News Bangladesh: an ‘initiative driven society’

2021 marks a special year for Bangladesh. Not only is Bangladesh celebrating 50 years of her independence, but 2022 marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the Netherlands, two Delta countries.

In honor of this special year and bond, on the 28th of January Ambassador M. Riaz Hamidullah of Bangladesh hosted an e-Conclave gathering the Dutch NGOs / Foundations who are working to help in the Bangladesh journey towards development. The 2-hour conclave encouraged organisations to share their story of how they came to be in Bangladesh and how they have developed along the way.

As diverse as each organisation’s focus was, they were united in their mission towards helping Bangladesh harness the power of grassroots movements to create self-reliant communities. With the help of government at all levels, volunteers, and donors, there has been true partnership between the NGOs and the Bangladeshi people for all of the 20 organisations who spoke at the e-Conclave.


Niketan’s chairman Rutger-Jan kicked off the talks with how Niketan has developed from assisting individual children focusing on early childhood and school programs to residential care, and community programmes, while  personally knowing most  500 families. A key goal is to continue having Niketan’s lessons learned made available and accessible to everyone.

The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Hossian Zillur Rahman, Chairperson, BRAC. He raised curiosity when he spoke of Bangladesh as an “initiative driven society”, rather than policy driven. Using the example of home solar energy, Dr. Rahman explained how in rural housing families and students were unable to study after the sun went down. Due to this, 6+ million households gather together to have solar units installed, advancing the industry Bangladesh.

From aid to trade

Looking forward, Bangladesh is on the path of transforming development aid relationships to trade relationships, and willing to take those who have supported her along the way. As the Covid pandemic has created new ground realities, there has also been a huge push for new low-cost solutions and an interesting place this is occurring in is the agricultural sector. As Dr. Rahman stated “agriculture as the basis of prosperity”. Mechanisation in this sector has created new opportunities, with farmers being the driving force, not big corporations. Once again showing how initiative drives change with local government havening more engagement with local economies.

It was enlightening to see so much passion and work each organization brought forward, with each one reaching out to learn from the other. As the relationship continues to evolve between Bangladesh and the Netherlands, we wish for another 50 years of a prosperous partnership between the two Delta countries. Such gatherings as the e-Conclave further cement the ties we have and we look forward to such interactions in the future.


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