Government and NGOs in South Asia: Local Collaboration in Bangladesh 9780367423513, 9780367855215

This book analyses efforts of Bangladeshi government and NGOs to strengthen local governance, and identifies the challen

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Table of contents :
Half Title
List of figures
List of tables
List of boxes
List of case studies
List of appendices
List of abbreviations
2 Strengthening local governance: a conceptual lens for the study of GO-NGO
collaborative programmes
Government initiatives for strengthening local governance in Bangladesh
4 Collaborative programmes: collective GO-NGO measures
5 Shepherding capacity building through GO-NGO
6 The role of GO-NGO
eamwork in increasing people’s participation in local governance
Collaboration between an NGO project and local government institutions: an effort to improve accountability and transparency
collaborative efforts bring fiscal autonomy of local government units? An examination
Mainstreaming gender in the local governance: the outcomes of collaboration between local government units and an NGO project
10 NGOs’ collaboration with local government institutions: aspects, sustainability and challenges
11 Conclusion: insights for theory, policy implications, and modelling of GO-NGO
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Government and NGOs in South Asia

This book analyses efforts of the Bangladeshi government and NGOs to strengthen local governance, and identifies the challenges posed by collaboration with NGOs. Presenting a predominantly qualitative study, the analysis explores whether engagement between the Sharique project to strengthen local governance and the Union Parishads has translated into success. In doing so, it argues that evidence points to a positive impact on institutionalising good governance and fiscal autonomy through widening participation in planning and decision-­making, reinforcing accountability of functionaries, and enhancing tax collection. Furthermore, this book demonstrates that the collaboration has aided the process of development of social capital between officials of councils and NGOs, as well as amongst the community members, encouraging future partnership governance. However, with the phasing out of the project as a propelling force, it also shows that the results fall short of being sustainable and, as such, that statuary support, unequivocal political commitment, and incentivising engagements are required to stabilise outcomes. Bridging a gap in the Development Studies literature, this book presents new findings on the collaboration of NGOs at the local level. It will be of interest to academics working in the fields of South Asian Studies, Development Studies, and Asian Politics. Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Chowmuhani Government SA College, Noakhali, Bangladesh. His main areas of academic interest include (local) governance, NGOs, service-­delivery, women’s empowerment, and remittances. Pranab Kumar Panday, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. He was a senior Fulbright fellow in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University, USA, in 2012. Panday’s main areas of research include political participation, social movements, NGOs and civil society, governance, and gender studies.

Routledge Studies in South Asian Politics

The Socio-­political Ideas of BR Ambedkar Liberal Constitutionalism in a Creative Mould Bidyut Chakrabarty The Politics of US Aid to Pakistan Aid Allocation and Delivery from Truman to Trump Murad Ali India, Democracy and Constitutional Identity Ideological Beliefs and Preferences Bidyut Chakrabarty Sharia and the State in Pakistan Blasphemy Politics Farhat Haq Gender and Hindu Nationalism Understanding Masculine Hegemony Prem Kumar Vijayan Hindu Nationalism in India Ideology and Politics Bidyut Chakrabarty and Bhuwan Jha Electoral Politics and Hindu Nationalism in India The Bharatiya Jana Sangh, 1951–1971 Koushiki Dasgupta Government and NGOs in South Asia Local Collaboration in Bangladesh Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder and Pranab Kumar Panday For more information about this series, please visit: asianstudies/series/RSSAP

Government and NGOs in South Asia Local Collaboration in Bangladesh Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder and Pranab Kumar Panday

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder and Pranab Kumar Panday The right of Mohammad Jahangir Hossain Mojumder and Pranab Kumar Panday to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-­in-­Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-­Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-­0-­367-­42351-­3 (hbk) ISBN: 978-­0-­367-­85521-­5 (ebk) Typeset in Baskerville by Apex CoVantage, LLC


List of figuresvii List of tablesviii List of boxesix List of case studiesx List of appendicesxi List of abbreviationsxii Prefacexvi  1 Introduction


  2 Strengthening local governance: a conceptual lens for the study of GO-­NGO collaborative programmes


  3 Government initiatives for strengthening local governance in Bangladesh


  4 Collaborative programmes: collective GO-­NGO measures


  5 Shepherding capacity building through GO-­NGO collaboration105   6 The role of GO-­NGO teamwork in increasing people’s participation in local governance


  7 Collaboration between an NGO project and local government institutions: an effort to improve accountability and transparency


 8 Do GO-­NGO collaborative efforts bring fiscal autonomy of local government units? An examination


vi  Contents

  9 Mainstreaming gender in the local governance: the outcomes of collaboration between local government units and an NGO project


10 NGOs’ collaboration with local government institutions: aspects, sustainability and challenges


11 Conclusion: insights for theory, policy implications, and modelling of GO-­NGO collaboration


Glossary266 Index267


2.1 Conceptual framework 4.1 Functional flow of collaboration between UPs and Sharique 6.1 The level of satisfaction with the process of invitation (citizens’ perception) 7.1 Response of the citizens on varied aspects of UPs on mean scores of a 5-­point Likert scale 8.1 UPs income from taxes 11.1 Proposed model of GO-­NGO collaboration

47 83 136 168 188 260


3.1 Summary of the acts and the ordinances related to local governments in Bangladesh 65 3.2 Outlines of strategies and initiatives of varied FYPs for SLG 71 4.1 The Sharique project at a glance 81 5.1 Avenues of participation in the activities of the UP (citizens’ perception) 110 5.2 The reasons behind introduction of WS and OBM (citizens’ opinion) 111 5.3 Incidence of audit queries 116 5.4 Mapping of documentation 118 6.1 The process of inviting people to WS (opinions of officials and citizens) 135 6.2 Frequencies of citizens’ participation at WS (citizens’ opinion) 141 7.1 Inclusion of demands (placed at WSs) in budgets (2016–2017)151 7.2 The reaction of the officials to citizens’ questions 165 (citizens’ opinions) 7.3 Information displayed in boards or notice boards and their states 172 8.1 UPs sources of taxes and rates 184 8.2 Sources of non-­tax income in UPs 185 8.3 Ratio of total own income and the total expenditures 190 9.1 Impediments of women to participate in politics 200 9.2 Allocation for women in budgets (actual) of the UPs (in BDT) 204 9.3 Performance of the FMs according to supply-­side actors 212 9.4 Causes of dissatisfaction showed by FMs 215 10.1 The ways UP officials cooperated with the Sharique project (officials’ opinions) 221


5.1 Order published on websites followed immediately 5.2 The female member needs to go far: an instance from Maria UP 5.3 The experience of a male member from Maria UP 6.1 An instance of successful collective demand 6.2 People’s collective voice brought promising outcomes 7.1 Complaint boxes installed 7.2 A conscientious school teacher caused budget rectification

120 124 124 144 144 156 175

Case studies

7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 9.1 9.2 9.3

Marzina Khatun got the old-age allowance Eidul Pramanik not alone, UP stood beside him Solar panel reinstalled in public place Female member apologised Padmaabati got an explanation Mousumi became an enlightened woman Jahanara became a member of the UP JSC examinee escaped child marriage

154 154 157 166 167 207 208 214


7.1 Websites of UPs & their status during FY 2017–2018




access to information annual development programme Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development basic block grant basic democracy order Bangladesh Taka Bangladesh municipal development fund Bangladesh Nationalist Party Bangladesh rural advance committee Bangladesh rural development board Bangladesh rural development training institute national basic capacity development cooperative for assistance and relief everywhere committee for administrative reform/reorganization capacity building community-­based organisation citizen charter community empowerment programme Centre for Natural Resource Studies Church of Sweden Centre for Policy Dialogue community scorecard civil society organisation non-­party caretaker government Danish International Development Agency Deputy Commissioner Dan Church Aid Deputy Director of Local Government Director of Local Government Dustha Swasthya Kendra expanded block grant efforts for rural advancement


European Union fifth five year plan focus group discussion female member/s fiscal year five year plan good governance governance improvement plans gender mainstreaming governmental organisation/s government of Bangladesh Global Partnership for Social Accountability Gram Sarker Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation institution building information and communication technology Institute for Development Policy Analysis and Advocacy International Monetary Fund international non-­governmental organisation Institute of Public Finance Journey for Advancement in Transparency, Representation, and Accountability Japan International Cooperation Agency kajer binimaye khadya (Food for Work) kajer binimaye taka (Money for Work) local government institutions Local Government Legal Framework Local Government Ordinance local governance self-­assessment plans Local Governance Support Project Local Governance Support Project – Learning and Innovation Component millennium development goals Municipal Governance Support Project Manusher Janya Foundation Ministry of Finance Member of Parliament Multi-­Stakeholder Platform Municipal Service Project Non-­Governmental Organisation Public Choice, New Institutional Economics National Institute of Local Government New Public Management non-­state actor Open Budget Meeting


Organisation for Economic Co-­operation and Development Public Administration Reform Commission performance-­based grant Planning Committee Plan Coordination Committee public finance management Project Implementation Committee Prime Minister’s Office Project Supervision Committee Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service Request for Quotation right to information social accountability mechanisms Standing Committee Strengthening Community-­Based Organizations for Pro-­poor Democratic Governance SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDGs sustainable development goals SDO Sub-­Divisional Officer SEBA Social Engagement for Budgetary Accountability SETU Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra Poor SGS Swanirvar Gram Sarker Sharique Sharique: A Local Governance Project SLG strengthening local governance SLGDFP Sirajganj Local Government Development Fund Project SNKS Samata Nari Kallyan Sangstha SRO statutory regulatory order SSC Scheme Supervision Committee SSNP social safety net programme Swabalamby Unnayan Samity SUS T/UUSC Thana/Upazila Unnayan Samannaya Committee THP The Hunger Project TP Thana Parishad UDC Union Digital Centre UDCC Union Development Coordination Committee UDFs Upazila Development Facilitators UGDP Upazila Governance and Development Project ULBs Urban Local Bodies UNCDF United Nations Capital Development Fund UNDP United Nations Development Programme UN-­HABITAT United Nations Human Settlements Programme UN United Nations UNO Upazila Nirbahi Officer UP Union Parishad UPGP Union Parishad Governance Project

Abbreviations  xv UPLA Union Parishad Local Academy UPZ Upazila URT Upazila Recourse Team UZGP Upazila Governance Project UZP Upazila Parishad VAT Value Added Tax VGD Vulnerable Group Development WC Ward Committee WDFs Women Development Forums WP Ward Platform WS Ward Sabha ZP Zila Parishad


Political issues cannot be or should not be the concern of traditional politicians only. Rather, the New Governance Agenda promotes multiple actors’ engagement, such as that of non-­ governmental organizations (NGOs), in political affairs as implementer, catalyser, and partner to empower the poor, reduce poverty, ensure sustainable development, be a surrogate for the voice of the community, and strengthen communities and governance. NGOs’ proliferation all over the world brings them into the centre of attention in the 21st century and makes them substantial political actors as they, particularly fourth-­ generation NGOs, shift from traditional activities of providing relief, microcredit, and services with millions of replication of the same to becoming facilitators of people-­centred progress by combining self-­managing networks on broader scales. Along these lines, NGOs take initiatives to build the capacity of common people to institute accountable and transparent governance involving both national and sub-­national governments by making them capable of reflecting the desires of the common people in the decisions. Good governance, new public management (NPM), the new vision of local governance, and fiscal decentralisation advance arguments for strong local governance through promoting customers-­ satisfaction mechanisms, inclusiveness in the decision-­making processes, information dissemination mechanisms, and increase of control over their own income. In this process, the Non-­State Actors (NSAs) enhance their engagement in the field of governance, particularly the governing process of the localities in collaboration with the sub-­national governmental units. Sustainable development goal efforts to ‘go local’ have also promoted the fulfilment of requirements for strengthening local governance. In recent times, local governance, globally, has come into the focus of development because of its proximity to people at a grassroots level, as well as because if its multifarious activities, which include the formulation of policies based on needs, delivery of goods and services, the proliferation of norms of democratic practices, and the lessening of the burden of national government. Thus, a strong and proactive local governance exists as the precondition to meet the demands of the local people in the local context. In this respect, the modern state invests innovative policies, enacts timely

Preface  xvii laws to devolve more power to the local bodies, and makes the local bodies accountable to their constituents. Existing systems and structures of local government in Bangladesh have emerged and flourished to a noteworthy extent during the British colonial era. During Pakistani rule (1947–1971) and until 1980 in independent Bangladesh, there has not been any radical shift in the system of local government. The 1980s saw a major swing with a new wave of decentralisation like the introduction of the Upazila system. However, with a lack of strong political commitment, disagreements between elected and non-­elected officials, as well as between specialists and generalists, plunged the initiatives into failure, and they did not fulfil the intended outcomes of decentralisation. On the other hand, the subsequent period has seen a trend of increasing numbers of local government units with changed tiers and functions, although the quality of service delivery has not been augmented to match the loftier numbers of local government units. Rather, the level of accountability and people’s engagement in governance has dropped down to a middling level. Moreover, the roles, functions, and financial coordination and cooperation of public institutions have tumbled into confusion. The dismal conditions and the continuous demands of civil society, donors, and other actors for accountable, transparent, and participatory local governance ensued another wave of reform initiative forwarded by the last unelected caretaker government (2007–2008), and adopted by the subsequent regime with some modifications. The efforts include major overhauling of local government acts, special attention to improving local governance in the various long-­terms plans, recognising, encouraging, and collaborating with NSAs to be engaged in the process of strengthening local governance, increasing systematic resource flow to the local government units, and arranging loan systems and local trainings. All these efforts are for giving power back to the people for receiving quality services, and participating in the decision-­making, planning, and implementation processes on such issues, which affect their lives. Recent phenomena have revealed limitations of governments and strength of NSAs and business entities as implementation units. Evidences confirm that NGOs and similar actors are displaying competencies in implementing many activities, which have been traditionally covered by the state authority. These create an opportunity for NGOs to develop cooperative and collaborative partnerships at both the central and local levels to strengthen the governance of subnational government. They employ multifaceted tools and techniques to improve the governance of the local government units, particularly the Union Parishad (UP; the lowest tier of local government in Bangladesh). These mechanisms include community scorecards, participatory gender analysis, workshops, peer learning, exchange visits, instituting local training academies, cultural programmes, self-­assessments, long-­term planning, developing training manuals, arranging competitions, supplying incentives, advocating at local and national

xviii  Preface levels, forming citizens’ committees and team building, piloting innovation, arranging long-­and short-­term training, giving accompaniment, campaigning, developing audit teams, creating checklists and chart formats, developing information management software, replicating good practices, linking different tiers, and supplying technical and financial supports. Employing and investing in these tools, the GO-­NGO collaborative initiatives principally targeted building capacity and institutions, promoting inclusivity in the decision-­making process, making information available, enhancing people’s participation, attaining fiscal autonomy, changing policies, building agency and empowering common people in line with the Public Value Management, and promoting volunteerism. Against this backdrop, this book sheds lights on the outcomes of a selected collaborative endeavour named ‘Sharique (Partner): A Governance Project’ to examine whether the results fulfil the target of strengthening local governance with synergy or fail to match with the set goals. In addition, this book focuses on ‘collaboration in action’ for better understanding of the collaboration process, its functional flow, and its achievements/failures. Furthermore, this book tests the sustainability of the achievements (if any) and offers a model of collaboration between local government units and NGOs at the local level that fits in the South Asian context. It is to be noted here that the authors duly acknowledge the support of the Institute of Bangladesh Studies (IBS), University of Rajshahi, University Grants Commission (UGC) of Bangladesh and Ministry of Education, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh for their support during the conduct of a large-­scale research based on which the manuscript is written.

1 Introduction

Introduction Strengthening local governance (SLG) and thereby building local government institutions (LGIs) as veritable organisations for tackling developmental challenges has become an important goal worldwide due to an increase, since the inception of the welfare state, in the sphere of functions of the central government. Attachment of the central authority with challenges of national and global issues intensifies further for globalisation and technological changes. Thus, delivery of government services to the doorsteps of local people requires strong and capable LGIs. In the absence of capable LGIs, it remains quite difficult for the national government to focus on the local issues substantially and to initiate necessary action to meet the challenges. Additionally, the importance of LGIs in the contemporary global context has increased as they have been gradually empowered to initiate development programmes to serve grassroots citizens. Thus, the activities of LGIs have extended multifariously to include the making of need-­based policies, implementations of the same, distribution of goods and services, reducing the burden of the central government, educating citizens about democratic practices and rights, building political leadership, and addressing internal socio-­cultural diversity (Haque, 2008, p. 32). Therefore, irrespective of geographical location, LGIs are expected to be capable enough to deliver services of the government to the common people by being local self-­governments rather than by being the agents of the central government. Modern states aim to make LGIs responsive to the demands of their citizens. The government has been the sole actor for bringing a dynamic shift in governance systems of localities in many countries. Like other countries, Bangladesh has been found proactive towards SLG, as it has formulated innovative policies and enacted time befitting laws with an intention to decentralise power to LGIs. However, initiatives of the government, in one hand, have not been found sufficient to make LGIs capable of satisfying citizens’ demands, and on the other hand, neighbourhood governments have failed to implement the policies and laws formulated by the government (Nasrin, 2013, p. 47; Aminuzzaman, 2013, p. 206). As a matter of fact, it

2  Introduction remains very difficult for the government to strengthen LGIs alone as SLG involves a good number of actors and multidimensional tasks. Realising this fact, the government of Bangladesh (GoB) very recently in the seventh FYP has formally recognised the importance of the involvement of different backers to increase the capacity of LGIs to become capable of delivering services to poor and marginalised people. This initiative has created a congenial environment and opportunity for international non-­governmental organisations (INGOs) and non-­ governmental organisations (NGOs), though these non-­state actors (NSAs) have already spent a long time in this sector and have been met with indifferent attitudes towards their involvement by the government. However, the individualistic approach of either governmental organisations (GO) or NGOs may create duplication or a clash of efforts in the implementation process. Moreover, both GOs and NGOs have certain varieties of limitations in their way of making and implementing policies. Under these circumstances, collaborative efforts might work best in reducing deficiencies by complementing each other and compensating for weaknesses. Therefore, this study intending to unearth the impacts of collaborative efforts on local governance deserves special mention and merits attention for in-­depth exploration. To be more specific, this study aims to identify different issues relating to the collaboration of NGOs with LGIs in general and in Union Parishads (hereafter UPs) in particular and its impacts on strengthening the governance situation of the former. In order to uncover the impacts of collaboration on local governance an NGO scheme, ‘Sharique: A Local Governance Project’ (hereinafter Sharique), which is financed and contracted by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (hereinafter Helvetas), has been selected for the study.1 The overall purpose of this book is to assess the contribution of GO-­NGO collaborative efforts for SLG in Bangladesh and specifically to inquire into the initiatives taken by Sharique to strengthen the governance of the UPs as an outcome of collaboration with the UPs. Specifically, this book intends to satisfy the following objectives: (1) to review various efforts of the GoB that were intended to strengthen local bodies; (2) to identify strategies and activities of different types of collaborative programmes that have been implemented with an intention to strengthen local governance in Bangladesh; (3) to evaluate the role of Sharique in strengthening the process of governance of the UPs; (4) to identify the challenges that are being faced by Sharique whilst working to strengthen the governance of the UPs; and (5) to figure out policy implications and develop a model for further development of collaborative efforts to strengthen local governance. This book has created an opportunity to inject knowledge into the field of SLG study and GO collaboration, particularly of LGIs with NGOs. The existing literature predominantly covers the initiatives of the government and in a few other cases the efforts of the donors/NGOs or collaboration

Introduction  3 of both at the central level in pursuit of local government affairs, particularly for SLG. However, the teamwork of LGIs and NGOs for SLG has never been studied extensively. It is also important to understand how the mechanisms of collaboration work in the presence of affecting factors that determine the status of the relationships between partners. This book largely unearths the impacts of collaborative efforts to build capacity of the actors, enhance people’s participation, ensure downward accountability, increase transparency, mainstream gender, and improve tax collection to promote fiscal autonomy, which has not been studied before in such a comprehensive manner. Moreover, attention has also been given to scrutinising the state of maintenance of provisions and guidelines of the comprehensive Union Parishad Act of 2009, as well as other legal mandates, and the Local Government Support Project (LGSP) requirements by the UPs with inspirations from Sharique. Thus, this book fills a gap in the literature through exploring impacts of joint efforts of UPs and Sharique for SLG and the relationship of UPs and Sharique in their efforts to reach targets. The study expects to assist democratic countries of the developing world that intend to strengthen local governance with agreeable attitudes towards NGOs for joint initiatives. The book spotlights such areas which produce results to answer the questions of whether it is possible to strengthen local governance through NGO–LGI collaborations. Moreover, this book insists on identifying the factors to understand whether the collaboration of NGOs at local level is feasible. It also forwards arguments to indicate whether current practices are adequate or if more reformative measures are necessary for both SLG and the collaboration process.

