New program to create Bangladesh's next generation of community leaders

Jan 17, 2013, 08:00 ET from Counterpart International

USAID-funded initiative engages communities in their development

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A grassroots program will prepare thousands of Bangladesh youth to become advocates to alleviate poverty, create jobs, improve the environment and more in their communities, Counterpart International announced today. (


Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the nonprofit Counterpart International, the five-year program also targets current leaders of community organizations in order to enhance their ability improve public policy for their constituents.

"Counterpart's proven methods enable residents and leaders to become active participants in their communities' public affairs in order to improve their lives," says Joan Parker, Counterpart's President and CEO. "We are excited that USAID has selected Counterpart to carry out this important program."

The youth Leadership Development Program launched Jan. 17 at an event in the capital of Dhaka, which included U.S. Ambassador Dan W. Mozena, Bangladesh State Minister for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Md. Ahad Ali Sarkar and Embassy of Demark's Charge d'affairs Lene Volkersen. About 100 people attended the opening ceremony. (

Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries – with more than 150 million people living in 55,813 square miles, which is about the size of the U.S. state of Iowa. Up to 40 percent live in poverty; they lack access to clean water, sewage systems and electricity.

"Bangladesh's challenges are enormous and complex," says Parker. "This program will give current and future civil society leaders the tools to bring residents, the private sector, the government and others together to create and advance their development agenda."

Counterpart's techniques
In addition to techniques to improve leadership and building partnerships among a variety of stakeholders, the program will assist communities in the development of participatory projects and provide grants to support their implementation.

Counterpart Vice President of Civil Society, Sibel Berzeg, emphasizes the power of the tools they will use within these communities, such as the "Appreciative Inquire Approach" to mobilization.

"Our experience has shown that resource-strapped communities are often overcome by apathy and focus on problems rather than solutions," Berzeg says. "We use our Appreciative Inquiry Approach to get the community to redirect its efforts and to use its assets to generate sustainable resources for development both now and in the future."

Program to include women & girls
Bangladesh has a "complex web of demographic, socio-economic, political and cultural attitudes" that shape community attitudes towards gender, Berzeg says. Indeed, the UN reports that women and girls are vulnerable to exploitation; they are likely to be married by age 15 and are less likely to obtain a higher education.

Berzeg says inclusion of women and girls will be a high priority in Counterpart's leadership development program.

About Counterpart International
Counterpart International is a global development organization that works in partnership to empower people, communities and institutions to drive and sustain their own development. It is currently working in 23 countries.

For nearly 50 years, Counterpart has been working in partnership with communities in need to address complex problems related to economic development, nutrition and health, humanitarian assistance and strengthening civil society.

Learn more at

Media Contact:
Michael J. Zamba
Vice President, Communications & Partnerships
Counterpart International
2345 Crystal Drive – Suite 301
Arlington, VA 22202
Tel.: (571) 447-5786

SOURCE Counterpart International