Letter: Banking on dignity amid Bangladeshi disaster

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The Independent Online
I READ with interest Rupert Cornwell's article on the floods in the United States which have so far killed 43 people ('Crime falls as community spirit floods Midwest', 25 July). I find the contrast with Bangladesh interesting. There, 4,000 are feared dead and more than 500,000 homes have been destroyed in floods.

In the US work is in hand to enable people's lives to return to normal, whereas most Bangladeshis will never recover. That is, apart from a small group of people who have borrowed from the Grameen Bank. This bank, which lends money only to the poorest people to start their own small businesses, has provided its borrowers with money to rebuild their lives, paid for by an insurance system run by the bank. No charity, no hand-outs; the flood's victims kept their dignity.

This same bank is now planning to extend this scheme around the world via the Grameen Trust. This trust aims to generate replica banks around the world, modelled on the Grameen Bank, using a very rigorous and disciplined approach.

This is an opportunity for the UK Government to fund the Grameen Trust (via the Overseas Development Administration), and thus allow other victims of disasters around the world to be better protected. I hope the British Government will decide to provide the funding.

Robin J Asher

Bexleyheath, Kent

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