Context of local governance in Bangladesh and role of NGOs in improving governance: a discourse Sketch of local governance in Bangladesh LGIs in Bangladesh are broadly encountering some inherent and extrinsic weaknesses and challenges of lack of capacity and financial resources, as well as limited practices of institutional laws to perform at the desired level. They inherited ‘British-­invented,’ ‘Pakistani-­installed,’ and ‘centrally controlled’ local hierarchical structures; and almost all the regimes of independent Bangladesh have used LGIs to strengthen their power and support base at the local level in the name of decentralisation (Nadiruzzaman, 2008, p. II). Inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and incompetence – the major features of LGIs – and their small size have kept away talented and dedicated people from participating in the governing process (Siddiqui, 1992, p. 7). LGIs are more prone to indulge in malfeasance and corruption than the national government due to lack of transparency, accountability, efficiency, promptness, proper knowledge, regular auditing, the proper mindset among elites, bureaucrats, and officials, informal governance,

4  Introduction and participation of the marginalised people (Siddiqui, 1992, p. 7). The national government is monitored and checked through different mechanisms of well-­established commissions, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other organisations that actually fall short at the local level. Since the British colonial era, LGIs have always been subjected to the domination of the local bureaucrats and national level politicians (Hussain, 2003, p. 5). Consequently, evidence shows that the elected UP officials have been found busy fulfilling the aspirations and demands of the members of the ruling parties instead of remaining inclined to serve the causes of the local people. The majority of the functionaries of LGIs lack adequate capacity, which is required to perform their mandated tasks. Moreover, management systems are weak, and broad-­based community participation in the decision-­making process is usually limited. Informal traditional rural elites dominate power structures of local areas, exercise a hegemonic role over local resources, and play a prominent role in deciding the socio-­economic profiling on poverty (Lewis & Hossain, 2008, p. 83). This substantiates the claim that local governance remains weak operationally and functionally rather than structurally (Asaduzzaman, 2009, pp. 101–103). The politically privileged do not want to empower LGIs through decentralisation and hinder the process of creating opportunities for local inhabitants to get involved in the process of governance and keep an eye on their constituencies (Panday, 2011, p. 224). Frequent structural changes are also responsible for not having a properly functional local governance system (Islam & Khan, 2015, p. 13). Moreover, the relationship between LGIs and grassroots level offices of the central government administration is yet to be grounded in a sound working relationship (Panday, 2011, p. 218). Furthermore, decisions related to LGIs are usually made by the central government and the bureaucrats, who do not have an adequate level of willingness to decentralise and empower local institutions (Kauzya, 2003, p. 19). By contrast, in third sectors, NGOs are recognised for their roles in alleviating poverty and gain a strong position in the arena of governance and good governance (GG). Being more efficient, effective, and responsive, private sectors and their mechanisms have been suggested for improving governance. Furthermore, international aid agencies and the World Bank have been clamouring for a lessening the role and scope of state agencies through the privatisation of services (Islam & Farazmand, 2008, p. 39). Civil society, another recognised sector which has a critical role in democratisation, ensuring GG, and balancing between state power and private sectors, can play a major role by promoting ‘pluralism in associational life’ in confirming peoples’ participation and delivering the benefits of decentralisation to the people and their organisations at the grass roots level (Rahman & Sarker, 1997, p. 57). The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), international donor agencies, and the World Bank have been advising and pressurising their stakeholders to create an opportunity for NGOs and CSOs to play greater roles in governance. NGOs have also

Introduction  5 transformed from their typical service orientations to be oriented with political issues, particularly with the promotion of GG. Recently, NGOs in Bangladesh have engaged with national and local governments to strengthen the governance of the same by collaborating with them. The GoB has teamed up with donor agencies and NGOs have started formulating ideas and techniques to strengthen the UPs’ governance. The first such comprehensive initiative, called ‘Local Governance Support Project – Learning and Innovation Component (LGSP-­LIC),’ was designed to meet the ends of the millennium development goals (MDGs) with financial support from the World Bank, GoB, UNDP, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the European Union (EU). The Sirajganj Local Government Development Fund Project (SLGDFP) (2000–2005) has encouraged the government to continue such projects in a wide area of six districts, namely, Sirajganj, Habiganj, Satkhira, Feni, Barguna, and Narsingdi, through LGSP-­LIC (2007–2011) by transferring resources to the UPs. The project has further been enhanced through the next phase, namely, LGSP-­II, which started in July 2011 and finished in June 2016 (LGD, n.d.). The aim of the project is to enhance UPs’ capacity to make them confident in planning, budgeting, and implementing their plans and programmes. Lately, The LGSP 3 has been working for fulfilment on four core components; the components include (1) institutionalisation of UP fiscal transfer, (2) audits and performance management, and operationalization of Management Information System, (3) supplying expanded block grants (EBG) to pilot Pourasabhas, and (4) capacity development and project implementation support (World Bank, n.d.). Furthermore, local and foreign NGOs in collaboration with the government with or without a partnership with other development associates have gotten involved in this sector. They are working in selected districts, with widespread enterprise yet to be taken, as they are searching for a suitable programme to suggest for replication. Some of the projects are Journey for Advancement in Transparency, Representation and Accountability (JATRA) of CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) Bangladesh, Union Parishad Governance Project (UPGP) of UNDP with financial support from GoB, UNCDF, EU and DANIDA, SLG of BRAC (Bangladesh rural advance committee), Sharique of SDC, and the Strengthening Community-­ Based Organisations for Pro-­poor Democratic Governance (SCOPE) project of Dan Church Aid (DCA) co-­financed with the EU and the Church of Sweden (CoS).2 The Sharique project of SDC which has been proposed to be selected in this study has been implemented since 2006. The third phase of Sharique has just been completed in August 2016. The major focus of the project is on ‘planning with the people’ rather than the existing paradigm of ‘planning for the people.’ A key principle of the project is to make governance work for the poor, women, and marginalised groups. Its activities have centred on capacity building, self-­assessment, and budget support, as

6  Introduction well as awareness building of the citizens to claim rights, facilitating citizens’ participation in decision-­making, improving gender equality, and conducting advocacies (Helvetas, n.d.). Governance of localities and NGO engagement Since the 1990s, the concept of government has been replaced with the term governance, which refers to self-­organising and inter-­organisational networks (Rhodes, 1996, p. 652). Recently governance has become the centrepiece of discussion to international aid agencies, national CSOs, practitioners of governance and administrators of the countries of both north and south because of phenomenal change in the field of ICT, extraordinary positive economic shifts, the role of the states in the tiger economy of Asia, and continuous growth of global capitalism (Brinkerhoff & Brinkerhoff, 2002, p. 512). Likewise, conflicting components like misappropriation of government funds, widespread existence of corruption, inadequate success of economic adjustment programmes, the breakdown of centrally planned economies, the presence of centralised bureaucracy, and the financial turmoil in welfare states, amongst many other issues, have quickened the discussion on governance (Haque, 2003, pp. 941–964; Salamon, 2000, pp. 1611–1674). Thus, it is clear that the scenarios in the developing countries regarding problems of governance are multidimensional. It is argued that due to the existence of such inescapable challenges, the government of these countries remain unsuccessful to reach the masses and to mitigate their problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of income-­generating opportunities, and so forth. The arguments continue with uncovering the principal cause of failure of governance induced from ‘wrong and inadequate use of resources’ (Hye, 2000, p. 16). In Bangladesh, local government demands a great deal of ‍attention for its critical role in socio-­economic development, GG, and the institutionalisation of democracy. In this alignment, the constitution of Bangladesh has made a promise to build participatory, strong, and local self-­government (Sujan, 2009). Articles 9, 11, 59, and 60 of the constitution have set out the arrangement with respect to the fundamentals of LGIs. Nevertheless, Bangladesh lags behind in ensuring people’s participation in LGIs, as these have yet to reach the desired level of development. People’s representatives of grassroots LGIs, researchers, and members of civil society possess the same view that the LGIs are gradually becoming feeble and in a situation of disarray.3 LGIs of the country, they opined, have been encountering multifaceted problems from political and bureaucratic domination to the poor performance of the functionaries. Central political leaders and members of parliament (MPs) often interfere with the regular development functions of the LGIs in their respective constituencies.4 In addition, the bureaucracy that is carrying the legacy of British colonial rule seeks to exert control over the LGIs. Inner flaws of LGIs, prominent amongst the crises of local

Introduction  7 government, have kept LGIs inert and performing poorly. Furthermore, the low or absence of participation of people, and elected female members in the decision-making process, the lack of accountability and transparency, the dependency of people on the allocation of the central government, and the overall deficiency of democratic culture prevent the LGIs from reaching a strong position (Sharmin, Haque, & Islam, 2012, pp. 76–84; Nasrin, 2013, p. 47). In addition, LGIs suffer from a lack of skilled personnel and deficiency of responsiveness from both the common people and the people in power regarding roles and responsibilities. Thus, they are struggling to face the challenges relating to coping with the growing demand for basic services. In this regard, it is necessary to challenge these adverse circumstances in order to ensure efficient service delivery, empower the poor and marginalised people irrespective of caste and creed, come out from poverty and corruption, and spur development. Thus, the need and demand for a strong local government capable of ensuring proper service delivery, dealing with social improvements of local problems, preserving and promoting indigenous knowledge, efficient participatory decision-­making processes, and bottom-­up development, and building local leadership is not new (Siddiqui, 1992, pp. 6–7). The UPs are crucial in attaining these objectives, for as sub-­national institutions they are considered responsible for delivering services to the doorsteps of the local people. UPs remain one of the oldest LGIs, which have existed under the interventions of British, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi governments for about 150 years. Being the closest institutions of the local people and primogenital organisations of the land, the UPs are popular; however, they remain poor in performing their functions and delivery of services. The government has recognised that the existence of strong and effective local governance is pivotal, as properly functioning LGIs have the potential to contribute directly to the articulation of citizens’ multifaceted needs and identify pertinent policies that can fit into heterogeneous local environment systems all over the country (GoB, 2015, p. 430). Thus, the government has planned and implemented a wide-­ranging set of actions for reaching set targets of strengthening and empowering local communities for ensuring their active engagement, which would be helpful to achieve sustainable development (Kauzya, 2003, p. 21). The actions of the government include the formation of reform commissions or committees, enactment of laws, circulations of rules, regulations, and guidelines, development of long-­term plans, and policies, the supply of funds, and more In order to increase the capacity of the LGIs, it requires not only infrastructural development – as once it was thought that development is evidently depicted through the physical housing, and associated infrastructure (Smit, Forster, & Krone, 2007, p. 11) – but also operational and functional improvement. These operational processes and functions stem from the existing legal framework regarding local government. Notably, the UP Act of 2009 (hereinafter the Act), has offered a landmark shift in mandates

8  Introduction through incorporating the provisions of participatory planning and budgeting, social accountability mechanisms (SAMs), proactive information dissemination, and predefined set criteria for service delivery. Additionally, the sharing of power and financial assets by central and local bureaucrats, the dedication of political leaders both of the centre and periphery, a well-­ designed mechanism for decentralisation and devolution, and the participation of various groups over which national government has little control can create avenues to improve LGIs (Cheema, 2011, p. 8). To make use of this opportunity, the government has made many efforts to change the form of local government from time to time, but the endeavours aiming at SLG are few, and consequently, there is a strong demand for SLG (Nasrin, 2013, p. 47). The government in isolation, however, is not enough to form policies on SLG and to implement them appropriately, as it needs the support of other state actors. In this connection, the process of governance advocates for the inclusion of all actors who can play parts in the system. Therefore, SLG is employed in not only capacitating the LGIs but also enabling citizens, especially the poor, women, and marginalised groups and their organisations to raise their voice. In addition, governance also stresses the importance of creating and empowering CSOs to monitor and play an advocacy role. Hence, extensive focus on governance can obfuscate or eliminate the difference between state and civil society (Rhodes, 1996, p. 666). That means the practice of governance promotes a congenial atmosphere for possible collaboration of GOs and CSOs, specifically, NGOs. Thus, the partnership of members of the civil society and general citizens can contribute to achieving sustainable progress. In this buildup, NGOs have persuasive power over both national institutions and LGIs as they have extended their coverage of services all over the country (Gauri & Galef, 2005, p. 2051). As the ‘favoured child’ of the donors, NGOs have shifted from customary issues of development to incorporate the idea of ‘good governance’ with a key role in sustaining the democratic process, and policy ‘voice’ by the 1990s (Lewis, 2001, p. 32). In Bangladesh, the NGOs also followed the transformation from relief supply to involvement with political affairs. In this alignment, the NGOs have a significant role to play in strengthening CSOs and help to increase accountability and responsiveness of the government, taking measures against corruption, and building institutions (Fisher, 2003, p. 21). The role of NGOs has intensified as they help local people become more actively engaged by encouraging them to have their voice heard in the development of localities (Kaido-­Allan, 1989, p. 3). Many donor agencies, in isolation, have been providing support to overcome the situation of backwardness in different sectors, including gender mainstreaming (GM), human resources development, employment opportunity, GG, and local governance. Instead of overcoming the backward situation, these supports have developed a sense of dependency and reinvigorated top-­down, paternalistic, and often distorted structures. To overcome this, today, NGOs are

Introduction  9 contracted with or made partners by government and aid agencies for the reformation of governance (Lewis, 2010, pp. 1056–1062), and their widespread collaboration exists for resource mobilisation, capacity building, enhancing quality service delivery, and knowledge dissemination. The history of GO-­NGO collaboration in Bangladesh goes back to the decade of the 1980s for the EPI (Expanded Programme for Immunisation) of the Ministry of Family Planning with BRAC. With the noteworthy success of EPI, subsequent periods have witnessed partnerships in the field of education, training and research, health and family planning, employment generation, agriculture, and environment, involving both local and foreign NGOs and donors with the government organisations at the central level. In these milieus, several international, national, and local NGOs have taken different collaborative initiatives whose main intention is to improve the governance situation of the LGIs, and the Sharique project is one of them. GO-­NGO collaboration builds mutual respect and acknowledgement in performing common activities to reach shared targets at any stage from policy development to service delivery, as well as in complementing one another (Budhi, 2008, p. 62). Usually, the government takes the top-­ down approach to implement policies, but sometimes it is unsuccessful in reaching people at a grassroots level. By contrast, the NGO working pattern adopts the bottom-­up approach, which also has shortcomings as this approach depends on their capability. The government can provide legal, policy-­related, and logistical support, as well as resources in some cases; and NGOs can organise these for implementation in the field with their managerial skills and participatory approach to SLG. Therefore, the simultaneous endeavours of both GOs and NGOs result in the desired effect, which amounts to more than the aggregate of individual efforts, as one compensates for the weaknesses of the other by exploiting comparative advantages (Budhi, 2008, p. 62). Based on the above discussion, it is evident that LGIs in Bangladesh have struggled to become strengthened enough to play their due part in the process of inclusive development. Meanwhile, the government has realised that without proactive LGIs it is next to impossible to attain the targets of Vision 2021 and SDGs (sustainable development goals) by 2030. Accordingly, the government has initiated programmes to strengthen local governance. Donor agencies and NGOs have also extended their programmes from a traditional developmental perspective to an extensive process of SLG. Consequently, the numbers of NGOs and their area of intervention and facilitation to strengthen local governance have been increasing day by day. Most importantly, in recent times, GOs and NGOs have been jointly carrying out interventions to strengthen LGIs, and the collaboration of both stakeholders has the potential to create a synergy in this sector. Therefore, it is very important to make an effort to evaluate the role of GO-­NGO collaborative interventions and facilitation for SLG.

