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Manab Mukti Sangstha (MMS), 1984

About the organization:
MMS is a local level Development Organization established in January 15, 1984 at Sthall Char under Chowhali Upazila in Sirajgonj which is most disaster prone and poverty stricken area with a view to “see a society free from poverty, discrimination, and risk of natural disasters’. At the begging MMS worked in Chowhali in small scale but now we are working in whole Sirajgonj, Pabna, Tangail, Jamalpur and Bogra districts covering chars and river basin areas. Manab Mukti Sangstha (MMS) evolved in a small scale in a remotest Char land (River Island) of Chouhali Upazila under Sirajgonj District which is mostly disaster-prone and poverty-stricken area in northern region of Bangladesh. Through its long 34 years of journey, MMS has now entered into a considerable area of geographical coverage in northern part of Bangladesh with a holistic approach of development. At present, MMS works in almost all the char Unions of five Districts like Sirajgonj, Pabna, Tangail, Jamalpur and Bogra.

MMS implements its development activities focusing chars and river-basin areas of the river Jamuna which are at high risk from natural disasters like flood, river erosions, cold wave, drought, tornado and thunder storms that affect the total community specially the poor and vulnerable. The natural disasters usually hit these areas several times in a year that causes huge damage of the lives, assets, and crops. The ultimate results of these disasters hamper the flow of development through creating damaging crops, lack of employment opportunity, illiteracy, gender discrimination, and high health hazard that drives the community in a backward dimension with high poverty cycle.

Based on the situation stated, MMS started its development activities under the leadership of Founder Chief Executive with the joint efforts of some enthusiastic fellows. At present, the flow of development is getting speed up through effective participation of the community people. The community people are developing their capacities to cope with the vulnerable situation and trying to get out of the vicious poverty cycle. MMS intends to continue its flow of development efforts through providing support to build the capacities of the community people so that they can face the challenges of new interventions and bring about sustainable changes in their livelihood. MMS development interventions are linked with national and global development declarations and issues and contributing to goals of SDGs.

MMS is a development as well as humanitarian organization that works for the humanity addressing the vulnerable communities of disaster-prawn areas, specially, charland areas. It is a specialized organization that has earned the long experiences and capacity to address the disasters risks reduction and climate change adaptation. To bring about changes in the lives of vulnerables and towards a sustainable institutional shaping of the programmatic interventions, MMS facilitates development programs setting its specific goal and objectives. It implements multidimensional programs focusing the organizational vision and mission. MMS developed its 4th “Strategic Plan” ensuring participation of all the stakeholders. Based on the opinion of the stakeholders and organizational needs, the Vision, Mission Statement, Goal and Objectives have been set and reviewed time to time to make it updated. MMS became specialized in managing disasters with humanitarian assistance.

MMS is a specialized organization working with the disadvantaged community of charland and river-basin areas in northern part of Bangladesh, specially, in the bank of Jamuna river. It implements development activities as well as humanitarian efforts to bring about sustainable changes in the livelihood of Char-basin areas. “Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risks Reduction (CCA-DRR)’ is the common issue of MMS to work with. CCA-DRR is a crosscutting issue for MMS that consciously incorporated in all other development and humanitarian interventions implementing in the charland areas. MMS earned a considerable experience of 35 years working with a vision of building “a society free from poverty, disaster risks and all forms of discriminations” and involved in the development activities as well as humanitarian issues with the disadvantaged community. It covers the char-basin areas of Sirjaganj, Pabna, Bogra, Tangail and Jamalpur those are known as most disaster-prawn, river-erosion and poverty stricken area of Bangladesh. The major areas of program interventions are; CCA-DRR, Agriculture and Livestock, Health, Wash, Education, Women Empowerment, Market Development, Credit Program and Humanitarian Response in Char and disadvantages areas. A team of 234 competent and committed staff are involved in implementing the program activities. MMS is now capable to implement any type of CCADRR programs with high moral and confidence. ‘Gender and Women Empowerment’ are also the crosscutting issues along with the CCADRR interventions. The total programs/projects of MMS are categorized in two major areas.

  • The Development Programs which are considered as fundamental rights of the poor community for the socio-economic changes in their livelihood. Development initiatives are implemented based on the concept of ‘rights based’ integrated approach.
  • The Humanitarian Services which are considered as mandate of the organization to stand by the side of the vulnerable community during humanitarian crisis as a charland-based as well as river-basin-based organization. These initiatives are implemented based on humanitarian ideologies following mostly, the concept of ‘service-oriented’ approach.

