cover image Hope over Fate: Fazle Hasan Abed and the Science of Ending Global Poverty

Hope over Fate: Fazle Hasan Abed and the Science of Ending Global Poverty

Scott MacMillan. Rowman & Littlefield, $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5381-6492-1

This inspirational account credits Fazle Hasan Abed (1936–2019) and his Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee, now called BRAC, with helping to “upend the traditions of misery and poverty in Bangladesh.” MacMillan, a director at BRAC USA, traces the organization’s roots to 1970, when Abed, then working as the finance executive at Shell Pakistan, witnessed the devastation a cyclone brought to his native Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan). At the time of its independence in 1971, Bangladesh was the second poorest nation in the world. “One in four children died before their fifth birthday,” MacMillan notes, but by 2013, the under-five mortality had fallen to 4%. The turnaround came in large part thanks to BRAC’s incentive-based training program, which taught mothers how to mix a home remedy of water, sugar, and salt to treat life-threatening diarrhea. Other BRAC initiatives, based on Abed’s business background and conviction that people need to feel “a sense of self-worth,” included microloans and the creation of small schools where children and adults were taught by someone from their own village. Though the narrative gets bogged down somewhat in the technical details of how Abed built BRAC into one of the largest nongovernmental organizations in the world, what emerges is an exhaustive portrait of advocacy in action. This is a detailed study of how change happens. (Aug.)