10  Introduction

Importance of the book LGIs could play an important role in service delivery to people at a grassroots level, as well as in development programmes. Vision 2021 of the GoB envisages devolution of power, function, and fiscal authority in accordance with the constitutional provisions for elected bodies at each level of local government. Within the local government’s history of Bangladesh, the basic unit that exists in the face of changes and restructuring of tiers has been the UP. However, its power and authority, functions, services delivered, and level of participation by the local people have undergone changes and renovations. Though the UPs have the opportunities and privileges to be a significant institution at the grassroots level, as they stand as the local people’s closest units which can develop ownership, they remain unsuccessful. The government has realised the potentialities of the UPs and enacted a law in 2009 which creates the hope, opportunity, and legal frame for the UPs to be the hub of the development and service delivery. Today, the government and donors have collaborated with NGOs and/or contracted to hire NGOs to implement different projects funded mostly by donors. These projects aim at intervening in selected areas and replicating successful practices all over the country to ensure better services for the local people. The existing literature deals greatly with the role of GO-­NGO collaboration in poverty alleviation, education, sanitation, healthcare, microcredit programmes and so forth, but it does not reveal sufficiently the impact of collaboration for SLG, specifically for UPs in Bangladesh. The literature is also skewed towards collaboration at the national level and lacks studies of LGI-­NGO collaborations. The Sharique project that has been selected for the study has been implemented for both the supply and demand side to improve the governance of the UPs. Now, a pertinent question is to what extent the efforts of the project have become successful in building capacity of both the UPs and citizens. Thus, this issue merits further published research that will help concerned authorities, namely, governments, donor agencies, and NGOs, to estimate the replicability of the programme. Strengthened local governance contributes to the empowerment of citizens, the inclusion of poor and marginalised people in the decision-­making process, making UPs accountable and transparent, removing corruption, and overall development of local areas. whilst the GoB has allowed different NGOs to work with the UPs with an intention to strengthen their governance framework, there has been very little evaluation of the role of GO-­NGO collaboration in SLG. Yet such collaboration is essential to make SLG a reality. Beyond merely providing a critical assessment of GO-­NGO collaboration, this book tries to provide a comprehensive assessment of the impact of such collaboration on SLG and to share the authors’ findings in a spirit of common purpose. Thus, it is expected that this book will provide a sound basis for further work on the contribution of GO-­NGO collaboration

Introduction  11 to the strengthening of the governance of LGIs, giving people full access and capacity to influence the decision-­making processes.

Methodological issues The present study is based essentially on qualitative research and is supplemented by quantitative data on a limited scale. This situation can be called a dominant-­less-­dominant design (Creswell, 2014, p. 3). Here, the dominant design is the qualitative data, whilst the less dominant one is quantitative data. Denzin (1978, p. 291) called it ‘triangulation’ in reference to the application of a combination of methodologies in the study of a single phenomenon. Qualitative studies illustrate a variety of certain perceptions or behaviours in a population through interviews with a small sample of its members (Jansen, 2010). Qualitative procedures often provide a greater depth of understanding of a phenomenon. The research has also followed the data collection techniques and tools that conform to the qualitative approach (Berg, 2001, pp. 2–4). Another reason to follow the approach is that the required data have mostly been collected in narrative and descriptive form. Additionally, the book has included both inductive and deductive reasoning to explore the new phenomenon of SLG through GO–NGO collaboration. This study has been conducted following a case-­ oriented qualitative research strategy as case studies emphasise detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships (Yin, 1984, p. 23). This study has employed a case study because this strategy determines in advance what evidence to gather with what research method and which data analysis techniques to be used to answer the research questions. Case studies investigate any subject using a combination of informal interviews and participant observation. Yin (2003, p. 13) defines the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-­life context, when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident, and in which multiple sources of evidence are used. Under such circumstances, the case study method is best suited for this research since the issue is a contemporary phenomenon, and the relationship between the phenomenon and context is not apparent and multiple sources of evidence have been used. This research method is also pertinent to ascertain whether a particular programme is efficient or whether the targets of a programme are attained (Zainal, 2007). By using case studies, a researcher can generalise in a way that differs from statistical generalisation to population or universe. In addition, case studies produce an ‘analytic generalisation,’ in which the empirical result of the case studies develops a new theory or replicates or disproves an old one (Yin, 2003, p. 31). As an impact study, this book focuses on changes, which can be positive or negative, deliberate or unplanned, in the sphere of knowledge,

12  Introduction skills, attitudes, behaviours, and status of the target groups (Sonpal-­Valias, 2009, p. 1). It provides insights on ‘a programme or a policy, or upstream activities – for example, capacitation, policy advocacy and backstopping for a facilitating context’ (Rogers, 2014, p. 1). whilst outcome analysis considers whether intended results have been attained or not into account, an impact assessment answers questions such as ‘How would outcomes such as participants’ well-­being have changed if the intervention had not been undertaken?’ (White & Barbu, 2006, p. 3). Thus, in addition to the case study, this research has also incorporated the ‘natural experiment’ research method since the investigators do not have control over interventions as they can happen naturally or includes processes that dwell outside the control of the concerned researchers (Dunning, 2012, pp. 41–102). This observational method can be helpful in a research endeavour, which typically employs a multi-­method approach. In this study, the Sharique project has been selected for the study,5 and the interventions of the project have been such a process, over which the researchers have no control. Thus, the method could be helpful to study case and control groups with methodological support. The study has gathered data from six randomly selected UPs of two districts (Rajshahi & Chapai Nawabganj) of Bangladesh, amongst four districts where the project has collaborated with UPs. The two other districts (Sunamganj & Khulna) have been left out of the study to avoid exaggerated results because of duplication of interventions by other such programmes. amongst selected six UPs, four (where the Sharique project intervened) have been selected as experimental and two other UPs (where there is no intervention of any other programmes) have been selected as control UPs. The book is based on the analysis of both primary and secondary data. Primary data have been collected from different UPs through questionnaire interviews,6 in-­depth interviews,7 focus group discussions,8 key informant interviews,9 and observation.10 Secondary data have been collected from reviewing documents of the UPs11 and various related published and unpublished documents including reports, dissertations, research monographs, laws, books, journals, and newspapers from online and offline sources.

Chapter plans The remainder of this book comprises the following chapters. Chapter 2: strengthening local governance: a conceptual lens for the study of GO-­NGO collaborative programmes Chapter 2 provides an in-­depth and comprehensive explanation of the concepts based on extensive reviews of existing literature. These discussions unpack the concepts and related issues, which determine the path of the study in the later empirical chapters. Concepts are explicated to facilitate

Introduction  13 an understanding of the achievements of collaborative initiatives in attaining strong governance at localities. At the end of the chapter, a conceptual framework is proposed to understand the map of the study. Chapter 3: government initiatives for strengthening local governance in Bangladesh Chapter 3 offers insights into the evolution of local government in Bangladesh starting from the pre-­British period through the Pakistani era. However, it focuses predominantly on the shifts of functions, structures, nature, and characteristics of local governance in the post-­independence era in Bangladesh. Efforts have also been employed to gauge various reform initiatives, the transformation of laws and policies, and the state of implementations of the same in the field. Various plans including five-­year plans (FYPs) are also examined to see how they cope with the growing demands of SLG and provide spaces for NSAs in this arena. Lastly, the chapter paints an image of the financial flow from the national government to the local government. Chapter 4: collaborative programmes: collective GO-­NGO measures Chapter 4 expands the horizon of discussions based on various collaborative programmes, which have intended to strengthen the governance of the localities. In total, 12 such instances of GO-­NGO collaboration initiatives that have taken place at the national and local levels are included. The principal focus has been given to the selected collaboration programme called ‘Sharique: A Local Governance Project.’ The chapter delves deeply into the programmes to identify the mechanisms, tools, and techniques which they employed in their endeavours. It draws functional flows of the Sharique project to identify the paths and intensity of involvement at various levels. It includes literature reviews of the various reports of these programmes to facilitate understanding of the claimed development of these programmes to some extent. Finally, the chapter draws together commonalties of the goals of these programmes to make a generalisation. Chapter 5: shepherding capacity building through GO-­NGO collaboration Chapter 5 sets out to unearth the results of the Sharique programme in terms of its capacitation of both individuals and the organisation. The chapter proceeds according to the guidelines of the analysis conducted in Chapter 2 on capacity building. More broadly, it examines outcomes of efforts to enhancing knowledge, skill, and awareness of both the supply and demand sides of the Ups. It also unpacks the strength of the UPs as institutions to serve constituents.

14  Introduction Chapter 6: the role of GO-­NGO teamwork in increasing people’s participation in local governance Chapter 6 straightforwardly depicts the state of participation of citizens in decision-­making processes in both Sharique and control areas. The discussion is grounded on Arnstein’s insights into public participation, as well as on other theories of measuring the level of participation of people in the governing process. It encompasses arguments for examining how citizens have been given the opportunity to participate in the policy determinations and implementations that affect them. It examines the forcefulness of the demands which have been made in the open and participatory meetings. Chapter 7: collaboration between an NGO project and local government institutions: an effort to improve accountability and transparency Having laid the groundwork of various theories and concepts in Chapter 2, the book proceeds in Chapter 7 to test the level of accountability and transparency of the officials and activities of the UPs, respectively. It analyses how the officials respond to the needs and demands of the constituents. The chapter further expands the discussion on the implementation of SAMs and then examines how the citizens enforce ownership to have their demands and queries fulfilled and answered. Moreover, it allows us to understand the practices of the UPs regarding information dissemination and use of the disseminated information by the citizens. Chapter 8: do GO-­NGO collaborative efforts bring fiscal autonomy of local government units? An examination Chapter 8 deals with the financial issues of the UPs. It examines the progress of the UPs towards the achievements of fiscal autonomy with the assistance of the Sharique project. In this regard, the chapter seeks to ascertain the income of the UPs from various sources such as government supply, own income, and supply from other tiers of LGIs. The final part of the chapter assesses whether UPs have sovereign authority to determine their expenditures. Chapter 9: mainstreaming gender in the local governance: the outcomes of collaboration between local government units and an NGO project Chapter 9 examines gender-­related issues. The Sharique project, in collaboration with UPs, tries to establish a gendered society, particularly in the UPs. The chapter begins with questions regarding awareness building on gender and achieving equity and equality. It also examines whether the empowerment-­and agency-­building processes and the leadership training of the project achieve its targets.

Introduction  15 Chapter 10: NGOs’ collaboration with local government institutions: aspects, sustainability and challenges Chapter 10 represents discourses on the collaboration process. This chapter answers how the collaboration becomes functional and in what context and then what promotes the process. It also tests the sustainability of the outcomes and examines obstacles to sustainability. In closing, it summarises the key achievements of the collaboration of Sharique and the UPs in terms of the project’s targets. Chapter 11: conclusion: insights for theory, policy implications, and modelling of GO-­NGO collaboration Chapter 11 summarises the findings in brief. It generalises the findings and tests the same with theories and findings of other studies. It offers recommendations for policymakers and implementers, and then it provides suggestions for academics. It also proposes a general model of GO-­NGO collaboration, which is applicable to other situations in other countries. Moreover, it lists the areas of this topic that should be explored in future research.

Notes 1 The Sharique (literally, partnership) programme has been implemented since 2006, and it finished its third phase in August 2016. The efforts of the programme, in the third phase, centred in the districts of Rajshahi, Sunamganj, Chapai Nawabganj, and Khulna with 207 UPs and 29 UZPs (130 UPs and 21 UZPs in first and second phases). It also addressed about 1,900 community groups with about 50,000 members during the third phase. The programme in collaboration with the LGIs has worked for both sides (i.e., supply and demand) for 10 years till 2016. (Source: Rahman, Hossain, & Uddin, 2016) 2 JATRA: The project focuses on UPs’ public financial management systems to make it stronger, more transparent, and aligned with the Local Government Act 2009. It encourages citizens’ participation in planning, and budgeting, implementation and monitoring to deliver feedbacks. (Source: Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://carebangladesh. org/publication/Publication_1002356.pdf)   SLG of BRAC: The programme started in 2003, and its aims are to increase the capacity of the local governance, to make LGIs accountable to local people, to promote citizen engagement with LGIs by providing training, forming platforms, and extending supports for planning and budgeting. (Source: Retrieved August 8, 2016, from­empowerment/ item/840-­strengthening-­local-­governance)   UPGP: The project began in 2013 in partnership with LGD to support the GoB in achieving MDGs in strengthening local administration through effective, inclusive, participatory, and democratic LG and changing traditional service delivery systems to encompass a pro-­poor approach. (Source: Retrieved August 18, 2016, from democratic_governance/union -­parishad-­governance-­project.html)   SCOPE: The project began in January 2013, continued until December 2016 in four districts of north Bengal, namely Nilphamari, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat and

16  Introduction Kurigram, and was implemented by a local NGO called RDRS. Interventions of the project included capacity building of elected female leaders for efficient resource management, mobilization of women and advocacy for an increased role of women in governance. (Source: Retrieved September 14, 2016, from 3 Discussion of ‘Learning Sharing Seminar on Strengthening Local Government’ organized by BRAC and the Hunger Project in Dhaka on March 24, 2016. The Daily Prothom-­Alo, March 24, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from www.prothom-­ 808798. 4 Ibid. 5 The reasons behind the selection of Sharique include (1) it has been working with both the supply and demand sides for almost ten years through completion of the third phase and initiated its fourth phase in January 2017, and it has included 72 components for mobilisation. 6 Data have been collected from the project beneficiaries from the citizens’ groups, particularly, the members of Ward Platforms (WPs) of Sharique areas. In addition, citizens from non-­Sharique areas have also been included as a sample for the questionnaire survey. In total 60 citizen respondents have been included for the questionnaire survey, 10 from each UP. Moreover, 48 UP officials including chairpersons, general members, female members of reserved seats, and secretaries have also been interviewed using a different set of questionnaires. Most importantly, these sets of questionnaires have included both closed and open-­ended descriptive types of questions to capture detailed insights. Some Likert-­scale questions have also been included. 7 Separate sets of the open-­ended structured questionnaire have been employed to interview NGO-­and government officials involved with the strengthening initiatives. In total, 16 (7 NGO and 9 Government officials) in-­depth interviews were conducted during the data collection period to solicit the views and opinions of the interviewees on the concept of strengthening governance of the UP. 8 Six sessions of FGD, one at each UP, were organised consisting of 10–12 persons for every session. Beneficiaries of social safety-­net programmes, service receivers, members of civil society organisations, participants of Ward-­Sabha of the UP, participants of open budget meetings of the UP, participants of monthly meetings, and non-­participant citizens of both sexes have been included in the sessions. 9 The research has been enriched by their valuable comments on the issue with in-­depth clarification. For this, two academicians, one practitioner, and one journalist (four total) have been selected deliberately as key informants to gain their views, ideas, and comments in an effort to perceive the scenario comprehensively. 10 The researchers have employed direct observation techniques to understand the people’s engagement in decision-­ making, particularly in planning and budgeting. Moreover, the processes of making demands and seeking answers among both male and female citizens including, as well as the answerability and responsiveness of the officials, has also been monitored. 11 Different types of UPs documents, such as annual financial reports, five-­year plans, project lists, minutes of the meetings of the council, budgetary documents, and different project plans, WS resolutions, UDCC resolutions, standing committee resolutions, and so on have been reviewed. Moreover, UP-­related laws, rules, regulations, SROs, operational manuals, Sharique training manuals, and so forth have been examined to unearth deeper levels of understanding of the officials. Being vital documents, LGSP audit reports have also been consulted.

Introduction  17

References Aminuzzaman, S. M. (2013). Governance at grassroots-­rhetoric and reality: A study of the Union Parishad in Bangladesh. In I. Jamil, S. Askvik, & T. N. Dhakal (Eds.), Search for better governance in South Asia and beyond (pp. 201–221). New York: Springer. Asaduzzaman, M. (2009, June). Development role of the local governance institutions in Bangladesh: Empirical overview. Nepalese Journal of Public Policy and Governance, xxiv(1), 96–111. Bawole, N., & Hossain, F. (2014). Marriage of the unwilling? The paradox of local government and NGO relations in Ghana. International Society for Third-­Sector Research. Retrieved September 2, 2016, doi:10.1007/s11266-­014-­9503-­9 Berg, B. L. (2001). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (4th ed.). London: Allyn & Bacon. Brinkerhoff, D. W., & Brinkerhoff, J. M. (2002). Governance reforms and failed states: Challenges and implications. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 68(4), 511–531. Budhi, G. S. (2008, July). Escalating people’s participation in rural development through GO-­NGO collaboration. Forum Penelitian Agro Ekonomi, 26(1), 58–70. Retrieved September 2, 2016, from index.php/fae/article/viewFile/3951/3288 Cheema, G. S. (2011). Engaging civil society to promote democratic local governance: Emerging trends and policy implication in Asia. Working Paper No. 7, Swedish International Center for Local Democracy, 1–20. Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Sage Publications. Denzin, N. K. (1978). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-­Hill. Dunning, T. (2012). Natural experiments in the social sciences: A design-­based approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fisher, J. (2003). Nongovernments: NGOs and the political development of third world. Jaipur: Kumarian Press. Gauri, V., & Galef, J. (2005). NGOs in Bangladesh: Activities, resources, and governance. World Development, 33(12), 20145–2065. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.05.009 GoB. (2015). 7th five year plan (final draft): FY2015-­FY2020. Dhaka: Ministry of Planning, Planning Commission, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Haque, M. S. (2003). Reinventing governance for performance in South Asia: Impacts on citizenship rights. International Journal of Public Administration, 26(8– 9), 941–964. Haque, M. S. (2008). Local governance in South Asia. In M. S. de Vries, P. S. Reddy, & M. S. Haque (Eds.), Improving local government outcomes of comparative research (pp. 32–44). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Helvetas. (n.d.). Local governance programme Sharique. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from programme_sharique/ Hussain, A. (2003). Local governance in Bangladesh: The emerging role of the development partners. Asian Affairs, 25(4), 1–9. Hye, H. A. (2000). Governance: South Asian perspective. Dhaka: University Press Limited.

18  Introduction Islam, M. R., & Farazmand, A. (2008). Perceptions of civil servants toward privatization and development: A new exploratory study. Public Organization Review, 8(1), 37–52. Islam, M. S., & Khan, M. M. (2015). Inclusive governance in Bangladesh: A review. Public Affairs and Governance, 3(1), 1–15. Jansen, H. (2010, May). The logic of qualitative survey research and its position in the field of social research methods. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, 11(2), art. 11. Retrieved September 24, 2016, from www.qualitative-­ php/fqs/article/view/1450/2946 Kaido-­Allan, L. (1989). Participatory democracy – the role of NGOs in developing process of local authorities. United Nations. Retrieved August 8, 2016, from http://unpan1. public/documents/nispacee/unpan005686.pdf Kauzya, J. M. (2003). Local governance capacity for full range participation: Concepts, framework, and experiences in African countries. United Nations. Retrieved August 8, 2016, from Learning sharing seminar on strengthening local government. (2016, March 24). The Daily Prothom-­ alo. Retrieved from www.prothom-­ article/808798 Lewis, D. (2001). The management of non-­governmental development organizations: An introduction. London: Routledge. Lewis D. (2010). Nongovernmental organizations, definition and history. In: H. K. Anheier & Toepler S. (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. New York: Springer. Lewis, D., & Hossain, A. (2008). Understanding the local power structure in rural Bangladesh. SIDA Studies no. 22. Stockholm: SIDA. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from­SidaStudies-­22.pdf LGD. (n.d.). History of second local governance support project (LGSP-­II). Retrieved August  12, 2016, from­lgsp-­ii/history-­of-­lgsp/ Nadiruzzaman, M. (2008). Rural local government and state politics in Bangladesh (Doctoral dissertation). Durham University, Durham. Retrieved August 1, 2016, from Nasrin, F. (2013). Reforms in local government: Experiences from Bangladesh. Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, 3(1). Retrieved August 8, 2016, from upload/3.%20Farzana.pdf Panday, P. K. (2011, July). Local government system in Bangladesh: How far is it decentralised? Lex Localis, 9(3), 205–230. Rahman, H., & Sarker, A. E. (1997). Local government in Bangladesh: Past rhetoric’s and contemporary questions. Bangladesh Public Administration Review, 1(1), 47–60. Rahman, S. H., Hossain, M. S., & Uddin M. M. (2016). Public finance and revenue mobilization of Union Parishads: A case of four Union Parishads (BIGD Special Publication Series No. 03). Dhaka: BIGD, BRAC University. Rhodes, R. A. W. (1996). The new governance: Governing without government. Political Studies, XLIV, 662–667. Rogers, P. (2014). Overview of impact evaluation: Methodological briefs. Impact evaluation 1. Florence: UNICEF Office of Research. Salamon, L. M. (2000). The new governance and the tools of public action: An introduction. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 28(5), 1611–1674.