In order to smooth implementation of the development interventions, MMS brought all its programs/ projects under five core programs/thematic areas.

  • Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCADRR);
  • Livelihood Development Program (LDP) through Economic Advancement;
  • Social Development Program (SDP) through Health and Education;
  • Manab Mukti Academy for Education and Research; and
  • Humanitarian Efforts.

A total of 15 programs/projects in different development areas have been implemented by MMS during the reporting period. MMS established an Academy focusing education and research to keep the development initiatives updated and providing support to cope with upcoming challenges through innovative and appropriate technologies and interventions. Besides, ‘Humanitarian Efforts’ are considered as a major mandate of the organization. MMS implements its programmes and projects focusing chars and river basin area of the river Jamuna, there is no communication facilities and it is still remaining as untouched the minimum facilities of electricity and gas.   Every year this area become affected by the natural disaster like flood, river bank erosion, cold wave, tornado and drought in several times which damage the live and livelihoods and stop the normal flow of development.  Char is not fertile land, it sandy and sandy-loamy and due to poor access for utilization of modern agriculture technology and equipment 90% people depend on traditional agriculture system. At least 50% people lead their families by selling labor. In an average 7 months there is no job opportunity so that they have to migrate to neighboring district even in the capital city for labor selling which create unsecured situation for female members even they have to take extra responsibility for maintaining the family. In char, there is no minimum health and banking facilities, sanitation condition is very poor and quality education is totally absent.

MMS implements its development activities focusing chars and river basin areas of the river Jamuna. These areas are highly prone to disasters like flood, river erosions, cold wave, drought, tornedo and thunder storms that affect the total community specially the poor and vulnerable families. These natural disasters usually hit this area several times in a year that causes huge damage of the lives, crops and assets. The ultimate cause of these disasters hamper the flow of development creating crop damaging, lack of employment opportunity, illiteracy, gender discrimination and high health hazard that drives the community in a backward dimension with high poverty.

Naturally, the soil of the Char areas is not fertile, it is sandy and sandy-loamy, and the farmers are struggling with low crop production using traditional agriculture system, introducing no crop variety and modern technologies. At least 50% people lead their families by selling labor. In average, the people remain unemployed for six months that force them to migrate to neighboring district and in the capital city for generating income by selling labor. In the char areas, fundamental services like health, nutrition, sanitation, education, electricity, gas and other basic services were totally absent. As a result, people are to survive fighting with poverty and suffering by diseases and unhealthy situation. The severity of poverty and number of destitute families were increasing day by day. At the beginning of starting MMS activities at these Char areas, no development initiative was found from the end of either government or non-government departments for changing the living status of char dwellers. As a result, people of those areas were remaining out of the development flow of modern era. Considering the situation, MMS started its development activities under the leadership of Founder Chief Executive with the joint efforts of some enthusiastic fellows. At the primary stage, activities started with the financial and technical assistance of Oxfam and after that national and international funding agencies and national networking agencies step forward their hands of magnanimity to continue the program.

At present, the flow of development is getting upward through effective efforts of MMS and other a few development organizations. Community people are developing their awareness and capacities to cope with the vulnerable situation and trying to get out of the vicious poverty cycle. But still disasters hamper the upward flow due to regular natural disasters. Still the level of poverty and vulnerability are higher in compare to other disaster-prone areas in Bangladesh. MMS continues its flow of development efforts through providing support to build the capacities of the community people so that they can bring the sustainable changes in their livelihood by themselves. During last 34 years of journey, MMS is now recognized as a potential development Organization with the support of its stakeholders and became trustworthy to the donor community, INGOs, local government, and local administration that led to significant changes of the livelihood of char dwellers by successful implementation of Char-friendly development programs.

Geographical coverage of the organization:

MMS has been implementing its activities in Sirajgonj, Pabna, Bogra and Tangail Districts. Out of 21 Upazila of those five Districts, 14 are completely Char-reverine areas of the river Jamuna and the part of historical ‘Challon Bil’ of Bangladesh. These areas are highly disaster-prone and poverty-stricken areas of the country. In the Char areas, people are deprived from formal basic services in terms of health, education, financial assistance, communication system, electricity, and gas connection. On the other hand, no effective initiative was taken by the government and non-government department due to these unfavorable circumstances. As a result, these areas are still remaining out of the process of national development mainstreaming. Considering the facts, MMS is giving priority to implement its program activities in these Char areas.

