BRAC was created to assist the war-ravaged population following Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, thus its humanitarian identity is at the core of its ethos and foundations. Since then, BRAC has stood by people who live in the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged situations with emergency response, recovery, and rehabilitation support after all major disasters in Bangladesh. This includes floods in 1988, 1998, 2004, 2017, 2019 and 2020; flash floods of 2017; the 1991 cyclone, Cyclone Sidr in 2007, Cyclone Aila in 2009, Cyclone Roanu in 2016, Cyclone Mora in 2017, Cyclone Bulbul in 2019, and Super Cyclone Amphan in 2020; the tornado of 1989; drought of 1989; landslide in 2017; industrial building collapse of 2013, and a significant number of fire incidents across Bangladesh.
Over the years BRAC has also extended its support to some of the major humanitarian crises outside of Bangladesh. These include the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Sri Lanka; the 2010 floods in Pakistan, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti; the Ebola crisis (2014-16) in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
BRAC has been responding to one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises since 2017, when the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals (Rohingya) took refuge in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. BRAC Humanitarian Crisis Management Programme (HCMP) began with a focus on lifesaving interventions and reactive emergency responses, particularly in WASH and shelter provision. As the situation evolved, the programme incorporated interventions to support everyone affected by the crisis, in both camps and host communities. Currently, BRAC is the largest civil society responder to almost 1.3 million Rohingya population and host communities in Cox’s Bazar. It is providing humanitarian support through a multi-sectoral integrated approach combining WASH, shelter and non-food items, health, nutrition, site management support, education, protection, child protection, food security, and communication with the community.
BRAC is also significantly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Bangladesh and the other countries where it operates, with around 100,000 field staff and volunteers. It is successfully reaching over 110 million households with integrated interventions around emergency health, risk communication and public awareness raising, food and cash support and early socio-economic recovery services.
Emerging from the need to address disaster management efforts more efficiently, effectively, and timely, BRAC created a dedicated programme for Disaster Environment and Climate Change in 2008. This was restructured and renamed as BRAC Humanitarian Programme (BHP) in 2018. BHP works to strengthen resilience across the most vulnerable communities and provides holistic humanitarian support to the people affected by disasters and crises.