and wife of her son help her for maintaining and nurturing the livestock. When she goes to work or relatives’ house, they look after the livestock. This is not very common practices in normal circumstances. Therefore, I met her son and asked him what motivate him to extend such help. What I got as response was really surprising. He mentioned that

    dekhen, ami to ekmatro sontan! Uni to ar asob kobore niye jabena. Sob kichu to Amari thakbe. (look, I am her only son. She will not take these to grave. Everything will be mine.)

    Similarly, we met another beneficiary who has 19 goats who used to get cordial support from her neighbor and relatives. She never married and use to consider her goats as children. She loves rearing goats a lot, the goats also listen her call; which we found very inspiring!   

    20150816_120542

    The author is listening to struggles of a beneficiary

     

      Concluding reflection:

    As a development professional, we need to understand how things operate at the community level. Our better understanding would help design or redesign appropriate intervention modalities, and can potentially enhance positive impacts on beneficiaries.

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