 

GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE AT A GLANCE

Description

 

District wise breakdown

Sirajgonj Bogra Pabna Tangail

Jamalpur

Total

Upazila

7

2

1

4

1

15

Municipality

2

2

Union

35

05

4

7

1

52

mms working area map 2014

Vision:
Establish a poverty and discrimination free society where people can combat with the effect of climate change and disaster.

Mission Statement:
MMS is a voluntary development organization working for poverty alleviation and sustainable social development. The organization is involved in raising awareness, capacity building and infrastructure development of local government, climate change and disaster risk reduction, transfer of modern agriculture technology, education and training, gender equality and women empowerment, maternity child health and nutrition, improving livelihoods, and organizational capacity building through integrated approaches. Organization is implementing its activities in hard to reach and inaccessible areas for the development of hardcore poor, poor and underprivileged marginalized families, Person with Disabilities, children, and adolescents. MMS has been implementing community need-based activities following principles of transparency and accountability through well-acceptance of target people. MMS keeps close coordination with Donors, Potential Stakeholders at National and International levels as well as Government and Non-Government Organizations.

Goal:
To establish poverty and exploitation free society through strengthening grass-root level organizational capacity, achieve resilience capacity combating with climate change and disaster risk reduction, addressing fundamental demand, women empowerment and socio-economic development.

Objectives:
The objectives of MMS has been set considering its vision, mission, goal and other cross cutting issues like gender, disaster and climate change. These objectives also link MDGs, and national sectoral objectives and agendas. The objectives are as follows:

  1. To reduce vulnerability through disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
  2. To increase literacy and awareness in society through Early Child Care Development and Non-Formal Primary Education.
  3. To reduce gender discrimination and domestic violence through mass campaign and social mobilization.
  4. To reduce food insecurity and economic empowerment through echo-friendly agriculture, livestock and other off farm activities.
  5. To improve health and hygiene status through primary health care, water and sanitation.
  6. To develop human resources both at community and organization level through capacity building and live skills training.
  7. To strengthen governance at all level by people’s participation, as well as increase access to justice and local resources.
  8. To increase income and employment opportunity through providing capital and technical assistance.
  9. To develop institutions by increasing capacity of groups, CBOs, federations, alliance as well as organizations.

Core values:

  • Char-focused Organization:

MMS started its activities with remotest char dwellers aiming to mitigate their suffering towards better survival.MMS spent a considerable time for identifying problems and fundamental needs of char-dwellers, especially, char-baed disaster problems. Based on the findings, MMS involved the community people to identify their need-based projects, project planning, and implementation in order to make them aware about the problems and build their capacity to address problems by their own. MMS gives priority to works with the people who have lost their assets due to River bank-erosion and became vulnerable. MMS has set up its own Offices with residential facilities for the staffs in char areas so that we can maintain closed contact with the char communities, establish smooth coordination and implement the project activities with regular supportive supervision and follow up.

  • Competency in Climate Change, Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response: As the

Organization works with the community in disaster prone areas and disaster management issues have been mainstreaming with other projects, so organization has been implementing its overall activities focusing disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. The organization has been implementing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects with extra attention since last decade. In designing project-wise plan and its implementation, area specific potential disasters have been considered and Organization-based workable ‘Disaster Management Plan (DMP)’ has been developed. An emergency savings/stock has been developed by collecting funds from different sources for smooth implementation the contingency plan. In the period of disasters, organization plays pioneer roles in emergency response with its skilled manpower in our working areas.  MMS has got the membership of different ‘Disaster Management Committee’ and ‘Forums’ at local and national levels like ‘Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Committee (BDPC)’, ‘NIRAPAD’, ‘Bangladesh Disaster Forum’ and others.

  • Experienced in working with Hardcore Poor and Underprivileged Families:

The development activities of MMS mostly focus on changing the vulnerable condition of hardcore poor families. MMS prepared a complete list of hardcore poor with direct involvement of the hardcore poor in the survey process and ensure work with poorest of the poor and periodically this list is becoming updated. MMS gathered experience working with the persons with disability, helpless elderly people, women and children-headed families, acid victims and people with chronic sick.

