Dhaka, October 23, 2021. The active participation of civil society organizations in development initiatives, according to civil society, is critical to making Bangladesh’s development more effective and sustainable. This was mentioned by speakers at the Bangladesh NGO-CSO Coordination Process (BDCSO Process) annual meeting today. The three-day annual meeting of the network of around 600 local and national NGOs-CSOs began today. Participants in the session titled ‘Local civil society: why and how building a third sector’ also demanded legal acknowledgment of NGOs and CSOs’ contributions to development across the country.
The session was chaired by a prominent economist and chairman of the PKSF Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmad. KM Tariqul Islam, Director General, NGO Affairs Bureau, was the Chief Guest at the session, which was chaired by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, COAST Foundation. Deputy Secretary of the Development Effectiveness Wing of the Ministry of Finance Ak Azad, Sudipta Mukherjee of UNDP and Michelle Mousulman of Christian Aid spoke as special guests. Abdul Awal of NRDS and Supro, Faizullah Chowdhury of BUP, Naeem Gawhar Wahra of Disaster Forum, Rafiqul Islam Khokon of Rupantar, Sheikh Asaduzzaman of Udayan Bangladesh and Jasmine Sultana Paru of ELLMA also spoke on the occasion.
Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed said development is at the local level. Local administration needs to involve local government as well as local civil society to make that development sustainable. Local NGOs-CSOs are working with transparency and accountability, but we have a lot more to do. We need to ensure the dignified participation of all, not just the development of our own organization.
NGOs, according to KM Tariqul Islam, play a critical role in the development of marginalized people, particularly at the grassroots level, despite their many limitations. In addition to the government, NGOs and CSOs play an important role in development. On the one hand, civil society will communicate the government’s message to citizens, and on the other side, civil society will communicate the citizens’ words to the government. Civil society must also be well prepared and capacitated.
Michael Mosulman said that local civil society works with local people, and local organizations are accountable to local people. Therefore, local organizations can play an important role in conveying the views of the local people and thus ensuring the accountability of the government. Azad said that, we have entered an era of development effectiveness from the aid effectiveness. The Government of Bangladesh is leading the world in making development effective, and the government is committed to creating opportunities for civil society to participate in development activities. Sudipta Mukherjee said the role of civil society in Bangladesh is commendable all over the world. To make development sustainable, it has to rely on local strength, and local organizations can play an effective role in involving local people. Increasing the efficiency of local organizations actually requires long-term funding and cooperation, but sadly the truth is that it is not actually available.
Abdul Awal said the benefits of development can be made sustainable by involving those in development strategies for whom development activities will be conducted. Civil society has an important role to play in ensuring that no one is left out of the development journey. Rafiqul Islam said that the biggest recognition of the civil society organization actually comes from the grassroots people for whom we work. Jasmine Sultana Paru said civil society played an important role in rebuilding the country during and after the liberation war. Even at the present time, civic organizations are playing an active role in the socio-economic development of the country as well as in meeting the development targets and disaster management. Therefore, all parties concerned should cooperate in the development of these grassroots organizations. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that the civil society of Bangladesh is working to implement the spirit of liberation war through positive involvement with the government. And so these contributions need formal recognition.