About 40 years ago famine gripped Bangladesh after a war for independence. There was virtually no electricity in the rural areas, and the government struggled to rebuild. In response to these needs and with support from NRECA International and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government drafted a 1978 ordinance that created the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB). This led to a plan that included adopting the electric co-op model which eventually improved the quality of life for millions.
In 1980 about 13,000 people living in the rural areas had access to electricity. By the end of that year, the BREB and 13 local co-ops or PBS (Palli Bidyut Samities ) were established. Today, 80 PBSes serve more than 100 million people across the country. Since NRECA International’s involvement, the average annual income for Bangladeshi homes with electricity increased by 250%. Read more.
The people of Bangladesh
All photos by Mahmud Hossain Opu
Electricity helps this farmer irrigate his rice fields, allowing him to have more harvests each year.
Mr. Aslam Khan, runs a clinic in a village near Tangail. After 12 years, electricity has become a way of life. His children are rewarded with computer time when they get good grades.
Mr. Mujibur Rahman was a freedom fighter during the 1971 Liberation War for independence. The best change with electricity? The fan to cool him down.
This farmer's electric rice mill keeps him busy in the corner of his village. After 12 years of electricity, he wants to buy another.
A very productive and well used electric rice mill in a village near Tangail.
A long line of customers wait to pay their electricity bill at the Tangail PBS. Collection rates in Bangladesh are at almost 100%.
A rickshaw driver patiently waits for customers outside the Manikganj PBS.
A worker carefully lifting dyed yarn to prepare for weaving.
Overhead lights have replaced kerosene lamps for workers in small village fabric factories.
Electricity brought women out of the house and into the workforce about 30 years ago. Today, they make up most of the workforce in the garment industry.
A saree in the making. In this small loom factory in the Tangail District, men produce the beautiful fabrics.
This garment factory in Manikganj hires 7000 people from nearby areas. The warehouse can store up to 3 million yards of fabric.
A garment factory worker sorting out jeans for packing.
A street lamp provides light to the garment factory's cafeteria.
After 12 years of electricity this shop's inventory includes ice cream, a sellout on hot days.
Ms. Najmah Aktar, sells delicious tea on a side street in her village. Each day she turns on the TV in her shop to attract more customers.
Ms. Najmah Aktar's customers, staying a little bit longer.
In 2002 school enrollment was 64% higher in electrified villages.