Introduction  19 Sharmin, Z., Haque, M. A., & Islam, F. (2012). Problems of strengthening local governance in Bangladesh: Towards a comprehensive solution. Sust Studies, 15(1), 76–84. Siddiqui, K. (Ed.). (1992). Local government in South Asia. Dhaka: University Press Limited. Smit, D., Forster, C., & Krone, A. (2007, January). Impact of the SLGP on human settlement, urban renewal and urban governance. Retrieved July 20, 2016, from www.­S trengthening-­L ocal Governance-­Programme-­Impact-­on-­Human-­Settlements-­Urban-­Renewal-­and-­ Urban-­Go.pdf Sonpal-­Valias, N. (2009). Measuring the difference: An outcome evaluation resource for the disability sector. Calgary, AB: The Alberta Council of Disability Services. Sujan. (2009). Sthaniya sarkarer bartaman o bhabisyat karaniya (in Bengali). Retrieved July 26, 2016, from White, H., & Barbu, A. (2006). Impact evaluation: The experience of the independent evaluation group of the world bank. Washington, DC: World Bank. World Bank. (n.d.). Local governance support project – 3. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from Yin, R. K. (1984). Case study research: Design and methods. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications. Zainal, Z. (2007, June). Case study as a research method. Jurnal Kemanusiaan bil, 9. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from­3837/case_study_ as_a_research_method.pdf

2 Strengthening local governance A conceptual lens for the study of GO-­NGO collaborative programmes Introduction This chapter, as indicated in its title, explores the conceptual aspects of the study. For clarity, the discussion has been divided into four sections. The first part deals with an understanding of key concepts of the study, such as governance, local governance, and the components of and the process of strengthening governance in localities. The second part discusses the conceptualisation of NGOs, the transformation of NGOs, their new roles, and debates about NGOs. The third part includes discussions on the collaboration of GOs and NGOs at the national and sub-­national levels. The fourth and final part presents the conceptual framework of the study, which contributed to the smooth progress of the research.

Governance, local governance, and its components Understanding governance: transformation of government to governance The wave of globalization, the ‘information revolution,’ and the rise of pluralistic centres have changed the state-­citizen relationship. Valuing people and their organizations and the way they are ruled shifts the balance in favour of governance as opposed to government. Government is mostly involved with formalities, hierarchies, a limited association of citizens, a top-­ down approach, inflexible bureaucracies, the exercise of authority, and so forth. It mirrors standardisation, formalities, procedures, and ceremonial institutions for demand-­making, problem-­solving, and implementing ‘public choice’ (John, 2001, p. 4). The government contracts a political actor as the sole player in service delivery, however, in governance this responsibility is shared amongst the state, the people, and the private sectors (Pierre, 2000, p. 2). Governance is based on ‘process, values, and institutions.’ The concept of governance has been developed to challenge the limitation of government to encompass widespread concepts and provisions, which promote

Concepts of governance and collaboration  21 inclusion of various actors and their interests while implementing programmes. Gerry Stoker (1998, p. 38) argues: The concept of governance is wider than that of government; it takes into account not just the institutions of government but also the process through which these institutions interact with civil society and the consequences of this mutual influence between state and society. Governance refers to the action, manner or system of governing in which the boundary between organizations and public and private sectors has become permeable. Governance recognizes the interdependence of organizations. The essence of governance is the interactive relationship between and within governmental and non-­governmental forces. It involves a recognition of the limits of government. Melo and Baiocchi (2006, p. 591) emphasise a process that relies on the institutional setting for harmonization and regulation of collective actions, which is structured as networks. They link governance with the management of intricate issues; however, these authors note an important challenge of governance involving with a ‘new form of procedural legitimation.’ The procedural legitimation involves the ‘gathering of inputs from society’ and giving citizens influence over the process of governance. Some processes that innovated for procedural legitimacy include ‘participatory budgets, participatory strategic planning or prospective workshops, [and] citizen juries.’ These procedures must be sufficiently just and expedient in addition to being suitable exercises for heeding citizens and including them in ‘public decision-­making.’ The principal target of the instruments is to motivate minimization of the difference between the people and politicians, and this process can contribute to building ‘political trust’ (Font & Blanco, 2007, pp. 557–559). Accordingly, the ‘New Governance Paradigm’ relates governance with the policy-­making process that requires the active involvement of people and other actors as stakeholders (Kim, Halligan, Cho, Oh, & Eikenberry, 2005, p. 647). Local governance J. H. Mill (1911, p. 2357) argues in favour of local government based on two propositions. The first proposition involves the opening of opportunities for local people to participate, making citizens accustomed to the practices of politics and government. The second proposition deals with the justification for the wide scope of LGIs by local knowledge, interest, needs, and capacity to oversee the achievement of efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, local government is the result of decentralisation, which is involved with the ‘transfer of responsibility for planning, management, and the raising and allocation of resources from central government’ to ‘subordinate units’

22  Concepts of governance and collaboration (Rondinelli & Nellis, 1986, p. 5). However, local governance is the set of policy frameworks, structures, relationships and decision-­making that takes place at the local level to deliver services or achieve objectives (Shah & Shah, 2006, p. 1). Then again, local governance, he explains, includes the complexities of joint planning and the implementation of the same at the sub-­national level collectively. It encircles both formal and informal sectors associated with localities and other levels of government. It also takes into account the role of informal norms, community organizations, networks, and local associations in pursuing joint action by designing a framework for people-­to-­people and people-­to-­state dealings, common decision-­making, and public service delivery. Thus, the local government helps to promote pluralism (Stoker, 1996, p. 15). The involvement of local governance has grown in recent times to conserve the life and liberty of inhabitants, create room for democratic participation and civic discourse, backstop market-­led and eco-­friendly sustainable local development, and disseminate outcomes, which improve the quality of life of the local people (Shah & Shah, 2006, pp. 1–2) through its capacity to solve contextual issue-­based problems better than centralize authorities can (Bovaird, Loeffler, & Diez, 2002, p. 14). New vision of local governance Local governments, today, to be successful, have to deal with failures of both market and government. Shah mentions five standpoints on models of neighbourhood government and their corresponding roles, responsibilities, and challenges. The viewpoints are traditional fiscal federalism, NPM, public choice, new institutional economics (NIE), and network forms of local governance. Shah and Shah (2006, p. 5) state that The federalism and the NPM perspectives are concerned primarily with market failures and how to deliver public goods efficiently and equitably. The public choice and NIE perspectives are concerned with government failures. The network forms of governance perspective are concerned with institutional arrangements to overcome both market and government failures. To overcome the challenges of given models, the authors argue, local governments need to buy local services, promote the networks of government supply sides and bodies other than the government, and maintain common rules of state and national government. To ensure the quality of life of citizens at the local level, local governments have arbitral roles to play amongst the actors in order to realise better outcomes, which surpass the amount of individual total through innovating ideas to utilize unexploited resources of the community of mass people (Shah & Shah, 2006, p. 42). They proceed through their ‘New Vision of Local Governance’ and identify roles and responsibilities that fit in both developed and developing countries.

Concepts of governance and collaboration  23 They maintain that local governance involves community governance and follows the principles of subsidiarity, autonomy, citizen-­centricity, responsibility, and accountability to electorates. They add that local government employs its efforts to develop social capital, practise transparency, coordinate activities of various actors, and focus on results and competitive and innovative service delivery. Moreover local governance is designed to practise autonomy in taxing, spending, and regulatory and administrative decisions and is involved with strengthening the voice and ‘exit options’ of citizens through using direct democratic tools such as citizens charters and performance budgeting, creating space for civic discourses, showing quality performances and lowering costs, including citizens of all strata and ensuring their participation, and overcoming both government and market failures (Shah & Shah, 2006, p. 43). Good local governance Researchers use the terms governance and GG interchangeably, considering governance as a normative proposition (Wilson, 2000, p. 52), yet the idea of GG can be seen as a shift from governance, describing the desired system of governance. The World Bank promoted GG theory to set standards for developing countries to match indices of GG in conformity with the philosophy of democracy. GG is not only involved with efficiency, but it also includes the relations between the citizens and state in line with the principle of accountability (Björk & Johansson, 2001, pp. 7–8). Moreover, the theory also considers treatment of people as not only customers or consumers (as in NPM) but also citizens who in turn possess the rights to hold the authorities accountable for the activities they have or have not taken. Wilson identifies the features of GGas ‘free and open elections, the rule of law with the protection of human rights, citizen participation, transparency and accountability in government’ (Wilson, 2000, p. 52). Good local governance at the local level, which Minogue (1997, p. 21) refers as ‘reform strategy,’ involves building and strengthening institutions locally for ensuring governments’ answerability, openness and transparency, and democratic practice. Additionally, ‘predictability’ (Waheduzzaman, 2010, p. 27), and ‘inclusiveness’ (Dias & Sudarshan, 2007, p. 1) have been added as preconditions. Then again, GG includes those mechanisms of governance which ensure effective service delivery, sustainable development, and the welfare of the citizens by staying close to the citizens and practising all norms of democracy. Shah and Shah (2006, p. 2) observe: Good local governance is not just about providing a range of local services but also about preserving the life and liberty of residents, creating space for democratic participation and civic dialogue, supporting market-­led and environmentally sustainable local development, and facilitating outcomes that enrich the quality of life of residents.

24  Concepts of governance and collaboration They emphasise voice and space mechanisms, in addition to market mechanisms, for efficiency in the delivery of services. Their point of view ensures the notion that ‘results do matter.’ This discussion defined GG and maintained that GG is more than governance, as it emphasises people-­government relations, people’s rights and entitlements, and inclusiveness in the decision-­making process more than standardisations.

Strengthening local governance and its components SLG includes a comprehensive process, mechanisms, and efforts to make LGIs capable of fulfilling people’s desires. To be strengthened LGIs need to fulfil some preconditions and processes: participatory planning, citizen education and awareness building, training and sensitising local officials, advocacy, alliances and collaboration, participatory budgeting, promoting accountability of elected officials to citizens, empowerment of citizens with political rights and liberty, and inclusiveness with voice (Gaventa & Valderrama,1999, pp. 1–16; Blair, 2000, pp. 21–23). The processes of SLG, though contextualized as ‘one size does not fit all,’ still give rise to certain commonalities. In this line, this study has focused on some shared components of SLG, which include a triumvirate of GG viz. people’s participation, accountability of their representatives, transparency, and other important issues like fiscal autonomy, citizen’s representation and empowerment, GM, and institution building. These important issues require in-­depth reflection. Capacity building at the individual, organisational, and environmental level Murray (2007, p. 1) states outspokenly that ‘without the capacity to make good decisions and to implement them well, the ineffective government is the best expectation one might have; the worst expectation is a failed state.’ To avoid such a situation in the process of local governance, Bangladesh needs a capacity building (CB) initiative for LGIs. This section deals with the concept of capacity, CB, and its various dimensions, and it provides an evaluation framework for CB. Capacity building Morgan’s (1998, pp. 2–3) concept of capacity includes not only knowledge and skills but also relationships, values, attitudes, and so forth. Brinkerhoff (1995, p. 2) reflects on capacity as multidimensional; he considers it to be a complex and continuous dynamic process, a tool to achieve objectives, and believes that it has links with performance and contributes to sustainability. In brief, capacity as enabling factor links with the ability to perform

Concepts of governance and collaboration  25 the desired tasks to fulfil development needs by individuals, or organizations, or the system/environment/society separately or as a whole in an efficient and sustainable way. CB involves focused external interventions over time to fill the gaps in the ability of individuals or organizations (Simister & Smith, 2010, p. 3). OECD (2006, p. 9) describes CB as a process that involves ‘maintaining, unleashing, strengthening, creating, and adapting capacity of people, organizations, and society as a whole over time.’ Therefore, the CB assessment framework of this study has included three levels: individual, organisational, and environmental. For better understanding, the conceptual aspect of the individual level for both officials and citizens has been discussed together. Capacity building at the individual level (officials/citizens) Individuals and communities influence outcomes, practise certain behaviours, and demand improved services through their behaviours (Brown, LaFond, & Macintyre, 2001, p. 9). Individual-­level CB is the most important element of capacity and refers to the scheduling of objectives by individuals with will and capability as well as to achieving it through using one’s knowledge and skills, awareness, and experience, shifting values, attitudes, and utilising information and communication technology (ICT) (JICA, 2004, p. 7; Matachi, 2006, p. 5; Lorenzo, 2012, p. 8; Zhang, Lee, & Yang, 2012, p. 202). Both the ‘knowledge of basis’ and ‘people skills,’ or ‘soft skills’ are important to measure CB at an individual level. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-­HABITAT 2005, pp. 5–13) includes 12 competencies for elected officials of local governments. These are representation, communicating, facilitating, using power, decision-­ making, policymaking, enabling, negotiating, financing, overseeing, institution building, and leadership. Capacity measurement at the individual/community level for citizens and officials involves the same elements: knowledge and skills. However, citizens’ competencies are different from those of local government personnel. They need to attain the capacity of recognition of the need for services, intention to use the services, participation in the decision-­making process, holding officials accountable, networking, community mobilization, empowerment, and other capacities (Brown et al., 2001, p. 16). Capacity building at the organizational level/institution building The growth and development of a country greatly depend on the quality of its institutions or organisations. Institution building (IB) involves the aided formation of new or refurbishment of existing organisations, which includes the participation of community members to determine necessities (Heifner, 1999, p. 31). Moreover, whilst discussing IB, Moore, Stewart, and Hudock (1995, p. 12) emphasise CB of the organisation.

26  Concepts of governance and collaboration Explaining IB, Esman (1972, p. 22) argues: Institution Building may be defined as the planning, structuring and guidance of new or reconstituted organizations, which (a) embody changes in values, functions, physical and/or social technologies, (b) establish, foster, and protect normative relationships and action patterns, and (c) obtain support and complementarity in the environment. Thus, the main thrust of IB involves ‘organisation building,’ that is, increasing the effectiveness of the organisations through bringing adjustment to their structures, management, procedures, and so forth, separately or in networks. Specifically, the process deals with enabling the organization to accomplish the designated tasks more efficiently by building up capacity (Moore et al., 1995, p. 12). Pareek (1981, 1994, 2002, cited in Rao, 2010, p. 16) argues that the IB process precipitates the change from elitism to populism, percolation to growth, centralism to decentralisation, and isolated professionalism to dialogue. In addition to the above variables, IB is represented with the variables of the ‘Staircase Model’ (Andersson & Winai, 1997, p. 19). The model includes four development stages of an institution: (1) an organisation has low and unpredictable output, (2) the organisation delivers expected output, (3) the organisation carries out changes on its own, and (4) the organisation engages actively with its clients (Andersson & Winai, 1998, p. 66). Capacity development at the environmental/context/system level The environment or context or system within which the individuals, organizations, and societies undertake their functions is also an important factor in analysing the impact of CB (UNDP, 1998, p. x). The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA 2004, p. 7) refers to CB at the environment level as ‘the environment and conditions necessary for demonstrating capacity at the individual and organizational levels.’ This enhances the creation and execution of policies and strategies in systems or frameworks beyond an individual institution. CB at the environmental level deals with several dimensions: the policy dimension, the legal/regulatory dimension, the management or accountability dimension, the resource dimension, and the process dimension (UNDP, 1998, p. xii). The elements of environmental-­ level capacity include formal institution (laws, policies, decrees, ordinances, membership rules, etc.), informal institutions (customs, cultures, norms, etc.), social capital and social infrastructure, and capacities of individuals and organization under the environment (JICA, 2004, pp. 10–11). People’s participation (participatory planning and budgeting) Participation can be viewed both as an approach of ‘means to end’ and as an ‘end in itself.’ The former involves increasing effectiveness and efficiencies

Concepts of governance and collaboration  27 of the programmes/institutions and the latter approach deals with enhancing control over means and regulative establishments and playing a role as an instrument of empowerment of the marginalised (Schönwälder, 1997, pp. 756–757). Wolfe and Stiefel (1994, p. 5) associate participation with organised endeavours to bring resources and regulative institutions under enhanced control of groups or movements which were once denied such control in a given social setting. The process has been seen as the interference of ‘private citizens,’ namely, nonelected persons in governance related activities with strong social interests. In this process, the participation denotes more involvement of citizens beyond old-­fashioned indirect representation to direct mechanisms to practise control over and influence governance (Gaventa & Valderrama, 1999, p. 4), and denial or disrespect of such engagement in the process of governance brings the legitimacy questions of the government to the fore (Bingham, 2009, pp. 88–89). Enhanced levels of participation not only contribute to the alleviation of poverty and instillation of social justice but also compensate for a ‘democratic deficit,’ which becomes the topic of debate in both ‘mature and emerging democracies’ (Gaventa, 2004, p. 26). Effective participation requires taking into account and including the voices and interests of the informed poor when decisions are made so that they can hold representatives, namely, policymakers, accountable (DFID, 2000, p. 24). Therefore, strengthening the process of citizen engagement and ensuring the accountability and responsiveness of the institutions require equal attention. Participation through “consultation without attention to power and politics will lead to ‘voice without influence,’ ” and accountability through ‘reorganisation of political institutions without attention to inclusion and consultation will only reinforce the status quo’ (Cornwall & Gaventa, 2001, p. 32). Thus, the issue of citizens’ capability to engage in decision-­making and make demands receives increased attention. The overall process of enhancing participation, instituting GG, and promoting citizenship shifts the concept of involvement from mere participation by the beneficiaries or the excluded to the broader engagement of citizens for making decisions about important areas that impact their lives (Gaventa & Valderrama, 1999, pp. 1–16). Localities could be the best place to observe the shift as the interface of government and people at the grassroots level meet there. The shift can be expressed through a transition from beneficiary to citizen, project to policy, consultation to decision-­making, appraisal to implementation, and micro to macro (Gaventa & Valderrama, 1999, pp. 1–16). Types and levels of participation Arnstein (1969, pp. 216–224) categorises participation, through the participation ladder, into three basic forms based on the extent and nature of engagement and power shared among traditional power holders. These types of participation are nonparticipation, tokenism, and citizen power,

