Big Lottery Fund
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Full steam ahead as BIG funds Bangladesh boat classroom

Life-saving health and education work among some of the most disadvantaged communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar has yesterday received grants from Big Lottery Fund (BIG).  

Three charities are sharing over £1.2 million in funding from BIG’s International Communities programme, which supports projects tackling the causes of poverty and deprivation and the effects they have on the lives of the most disadvantaged people.

Learning For Life UK has received £473,589 to equip two specially designed boats with classroom facilities and a health and community centre. The project will benefit 15 villages that are isolated by flood waters during the nine-month monsoon and post-monsoon season and ensure that education and health care is available throughout the year. The boats will provide lessons five days a week and older children will receive additional after school support. The library facilities will also be open to the wider community after school hours.

Two healthcare professionals will also be recruited to provide ante and post natal care for pregnant women and children. Health checkups, treatments and prescriptions, vitamin supplements and immunisations will all be on offer. The boats will also be used to show educational videos on human and social rights and skills and vocational training will be taught. Microfinance loans will be available to enable people to start up small businesses and local authorities will receive training in good governance to improve relationships with local people.  

Rokunuz Zaman of Learning for Life said: "During the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons, more than 90% of children in the river basin areas of Bangladesh do not have access to any form of education or healthcare, as the surrounding area floods and villages are forced onto tiny islands cut off by 30-40 feet of water. This severe isolation also has a dramatic impact on mother and child health, as expectant mothers or mothers with new babies are unable to travel to a health clinic for advice or treatment.

“This project has designed two boats fitted with classroom facilities and a health and community centre, which will visit communities isolated by the flood water to provide desperately needed health, education and community awareness raising services.”

Also working with communities in Bangladesh is WaterAid, which has been awarded £376,930 to provide climate resilient access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services in the Khulna district. Inhabitants of this coastal area are particularly vulnerable to cyclones and coastal storm surges and the high levels of poverty and lack of access to water and sanitation services means that people often travel 5km and spend more than two hours a day collecting water, rather than working or attending school. This particularly impacts on women and children.

Through this project over 121,000 people will gain access to water and sanitation services and the facilities at 12 existing cyclone shelters will be upgraded to ensure they can cater to the needs of women and disabled people.

Finally, Save the Children will use their £440,000 award to improve maternal and newborn health in 130 villages in Myanmar, which has the highest under-five mortality rate in South East Asia and one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Asia. 260 community health volunteers (CHVs) will be trained in maternal and newborn care and nutrition, early detection of illness, early referral of pregnant mothers and newborns to midwives and infant feeding practices. Medical supplies will be provided to the Township Medical Team and CHVs to support their work and fill the gap in essential provisions.

130 Village Health and Nutrition Teams, made up of representatives of the community, will also be established. Members will support the CHVs and partner organisation staff to run project activities such as breastfeeding support groups and monthly awareness raising sessions for women of childbearing age and their husbands.

Peter Wanless, Big Lottery Fund CEO, said: “The funding announced today will literally save lives by providing disadvantaged communities with vital health and education services that most people would simply take for granted. The incredible work these three organisations do to help these communities face a brighter future is truly inspiring, and we are proud to be able to support them.”

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:
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Notes to Editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004 BIG has awarded over £4.4bn.
  • The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £28 billion has now been raised and more than 370,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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