As a part of the core program of COAST Foundation, the Social Justice (SJ) division aims to build counter leadership from the poor at the local level who have the capacity for demand mediation, the ability to organize a local issue-based movement, empowers to challenge any neo-liberal activity or approach. To reach these goals SJ is operating different activities both at the staff level and group level. SJ also acts as a catalyst for demanding mediation between public agencies and people; strengthening local government institutes (LGI); empowering people to get their legal rights; capacity building of LGI; action and awareness on human rights issues; support to protect violence against women and acid throwing; political reform; and enhance the capacity of a democratic institution.
All the governance and advocacy-related activities (e.g., Education program, social justice program, local governance project, coastal rural knowledge center, Acid survivors project, reaching-out of school children project of the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh) of the organization are operated by this section.
COAST Social Justice program has newly formed 50 numbers of Branch Jono Shangatan (BJS) and 20 numbers of Upazila Jono Shangatan (UzJS) through maintaining a direct electoral process. Now all are engaged in social works to ensure human rights and governance at the local level. The Jono Shangatan is mitigating local conflicts among the group members and mediating the demands of poor people through mobilizing relevant stakeholders. To make social action plan and mitigation of their demands locally they are setting up monthly meetings regularly. Apart from those work, the Jono Shangatan is mobilizing the human rights violation issues i.e. acid throwing, Rape, kidnapping, Khash land for landless people, etc.
This is our observation that the present and existing power structures are hardly responsive to the poor and marginalized populations so there is a need of balance. Still, the structure is politicized and controlled from the central level. There is very little representation of poor people in the existing power structure that’s why services from the state level are not reaching the real people.
So, there should be an alternative power structure represented by poor people who will take a stand for the poor for their rights and entitlements. These could be facilitated by the course of actions to build an alternative power structure so that there will be an increased level of representation from poor people and also there will be a leadership that will have a pro-poor orientation. We believe that such an approach will make a balance in the present power structure that will create an egalitarian relationship with the poor and marginalized people.
We also believe that COAST exists for poor people, so there should be a space for their participation in organizational management too. Taking these in principle, we do the following institutional building/people’s organization activities i.e. forming shomity management committees with the representation of member participants in the shomity level. The president and the secretary of each shomity elect Branch Janasanghatan (BJS) and the leaders of BJS elect the Upazila Janasanghatan (UzJS) through an informal election process. There are by-laws for those committees.
All the members’ participants give regular subscriptions, which are maintained through separate bank accounts. BJS meets regularly and they transact three major agendas (a)social action for ensuring justice in their locality and (b) social action to place legitimate demand in the local level state/ government institutions, these activities are like mobilizing local level civil societies against kidnap, acid throwing, rap, corruption in local government in respect of allocation/ distribution of services, etc and (c) to take accountability of the staff in the face to face meeting and provide comments on COAST management with reference to local efforts.
The major concept of the People’s Organization is as bellows:
|Rationales||Objectives||Components||Probable Impacts||Process of implementation||Means of Verification|
|1. Present and existing power structures are hardly responsive to the poor and marginalized populations so there is a need of balance. 2. Poor and marginalized populations are hardly aware and active in realizing their legitimate rights and entitlements from state agencies, which must be facilitated in a systematic process. 3. Socially and culturally women are deprived from their rights and opportunities, they have to facilitate with positive discrimination. 4. Due to a lack of appropriate policies institutions are hardly responsive to the poor and marginalized section of the population. So, policy research and mobilization is imperative in this regard.||1. To develop an institutional arrangement to promote alternative power structure. 2. To enhance access the services to the poor from state agencies. 3. To promote dignity of women with positive discrimination both in families and society. 4. To influence in policy level for pro poor livelihood practices and institutional responses.||People Organization Demand mediation and social action Access to power structure Combating critical violence against women Advocacy and mobilization on critical livelihood issues. Development education||1. Women from poor families are organized and they are mitigating their legitimate rights and entitlements in organized way. 2. Members from poor families got access in formal (e.g., local government) and informal (e.g. school and bazaar committee etc.) power structure. 3. Policy and practice has changed so that there are better pro poor livelihood actions and movement, with especial reference to coastal population. 4. Group members are critically aware on basic health, hygiene, rights and entitlements.||1. Policy based activation, formation and election of SMCs, BJs, UzJs and DJs. 2. Monthly meeting, planning, implementation, case studies and follow up support on demand mediation and social action. 3. Training, counseling and mobilization for having access and compete in election. 4. Legal support to crucial cases to the victims of acid throwing, rape, kidnapping and minority eviction., 5. Policy research, advocacy/ campaign and district based mobilization on critical coastal livelihood issues. 6. Conducting development awareness session in weekly group meetings.||1. Resolution, constitution, meeting minutes, case study, action plan, Committees. 2. Availability of services, List of services, value of services. 3. List of PO leaders in election cometion, list of elected leaders, voting analysis, gazette notification. 4. Case registration in police station, support register and documents, 5. News paper clippings of events. Networking. Photos, participation of political policy leaders. 6. Manuals, lesson plan. Group resolution.|
Participatory Election Monitoring
COAST at Barishal City Corporation Election:
COAST deployed 6 short term observers (STOs) to observe BCC election during election day; 15th June 2013. COAST STOs observed all the 18 polling stations of ward no 7 to 12 of BCC. There have been formed 2 teams consisting of 3 STOs in each. Both the teams moved by microbus from one center to other and completed observation of two polling enters on poll opening procedures, 16 centers on voting and two centers on vote closing including counting and declaration of result.
