Breaking the cycle of poverty: the BRAC strategy.
The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) strategy is to foster villagers' belief and ability to take control of their situation, self-reliance which is reinforced with supports and nondependent, people-centeredness or participation, and sustainability. There is no single solution to rural poverty. Programs should be expanded as rapidly as possible. A market perspective and entrepreneurial spirit is important. Women are important also in the development process. The focus is on the poorest of the poor in 1) providing an integrated program of essential services to remote villages, 2) giving education and training where needed, 3) supporting villagewide cooperation in solving village problems, and 4) establishing credit cooperatives to support the poor. Experience has led to the conclusions that the power structure is related to the distribution of resources, that community programs tend to deliver benefits to the richer and bypass the very poor, that programs for the poor must deal with rural power structure which maldistributes resources, and that capacities and institutions for the poor must be developed to deal with the rural power structure. The targets are households that own <.50 decimals of land without implements for production and a worker must have sold his/her labor for >100 days for survival; villages must be comprised of at least 50% who are landless. The book draws attention to defining the nature and structure of BRAC and its programs, the methods employed to accomplish its objectives, and future measurement, strategies, and sustainability. Major donors historically are identified by the amount of their contributions. The distinguishing features of BRAC's approach are the propensity to risk, investment in organizational development, strong fiscal accountability, setting its own agenda, a market perspective and entrepreneurial spirit, responding to the field and opportunities and resources, commitment to rapid scaleup, facilitation efforts with the public sector, and a learning organization (shared vision, personal mastery, mental models, team learning, and systems thinking). A strength has been its present and future ability to be flexible and respond to unexpected opportunities. Future plans are to target the upazila, stress collaboration with other nongovernmental groups, renew the emphasis on self-reliance, and expand public systems facilitation.