28  Concepts of governance and collaboration which include the subparts manipulation and therapy for nonparticipation, informing, consultation, and placation for tokenism, and partnership, delegated power, and citizen control for citizen power. Nonparticipation stays at the bottom rung of the metaphoric ladder, and at this level, citizens are seen as ‘passive and powerless’ and without any influence on the development process. At the level of tokenism, citizens’ participation is perceived as a token, where citizens are informed and have the opportunity to have their voice heard, but where that voice does not have any power to influence decisions, which results in the perpetuation of the status-­quo. At the highest level of participation, that is, citizen power, citizens have the capacity to participate and negotiate benefits with traditional power holders; they can exercise influence and control over the decision-­making process. In some cases, citizens have the lion’s share of representation in decision-­making or complete decision-­making authority (Arnstein, 1969, pp. 216–224). McGee (2003, p. 17) sees four levels of participation, which include information sharing at the bottom, consultation at the second lowest rung, joint decision-­making at the third lowest rung, and initiation and control by stakeholders at the topmost rung of the ladder. The information sharing level involves putting ‘budget and public policy information into the public domain.’ At the consultation level, government ‘sets up instruments such as forums, councils, and referendums or surveys to gather information on citizen preferences.’ Joint decision-­making allows citizens to not only have information in accordance with their necessities or choices but also play an active role in decision-­making. At the topmost level, initiation and control by stakeholders realize that ‘citizens have direct control over the full process of development, fundraising funds, implementation of projects or policy, as it happens with the social fund and community-­driven development projects.’ However, there is one caveat regarding participation, as the elites, such as government officials and/or interest groups of the society, make use of the opportunity to participate by passing off private interests as public issues. They gain control over participatory tools and instruments and have their voice heard and exert influence over decision-­making or make decisions instead of marginalized citizens who have not been sufficiently empowered (Moynihan, 2007, p. 61). In response to these arguments, this study has assessed the level of participation of the citizens in the decision-­ making process. Model of governance based on level of participation Based on the level of participation and quality of governance Waheduzzaman and Mphande (2014, pp. 37–69) develop four models of governance: authoritarian, bureaucratic, political, and democratic. The authoritarian model of governance includes the characteristics of the low level of participation and having citizens only as passive participants; and the decisions are made at the top level of local agencies. Citizens are only informed

Concepts of governance and collaboration  29 through display boards, contact points, disclosures, and so forth. Thus, the total system struggles with a lack of transparency, accountability, and responsiveness. In the bureaucratic model of governance citizens are consulted through arranged public meetings, however, they are not included in the decision-­making process. This model treats people as consumers, follows the principles of upward accountably, and does not share important information regarding projects. The model also suffers from a poor level of transparency and accountability and exhibits a better level of accountability and predictability with consultations. The political model is a situation where the participant reaches the stage of ‘involving.’ In this model, a group of community members, not the whole community and particularly not the disadvantaged groups, are engaged in the decision-­making process. This community is formed in line with political connexions or linkages with the administration. This model of governance becomes activated in line with party politics, which is termed partyarchy by Coppedge (1994). Partyarchy signifies monopolies of political parties regarding social control that maintain the formal political process along party lines (Coppedge, 1994, p. 24). In the political model, the relevant government agency shares information, possessions, and authority with this group. In this model, the level of transparency, answerability, sensitivity, and predictability reaches an optimum level because of preference to certain groups, and there one observes the improvement of the level of the components of governance. Finally, the democratic model allows people from all strata to access to information, decision-­making, and the project implementation process. In this model, community becomes aware of its participation in the governing process, the local agency delegates some authority to the whole community to make a decision and implement projects, and their inclusion signifies their capacity rather than their affiliation with politics and administration. This model becomes open, accountable, receptive, and predictable, and it promotes the mechanisms of community-­based governance. More importantly, amongst these four models, this model becomes most anticipated (Waheduzzaman, 2015, pp. 128–147). Transparency Transparency and right to information are considered important components of democratic participation. Transparency promotes easy understanding, openness, and forthrightness in networking, dealings, and operations. Holzer (2001, p. 1) associates transparency with the diffusion of information regarding decisions, activities, and existing environment to the public by ‘legitimate centres of powers.’ Dissemination of information contributes to making organizations accountable, however, the disclosure of information with many technicalities and dumping of files full of information also frustrates stakeholders. The International Monetary Fund (IMF 1998, p. 39) adds that transparency lets citizens know about ‘government

30  Concepts of governance and collaboration structure and functions, fiscal policy intentions, public sector accounts, and projections,’’ and equips them with ‘ready access to reliable, comprehensive, timely, understandable, and internationally comparable information on government activities.’ The Encyclopaedia of Political Science (2011a) states that, Transparency in the field of government is the ability of constituents to gain access to the facts, figures, documents, decisions, and other aspects of their government. . . . However, the definition in the context of politics has a deeper significance to the ways in which people are able to understand, participate, and control their country’s government. (Kurian, 2011a, p. 1687) Moore (2016) makes an argument for solving four problems introduced by the practice of transparency: corruption, monopoly of knowledge, coercion, and exclusion. However, he also warns against excessive transparency, as it can be ‘corrosive to democracy.’ Transparency works like a hole-­in-­the-­wall in the structure of the government of operation for an outsider to gain effective and suitable information.1 Transparency signifies as UNDP (1997, p. 36) puts it, ‘sharing information and acting in an open manner.’ Freedom of information or the right to know assures citizens’ access not only to documents that the government holds but also to the meetings where decisions that affect them are made. Freedom of information ensures a citizen’s capacity to look inside government organisations through ‘open meetings, access to records, websites, whistle-­blower protections, and even illegally leaked information’ (Piotrowski & Van Ryzin, 2007, p. 308). The combination of access to information and transparency warrants and promotes democracy, accountability, citizens’ effective participation, and citizen’s trust and curbs corruption. In fact, as Rourke (1960, p. 691) claimed, ‘Nothing could be more axiomatic for democracy than the principle of exposing the process of government to relentless public criticism and scrutiny.’ Stiglitz (1999) develops a distinct and palpable argument for the release of information. Claiming the ownership of information for the public, he states: The question is, given that the public has paid for the gathering of government information, who owns the information? Is it the private province of the government official, or does it belong to the public at large? I would argue that information gathered by public officials at public expense is owned by the public – just as the chairs and buildings and other physical assets used by the government belong to the public. (Stiglitz, 1999, p. 7)

Concepts of governance and collaboration  31 Florini (2002, pp. 14–15) brings principal-­agent relationship difficulties to the fore to argue for the unimpeded flow of information. According to public choice theory, the agent, the government officials, have an incentive with an enlarged budget and bureaucratic sphere of operation and could be involve with dictated development, which does not fulfil the interest of the principal. The problem can be overcome through making the process transparent, as asymmetric information assists the agent and transparency lessens this asymmetry, as well as the power of the agent. He argues, ‘If agents are employed to serve the interests of the principals, the prevailing presumption should be in favour of agent transparency. Agents have no inherent rights to withhold information from principals.’ He adds that transparency discloses behaviours; however, the expressed behaviours do not necessarily provide clues to the inherent meaning of the behaviours. It is more important to know why someone is doing something than what he is doing. He believes that even in secret matters the agents may mistake in negotiating the issues alone; to avoid this, they need feedback procedures to incorporate prevailing information continuously (Florini, 2002, pp. 14–16). Though freedom of information is known as a right, the exercise of this right can affect personal privacy, organisational secrecy, and safety (Kurian, 2011b, p. 623). Another noteworthy account of criticism of governmental transparency involves the high price of information (Piotrowski & Van Ryzin, 2007, p. 309). National security, law enforcement, proprietary information, and personal privacy are substantial reasons why authorities may not release information. ICT, e-­governance, and transparency Social media and ICT, in particular e-­governance, contribute to making management transparent in the most effective and expedient way. Bertot, Jaeger, and Grimes (2010, p. 269) state: ‘the social technologies available today are transformative in general and with regard to transparency and anti-­corruption in particular. . . . ICTs can, in fact, create an atmosphere of openness that identifies and stems corrupt behaviour.’ It allows citizens to voice their opinions whenever they want and makes public participation easier, faster, and cost-­effective with increased numbers. It contributes to developing a close relationship between the government and its citizens and allows citizens to track and monitor officials’ activities, which results in curbing corrupt behaviours (Shim & Eom, 2008, p. 312). ICT has proven itself useful for creating an opportunity for citizens to not only gain information but also engage interactively with authorities in a way that conforms to principles of openness and accountability (Pina, Torres, & Royo, 2007, p. 464). Transparency at the local level Transparency at the local level has gained attention recently because it is thought that transparency could address the challenges of sustainable

32  Concepts of governance and collaboration development. It is a strategic entrance for local inhabitants into the space of decision makers as catalysts of revolution in the governance of the locality (Transparency International and UN-­HABITAT, 2004, p. 2). Local government has two major advantages over national government in terms of the progress of transparency due to its smaller size and proximity of authorities to the citizens: first, adverse effects of corruption and alienation, namely, poor governance, are felt intensely at the local level; second, transparency brings fundamental reforms at localities (Transparency International and UN-­HABITAT, 2004, p. 2). The effect of localization of transparency has been stated in the following way: Local government is better placed than the national government to understand and act on the wishes of its citizens. Its scope for action against corruption is greater as it is more likely to be able to mobilise a finite number of stakeholders behind a common strategy for enhancing transparency and combating corruption. It has a crucial leadership role to play, which, if discharged successfully, will ensure continued and enhanced support from the citizenry. Local level successes can thus form the basis for implementing broader national reforms. (Transparency International and UN-­HABITAT, 2004, p. 16) Some institutional reforms are necessary to ensure transparency, such as setting up complaint desks, and front offices, one-­stop service centres, oversight committees, independent audit teams, independent anti-­corruption agencies, and participatory budgets (Transparency International and UN-­ HABITAT, 2004, p. 18). Pages (2015, p. 8) identifies six indicators of transparency for the local level, these include information on the governmental bodies, relation with the public, fiscal transparency, procurement of services, rural transparency and transparency on sustainable development. Being an important element of governance, transparency has been tested with its components to identify how UPs and citizens deliver and make use of information, respectively. Accountability The interval between two elections remains, generally, long with no mechanism to the officials accountable. Therefore, for accountable governance, citizens’ views, ideas, preferences, and opinions regarding activities of LGIs must be reflected in between elections through other mechanisms. Blair (2000, p. 27) mentions seven such mechanisms including election: ‘political parties,’ ‘civil society,’ ‘the media,’ ‘public meetings,’ ‘formal grievance procedures,’ and ‘opinion surveys.’ Traditionally, before the 1990s, the public management approach has emphasised compliance with regulations, policies, and procedures. After the 1990s there was a shift in public management, which gave birth to NPM. In this period, the form of accountability

Concepts of governance and collaboration  33 changes, as performance is judged in the market strategy with the level of a customer’s satisfaction, less cost, and efficiencies that constitute ‘quasi-­ market accountability,’ which is represented through output measures like targets, benchmarks, and various proxies for user choice (Castiglione, 2012). However, NPM is criticized for disempowering citizens and producing specified outputs that focus less on outcomes that a community needs (City of Perth Authority, 2017, p. 2). In response, during the mid-­2000s, the idea of public value management was developed, which creates value through the joint action of citizens, namely, community engagement processes and the participation of all stakeholders. It involves the contribution of an organisation to the common good and emphasises deliberation and choice, tackling problems that the citizens care most about, and spanning service delivery to system maintenance (Moore, 1995, pp. 52–56). Recently, with the development of the ‘New Governance Agenda,’ the concept of accountability has transmigrated from its traditional public spheres to private and voluntary sectors, as globalization has transformed the map of the power base and state and its institutions are now no longer the only decision makers (Castiglione, 2012). There has been an endeavour to formulate ‘institutions of accountability in a non-­hierarchical environment by mixing mechanisms of voice (traditional in the public sector) with those of exit (more appropriate to the market).’ This process conforms to the emergence of the network form of governance and a notable increase in the role of NGOs as an instrument of accountability. To be accountable requires a person to give ‘a count’ of resources either money or properties, which had been left in his upkeep (Castiglione, 2012). In a more specific sense, accountability involves a person’s or an institution’s requirement to give an account to an authority for a set of duties to be done, which can produce rewards and punishment, and analyses. Additionally, it emphasises importance of the required capacity of the account holder to enforce ‘sanctions or other remedies’ on the agents (Mulgan, 2002, p. 3). Thus, accountability consists of two main actors: caretaker and reward provider or punisher. The involved actors maintain a ‘dialogical relationship,’ which promotes engagement of both parties in speaking and ‘public debate’ (Schedler, 1999, p. 15). In that case, accountability can be described as a relationship between ‘holders’ and ‘givers’ which involves ‘seeking of information by holders to investigate and scrutinizes the works of the givers’ (Mulgan, 2002, p. 3). Schedler (1999, p. 17) and O’Neil, Foresti, and Hudson (2007, p. 3) address these relationships as a link of two parties. They continue, ‘A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in cases of ensuing misconduct.’ The accountability relationships between givers and holders are ruled by various factors including legal frameworks, citizen engagements, how people understand the concept of accountability, and state-­market relations. In this relation, citizens use a good number of formal and informal tactics to hold institutions accountable.

34  Concepts of governance and collaboration Schedler (1999, pp. 14–15) identifies two distinct dimensions of accountability: ‘answerability’ and ‘enforcement.’ Answerability consists of, Schedler maintains, two aspects. The first, transparency, involves discharging of information as needed. The second, justification, is a situation in which the actors justify their deeds. Overall, the processes of answerability bring the actors to encounter the ‘nasty,’ ‘uncomfortable’ questions. The other dimension, enforcement (or sanctions), involves a reward for expected behaviour and punishment or imposing ‘negative sanctions’ for undue behaviour or a breach of certain rules of behaviour (Schedler, 1999, p. 15; O’donnell, 1994, p. 61). Newell and Wheele (2006, p. 1) state that accountability refers to a duty bearer’s compulsion to accept the liability for their activities. It denotes the rights and responsibilities that lie in between people and institutions (including governments, civil society, and market actors) that have an influence on their lives. It cannot be separated from the ‘interlocked governance wheel’ of citizenship, participation, and accountability, where citizenship allows holding duty bearers accountable and the process of accountability employs citizens in participation (Tandon, 2001, p. 7). Recent instances of accountability include, first, opening up decision-­making process for public scrutiny; second, the introduction of direct control mechanisms such as ombudsmen, the recall of public officials, opinion surveys, and other forms of deliberative polling to assert citizens’ wishes; and, third, initiating ‘sticker standards of conduct’ to curb corruption and control private interest in public affairs (Castiglione, 2012). At the local level, accountability is enhanced with the adoption of quasi-­ market accountability, and inclusion of other institutions of accountability as a form of social accountability involved with demand side (Schaeffer & Yilmaz, 2008, p. 3). Social accountability underlies engagement of citizens/ communities and/or CSOs to act directly or indirectly commissioning an expansive array of mechanisms (excluding voting) for demanding accountability of elected and non-­elected officials. The tactics for social accountability include citizen participation in public-­policy-­making, participatory budgeting, public expenditure tracking, citizen monitoring of public service delivery, citizen advisory boards, lobbying and advocacy campaigns, and so on, which is supported by the efforts of government and other sectors such as media, private sector, donors (Sharma, 2008, p. 8). Aspects of accountability and types of accountability Accountability can be categorized into two types based on the ‘relationship between the accountor and the accountee’ (Schillemans, 2008, p. 178). Holding an authority responsible by their superiors can be termed as ‘upward accountability,’ ‘hierarchical accountability,’ or ‘vertical accountability.’ The reverse, namely, answerability to subordinates, is referred to as ‘downward accountability,’ ‘horizontal accountability,’ ‘citizen

Concepts of governance and collaboration  35 accountability,’ or ‘societal accountability’ (Schillemans, 2008, pp. 176– 180). The provisions of horizontal accountability encompass a good number of actors: peers, equals, journalists, stakeholders, or concerned actors, which stay outside of pyramidal relationships within central government and executive agency. The actors involved with horizontal accountability usually take a passive stance, as they depend mostly on information, which is provided to them, and as the actors lack technical knowledge and wait for the annual budgetary planning and control phase (Schillemans, 2008, p. 185). Conversely, vertical accountability requires an active role as well as a supply of information to the government, inspection services, ombudsmen, auditors-­general, and judges as needed (Schillemans, 2008, p. 185). However, Krishna (2003, p. 368) mentions horizontal accountability as the third category in addition to upward and downward accountably related with decentralization, relating it with the context of partnership mechanisms as they engage in reciprocal accountability by sharing information, responsibility, and authority fairly. At the local level, four areas of accountability can be seen which are involved with election (political), legal and moral compliance (integrity and compliance), involvement in governance for citizens (participation), recognition of community priorities, and ensuring access to information (performance) (City of Perth Authority, 2017, p. 10). Moreover, Kluvers and Tippet (2010, pp. 46–53) understand four critical components of accountability: information, values, enforcement, and relationships. Voice and accountability Ability and its multifarious recognised and unrecognised means to manifest the opinions by citizens, particularly by the marginalised groups, is involved with the voice mechanism. ‘Complaint, organized protest, lobbying and participation’ in the procedures of decision-­making, provisions of services, or the stages of execution of the policy are deemed as voice (Goetz & Gaventa, 2001, pp. 5–8). Hirschman (1970, p. 21), the pioneer of the concept of ‘voice,’ argues that consumers generally possess two options: to exit or to voice, and to be loyal to have their demands fulfilled, that is, to ensure accession to improved services and/or quality goods. However, for the public services, as in a monopolistic situation, the consumers’/users’ choices become narrowed as they have no exit option to obtain the services or goods in the absence of alternative providers, and hence they are left with either a passive option of being loyal to the system and interact with a patriarchal relation for benefits, or adopt a coercive option to raise their voices collectively for reform and change. Being loyal to a patron-­client relation to obtain welfare is not inclusive and sustainable (Hirschman, 1970, p. 21). Thus, most of the people, specifically low-­profile citizens, are precluded from public services, and therefore the only choice they have left is to raise their voices.

