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Civic Engagement Alliance in Bangladesh

Countries:
Start project:
  • 2017
Donors:
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Partners:
  • ICCO

In Bangladesh, through CE project, ICCO will support CSOs at the national, regional and local level to enhance their lobby & advocacy skills and access. Through a bottom up approach, grassroots civil societywill be trained to feed input into regional and national level platforms, and, as a result, the overall space for CSOs to operate will increase. In addition, the project will focus on evidence based lobby related to different programs and connect that evidence to lobby strategies.

A central objective of CEA is to counter the limited, and decreasing, political space for CSOs around the world. Strengthening the lobbying and advocacy (L&A) capacity of CSOs is central to our Theory of Change (ToC) and the themes addressed in the ToC are closely related to the Multi Annual Strategic Plan (MASP) of ICCO Cooperation, which builds on two main pillars: Justice and Dignity for All and Sustainable Livelihoods.������
SPCC program will be implemented by the ICCO Consortium which is consists of six members: ICCO (lead), Kerk in Actie, coPrisma, Edukans, Wilde Ganzen and CNV Internationaal.

The overall goal of this strategic partnership is to ensure that CSOs and civil society at large in the global South, as well as the global context, can contribute to decreasing inequality and injustice in societies in order to create the conditions for just economic, social and political development. The ToC of CEA contains three pathways of change in Bangladesh, which we believe will enable us to achieve our overall goal:
1. Political space for CSOs: The goal of Pathway 1 is to support and strengthen civil-society organizations (CSO) to be vibrant, with the ability to lobby and advocate for their rights and set their own priorities in a changing and challenging environment. This pathway will work on land rights and informal agro-sector labor issues.
2. Realizing the right to adequate food and nutrition: In order to demonstrate a cost-effective, replicable and scalable model for the prevention of stunting among beneficiary groups in target areas and beyond, pathway 2 will work with the CSA-SUN platform to raise awareness of local CSOs on national nutrition policy and build their capacity on lobby & advocacy. Through the project, local CSOs will then lobby with different public and private sector actors for improved implementation of both nutrition specific and sensitive interventions.
3. Small-producer empowerment and inclusive markets: Over the next five years, pathway 3 will expand the capacity of union level federations of producer organizations and private service providers in policy influencing and advocacy for inclusive market with focus on production, service delivery and market access aspects. Through this pathway, ICCO will facilitate to organize public private initiative platforms through inclusion of public-sector agents, traders association, service providers association and federated producer organizations. The project will also build capacity of different market actors, so that they understand the concept of public private initiatives and have the necessary skills to effectively lobby and advocate for their needs.

Project Updates

Resisting Irregularities

Resisting Irregularities: Access to Khas Water Body Resisting Irregularities: Access to Khas Water Body Resisting Irregularities: Access to Khas Water Body Resisting Irregularities: Access to Khas Water Body Distribution and leasing khas land and jalmahal water body was not always transparent. The landless association need to know some laws and build their negotiation skills to claim their rights. The Intrigue of Khas Land In Bangladesh, a state-owned land or commonly known as khas land or jalmahal for state-owned water body started to be redistributed to the landless people in the 1980s. Unfortunately the beneficiaries of khas land distribution do not always go to the poorest, khas land is either illegally occupied by the rich politically influential households or large national corporations. Leasing of land against a fixed amount of cash rent is now the dominant mode. ���Sudoher beel���, a 3.09 acres khas water body, was seized by a fishermen���s group, named Pachiyarpur Fishermen Cooperative Society, with local political support. In 2017, Shaghata Upazila Jalmahal Management Committee (committee at sub-district level) circulated an open tender, where ten fishermen���s groups participated. However, with the influence of representatives of the local political party, Pachiyarpur again received the award to lease the water body for three years (2017-2019). Following this incident, Shaghata Upazilla Landless Association, which works for both agricultural farmers and fishermen, reviewed the relevant for leasing of water-bodies. From the Jalmahal Management Policy 2009 and circular 6 of the lease notifications, they identified an important clause mentioning that one fisheries society cannot take lease of more than two marshes/water-bodies at the same time. However, Pachiyarpur Fishermen Cooperative Society had already leased two water bodies , which was clearly a violation of the policy. Demand of Transparency In March 2017, the landless association submitted a letter to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (Sub-district Executive Officer) demanding investigation and scrapping of the lease application. A copy of the letter was sent to the Deputy Commissioner of Gaibandha District. The landless association also held a discussion on these irregularities with their representative Member of Parliament . Under the direction of the Deputy Commissioner, the Upazila administration investigated the allegations put forward and it was proven that Pachiyarpur Fishermen Cooperative Society had taken lease of two water-bodies. As a result, their application was rejected. The Upazila Jalmahal Management Committee accepted the tender application of another landless fishermen���s group, Putimari Fishermen Cooperative Society, after verification and decided to lease the water body to them as per the rules and regulations. As a result, the Putimari Fishermen Cooperative Society took lease of ���Sudoher Beel��� for three years by paying BDT 80,005 from their group savings. ��� I am very happy to get access to this water body. We are very much grateful to the project, Nijera Kori and local Member of Parliament (MP) because without their support it was not possible for us��� said Parimal Chandra, Chairman of the Putimari Fishermen Cooperative Society. Partnership Civil Engagement Alliance (CEA) Program in Bangladesh focuses on land rights issues by support and strengthen civil society organisation (CSO) with the ability to lobby and advocate for their rights. We works together with our local partner, Nijera Kori, they facilitated the training on lobby and advocacy, ���Right to Information Act���, as well as the ���Agriculture Khas Land Management and Distribution Policy 1997��� and ���Bangladesh Water Act 2013��� to landless associations. The leaders of these groups also received training on negotiation skills and tactics on mobilizing support. They also analyzed all the policies, tendering process, and background of parties involved in land-grabbing. The experience and knowledge from these trainings made them confident and skilled to deal with such irregularities and fight for their own right in a progressive manner. Next lobby and advocacy target Furthermore, ICCO and Nijera Kori have several issues on the lobby and advocacy agenda which are: (a) Developed legal procedures to screen association properly this can barred fake association enjoying the khas land, (b) Representatives of landless agricultural group member/leader and independent NGO should be included in the khas land management and distribution committees, (c) Transparency should be ensured in providing information on the khas land management and distribution committees activities.

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