Welcome to Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) website

Background & Context

Gaibandha, a northern district of Bangladesh, is a disaster and poverty-prone area which is surrounded by three big rivers, Teesta, Brahmaputra, and Jamuna.  Geographically, Gaibandha is a pocket district and it is one of the poorest and most food insecure area in Bangladesh. According to ‘Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES)-2016’ published by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), poverty rate of the district is 46.7 while the document mentioned 24.3% overall poverty rate in Bangladesh. Less level of economic development outside agriculture, widespread temporary unemployment and underemployment, very low wages, lack of skills and inputs contribute to continuing deprivation of this area. No industrial settlement has been established in this region. People living here have to experience natural disasters particularly frequent floods, riverbank erosion, cold wave and droughts almost every year which put huge pressure on their livelihood. Many families are internally displaced every year due to river erosion. The economy of the area is completely dependent on agriculture, which cannot ensure working opportunities for landless day laborers round the year. Male members from many poor families go to other cities of the country in search of work leaving behind their wives and children in a vulnerable situation. Some people go abroad with the hope to change their fate, however, lack of proper information about safe migration leads them to seek support from informal channels, which increases the chances of trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Due to lack of skills and employment opportunities, young suffer from frustration and get involved in various antisocial activities which brings disorder in family as well as society. Farmers do not get fair price of their products due to lack of storage and marketing facilities. People have very limited access to public and private resources. 

This area is severely impacted by climate change which affects women more severely than men. They have to experience severe problems during floods and seperated women, children and Persons with Disabilities become usually the most helpless. Women living here are always deprived from various opportunies due to economic and social reasons which leads to gender inequality in family and society that makes barriers for women’s participation in economic activities. Young women face multi-dimensional difficulties and constraints. They have limited access to education that force them to get early marriage and consequently, suffer from various health complications due to inadequate health facilities. Pregnant and lactating mothers as well as children living in the remotest locations suffer from malnutrition. Women’s right and dignity are hampered fatally in the hard-to-reach areas especially in the river island (char) areas. Not only physical and psychological violence, divorce, Nikah Halala, child marriage, and dowry, unlawful rulings or Fatwa are also used as weapons against women. Some dedicated social activists established Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) in 1985 to work for the disadvantaged and destitute people of this area with the purpose to bring positive and sustainable changes in their lives. GUK started its journey from Gaibandha and gradually expanded other locations in Bangladesh. Presently, it is implementing various development programme in 15 districts in the country including Rohingya response in Cox’s Bazar. The organisation has capacity to respond any disaster in Bangladesh using its experiences and skilled staff members.

Key Programme Focuses

Livelihood and Food Security, Education and Child Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response, Climate Change Adaptation, Safe Migration, Inclusive Financing, Women Empowerment & Gender-based Violence, Human Rights, Good Governance, Skill Development and Job Placement of Youths, Health, Nutrition and WASH, Disability Inclusive Development, Agriculture and Market Linkage, Research and Policy Influence, etc. Different integrated programmes are taken by the organisation to achieve its objectives.

Organisational Division for Eradicating Poverty & Empowering People:

  1. Social Development Programme
  2. Financial Inclusion & Economic Empowerment
  3. Social Business & Enterprises

1. Social Development Programme
Under the Social Development Programme, the Organisation carries out different development and humanitarian projects. Currently, a total of 32 projects are being implemented in collaboration with government and non-government development partners including INGOs, UN agencies as well as GUK own resources.

2. Financial Inclusion & Economic Empowerment
Under the Financial Inclusion & Economic Empowerment Sector, GUK is operating Livelihood Microfinance Programme (LMP) for the economic empowerment of disadvantaged people especially women through inclusive financing. It is the core programme of the organisation. It was initiated in line with other development projects with the aim of bringing sustainable development, especially in the lives of women and disadvantaged populations. Over 60000 families are currently involved with this programme. The microfinance programme provides three types of financing options for its group members e.g. (1) Jagoron (Awakening), (2) Agrosor (Move forward- a programme for enterprise development) and Sufolon (Promoting livestock and agriculture). The group members are being engaged in diversified economic activities like agriculture, handicrafts, Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by receiving inclusive financial support.  

3. Social businesses & Enterprises
GUK have social businesses for the better interest of poor people which are creating employment opportunities and market linkage to get a fair price. These initiatives are also contributing to making social changes. Total profit earned from these initiatives is being used in education for children from marginalized families as well as to promote social activities.

The social business and enterprises are-
1. GUK Hospital;
2. GUK Diagnostic & Physiotherapy Centre;
3. GUK De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre;
4. GUK Institute of Engineering and Technology (GUKIET);
5. GUK Super Tasty Food and Beverage;
6. GUK Super Tasty Cheese;
7. GUK Agricultural Farm;
8. GUK Training Center;
9. GUK Printing;
10. GUK Media.

Where We Work
Generally, we give priority to the following geographical locations for the improvement of overall livelihood condition of vulnerable and marginalsed people.

  • Disaster and poverty-prone areas;
  • River basin areas and chars (river island);
  • Most vulnerable and Indigenous communities;
  • Displaced, migrated and refugee communities.

We Work For
The organisation always gives priority to inclusion of the following groups of people in its development interventions.

  • Poor, extremely poor female and male;
  • Persons and children with disabilities;
  • Indigenous people;
  • Marginalised farmers;
  • Small and medium entrepreneurs;
  • Adolescents, youth and children;
  • Trafficking-in-Person and GBV Survivors;
  • Those who suffer from unsafe migration

Mainstreaming Issues
The following themes are the mainstreaming issues within the organisation. 

GenderChild Protection
Environment, Climate Change & DRRDisability and Ethnic Minority