36  Concepts of governance and collaboration Thus, voice is not just a passive, symbolic expression of opinions, but rather it demands actions, rights, and entitlement from those in power. This demand-­driven mechanism works better with the presence of strong civil society to manipulate policies at the centre and to institute SAMs to hold those in power responsible at the periphery. It is believed that if people stand up and voice demands against the inactions of office bearers, then those in power may change their approaches and pay heed to the people’s demands (Hyden, 2016, p. 14). Voice amplifies the choice of the poor and develops a position in the power relation, assists in solving collective difficulties with coactions and coordination, and institutes a platform (Thampi, 2013, p. 11). Rocha Menocal and Sharma (2008) also outline the impacts of voice, and asserts that voice when raised confirms accountability, which leads to establishment of strong local governance (cited in Thampi, 2013, p. 1–6). However, Sharma (2008, pp. 3–5) remains concerned over the exploitation of the opportunity of the voice mechanism by the influential within the civil society organizations, social platforms, and other groups that seemingly represent voice. Furthermore, she is also sceptical about the impact of voice, given that governments have been found to be unresponsive to citizens’ needs and reluctant to support citizens’ rights. Thus, an effective voice mechanism for institutionalising accountability requires well-­informed citizens with the power to raise claims and duty bearers to be agreeable and skilled to respond to such claims. This study makes use of various types of accountability, its relationship with voice, and other components of the same to examine the capacity of citizens to hold officials accountable. Fiscal autonomy The thought on fiscal autonomy of LGIs is derived from both the concept of fiscal federalism and fiscal decentralization. Pola (2016, p. 1) argues for fiscal federalism or fiscal decentralization according to the following principles: the closer the decision-­making bodies to the people, the better they work; electorates make use of their voting rights according to their need for services; and ‘the decision-­making should be consistent with the goals of allocative efficiency, a target which is, in turn, strictly connected with the principle of economies of scale and the correction of benefits-­ costs spillovers.’ Fiscal federalism is a ‘general normative framework’ or ‘constitutional arrangements’ or ‘design of fiscal constitutions’ for assigning spending responsibilities and capacities to apply financial mechanisms including revenue raising power, intergovernmental transfers, and others to accomplish the responsibilities by different layers of government for just and effective delivery of public services and for correction of horizontal and vertical imbalances (Oates, 1999, pp. 1120–1121; Yesigat, 2016, p. 44; Pola, 2016, p. 1). Then again, fiscal decentralization includes institutionalization of a legal and formal atmosphere, transfer of functions to local

Concepts of governance and collaboration  37 governments, collection of source revenues by tiers of government, fixation of intergovernmental fund transfers, access to development capital by sub-­ central government, and estimation and oversight of fiscal streams of tiers of government (Smoke, 2000, p. 3; Ahmad, Devarajan, Khemani, & Shah, 2005, p. 6). In a general sense, fiscal autonomy includes the capacity and power of LGIs to raise revenue to bear their expenditures (Yesigat, 2016, p. 45). It requires both legal stipulation and favourable political economy narratives of the government (Yesigat, 2016, p. 42). Fiscal autonomy includes the ‘freedom to impose local taxation, generate revenue within its assigned sources, allocate its financial and material resources, [and] determine and authorize its annual budgets without external interference’ (Okafor, 2010, p. 126), Gomes (2012, p. 387) asserts that the arrangement of fiscal autonomy involves the availability of financial resources for LGI actions and provides sub-­central government choices in the provision of funds and public policies. Slake’s (2017, p. A3) affirmation of the concept involves the reliance of LGIs on locally raised revenues instead of transferred funds and setting of their individual tax rates. Blöchliger and Rabesona (2009, p. 3) call the process ‘tax autonomy,’ and according to them it incorporates ‘sub-­ central government’s right to introduce or to abolish a tax, to set tax rates, to define the tax base, or to grant tax allowances or reliefs to individuals and firms.’ Specifically, local tax autonomy in its true essence allows LGIs the freedom of whether or not to levy taxes, regulate exact tax bases and rates, manage (assess, collect, and enforce) taxes, hold collected revenue, and spend the amassed resources to fulfil their needs (Slake, 2017, pp. 2–3; Bird, 2011; Blöchliger & Rabesona, 2009, p. 3). Most importantly, a weak fiscal structure lessens constituents’ interests in and demand for better service provisions (Geysa, Heinemannb, & Kalb, 2008, p. vi). Empirical evidence shows that positive change in fiscal autonomy resulted in improved financial performance (Renyaan, Ubud, Idrus, & Djumahir, 2012, p. 20). In a condition where fiscal autonomy exists, taxpayers enjoy accessibility to the decision-­ making process regarding tax assessment and become aware of public service outcomes which improves answerability and efficacy in the public sector (Slake, 2017, p. A3). However, in some cases, a higher level of decentralization and fiscal autonomy can be harmful to development due to weakening of balance and macroeconomic strategy (Oates, 2005, p. 351; Rodríguez-­Pose & Bwire, 2004). Moreover, the process may be plagued by embezzlement, inefficient administration of expenditure, and an uncoordinated fiscal approach (Faridi & Nazar, 2013, p. 142). Fiscal autonomy measurement in this research, based on the discussions in the preceding paragraphs, includes two major indicators: revenue autonomy and expenditure autonomy. For revenue autonomy, the ratio of the local body’s internal revenue (annual taxes, user fees, certificate and license fees, income generated from fixed/current assets, income accruing

38  Concepts of governance and collaboration from the sale of both assets, and income from penalties and fines, etc.) to total revenue, and the ratio of non-­internal revenue (earmarked and non-­ earmarked grants, performance grants, mandatory tax-­sharing, redistributive tax-­sharing, donor grants, etc.) to total revenue is calculated to draw an inference. The other indicator, expenditure autonomy, is calculated by using the ratio of the local body’s total revenue to total expenditure and supplemented by the description of autonomous funds (Akai & Sakata, 2002, pp. 93–108; Psycharis, Zoi, & Iliopoulou, 2016, p. 266; Gomes, 2012, p. 390; Blöchliger, 2006, pp. 21, 26). Gender mainstreaming GM was discussed at the Fourth World Conference in Beijing and included in the subsequent Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (United Nations, 1995) to incorporate a gender perspective in every aspect of life, particularly in development activities. GM is not an end itself; rather it is a process or strategy to achieve the target of gender equality (Waal, 2006, p. 209). ‘Achieving gender equality requires inspiring and mobilising social change’ (Moser, 2007, p. 5). Thus, whilst measuring GM, people are actually inclined to evaluate the advancement in implementation rather than the tangible results (Moser, 2007, p. 1). Various forms of narratives of GM are found in the literature, and they include multidimensional issues in the concept of GM from policy formulation to implementation. Rao and Kelleher (2005, p. 59), grounding GM in feminist theoretical frameworks, mention that GM becomes favourable to ‘Democrats’ and ‘gender activists’ for its transformative potentiality. By contrast, other thinkers find that the gender issue is not involved exclusively with women, but rather that gender relations are scrutinised as the relationship between women and men (Blickhäuser & von Bargen, 2007, p. 5). True (2001, p. 28) asks that we deal thoughtfully with and rectify the firmly established imbalance between males and females in society. Thus, GM can be considered a ‘deliberate’ and ‘planned’ process intended to change the fixed nature of ‘gender arrangement’ in the society as a whole (Connell, 2002, p. 54). Moreover, labelling it as a distinct approach, Daly (2005, p. 435) accepts that GM ‘seeks to institutionalize equality by embedding gender-­sensitive practices and norms’ through placing more emphasis on an inequality producing system and norms ‘in the structures, process, and environment of public policy.’ The discussion on the definition of GM remains incomplete without presenting the comprehensive argument of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (2002), which describes GM as the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s

Concepts of governance and collaboration  39 concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality. (UN, 2002, p. 1) This definition, though, fails to recognize the agent who performs the functions to bring change and to institutionalize the ultimate target of gender equality, yet it has been taken for this study as it covers all other aspects of GM. In brief, GM challenges the male biases of the society to enable both men and women to have an equal opportunity to impact, participate in, and take advantage of development courses and practices. The Council of Europe (1998, pp. 23–25) outlines several important enabling conditions for facilitating GM: political will, specific gender equality policy, statistics, comprehensive knowledge of gender relations, knowledge of the administration, necessary funds and human resources, and the participation of women in political and public life and in decision-­making processes. Moreover, Meentzen (cited in Blickhäuser & von Bargen, 2007, p. 4) identifies a number of significant tools employable for GM, including gender analysis, specific measures for the promotion of women, advancement plans for women/gender equality plans, information and awareness raising of men, and mainstreaming women and gender on institutional, state, and socio-­political level gender-­budgets. Thus, it means that the GM issues are no longer the responsibility of individual designated officers or the women’s affairs offices, but rather that all the expert offices have been designed to scale up the process. However, the transformation process is difficult as organisations are gendered at their foundations, and gender inequity hides under the cover of power, which lessens the ability of women to challenge the deeply gendered institutions (Rao & Kelleher, 2005, p. 64). Four interrelated power factors impede the advancement of women towards GM: political access, accountability systems, cultural systems, and cognitive structures (Rao & Kelleher, 2005, p. 64). Therefore, bringing change or transformation at the individual level involving both sexes, society as a whole, and both formal and informal spheres are keys to generating impacts from GM. Waal (2006, p. 211) proposes an evaluation framework for GM and includes five objectives: gender parity, gender equality, gender equity, empowerment, and transformation to analyse the success of gender perspective, which forms the base of evaluation. However, for this study two components of the framework have been included: gender equality and empowerment. Firstly, gender equality (equal access, control, opportunities, rewards, and benefits for women and men) refers to developing a level playing field by removing barriers to offering equal opportunities for women and men, including the ability to participate in the public sphere (Waal, 2006, p. 209). The World Bank’s view of gender equality includes

40  Concepts of governance and collaboration ‘equality under the law, equality of opportunity, rewards, and resources, and equality of voice to influence and contribute to the development process’ (World Bank, 2001, pp. 2–3). Secondly, empowerment (cognitive, behavioural, and effective changes to increase levels of equality and empowerment of women in relation to men) changes the power relation of gender by raising awareness of women’s subordination and capacitating them to encounter it (Reeves & Baden, 2000, p. 9).

NGO and related issues NGOs stand on the Schumacherian values that identify people as the basic and eventual basis of assets whatever wealth these are (Schumacher, 1973, p. 123). Therefore, NGOs’ major development initiatives spotlighted people around the globe. NGOs facilitate people in organizing themselves for self-­defence, self-­help, self-­reliance, and development (Hasan, 1993, pp. 82–101). A state’s incompetence, subjugation, and pervasive corruption and the unwillingness of profit-­oriented actors to alleviate poverty, empower the marginalised, or even employ resources constructively necessitate reconsideration of the development approach (Farrington & Bebbington, 1993, p. 2). Therefore, these organisations are found to be involved with various sectors: empowerment of the poor, poverty eradication and efficacy, green and sustainable development, surrogating for community voice, and strengthening communities and governance. However, the roles of NGOs can be categorised into three main components: implementer, catalyst, and partner (Lewis, 2010). NGOs’ roles in political affairs NGOs, though, are not recognised apparently as political actors, yet their political affiliation, influence, and power entice researchers, policymakers, and other political actors as well. NGOs’ political involvement derives from a variety of factors, including weak political institutions (Philippines), lack of political penetration by marginalised groups (India), the hegemonic role of formal institutions, a lack of democratic institutionalisation (Bangladesh), and so forth. (Clarke, 1998, p. 41). The second-­generation and most of the third-­generation NGOs act as catalysts and enhance focus on ‘conscientisation’ and mobilisation in dealing with political conflict through reinforcing social movement based on specific issues (Clarke, 1998, p. 42). NGOs’ involvement in politics ranges from influencing policymaking and legislation, conducting dialogue on the minimum wage, feudalism, and bonded labour, restructuring and in some cases duplicating political parties (Chile) and local government actors (Philippines), challenging power elites (Indonesia), and acting as a virtually parallel state to reach the poor (Bangladesh) (Clarke, 1998, pp. 43–45).

Concepts of governance and collaboration  41 NGOs also play a critical role in overturning authoritarian regimes, organising mass upsurges, promoting the interest of the Western world, democratisation, and conserving the status-­quo in the political arena when needed (Clarke, 1998, pp. 45–51). Moreover, NGOs’ decisions are sometimes influenced by business interests, religious groups, foreign donors (governmental, nongovernmental, or multilateral), underground or insurgent movements, political parties, partner peoples’ organisations, and governments (Clarke, 1998, p. 52). In some cases, political elites even run inquests into the legitimacy of ‘development partners’ undermining their own people (Shivji, 2007, p. 31). The pundits remain sceptical about the success of NGOs in managing vast and widespread inequality in the sector of economy and politics due to their non-­political roots and strategies (Banks, Hulme, & Edwards, 2015, p. 175; Bhatt, 1995, p. 86) given the expertise needed to replace policy formulation, conduct advocacy, and be prepared to take on the challenge of meeting ‘vested interest and the establishment’ (Bhatt, 1995, p. 86). In addition, NGOs have to withstand sustained criticism and accusation of overt involvement in politics, as the government is uncomfortable about NGOs’ involvement in politics due to their fear of destabilisation of the government and uprising − interestingly, leftist political groups find NGOs working against social revolution through enhancing existing state of affairs (Bhatt, 1995, p. 87). Moreover, NGOs may lose their credibility, and by engaging in formal politics they risk losing their expertise and become embroiled in the dirty politics of the developing world. In Bangladesh, NGOs’ roles have been directed mostly towards service delivery, microcredit, and development activity orientation through carrying out advocacy, awareness raising for accessing to the rights, voter education, empowerment, and CB to be involved in the political sphere. This phenomenon spilled into overt political affairs in the 1990s and afterwards through the advocacy and exercise of influence for policy change with the addition of GG agenda (Panday & Feldman, 2015, p. 308). Giant NGOs like Grameen Bank, and Proshika, accompanied by different organisations, political groups, media, and trade unions, entered into the political arena. Proshika, additionally, included elements through the establishment of the Institute for Development Policy Analysis and Advocacy (IDPAA) at the beginning of the 1990s for arranging political, social, and governmental campaigns (Lewis, 2004, p. 310). NGOs came under stark criticism for their role in the involuntary downfall of Ershad in 1990 (White, 1999, p. 310). Later in 1993, NGOs unequivocally disclosed their support of the ‘pro-­ democracy movement.’ Before the parliamentary election in 1996, NGOs moved forward with the intention of monitoring elections, which generated ‘widespread suspicion,’ which, in turn, brought some critical issues to the fore, such as whether they were working on behalf of other interests, using their funds and vote banks, and promoting particular candidates

42  Concepts of governance and collaboration (White, 1999, p. 310). Thus, on one hand, NGOs appeared to be propelling the course of development in Bangladesh, and on the other hand, the activities of NGOs stray from the interest of communities. Government-­NGO relations in Bangladesh In Bangladesh the GO-­NGO relation takes many forms, and some of them have been discussed briefly. A triple mode of GO-­NGO relation − supplementary, complementary, and adversarial − can be observed in the course of Bangladesh’s history. After the super cyclone in 1970, and subsequent nine-­month-­long liberation war in 1971, NGOs stormed into the country with humanitarian aid, particularly with relief supplies and rehabilitation programmes to supplement the government to mitigate pervasive poverty, as the authority at that time was incapable of fulfilling the requirements of the people, who were suffering severely. During the 1980s, NGOs moved from service delivery to development activities to address social needs for complementing government. However, NGOs developed an adversarial relationship with the government when the latter brought NGOs into the legal framework, started collaborating with the NGOs, and became aware of NGOs’ involvement in politics, and profit motives, as well as took steps to control corruption and implement laws. At times the relation became fragile as NGOs claimed the government gave undue late (red tapism) approvals for the proposed projects and withheld the inflow of funds, while the government often contended that NGOs delayed the supply of necessary documents (Batley, 2011, p. 309). This made the relation hostile. Thus, it can be concluded that the GO-­NGO relation involves both conflict and cooperation.

GO-­NGO collaboration and its various aspects NGOs gained a position in the development process with the inception of the ‘New Governance Agenda,’ which favoured the private sector over the public sector (Copestake, 1996, p. 28). This preference motivated NGOs to get involve with poverty reduction and service delivery, support a democratic movement to uphold human rights, and advocate for collaborative governance. This section of the chapter discusses the theoretical concept of collaboration and then deals with various aspects of GO-­NGO collaboration in brief. The terms collaboration and partnership may mean different things in a strict sense, yet they invoke a common language of ‘breaking down barriers’ and ‘working together’ (Carnwell & Buchanan, 2009, p. 10). Thus, collaboration and partnership, in this section have been used interchangeably. Collaboration as a concept Collaboration is an ambiguous term, and it means different things to different people. In its simplest definition collaboration means a ‘relationship

Concepts of governance and collaboration  43 between two entities’ (Gajda, 2004, p. 68). Groups, organisations, individuals, and various combinations of such units can be partners in collaboration. Gray (1985, p. 912, emphasis in original) suggests collaboration as ‘the pooling of appreciations and/or tangible resources, e.g. information, money, labour etc., by two or more stakeholders, to solve a set of problems which neither can solve individually.’ She claimed that through a pluralistic approach of partners, efforts could produce results which surpasses the ability of any single entity of a collaboration. Similarly, Sink (1998, p. 1188) validates that the outcomes of collaboration go beyond the individual capacity. Gazley (2008, p. 42), following her predecessors adds that ‘collaborations require voluntary, autonomous membership (partners retain their independent decision-­making powers even when they agree to some common rules), and they have some transformational purpose or desire to increase systemic capacity by tapping shared resources.’ In collaboration, partners are treated equally in achieving the common targets of pressing needs, there are opportunities for a wide range of participation at the community level, and the shared goals are otherwise not achievable through the efforts of any partner individually (Aaron Bisno, 2013). Henneman, Lee, and Cohen (1995, p. 104) make collaboration commensurate with ‘a bond, union or partnership, characterised by mutual goals and commitments,’ based on knowledge and expertise. Similarly, other authors echo the same points as they identify ‘joint working’ as the prime feature of collaboration based on mutual respect and trust, which stand as the preconditions in collective working such as joint evaluation, delivery of services, and commissioning (Hudson, Exworthy, & Peckham, 1998; Carnwell & Buchanan, 2009, p. 14). Furthermore, they explain collaboration using a continuum of five steps: isolation, encounter, communication, collaboration, and integration (ibid.). The continuum starts at isolation, where there is no relationship between actors, and ends at integration, where actors merge into one identity. Skelcher (2011, p. 298) asserts that collaboration came to prominence due to resource constraints and the complexity of problems that necessitate multi-­ actors’ involvement. The successful collaboration includes ‘a common purpose, strong insistence on a whole systems approach, shared power, and service user’s perspective to stimulate change’ (Miles & Trott, 2011, p. 6). Moreover, Mani (2001, p. 2) identifies three steps of collaboration: ‘initiation,’ ‘consolidation,’ and ‘complementarity’. Initiation involves a meeting of partners to concentrate on a particular issue; consolidation is concerned with exacting rules and regulations for determining the roles and responsibilities in partnership; and at the complementarity stage, partners in collaboration call for their voice and negotiating capability in strategy and decision-­making practices. Collaboration does not conform to the view that partners should compromise on principles; for example, one partner can collaborate in a particular programme but can be in an argumentative relation on other issues (Robinson, 1998, p. 4). A potential collaboration should make sure to establish ‘articulated goals’ and ‘mechanisms to measure,’ and it should ‘monitor

