Building Participatory Democracy from the Bottom Up in Rural Bangladesh
In May 2013, The Hunger Project-Bangladesh launched a two-year project, supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), entitled "MDG Unions: Building Participatory Democracy from the Bottom Up in Rural Bangladesh."
This project will build on recent legal reforms to demonstrate that improving governance at the local government level (the Union Parishad, or UP) by building the capacity of the UP and uniting it with an active, mobilized citizenry, particularly through implementation of the village assembly (Ward Shava), can accelerate progress for social and economic development.
The objective is to build the capacity of both the elected local government bodies (UPs) and grassroots civil society to work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The expected outcomes are:
- increased awareness and a transformation of mindset of both the people and the local government representatives,
- expanded participation of women in the public space,
- affordable and sustainable progress in local MDG indicators, and
- awareness of this impact by the media and policymakers.
The strategy is to create 10 MDG Unions across two districts through intensive capacity building and mobilization, ensuring that each Union properly implements four key provisions of the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act, 2009:
- holding twice annual public assemblies in each ward,
- feeding ward-level priorities to properly functioning standing committees,
- supporting the standing committees to create a Five-Year Plan for the Union, and
- publishing a citizen charter.
The outcomes of this process and the action campaigns it generates will be reported to the media and to national policymakers, encouraging them to ensure proper implementation of these reforms nationwide.