Project: Journey for Advancement in Transparency, Representation and Accountability (JATRA) 
Country: Bangladesh
Sector: Governance
Executing Agency: Care Bangladesh
Grant Amount: $644,138
Closing Date: March, 2018

Challenge

The Government of Bangladesh has sought to strengthen community involvement in local governance in order to improve programs for the poor and vulnerable. In 2009, the Government passed an Act emphasizing needs for transparency, accountability, and community participation in Bangladesh’s 4,550 Union Parishads (UPs), which are the smallest administrative units responsible for law and order and public services. Country and donor initiatives have since supported initiatives aligned to this priority, including the World Bank’s Second Local Governance Support Project, and CARE Bangladesh’s Extreme Rural Poverty Program.

Local officials have encountered difficult challenges in implementing the Union Parishad Act, particularly in ensuring transparency in UPs and establishing public participation channels for women and the poor. Among other things, UP officials lack understanding of their roles and capacity to manage and disseminate budgetary data. Engagement is undermined because the poor have limited capacity to mobilize themselves and apply social accountability tools, such as citizen scorecards. These and other capacity gaps are prevalent across the country, including in the northwest Nilphamari and Gaibandha Districts where CARE Bangladesh is heavily engaged.

Solution

Complementing its existing work, CARE Bangladesh received a GPSA grant to strengthen the transparency and accountability of 8 UPs in Nilphamari and 7 UPs in Gaibhanda, and to design and implement social accountability tools. It is important to highlight, that this grant complements another grant in Bangladesh that has been awarded to the Manusher Jonno Foundation (add link) in 2013 to support local CSOs in building the capacity of UPs in other regions of Bangladesh, including Haor and the coast. The grant provided to CARE Bangladesh consists of three components and are geared towards: 1) introducing decision-making spaces and tools, such as citizen scorecards, supporting citizen participation in budget planning and monitoring; 2) collaborating with UPs and the media to support the transparent provision of – and access to – budget information, and 3) sharing lessons and knowledge materials with multiple stakeholders, including donors and national agencies, to scale-up efforts.

Expected Results

The grant is expected to generate gains in citizen participation over its three year timeframe. More specifically it will result in:

  1. Increase in the share of concerns raised by the poor reflected in UP budgets from 5% to 80%, as driven by new social accountability tools, participatory spaces, and other activities supported by the project.

  2. Increase in the share of UP budget allocations to services targeting the poor from around 30% to 70%.

  3. Increase in the share of the population in targeted UPs with knowledge about their rights and entitlements.

  4. Increase in availability of key public budget documents from 10% to 80%.

  5. Increase in UP revenues coming from local taxes from 10% to 80%, due to enhanced citizen trust.  

  6. Capacity building of journalists; organization of community radio programs on transparent budgeting; strengthening of UP Information Centers; and establishment of UP helplines.

  7. Establishment of a sustainable platform for knowledge sharing between project stakeholders, government officials, and the World Bank.

Lessons

The grant is at its early stages and lessons will be added as they becomeavailable. However, the design of the grant accounted for lessons from CARE Bangladesh’s previous work, calling for representation of the poor and women in decision-making, and engagement with elected officials to ensure a “mindset change” in favor of participatory local governance.

 

Related Project: Social Engagement for Budgetary Accountability (SEBA)

Year: 
2013
Country(s): 
Bangladesh
Sector: 
Social Protection