44  Concepts of governance and collaboration performance’ by setting down the responsibilities of the partners clearly (USAID, 1997, p. 1). Farrington and Bebbington (1993, p. 127) delineate collaboration as a formalisation of inter-­dependence of partners for successful completion of their entire activities or parts of them. Collaboration, therefore, involves joint working for shared goals. It is believed that in collaboration, partners can attain targets which seem unlikely to be achieved by the efforts of single actors. Morris, Gibson, Leavitt, and Jones (2013) explain the collaboration process through the lens of system theory. The collaborative process, resources, and governance function as inputs. The outputs include situational variables, plans, programmes, decisions, reports, and partnerships as the intermediate outputs, and changes in behaviour and the physical environment as long-­term outputs. Both mid-­and long-­term outcomes generate social capital, and long-­term outcomes also generate feedback to situational variables (Morris et al., 2013; Williams, Merriman, & Morris, 2016, p. 179). GO-­NGO collaboration Neither the states nor the market succeeded in achieving the targets of a better quality of life for the underprivileged, fulfilling their basic needs, reducing relative inequality and extreme penury as they encountered a variety of causes (Begum, 2008, p. 1). With the apparent failure of the ‘trickle down’ mechanism, NGOs came forward with a bottom-­up approach to involve the poor in income-­generating and empowering activities for self-­ development (Paul, 1991, p. 2). Brown and Korten (1991, p. 50) argue that both limitations of government and recognition of NGOs position them to collaborate through using their recognised capacities to deal with complex issues of development. Today, NGOs are welcomed, as it has been determined that the complexities faced by the government in supplying its services can be aided through close interaction with the NGOs (Farrington & Bebbington, 1993, p. 24). NGOs have also struggled with their scarcity of knowledge, information, resources, and penetration in society to execute delivery of services. Therefore, GO-­NGO collaboration using a ‘comparative advantage’ in developing countries becomes necessary for the government to be active with its authority and policy. GO-­NGO collaboration emerged as a strong mechanism to reach the marginalised, which has been difficult for the government to accomplish. The successful collaboration between these two important sectors can create synergy in the field of development. Employing the ‘different but complementary strengths’ of GOs and NGOs could accelerate the course of poverty reduction and people’s participation in decision-­making, ensure accountability and transparency of local government, and so on. However, Lewis (2001, p. 150) warns against the close relationship between the government and NGO sector, as such intimacy could throw NGOs into an identity crisis. For better collaboration, a suitable socio-­politico environment

Concepts of governance and collaboration  45 is essential. Pluralistic democratic society creates more opportunities for NGOs to play a catalyzing role in a state for development work or service delivery (Atack, 1999, pp. 863, 855–864). Local government-­NGO collaboration Local government conducts its activities with inadequate ‘resources, jurisdiction, imagination, entrepreneurial spirit, courage, time’ (Jun, 1999, p. 463). NGOs should extend their intervention to motivate and build capacity of people to claim their entitlements from public resources and enable local government to realise people’s necessities, abilities, and aspirations. However, NGOs’ involvement with service delivery may weaken the local government and may orient local people to expect less from their government. There is a chance that NGOs can hamper the development process by damaging the mutual understanding between citizens and their government (Collier, 1996, p. 249). These insufficiencies of local government and complexities regarding involvement of NGOs open the door for a potential local GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building of both citizens and their government for sustainable development and to spread their ‘power and capacities.’ Both decentralisation and proliferation of NGOs create synergy for advancing decentralisation in two ways: first, ‘push down’ of power from the national to local authorities including NGOs, and, second, ‘push up’ from the local level that involves expectation of local authorities for increased control, and wishes of NGOs for granting provisions for services, which they advance in favour of the people (Fisher, 1998; Snavely & Desai, 2001, p. 247). These mechanisms of decentralisation progress through various forms of local GO-­NGO collaboration, such as the cooperative delivery of social welfare services, the collective use of both human and financial resources, partaking in dialogue to make policy, and advancing training programmes jointly. These processes of push down and push up, plus local government and NGO interaction have strengthening impacts both on local government and on NGOs. In Latin America, an augmented collaboration of local government and NGOs has contributed to local development and participatory democracy (Olowu, 1999, pp. 409–412). NGOs may collaborate with LGIs through consultation, advocating for marginalised communities, participating in service delivery (Bucek & Smith, 2000, p. 11), public policy development, policy and programme implementation (Snavely & Desai, 2001, p. 249), developing social capital (Putnam, 1995, pp. 67–78), supplying producer and consumer services, promoting citizens’ engagement in local governance (Snavely & Desai, 2001, p. 251), CB (Keese & Argudo, 2006, pp. 114–127), and promotion of GG for poverty reduction (Nkum, 2002, p. 1). The counterpart in collaboration, the local government, can contribute in developing local infrastructure, regulating business and non-­profits entities (Snavely & Desai, 2001, p. 249), lending

46  Concepts of governance and collaboration NGOs legitimacy and local accountability, reaching hard-­to-­reach communities, and perpetuating project activities (Keese & Argudo, 2006, pp. 114– 127). Both NGOs and LGIs work together with their roles and strength to create synergy and reinforce each other by compensating for each other’s weaknesses. Collaboration requires the joint engagement of partners with vision, knowledge, and related resources. Successful collaborative efforts at the local level include four elements; ‘a. combined efforts across organisations; b. shared responsibility, c. a mutual goal valued by citizens; and d. benefits for a community.’ The fourth element is key. GO-­NGO collaboration emphasises the goals and impacts of the collaboration, and ‘the value brought to the people served’ (Warm, 2011, p. 61). This means collaboration is not the end; rather it is a means of bringing effective results for the people. GO-­NGO collaboration: key factors The process of collaboration is vibrant and dynamic. The following strategies and factors play a critical role in keeping the collaboration process alive. • • • • • • • •

openness and willingness for collaboration from both sides; mutual respect and trust; recognition of mutual strengths and values and comparative advantages; favourable policies, laws, and regulatory frameworks; acceptance of autonomy and independence; effective mechanisms to monitor, measure, and learn; transparency and accountability, involvement of all stakeholders at every step, mutual learning processes, training, workshop, and accompaniment; and benefits for the community and the continued commitment of collaborating partners (Ullah, Newell, Ahmed, Hyder, & Islam, 2006, p. 149; Bhatnagar, 1991, pp. 17–19; Begum, 2008, p. 94; Warm, 2011, p. 61).

Conceptual framework of the study Based on the discussion so far in this chapter, the following conceptual framework has been sketched to facilitate comprehension of the book. The framework indicates the conceptual links in the process of collaboration for SLG. The middle column provides the expected characteristics of the strengthened local governance to be attained in collaborative GO-­NGO efforts. The first column shows various measures of the collaborated programme. Similarly, the third column represents the state of new GO-­NGO relations, their state of engagement with political affairs, and the building of social capital in their involvement in collaboration with LGIs’ officials

Concepts of governance and collaboration  47 GO-NGO collaboration

Strengthened local governance

Strengthening efforts •

GO-NGO relation

• •

• •

• •

Figure 2.1  Conceptual framework Source: Developed by the researchers based on Bontenbal, 2009, p. 187

and citizens. Both the left-­and the right-­hand columns affect the middle column, although the effect of the former is stronger and more direct than that of the latter.

Conclusion This theoretical orientation of SLG through the efforts of GO-­NGO collaboration as discussed in this chapter facilitates conceptualisation of the issues. The chapter included discussion on governance and its shift from government, various components of SLG, NGO-­related issues, including NGOs’ role in politics and their engagement with national and sub-­national government, and collaboration and its components. This conceptualisation included various theories of governance and theories related to components of governance and collaboration. Lastly, the chapter developed a conceptual framework for collaborative enterprise for SLG. This discussion has laid the groundwork for an examination of the outcomes and impacts of collaborative arrangements of the Sharique project.

Note 1 Esri, Transparency and accountability for state and local governments. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from­and-­ accountability.pdf

48  Concepts of governance and collaboration

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3 Government initiatives for strengthening local governance in Bangladesh

Introduction The importance of local government, in this day and age, has been intensified further. The phenomenon can be observed in the SDG’s plan to ‘go local’ or in other words the ‘localisation of SDGs.’ The agenda for 2030 views LGIs not only as mere executors but also as important centres of localised decision-­making that leave no one behind in the stream of development. The vision for 2020, which was included in the Perspective Plan and the sixth and the seventh FYPs has also encouraged strong and fiscally autonomous LGIs in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the GoB has focused on the ‘human factor’ as the key to poverty reduction and development. It is propelling its initiatives strongly in the direction of ‘combining resources with social mobilisation, local CB, environmental sustainability, gender equality and with participation in and ownership of development activities’ (Islam, 2016, pp. 25–26). These types of goals require focused attempts, which include organisational reforms, inclusion of all, structural adjustment, and environments conducive to GG. To fulfil these essentials, the government has reinvigorated its efforts to strengthen LGIs, and the action for this ranges from enactment of new laws, resource mobilisation, and long-­term planning to collaborate with NGOs. This chapter discusses the development of local government, various plans, reforms, and other efforts of the government to strengthen local governance in general and the governance of UPs in particular.

Evolution of local government Pre-­British period The present system of local government succeeded the British systems, which remoulded traditional forms of local government that existed for many centuries. Traditionally, the villages were small principalities, or ‘Little Republics,’ which were mostly self-­reliant in many respects and were run by the community-­based organisations, locally known as Panchayet (local organisations), which evolved naturally at the grassroots level (Khan, 2017).

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  57 The Panchayet system, though, did not have legal base, yet it was involved with ensuring favourable law and order and social environment, reconciliatory efforts, and resource mobilisation to accomplish its traditional activities (LGD, n.d.a). During the medieval period, which began with the beginning of Muslim rule on the Indian sub-­continent, whether the system of local government was reorganised or remained unchanged is unclear. However, it is clear that the local government system was involved with strengthening revenue collection procedures and administration, which were represented by the presence of ‘Sarkar/Chakla and Pargana’ as the centre of revenue collection and administration. Moreover, the period of Mughals was not noted for its consultation with the local people in the governing of local institutions. The period was also known for the proliferation of town life and the establishment of urban administration with the formation of the Kotwal office that covered all spheres of urban life with a key focus on maintaining law and order (Siddiqui, n.d.).1 The British period British colonial rule provided a legal foundation for LGIs through the enactment of ‘The Village Chowkidary Act, 1870,’ or the ‘Bengal Act 6 of 1870.’ Focusing on political, economic, and, most importantly, administrative targets, the act instituted the Union, and Chowkidary Panchayet, which comprised a number of villages run by five members selected by the government for three years. Involving mostly maintaining law and order for expediting tax collection, the Chowkidary system did not have an agenda for development. Thus, a next-­generation local government became essential, and under the auspices of Ripon’s Local Self Government (Resolution of 1882) the next ruler responded with a brand new law titled ‘The Bengal Local Self-­Government Act’ of 1885 (Bengal Act 3 of 1885) for extending local government in Bengal. The law established districts, local boards, and a Union Committee at the district, sub-­divisional, and Union level, respectively, to perform activities related to education, health, public works, sanitation, vaccination, census, famine relief, and so on (Collier, 1886, pp. 40–54). The subsequent endeavour ‘The Bengal Village Self-­ Government Act 1919’ (Act 5 of 1919) repealed both the Chowkidary Panchayet and Union Committee to institute a unified Union Board, in which two-­thirds of the members were elected and the rest were nominated. In excess of the previously designated tasks under the act of 1885, the new act of 1919 authorised the Union Board to levy a Union rate and to arbitrate on minor criminal offences (LGD, n.d.a).2 The Pakistani period The United Front Cabinet in 1957 in Pakistan brought substantial changes in the laws relating to the provincial localities. The changes included provisions for direct election in all seats, the abolishment of nomination, the

58  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG arrangement of elective seats for minorities, the introduction of the universal adult (21 years of age or above) franchise, symbols for voting in a secret ballot, and the appointment of magistrates for prosecuting offences committed under the laws. However, these provisions of the laws could not be practiced in any election because of the takeover of power by the military in 1958. After the coup d’état, major changes in the local government system were introduced with the promulgation of the basic democracy order (BDO) of 1959, which reinstated the system of nomination that had been repealed earlier in 1946. The Order of 1959 instituted four tiers of Council at the Union (bottom UP), Thana, District, and Divisional levels. A Union Council at that time was established for 10,000 inhabitants with 10 to 15 members, and amongst them, two-­thirds were elected and the rest of them remained nominated. However, the nomination system was annulled again after the commencement of the constitution in 1962. Besides being charged with the maintenance of law and order, the Union Council was assigned 37 specific functions and key issues such as agricultural development, water supply, education, communications, and social welfares. Furthermore, the Order continued the process of quasi-­judicial practices and imposition of tax on property and other sources to expand the base of income for developing councils’ own fund. However, whilst in both the British and Pakistani periods the local government system took on various names and forms, its components always lacked autonomy (Siddique, 1992, pp. 17–18). The Bangladeshi period In independent Bangladesh, the local government system underwent continuous modifications with the changes of regimes at the national level. Initially, through President’s Order Seven of 1972, existing elected LGIs were dismantled and committees were appointed in the Union Panchayet (later renamed Union Parishad) at the Union level, and Zila (District) Board (later renamed District Parishad) at the District level, which were known as Union and District Councils, respectively, in the Pakistani period. Later, the Local Government Ordinance (LGO) of 1976 announced the provisions for Union, Thana, and Zila Parishads. In UPs, provisions for the inclusion of two nominated female members and two peasant members were introduced freshly by the LGO, in addition to the existing chair and nine members. At the Thana level, there were no elected bodies, and consequently, government officials lead the Thana Parishad (TP). Provision of the Zila Parishad (ZP) was designed to include elected, government, and female members. However, no such election was ever held (Siddique, 1994, p. 62). Later in 1980, Swanirvar Gram Sarker (SGS; village self-­government) was established, not as a tier but as a supportive organisation of the UP in a majority of the villages. These bodies, according to Majumdar, ‘serve no useful purpose and do not have much to offer’ (Majumdar, 2005). The same was tried in 1983 under the name of Palli Parishad, but it brought no

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  59 substantial achievements. The Local Government (Union Parishad) Ordinance of 1983 replicated the formation of the 1976 provisions with 36 specific functions for UPs, except that there was provision for the nomination of three female members instead of only two as before. Another pioneering change occurred with the enactment of the Local Government (Union Parishads) (Second Amendment) Act, 1997 (Act 20 of 1997), which began the provision of reserved electoral seats for women in the UPs. During the Ershad regime, a marked change was observed with the advent of Upazila (sub-­district) Parishad in 1982, which introduced the interface of local participatory politics with civil service at the local level for the first time. Upazila Parishad (UZP) was established as the focal point of administration by transferring various activities to it. The system was deemed effective due to the existence of a balance of power between elected officials and government officials (Panday, 2011, pp. 215–217). This system, however, was abolished in 1991, though renewed attempts were made through the enactment of the Upazila Act in 1998 (Act 24 of 1998) to reintroduce UZP. Finally, it was reinstalled with the enactment of the Upazila Parishad Act 2009. However, MPs’ mandatory advisory roles weakened UZP in terms of decentralisation, democracy, and GG indicators (Panday, 2011, pp. 215–217). In 1998, the government introduced a four-­tier local government system that included Gram (Village), Union, Thana/Upazila, and Zila (District) Parishad. The Gram Parishad at the village level was replaced by the same kind of unit named Gram Sarker (GS) through the enactment of The Gram Sarkar Act, 2003. However, this GS was also abolished in 2008 based on the allegation that GS served the purpose of politics. The year 2009 witnessed comprehensive development in the arena of local government through the enactment of several inclusive local government acts for different tiers. The most significant paradigm shift has been brought by introducing partisan local polls using symbols of nationwide political parties by amending different existing acts in 2015, which ended the century-­old practice of nonpartisan polling of local governments (Nath, 2015). Under the new provisions, the ninth UP election was held in 2016, which saw the transaction of money for nomination, unopposed election, (214 chairs), violence (145 deaths, the highest ever), political rifts within parties, erratic voting, questionable roles of law enforcers, control of the election system by the ruling party, and a loss of the masses’ faith in local elections (Rahman & Nasrin, 2017, pp. 48–70). Another notable development happened with the first ever election of ZP in 2016. The election, indirect in nature, paved the way for election of a chair, 15 general members, and five female members in reserved seats by the votes of elected representatives of various LGIs in each district (Bhattacharjee & Karmakar, 2016). The election of ZP witnessed a boycott of the polls by major political parties, uncontested wins (21 Cahir amongst 61), a breach of election codes by MPs, claims of vote buying, and other controversies and anomalies.3

60  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG Existing local government structure in Bangladesh There are two separate forms of LGIs in urban and rural areas. Presently the rural local government structure of Bangladesh includes three tiers, namely, the UP (4554) at the bottom, the UZP (492) at the middle, and the ZP (61) at the top. Conversely, the urban local government includes Pourasabha (328) for town and City Corporation (12) for the big city. The government develops specially structured local government tiers for the Chattogram hilly area with Hill District Local Government council (3) under the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) (modified from Panday, 2011, p. 212).

