In August 2015 Prof. Iqbal Husain, a Bangladeshi-American professor at North Carolina State University and member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), an international engineering organization, began discussing with the Foundation for Charitable Activities in Bangladesh (FCAB), the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy (RRE) about the possibility of designing Bangladesh’s first ‘ IEEE Smart Village’. The goal of this initiative is to bring sustainable energy to poor villages to support their development and livelihood needs.
Since most villages in Bangladesh already have at least limited access to electricity, FCAB proposed an innovative alternative using Energy as the foundation for a four-pronged integrated development model to address the various needs of a village – Health, Education, Agro/Livelihood and Water/Sanitation. This would be the first of its kind model in the world.
We propose to partner with the private sector, development agencies and others as relevant to address these various development needs to create a model which will be piloted in Bagdumur but which can be scaled and replicated elsewhere. As FCAB is a platform to increase cooperation with the United States and Bangladesh, we are particularly interested in partnering with American and local companies.
Under our Health leg we have been running a maternal and child health clinic with support from Rotary International through the Rotary Clubs of Ann Arbor and Dhaka Mahanagar and implemented by the Center for Zakat Management. We are discussing a telemedicine link with the University of Michigan School of Public Health and Medicine. Under our Education wing we are working with Sesame Street, an American early childhood education provider along with Core-Knowledge, a Rahimafrooz digital education company.
For the Water/Sanitation leg, we are in talks to ensure Bagdumur’s entire population has access to sanitary latrines and clean drinking water through a water treatment facility as the village suffers from high rates of iron and some arsenic in its water supply. Also we are partnering with American Standard to provide sanitation through their SaTo Toilets to all Bagdumur residents who currently have no access to sanitary toilets.
Finally for our Agro/Livelihood section we are working with Bangladesh Institute for ICT in Development (BIID) to pilot their e-Krishok, Nutrition Club, and other agriculture support services in Bagdumur. Under livelihood we have just launched an initiative for 94 ultra-poor village families to graduate them from poverty through the Center for Zakat Management’s (CZM) “Jeebika Livelihood Development” program.