Aporna's better life in Bangladesh thanks to UN Development Goals

Aporna's better life in Bangladesh thanks to UN Development Goals

Bangladesh has been hailed by the UN for achieving several Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets in school enrolment, immunisation and infant mortality rates. And Aporna is one who has seen the benefits.

The MDGs expired in 2015 to be replaced by Sustainable Development Goals – a more detailed, more ambitious version of the original eight goals. MAF assists many projects aiming to achieve these goals by flying funders to and from the people who need their assistance.

One example is the USAID-sponsored Farmer Nutrition School run by SPRING -Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally.The school provides training in planting vegetables, breeding chickens and harnessing community resources, thereby boosting nutrition and combating problems arising from an inadequate diet.

Aporna Shikder with her daughter. Aporna received training in Bangladesh at the USAID-sponsored Farmer Nutrition School

Last year MAF Flew USAID’s head, Alfonso Lenhardt (pictured below) to visit the programme, in the southern district of Bagerhat. Leading such a huge global organisation, the pressures on Mr Lenhardt’s time are immense. Besides the trip to Bagerhat, his four-day visit to Bangladesh was packed with official government meetings. Without MAF, the journey to Bagerhat would have been impossible to fit into the schedule.

The training Mr Lenhardt saw first-hand has improved life for Aporna Shikder. She uses previously fallow land to grow vegetables and raise chickens. Her two-year-old daughter now eats five eggs a week, and Aporna sells the surplus produce. In terms of improved diet and increased income, these seemingly small changes make a monumental difference to people like her.

Aporna Shikder with her chickens. Aporna received training in Bangladesh at the USAID-sponsored Farmer Nutrition School

Char Mudafot, in the northern district of Kurhigram, is a prime example of the dire poverty afflicting Bangladesh’s island communities. Residents cannot sell their surplus goat milk for profit because it’s almost impossible to reach the mainland.

Fortunately, the Char Livelihood Programme (CLP) has established a central collection point for excess milk, making it more attractive to mainland suppliers. It also supervises a savings and loans group providing finance denied to impoverished river island dwellers by the mainland financial institutions.

Last year, we flew Desmond Swayne, UK Minister of State at the Department for International Development, to witness the success of the CLP.

‘It has been a tremendous privilege to see how this programme has made a difference by providing people with sustainable livelihoods,’ he reported.

MAF’s floatplane – the only one in Bangladesh serving humanitarian organisations – enables over 80 agencies and NGOs to continue aiming high to meet those big goals.

MAF amphibious Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft in Bangladesh