Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) started its journey in 1985 as a community led non-government organization with the efforts of a group of dedicated social workers through organizing the disadvantaged poor people in remote areas especially in the river islands of Teesta, Brahmaputra and Jamuna of Gaibandha district in Bangladesh. Over the period of time, the geographical coverage of GUK expanded, and presently the organization is implementing different development projects in eight districts of the country i.e. Gaibandha, Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Panchaghar, and Kustia.
Most of the working areas of GUK are poverty and disaster prone. The people of these areas have to lead their life by struggling against flood, river bank erosion, drought, cold spell, and seasonal food crisis almost every year. Economy of the area is completely dependent on agriculture, which cannot ensure working opportunity for the large number of landless day labourers round the year. During the lean period of work, the poor and extreme poor people do not have any other option than selling their labour in advance. Many male members of families have to go to other places of the country in search of work, leaving the women and children of their families behind in big uncertainty.
Social status of women is still not good. Although they have to work day and night to take care of the children and other homestead works, they have no proper recognition. They have very limited health support and rights awareness. Different types of superstitions, religious fanaticism and backward social dogmas at rural areas have been dominating the life of women.
GUK has been trying to alleviate poverty by bringing positive changes in their lives and livelihoods creating reasonable opportunities. Through continuous and sincere efforts, it has been possible for GUK to achieve significant success particularly in the arena of strengthening leadership quality of grassroots poor, empowerment of women, ensuring employment and livelihood of poor and extreme poor, disaster management, health and sanitation, access to local resources, primary education and mass awareness in changing patriarchic as well as conservative mindset. As a result, empowerment of poor people increased and overall poverty situation reduced considerably, which is reflected in various appraisals and studies.
However, according to the targets of MDGs and other development goals it is evident that a long way to go further to ensure a dignified and secured life of the grassroots poor and extreme poor people in Bangladesh.