Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah (R.)

The latest OPEC Fund Annual Award for Development, recognizing significant contributions to sustainable development worldwide, has been won by Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM). A non-governmental organization based in the capital of Bangladesh, DAM was honored for its wide-ranging work in support of underprivileged women and smallholder farmers across Bangladesh.  

The OPEC Fund’s award was first introduced in 2006 and includes a US$100,000 prize. The theme of the prize in 2023 is dedicated to the crossroads of gender equality and climate action.

Presenting the award today at the OPEC Fund headquarters in Vienna, the OPEC Fund President Abdulhamid Alkhalifa said: “Rising climate risk and vulnerability are affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Bangladesh. We recognize DAM’s significant work to support communities especially women smallholder farmers, and increase the resilience of farming. We hope the OPEC Fund’s prize will help to support even more communities in need.”

DAM’s innovative Agricultural Extension Support Activity project, has supported nearly 4,000 village-level farmer producer groups in 12 districts of central and southwest Bangladesh, empowering more than 115,000 women and smallholder farmers around production and marketing of six prioritized value chains – jute, chili, mung bean, beef fattening, dairy and fish. Bangladesh is the third-highest rice-producing country and agriculture makes up every second livelihood. However the country’s agricultural sector has been hit by the climate crisis with floods and extreme weather conditions as well as a salinity intrusion, which affects fresh water availability into the river systems and therefore, deteriorates usability of drinking and irrigation water.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission President Kazi Rafiqul Alam said: “Poor people, especially the climate vulnerable women of coastal belts and saline-prone areas are our top priority focus for determining and designing projects in those areas. We try to provide means of livelihood by making available simple technological tools for agriculture. Receiving this award will further increase our efforts in this field.”

DAM has been implementing the USAID Agricultural Extension Support project in partnership with CARE Bangladesh and mPower. The farmer producer groups involved in the project are working together to demand and receive extension services and training, as well as collectively purchasing inputs at lower prices and aggregating supply to negotiate better prices for their products. Training and capacity building focuses on empowering producers to request information, skills and technologies that can be uses to improve production and marketing of farm products.

Now in its 17th year, the OPEC Fund Annual Award for Development recognizes individuals and organizations for their outstanding work in, and contributions to, development. Previous winners include the African Agency for Integrated Development (AAID) for promoting clean cooking technologies in Uganda; Earthspark International for scaling-up energy access in Haiti; Vida Duti in recognition of her work in striving for sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Ghana; BRAC Bangladesh for its support of Rohingya refugees; and the Bolivian Confederation of campesinos, indigenous and native women Bartolina Sisa.

About the OPEC Fund

The OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund) is the only globally mandated development institution that provides financing from member countries to non-member countries exclusively. The organization works in cooperation with developing country partners and the international development community to stimulate economic growth and social progress in low- and middle-income countries around the world. The OPEC Fund was established in 1976 with a distinct purpose: to drive development, strengthen communities and empower people. Our work is people-centered, focusing on financing projects that meet essential needs, such as food, energy, infrastructure, employment (particularly relating to MSMEs), clean water and sanitation, healthcare and education. To date, the OPEC Fund has committed about US$27 billion to development projects in over 125 countries with an estimated total project cost of more than US$200 billion. The OPEC Fund is rated AA+/Outlook Stable by Fitch and AA+, Outlook Stable by S&P. Our vision is a world where sustainable development is a reality for all.