  • Promoting Good Governance at Local Government Institutions:

MMS implements projects directly with local government institutions (UPs, Upozila and Municipalities) and works for promoting good governance at local level. MMS played important role for capacity building of local government institutions especially, on annual budgeting, revenue generation and financial management, participatory strategic planning and enhancing effective service delivery mechanism according to local government operation manual 2009. MMS played important roles in improving effective service delivery mechanism through people’s participation and reducing gender discrimination through empowering the elected women representatives those are contributing to promoting good governance. MMS is contributing to the of capacity development of Union Parishad under its commanding areas on the areas of peoples’ access to UPs service delivery, ward budget meeting and open budget session with active participation of mass people, Tax collection, Tax Fair and implementing development activities with Tax Fund involving community people based on their choice and demand. Now UP Standing Committees are found more functional and playing important role in improving quality service delivery.

  • Transparency and Accountability:

One of the major mandates of MMS is to ensure transparency and accountability at all levels of the organization. MMS involves all relevant stakeholders in the process of Project Designing, Planning, Budgeting, and project Implementation.

  • Women Empowerment:

Women empowerment is considered as one of the major strategic issues and integral part of the organization which is a crosscutting issue at all level of organizational practice.  In order to ensure gender-friendly environment at organization level, MMS formed and strengthen ‘Nari Forum’ under the leadership of ‘Women Gender Focal person’, updated ‘Gender Policy’, developed ‘Anti Sexual Harassment Policy’ and incorporated gender issues in different policies and guidelines like HR Policy, Financial Policy, ‘Disaster Policy’, ‘Admin and Logistics Policy’ and guideline on creating ‘Women friendly working environment’ within the organization. The issue gives extra attention to develop alternative leadership among the women involving them in productive activities and help them in promoting small and medium entrepreneurs. MMS initiated to develop 12500 women entrepreneurs in different sectors who are leading their families and taking part in the decision making process of the community. A total of 78800 ‘Change Makers; have been developed in different communities like, teachers, students, housewives, business alliance, lawyers, reporters and other professionals and potentials who are playing strong role in reducing violence against women and contributing their empowerment and increasing own social dignity.

  • Promoting Health and Quality Education in Char-land Areas:

Health and quality education services were totally absent in Char areas. Considering the practical situation, MMS has taken these two projects giving high priority and has been ensuring health and quality education services by conducting Satellite Health Clinic and establishing both Formal and Non-Formal Primary Schools in the remotes Char areas.

  • Committed Staffs:

MMS has got a group of committed and dedicated staff who are involved in different projects and Head Office based management activities. The staffs are contributing high quality services to people through participatory planning and smooth implementation. Also they are providing strong support to Organizational development and sustainability.

  • Working Experience on Legal Rights of Landless for Khashlands in Char Areas:

MMS provided legal and technical support for the landless people and linked with the Government Administration to get khashland at Char areas. A total 143 Families have been applied for Khashland, out of which 18 applications have been approved and 5.76 Acres of land have been transferred to 16 Families.

Governance:
MMS has it’s 4 tier of governance system that followed strictly at all level of planning and decision making. The Executive body, General body, Core Management Team (CMT) as well as Senior Management Team(SMT).  MMS followed bottom up approach during all forms of planning on the other hand in decision making process it always pursue to utilize participatory way. MMS has a strong coordination body /Committee to govern the organization. It has a General Committee- of 27 members where the committee meets once a year to complete yearly planning and budget but in case of any emergency it can sit more than once. The committee usually contributes to policy development and other special issues related to organization and management. There is an Executive Committee consists of 9 members including the Chairperson, Cashier, and General secretary   who are assigned to develop detail implementation plan (DIP) and monitoring the same. It has other mandate to audit report approval, representation to others committees, strategic planning preparation and it’s approval etc. There is a Core Management Team (CMT) consists top management professionals of the organization that includes ED, DP and 4 departmental heads. The CMT members sit every month to analyze the projects/ programs activities and plans of the different programs. It also provides feedback to the projects heads on the achievement against the set target. The Senior Management Team (SMT) consists of 6 CMT members and all Heads of the projects. They sit quarterly basis (every three months) to review the projects activities and sharing the progress of planned activities.

Website address for more details. www.mmsbangladesh.org