COAST STO teams produced two types of reports followed by prescribed formats. The reports are as follows;
1. Quick impression survey report: It is a one page report containing few close ended yes no type questioner on the situation of 2/3 polling centers for a certain period of time. The 1st report was sent to EWG secretariat at 10 am, 2nd at 12.00 am, 3rd at 1.00 pm and the last one at 3.00 pm.
2. STO report; 3 different reporting formats for opening, closing and voting period that were filled soon after observing any center and directly send to EWG day after election.
The Asia foundation funded the observation activities and EWG secretariat supervised the whole process including providing training to STOs, designing the format and producing compiled and final report.
In addition to above COAST circulated the name and address of the STOs by public notice through 2 local news paper. At the notice COAST requested election related stakeholder to let COAST know if any allegations or lacking of non partisan attitude against the STOs. COAST also informed the name and addresses of the 6 STOs to mayoral candidates by letters from ED of COAST and also seek their opinion over political neutrality of the STOs. Finally COAST got 2 complaints among 8 selected STOs and finally changed them and deployed 6 STOs.
List of observers and constituencies:
Major challenges of the observation activities were faced;
– Accreditation card and strikers collection from Election Commission office in Dhaka.
– Instant report sending by one or two hours and also completing the center observation main report and simultaneously visiting centers one after another.
– 2 presiding officers denied to stay at vote counting process but the team was able to stay outside of the vote counting room and could see all the issues by the open window.
In conclusion, EWG have to conduct advocacy for observation friendly law for domestic obs.
Education and Advocacy
Education Project: COAST is working with Stromme Foundation (SF) fund for education program in 8 branches in Cox’s Bazar district under the name of ‘The South-East Coastal Development Initiative (SECDI) project. The branches are 1. Cox’s Bazar Sadar (Upazila), 2. Ramu (Upazila), 3. Moheshkhali Sadar (Upazila), 4. Hoanok (Moheshkhali Upazila), 5. Kalarmar Chora (Moheshkhali Upazila), 6. Badarkhali (Chokoria Upazila), 7. Ukhiya ((Upazila), 8. Hnila (TeknafUpazila). The main objectives of this project are: a) 10650 vulnerable children of age-group 5-12 years will have increased access to quality primary education through participation of community and POs b) 8475 Adolescents girls’ adolescent 225 boys will participate in the development process by acquiring life skills and income earning capacity; c) 08 Primary schools are capacitated to ensure quality education. Population of the project area is 1,957,321; criteria of target people: a) School drop out adolescents, b) 5+ children; total target people (direct and indirect): a) 8475 Adolescents girls’ adolescent 225 boys, b) 10650 vulnerable children of age-group 5-12 years; duration of the project is 2009-13; total financial cost for the project for the year 2010 is BDT 8248871.
At a glance activity wise expected output and impact
|Sl||Nameof major activities||Expected output||Expected impact|
|1||Adolescent Development||348 Shonglap centers||8475 Adolescents girls’ adolescent 225 boys will participate in the development process by acquiring life skills and income earning capacity.|
|2||Early Child Care Development||50 ECDC||10650 vulnerable children of age-group 5-12 years will have increased access to quality primary education through participation of community and POs|
|3||Quality Education in primary schools||08 primary schools are provided various supports||08 Primary schools are capacitated to ensure quality education.|
COAST also implemented the Reaching Out of School Children (ROSC) project of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) in Moheshkhali upazila of Cox’sbazaaar district and Charfassion upazila of Bhola district.