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SDG Village : [An model to achieve SDGs in rural Bangladesh]

Mati Bangladesh has been working for sustainable development of the poor and marginalized people of the country since 1997. In course of the development works of Mati Bangladesh, during the era of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), being guided by Mr. Peter Haas and Bettina Mühlen-Haas from the Brücke Foundation, laid the foundation stone, or rather the basic discussions, for a new joint project: “The Millennium Village (MV)” in Harguzirpar village under Mymensingh district in November 2009.

MATI Cooperative

The aim was to use a village with exemplary measures decided from below to show what really self-defined development within the framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could look like. In achieving the MDGs in a village, after discussions several times with the people especially the underprivileged people, we undertook a set of activities so that most of the MDGs are achieved. The activities included asset transfer for income generation, skill development training, promotion of organic agriculture, health awareness, health camp, eye camp, water & sanitation program, pre-school, students support program, school awareness, etc.

After achieving significant success in the interventions in MV, when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were declared by the UN we became inspired again to establish SDG village with the same objective in Borobilerpar, Tekervita, and Bhati Barera villages under Mymensingh district. In the first step for the year 2019, the females & girls from the poor & extremely poor households living within approx. A 500m radius of the MATI Cooperative Beltoly office was included in the project. In the villages, five ‘discussion and savings’ groups were formed with the 100 women. As in previous years in the Millennium Village Harguzirpar, the concrete work in the village was planned and determined by the women’s groups. The activities included asset transfer for income generation, skill development training, promotion of organic agriculture, health awareness, health camp, eye camp, water & sanitation program, pre-school, students support program, school awareness, etc.

The activities being implemented in the SDG villages directly address seven SDGs viz. Goal-1: No Poverty, Goal-2: Zero Hunger, Goal-3: Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal-4: Quality Education, Goal-6: Water & Sanitation, Goal-8: Decent Work & Economic Growth and Goal-13: Climate Action while Goal-5: Gender Equality is also strongly addressed by engaging the women & girls as target people of most of the activities. In the first step, the activities, which are being implemented in the villages, are focused on the areas of income generation, health, education, and climate protection, etc.

‘Revolving credit support’ which is free of interest was taken one of the key strategies for not only poverty alleviation but also sustainable development of the poor & extremely poor families especially the women members. The targeted families invested the money in income generation activities like chicken, duck, goat & cattle rearing, small business, sewing, carpentry, van purchase, land lease, etc. Thus the level of income of the families has been increased. They were also inspired to accumulate their savings in order to improve their financial strength.

The MATI Cooperative healthcare team offers an on-site consultation on medical problems fortnightly with free of cost medicines, which gives the villagers a unique opportunity to be examined and treated at their doorsteps. Thus poor & working women can save their time & money required for taking treatment from the government or private health care center located mainly at the urban level.

On an average 50 patients become benefited from this per month, most of whom are women and children, as they usually remain untreated with limited family financial resources. Cataract surgery also arranged for 10 cataract patients of the area in collaboration with BNSB Eye Hospital, Mymensingh.

Since the majority of the families do not have their own land, it is always difficult to sustainably improve the families’ nutritional situation. The first hundred women have now received agricultural training and have started to set up sack-gardening in which they grow vegetables for their own use.

As the early marriage of girls is still an immense problem in the villages, 25 girls successfully received a school sponsorship support here, and 10 girls were sponsored last year. At the same time, MATI Cooperative has started to work with the surrounding schools and a team of social workers is now active in educating students on the bad impacts of early marriage, dowry, eve-teasing, and drugs, etc. through the school awareness program.

In October, 780 trees were planted as a contribution to environmental protection and climate action.

The next step is the sustainable improvement of health through the provision of clean drinking water and the installation of toilets. To do this, 10 water pumps and 10-15 toilets are installed. The families contribute about a third of the costs but can borrow their own share from MATI Cooperative without interest if their savings are not yet sufficient.

SDG Village Report | For further reading please