AMDA Bangladesh is committed to address various social and economic problems of economically depressed and vulnerable groups in general, of which landless poor people constitute a specific category. AMDA’s efforts first addressed the health problems of refugees, victims of natural disaster, slum dwellers, and others. Although AMDA began its operations with such relief work, it became essential that AMDA deal not only with relief and disaster management but also with community development.
Despite the two-decade development plan of the government, the scale and degree of poverty continues to grow in Bangladesh. A majority of rural households still suffer lower standards of living, including health, because of inadequate economic conditions and poor public services.
In the 12th AMDA International conference in Dhaka in November, 1996, AMDA International decided to embark on the road to promote a long-term self-sustainable development program under the concept of AMDA Bangladesh Complex (ABC). ABC seeks to promote comprehensive socio-economic development through an interrelation of income generation, health and education.
AMDA Bangladesh Complex (ABC) has been endeavoring to find ways to achieve one of its ultimate targets, poverty reduction. Toward this end, our first priority is empowering women through income enhancement by applying the microfinance strategy known as the Grameen Bank model. We have started a project called the “Credit and Self-reliance Program”, which will improve the financial status of the poor by providing them credit for effective investments. We have selected Gazaria Upazila in Munshigonj District as our target area because of its lower life standards, economic difficulties, and geographical difficulties of living.
At the present the stage of our project, we strongly feel that providing people in the target area with vocational skills will help them develop their financial stability and thus a sustained life. The establishment of a Vocational Training Centre has been seen as the most effective way to approach the landless, unskilled poor in the targeted areas. In this context, we have performed a feasibility study and found market opportunities in areas such as carpentry, welding, sewing, handicrafts, agriculture, and poultry. Following the establishment of the Vocational Training Centre, founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Japan, in 2002, we have been providing vocational training for people who live in nearby villages. About 100 trainees are annually graduated from our courses.
In view of the fact that there were very limited health facilities in the activity areas, AMDA Bangladesh established a health centre by getting support from the Japanese government in 2002. We conducted a survey and focus-group discussion with community people and determined their particular health problems and perceptions of disease and disease prevention. AMDA Bangladesh then decided to deal with these problems by providing, at a first step, an adequate number of its people in the field. Besides the clinical activities, such as general consultation and delivery, we established outreach programs to deliver health messages from health workers to the people in a community.
AMDA Bangladesh has been improving the overall living conditions of community people through the implementation of such multi-spectral participatory community development projects.