covid has taught us we're short of at least 100 million last mile health and early childhood co-workers; this is a priority 50 years of asian women empowerment has focused on but the west's major capital markets have misfocused because macroeconomic data does not deeply value community sustainability let alone a lot of work mothers do for love of child- if we can't value infants fully dont bother talking up rest of sdgs
Medic, banker, educator , engineer - which profession led sir fazle abed to being in the middle of a billion asian women ending poverty? actually none of these siloised expertises, he was a trained engineer (from adam smith's glasgow university.; he had also leveraged his family's accounting practices to rise to be regional ceo of royal dutch shell oil company - but starting in 1970 three events each killing a million people changed his purpose in life . What did he do first? he got started by ending his contract with shell, selling his flat in putney london for about 15000 pounds and with a grant from oxfam in 1972 during the first 12 months of the emergence of bangladesh's new nation (branded by kissinger as a basket case)...
5h1 Abed started by building a resilient community of 14000 village homes over 100000 villagers in bangladesh 1972 which would emerge as a field lab for testing community-scaling solutions. At that time his village peoples were experiencing immediate life threatening challenges: abed had just seen the cyclone that had killed a million people around him in 1970, then war and refugees, then famine ;in addition to all this he noticed the challenge that almost half of adults had never had income-earning livelihoods. In Bangladesh the culture was women in villages without access to electricity grids did not do income paying jobs but raised children. most of Abed's 100000 people were also illiterate
so what enterprises could girls of the village start? Abed answered this question by designing health empowerment/service in an unusual way - looking at data villagers life expectancy was in the low 40s; what livelihood microfranchises could he design round village girls to raise overall life expectancy to mid 60s
abed had now reframed the puzzle - how could micro-enterprises be designed so village mothers build their own rural health service around- the threats to life he observed among the 100000 villagers were most accute among infants under 5 and mothers themselves
it would be much later after tens of thousands village-size enterprises of health and nutrition had positive income models that he started designing financial services for the poor and with the communities -what abed called microfinance+ = financial services owned in trust for the poor and connected to redesigning value chains so the smallest producers were integral to advancing the nation and humankind
abed was aware that tropical rural china faced similar life critical situations; through the influencer network he had built when regional ceo of royal dutch shell oil he contacted china's barefoot medics network - they said they would happily share knowhow but it was also obvious to abed that china unlike his refugees had a lot of medically qualified people.
- 7 May 1977 survey of Two Billion People- Asia;1975 Asian Pacific Century 1975-2075 1977 survey China
If you know chinese development history the way the economist reported it in the 1970s, you will know that a war with russia in 1968 ended a the chinese fifth of the world's belief in russian communism- barefoot medics were china's greatest heroes of the 1970s nay they became the greatest heroines as china too discovered massive rural development would depend on women being valued as productive as men - the more so when the one child policy meant half of all families would ultimately be dependent on how educated 20 something women became.
Below are the health service solutions abed came up with - fortunately there was one solution am3.2 the chinese hadn't yet discovered so grassroots health networking turned out to be a win-win across a billion of asia's poorest people- together with the x-factor that village asian women are extraordinary family builders given even half a chance
please note some dates approximate: rsvp firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more exact timing
AM3.1 mid 1970s could village mothers do anything to raise life expectancy from low40s to 60s: idea1 door-dash cheap non-prescription medicines: microfranchise 1 village mother- visit 300 homes weekly -partner inspiration chinese barefoot medics (cbm) - parahealth microfranchise grew to over 100000 livelihoods today 50000 use mobile apps too
AM3.2 from 1978 one lesson mothers needed to know to save half of infants from dying - oral rehydration partner east pakistan cholera lab, cbm , unicef's james grant
AM3.3 In the tropics the biggest killer of infants under 5 is dehydration unless mothers/patents know how to oral rehydrate. Everywhere the other biggest challenges is stunting caused by starvation -and food malnutrition - during the first 1000 days. The curriculum of rice mediated by Asian alumni of borlaug turns out to be the most essential food crop for feeding a billion of asians. Whilst american borlaug who had grown up in one of idaho's poorest families made mexico his innovation lab , by the 1950s japan was learning from borlaug how local adaptivity could increase rice production 10 fold. This good news spread to feeding the human development to taiwan then by 1960 Korea. America's rockefeller and ford foundations set up the irri in 1960 as an asean/south asian hub of ending starvation by maximising villagers productivity with rice -partners asia's human centric nations' development, irri, brac, gavi...
AM3.4 from 1980 vaccinate 100% of a rural nation - partner james gran unicef, epidemiologists including vice chancellor swarthmore
---- more later ;
-if you need formal academic reference - contact Dr Sabina Faiz Rashid at the James Grant school of public health brac university
-if you need more on ending infant mortality start with understanding alumni and sponsors of the world food prize and the gates world health prize. if you need more on Chinese and Bangladesh mothers love of children read "A Quiet Revolution" (1983) by Harvard's Martha Alter Chen or for a 2 millennium view of nature's maps gravitated around the two third of humans who are Asian read Harvard's Ezra Vogel who passed 2021. You might also read Peter Drucker but whilst illuminating on East Asia I haven't tried to search whether he had particular observations on South Asia
ask yourself what was the purpose the united nations had been born to map in 1945 and what strategies had been used regarding the nearly 80% of peoples who as at 1945 had not shared in the first 185 years of glasgows machine age -eg access to electricity grids largely because of the way the g8 nations had divided earth through the peak era of colonisation
our understanding is 7 of the g8 economies - 6 white and japan but nor USSR had agreed on 2 things - refloating their economies; helping free nations becoming newly inpedendent
but until bangladesh strategic help from the 6 western g8 had only tried out one route:
aid was passed through governments - not much trickled down to the bottom but equally this was still the pre-computing age but one where moon race had excited the world that soon no mission would be impossible- see eg larry brilliants reports from afghanistan where as medic to wavey gravy the band was on holiday with its fav consciousness guru
in urgent disaster relief cases a national ngo might be invited in; its experts were only to do the relief not train locals; as soon as the immediate disaster had been sorted relief flew out
==============? the quarter of the world- 1.85 billion lives - who ended extreme poverty 1970-2020
Extreme poverty - Wikipedia
look how different every move abed made as a bottom up agency connecting relief and development; he was there at the right time; the national government of bangladesh had almost zero tax base or property of any kind; while it tried out to organise people out of the city of dhaka, 80% of the nations people were left to self-organise with no communications other than person to person-ironically while pakistan ruled dhaka it had hated youth closing down any fredom in dhaka universities; chittagong in the far east maintaned some degree of entrepreneurial energy -see eg how yunus started tapping that between 1974-1983 leading to the government ordinace of grameen bank 1983 dismantled by sheika hasina in 2011 www.economistbangla.com
what is heartening in line with franciscan pedagogy of the oppressed- is how abed never sought popularism/celebrity; his alumni of rural advancement doubkled down just on serving in village communities, empowering womens human capital; is there any model of true sustainability development goals more deeply possible at that time ; and over the next 50 years our purpose at abedmooc is to explore what sorts of data/intel informed grassroots community engagement solutions; when opportunities such as mobile and solar came to the villages how would the grassroots data be coded, mapped , even turned into AI village sustainability mapping such as ai vaccine distrbution of 100% coverage
lets look at module 6.1 the future history of place branding as it may have looked from village network rising viewpoints in the 1970s
OP-ED: Sir Abed: An inspirational and determined visionaryReplyDelete
Sabina Faiz Rashid
Published at 01:19 am December 20th, 2020
Sir Abed with the dean and associate dean of the School of Public Health COURTESY
Remembering the BRAC founder on the first anniversary of his passing
“If you don’t give us a chance, then who will?”
That summed up my first encounter with Abed Bhai. I was in my early 20s, fresh out of university, and visiting Bangladesh after living most of my life overseas. I had no prior knowledge of who Abed Bhai was, or what he stood for. Yet, something inside compelled me to implore with him for an opportunity; and relent he did, fortunately.
The trajectory of my life changed because of that initial meeting, and years later it changed again with my joining the original team in 2004, that was tasked with establishing the James P Grant School of Public Health, (JPGSPH) BRAC University.
Abed Bhai was without doubt a fearless visionary and he brought the same spirit in challenging us about the direction of the school. A School of Public Health was something that Abed Bhai had envisioned for many years, and it was his dream that developing country health professionals receive a quality degree and contribute to making a difference in their homelands.
He was very clear about the absolutes: It had to provide opportunities for disadvantaged students; it had to be competitive and of international standard; and it had to attract students globally so that they could learn first-hand real-world knowledge on public health in the developing world. As a result of his vision and guidance, the JPG School has been recognized internationally, continues to attract students from abroad, and is a leader in public health research in the country.
Abed Bhai was a tough task master but he was also a patient listener. He was open to ideas and willing to be challenged. He placed trust on the individual person, provided encouragement, and built confidence for people to take on leadership roles. When he asked me to take on the helm of the school in 2013, I was initially reluctant and overwhelmed at the thought.
I had reservations, but he persuaded me to take on the challenge, and very calmly explained that my hesitancy to take on this role was without merit. Today, thanks to the dedication of my wonderful colleagues, the school continues to grow, taking inspiration from Abed Bhai’s ethos and his constant quest for excellence.
For a person of such stature and achievements, nothing was too small or big for getting the work done. If that meant picking up the phone and calling a program officer or asking the security guard about his wages, or needing an intervention in a program, he would just do it and not wait for someone else. I was fortunate and privileged enough to work closely with him and see first-hand his way of working.
His attention to detail, knowledge, wisdom, humility, and commitment to making a difference was astounding and truly inspirational. Abed Bhai changed millions of lives, yet remained grounded in the service of others; and he did it without fanfare or any expectations of fame.
On the first anniversary of Abed Bhai’s passing, I fondly remember the person who gave me my first career break, and who will always hold a special place in my heart.
Sabina Faiz Rashid, PhD, is Dean and Professor at BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health at Brac University. All views expressed are solely of the author.
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