Various commissions for strengthening local governance In Bangladesh, different commissions were formed to renovate the structure of the local government and strengthen the governance of the localities. However, these initiatives were considered to have been undertaken to bring about cosmetic change rather than to modernize the governance (Masud, 2013, p. 5). We discuss a selection of these commissions in the following paragraph. Committee for administrative reform/reorganization (CARR) – 1982 The CARR was formed under the military dictatorship of the Ershad regime (1982–1990) for reorganising the local government system with the recommendation of the committee based on devolution of authority, and people’s participation.4 The committee recommended direct elections with an alternative electoral college for the ZP at Union, Thana, and Zila levels. The committee also prescribed the establishment of a permanent inter-­ ministerial committee to implement the recommendations of the reform initiative. However, when it comes to the issue of materialisation of the recommendations, it has been found that many of them remained unfulfilled. Ahmed (2002, pp. 336–337) argued that the major parts of the recommendations remained unimplemented, and those few that were implemented included government directives for modifications. The areas of reform in which the government brought change include upgrading 460 Thanas into Upazila as the centre of development administration and authority for regulation, bestowing the authority of developing administration of Upazila on an elected chair. Moreover, sub-­divisions were upgraded as new districts. The government also structured a committee, called the National Implementation Committee for Administrative Reorganisation-­Reform (NICAR), to guide the government to implement the recommendation of the CARR. The literature shows that the achievements of the institutionalisation of the Upazila approach remained uneven since the process can be credited with initiating some basic development of infrastructures, bringing a sort of deconcentration of the central government authority with the advent

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  61 of new layers of administrative agencies regarding public services instead of toppling the practice of centralised administration, and benefitting the local rural elites as the support base of the regime instead of as the marginalised portion of the population (Khan, 2016, p. 9; Huque, 2010, p. 63). Local government structure review commission – 1991 The commission of 1991 was instructed to identify the loopholes of the then local government system and to recommend restructuring of local government in accordance with the spirit of the constitution of the country, particularly articles 59 and 60 of the same for institutionalisation of democracy at the grassroots level (Siddiqui, 2005, p. 96). The commission recommended reorganisation of two tiers of local government, namely, the UP and ZP, in fulfilling the demands of the government to dispense its services. The body further recommended the establishment of the village as the key centre of local government through the creation of a gram sabha (village assembly) as a hub of development, rendering the UP the focal point of planning. Moreover, it put forward a plan for making urban government, specifically municipalities and city corporations, more democratic (GoB, 1992, p. 4). Moreover, the body felt that a permanent local government commission was needed to facilitate the activities of LGIs. However, the government did not execute practically any of the recommendations (Obaidullah, 1999, p. 120). Local government commission – 1996 The government constituted a high-­powered commission for providing recommendations for improving the governance of the localities. The commission proposed a four-­tier sub-­national government for the country − Gram, Union, Thana and Zila Parishad (Siddiqui, 2005, p. 102). The commission also indicated that it was the right time to bring women into the office through direct election. In addition, the body earmarked 22 functions for the UP; and these activities were clustered under 10 functional areas. To coordinate amongst the UPs, the body proposed that every UP would develop its own FYP, based on which the immediate upper tier of UP, namely, the Upazila (UPZ), would formulate its FYP. The body likewise recommended formation of a permanent local government commission free from executive control to achieve strengthened LGIs through empowering the proposed commission to supervise, review, control, and monitor functions of the LGIs and advocate appropriate measures. Public administration reform commission (PARC) – 1997 The PARC was entrusted to propose recommendations to enhance socio-­ economic development and ensure peoples’ access to benefits of the government. The committee was based on NPM and GG principles such as

62  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG transparency, efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, delivery of services, and it made three types of recommendations: interim (30), short-­term (70), and long-­term (37). The areas in which the committee made suggestions include public-­private partnership, completion of CC, devolution and/or delegation of power, e-­governance, specifying roles of public offices, access to government documents, results-­oriented performance monitoring and evaluation, strengthening parliamentary oversight and popularisation of legal documents and government forms, and so forth (Khan, 2009, p. 142). However, it has been found that only a few of the recommendations were implemented – and as window dressing at that – and that no mentionable changes were detected (Jahan, 2006, p. 11). This was due to political turmoil and regime change and the unwillingness of the bureaucracy and its deeper structural relationship with political actors (Azizuddin, 2011, p. 59). Committee for recommendation of financial powers and sources of financing LGIs – 1999 The then government formed the committee to inquire into the existing financial system of local government and to make applicable suggestions for necessary interventions. The committee identified five new sources of income for local government, and the sources included fees for marriage registration, registering polygamy, new home construction, for-­profit butchery, and revenue earnings from construction of the UPs, and so forth. Moreover, the body recommended to institute two statutory commissions for localities: (1) a local government commission and (2) a local government finance commission. However, the recommendations of the committee were not implemented (Mollah, 2014, p. 51). Committee for strengthening and making the local government bodies more dynamic – 2007 In the midst of escalation of political turmoil, the non-­party caretaker government (CTG) assumed power with the support of the military.5 The CTG formed a strong committee to review the structures, compositions, and functions of the local government system in Bangladesh and recommend suitable measures to strengthen sub-­national government. The committee concentrated on organisational structures, sources of revenue earning, autonomy of local government, empowerment of women, criteria setting for candidates of election, and so on. Based on the suggestions of the committee the CTG abolished GS and brought back the Upazila system as the mid-­tier between two other tiers – ZP at the top and UP at the bottom. In line with the recommendations of the committee, the CTG enacted the UZP Ordinance. Furthermore, the CTG also legislated new ordinances regarding city corporations, Pourasabha, and UPs separately after amending the existing laws. The government emphasised the recommendations

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  63 of the committee through forming an ‘independent’ local government commission to make LGIs free from control of the national government (Khan, 2016, p. 9). The subsequent democratically elected (Bangladesh Awami League) AL led grand alliance government continued the three-­tier local government approach of CTG.6 However, it rescinded almost all of the major reforms and did not ratify the ordinances promulgated in the tenure of the CTG, leaving local government in an indeterminate state (Khan, 2016, p. 10). Moreover, the government found the ‘Local Government Commission’ redundant and thus abolished it. Later, the AL-­led alliance government enacted four acts – the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act 2009, the Local Government (Pourasabha) Act 2009, a single unified act for all city corporations in 2009, and the Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 – amended further in 2011 to allow MPs to play critical roles in the corresponding localities (Khan, 2016, p. 10).

The reforms implemented and/or underway The government has, unsurprisingly, implemented a good number of reforms in recent years, taking into account the recommendations of various commissions/committees regarding instituting strong LGIs. The major areas of reforms have been enacted in the following order (Rahman & Ahmed, 2015, pp. 9–10). First, the government established all mandated LGIs according to the constitution and formed both the UZP and ZP with elected bodies. Second, initiatives were taken to strengthen LGIs; such initiatives include (1) specifying roles of WM, (2) arranging orientation training for all elected officials, (3) upgrading the post of the UP secretary, (4) increasing the honorariums of the functionaries, (5) issuing ideal tax schedules for UPs, (6) upgrading 11 major municipalities into 12 city corporations (two in Dhaka: north and south), and (7) building a council complex. Third, the government has materialised initiatives to enhance participation of women in the governing process of the localities. The efforts include (1) reserving electoral seats for women in the UP, (2) constitution of both the Zila and Upazila Parishads with female members: five female members and one-­third of the total members to be female, respectively, (3) creation of a post of vice chair for the women. Fourth, various LGIs have been supported with resources by the central government. The steps include (1) providing block grants (since FY 2004–2005) and performance-­based grants to the UPs in accordance with previously established guidelines, (2) providing annual development programme (ADP) allocation directly to the Pourasabha, and (3) supplementing ADP allocation to the councils.

64  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG Fifth, initiatives have also been taken for activating dormant capacities of the localities; such pilot projects were in operation to activate standing committees of the UPs. Furthermore, GS was established but subsequently annulled. Sixth, NSAs were given space to strengthen the governance of LGIs. Various pilot projects of the NSAs are ongoing to make UDCC meetings inclusive, to disseminate best practices of the piloting regarding WS, OBM, and other aspects of the UP. Seventh, autonomous oversight and regulatory bodies, namely, local government commissions, were proposed and formed in 2008 (however, such bodies were repealed in 2009).

Legal framework for local government in Bangladesh Constitutional roots of local government The constitution of Bangladesh provided the legal basis for local government in the country. Article 59 of the constitution mandated the establishment of LGIs at every tier beneath the centre with elected people’s representatives. The subsequent article, Article 60, instructed the Parliament to enact laws to ensure transfer of power to LGIs, as mentioned in Article 59, for imposing and raising taxes, formulating budgets, and managing funds. Additionally, in a move to give power back to the people, the constitution, through Article 11, encourages people to participate through their representatives; it also presents the government as democratic in form by ensuring fundamental human rights, freedoms, respect for dignity, and the worth of human beings. Moreover, the concerns of the constitution for the disadvantaged portion of the country surfaced with Article 9, which has mandated the government to embolden LGIs to arrange special representation of peasants, workers, and women. Legislative reforms in the local government system in Bangladesh The formation of LGIs with people’s representatives has been the desire of the constitution and with the constitutional mandates, the democratic and military regimes, plus CTG intervened in local government for reforms for varied intentions. The change in regimes brought changes in the number of tiers and elected officials, the devolution of power, contraction of jurisdictions, and so on, with promulgations, amendments, and repeals of various acts and ordinances. Thus, Bangladesh experienced a lot of confusion in the formation and structuring of LGIs. Table 3.1 briefly represents the major legal initiatives and the changes in the structures, compositions, and functions of the LGIs. Moreover, for the UPs, the government has promulgated few other SROs (statutory regulatory orders), rules, and regulations to specify the

Table 3.1 Summary of the acts and the ordinances related to local governments in Bangladesh Act/Ordinance


Development in LGS


President’s Order 7, 1972


Amended in 1973

President’s Order 22, 1973


Local Government Ordinance, 1976


Local Government (Thana Parishad and Thana Administration Reorganization) Ordinance, 1982 Local Government (Union Parishad) Ordinance, 1983


Local Government (UZP and UPZ Administration) Repeal Ordinance Local Government Gram Parishad) Act 1997


Local Government (Union Parishad) 2nd Amendment Act 1997


Dissolved all local government committees; new committees were appointed at Union and District levels; Thana and Divisional Council committees were not formed Splitting up Union into three Wards; direct election of chair and vice chair; DC and SDO (sub-­divisional officer) was made the ex-­officio chair at district and sub-­division level localities Introduced three tiers of local government systems: UP, TP, and ZP; abolition of post of vice chair and addition of four members; SDO given veto power against decision of UPs; changes included regarding TP and ZP Upazila Parishad formed and given more authority than TP; UZP entrusted with imposing taxes, rates, fees, and tolls; the authority of UP reduced UP divided into three Wards consisting of a chairperson, nine elected members, and three nominated female members Abolition of UPZ system and inception of Thana/ Upazila Unnayan Samannaya Committee (T/UUSC) Ward-­level local government unit for planning and coordinating development programs UP consists of a chair, nine members (one from each Ward) and three female members from every three Wards (reserved seats) directly elected by the voters based on adult franchises



Abolished in 1982

Abolished in 1982, and amended in 1983

Amended in 1987, 1998, 2009, and 2011 Amended in 1997

Abolished in 1998 Abolished in 2007 Abolished in 2008


Table 3.1 (Continued) Act/Ordinance


Development in LGS


Upazila Parishad Act, 1998


Amended in 2001, 2009, 2011 and 2015

Zila Parishad Act, 2000


The Local Government (Union Parishad, Upazila Parishad, Zila Parishad) Ordinance, 2008


Local Government (Union Parishad) Act 2009, Local Government (Upazila Parishad) Act 1998 and amendment in 2009, Local Government (Municipality) Act 2009, Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009; all of these acts were amended in 2015


UZP chair to be elected directly; chairs of the UPs and Pourasabhas to be the ex-­officio members of UZP; UZP created as focal point of service delivery and development; no election held under the 1998 act ZP consisted of one chair, 15 general and five female members; inactive up to 2011, administrators were appointed in 2011, and first ever election was held in 2016 with electoral college (all elected officials of local government bodies under a district); entrusted with revenue collection with 80 activities Compilation of separate Acts relating to different localities such as UP, UZP, and ZP; elected officials to run all the LGIs; provisions for public declaration of citizen’s charters made mandatory for service delivery, RTI, OBM and WS Local MPs appointed as advisors to the UZP and obtaining advice from the MPs made compulsory; UZP chairpersons assigned as chief executive of the Parishad; provisions for OBM, WS, Citizens’ Charter, RTI; transferred/or made transferable of govt. dept. to UZP (17)/UP (7)

Source: Modified and adapted from Waheduzzaman 2010, pp. 74–75

Amended in 2016

Elections held in some UPZs; ordinances were not ratified in the next parliament in 2009 In force (amended in 2015 for introduction of election with party symbol)

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  67 acts and implementation of activities effectively. Some of the SROs, rules and regulations are as follows: Accounts and Audit Rule, 2011; Employee Service Rule, 2011; Property Rule, 2012; Agreement Rule, 2012; Business Rule, 2012; Development Plan Rule, 2012; Model Tax Schedule 2013; Village Police Rule, 2015; Power and Distinct Functions of Female members of Reserved Seats Rule, 2016; Appeal Rule, 2016; Inspection Process and Power of Inspector Rule, 2016; Power and Functions of UP Chairs and Members Rules, 2016; and Formulation and Commendation of Budget Rule, 2016. Furthermore, for the smooth running of the UP and for expediting the release of information, the government introduced the ‘Union Parishad Operational Manual, 2012’ and the ‘Information Dissemination Policy, 2015’ (LGD, n.d.b).7 The information presented in Table 3.1 shows that since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, various actors in power have legislated legal documents based on trial and error to develop decentralised local government systems. Bangladesh experimented with three tiers of decentralised bodies at the village, Upazila, and Zila levels during different eras. Significant changes in LGIs occur in 1976, 1982, 1991, 1997, 2000, 2008, and 2009 through legal and legislative reforms. amongst these reforms, the introduction of UZP, its composition with elected officials in 1982, reinstallation of the UZP in 2008, and introduction of participatory planning and budgeting with the citizens’ charter and RTI in 2009 can be deemed milestones towards the development of local government system in the country. However, in reality, LGIs have not been enjoying their power to the fullest possible extent because there are loopholes for intervention by MPs and the bureaucracy.

The policies of the government in FYPs to strengthen local governance Fifth five year plan (1997–2000) The Fifth Five Year Plan (FFYP) (1997–2002) identified various factors that had hindered rural development. According to the plan, recognised villages were not included as an administrative unit, the poor and disadvantaged groups were not organised, LGIs were not strengthened as needed, tiers of local government were not coordinated, people’s participation was absent, and bureaucracy was not supportive (GoB, 1997, p. 140). To overcome this, and in pursuit of SLG, the FFYP aimed at vesting power for development planning and implementation with the inclusion of people’s voice through cooperation between LGIs and NGOs (GoB, 1997, p. 44). The documents devised a four-­tier local government: Gram (village; one in each of nine Wards), Union (cluster of villages), Upazila (sub-­district), and Zila (district) Parishad with varying levels of authorities and responsibilities (GoB, 1997, pp. 141–142). The plan stipulated the transfer of ‘decision-­making

68  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG power’ to LGIs to avoid making them the extended arms of the central government rather than exclusive authorities in their areas being accountable to their electorates empowered with recall/removal mechanisms by enacting new laws. Urban local governments, in particular, were supposed to be empowered to issue innovative saving instruments, including bonds and debentures (ibid. p. 143–146). Six standing committees related to (1) law and order, (2) health and family planning, (3) agriculture, irrigation, and environment, (4) education, social welfare, and development of women and children, (5) sports, culture, and youth development, (6) fisheries and livestock and (7) other fields as necessary were envisaged to formulate and implement local-­level development projects (ibid., p. 141–142). Moreover, the committees aimed to build capacity of inhabitants, particularly women and disadvantaged groups, employing a ‘social mobilisation strategy’ as the central agent at the local level through ‘conscientisation, consultation and participation’ by officials of governments, NGOs, community organisations, and local leaders in order to place their demands to the authorities, make their own development decisions, and exert control over the LGIs. To empower women, the plan intended to get female representatives (against reserved seats) elected directly through a universal adult franchise of the respective citizenries with separate elections (ibid., p. 226). Similarly, for making people’s demands meaningful these were intended to coordinate with the national plan, deeming Zila the planning unit and UP as the ‘focal point of LGIs’ for implementation and supervision at the local level. Additionally, in the course of assessing resource constraints of LGIs, the plan envisioned to broaden the tax bases and non-­tax revenues alongside increased allocation of the national government based on predefined criteria under the supervision of a proposed ‘Public Finance Commission’ (ibid., p. 98, 216). SLG in the sixth five-­year plan (2011–2015) The sixth FYP (2011–2015), based on the concept of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ to achieve the targets of ‘Vision 2021,’ identified LGIs in Bangladesh as weak institutions with little administrative and financial authority. Here, the national government enjoys extensive power and responsibilities regarding service delivery, expenditure priority setting, allocation determination, goods and services procurement, and project. Moreover, though line agencies are responsible for service delivery, they remain accountable to the ministries rather than LGIs (GoB, 2011, pp. 227–228). Against this backdrop, the plan intended to establish strong, efficient, participatory, accountable, and dedicated LGIs with increased service responsibilities and financial and administrative discretion for need-­based staffing to deliver a greater volume and quality of public services and to make the citizens economically and socially aware, employing legislative reforms for full-­fledged participation (GoB, 2011, p. 220). The plan also encouraged women to participate

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  69 in local politics to influence decisions in favour of women (ibid., p. 425). The key to SLG according to the plan would be promoting devolution of power and responsibilities to local governments, which was one of the four pillars of the capacity development of the government. Trainings and other mechanisms were conceived for imparting necessary knowledge and skills for planning, budgeting, executing budgets, and running e-­governance. The plan proposed extensive expansions of e-­governance with designated ICT programmes, necessary software, and technical assistances, and in this regard Union Digital Centre (UDC), and District e-­Service Centres (DESCs) would play crucial roles to provide services to the citizens (GoB, 2015a, p. 147). The LGIs were planned to be given financial autonomy for not only financing their staffs and routine activities but also implementing development projects (GoB, 2015a, pp. 148–149), accountability mechanisms, and progressive decentralisation of delivery of basic services all the while being conscious of the local context of Bangladesh regarding politics, society, administration, and financial conditions (GoB, 2011, pp. 32–33). Moreover, indicator-­based monitoring for performance assessment and expansion of jurisdiction of oversight institutions would ensure upward accountability and transparency by making oversight-­reports public. Furthermore, collaboration with NGOs was planned to enhance the fields of health, education, and microcredit services (GoB, 2011, pp. 9–10). Finally, a commission to monitor shifts in the legal framework was proposed to ensure that the plan stayed on prescribed tracks (ibid., p. 231). The seventh five-­year plan’s strategy for strengthening local governance The seventh FYP (2016–2020) aspired to establish strong and efficient local governance at all tiers through devolution of responsibilities in line with resource supply for implementing pro-­poor projects with active and wide citizen participation to ensure the channelling of resources to the most needed areas. Participation of citizens/citizen committees was planned to ensure inclusive plans, project prioritisation, and monitoring. Attention was given to GM through the continuation of reserved seats and direct elections for women and offering increased space with responsibilities for ensuring their efficient and effective participation in decision-­making processes. Identifying nine basic laws, and several hundred other legal instruments, the plan proposed development of a unified instrument – the ‘Local Government Legal Framework’ (LGLF) – for all LGIs of all tiers, rural or urban, covering all aspects of LGIs including election, formation, activities, taxation, budget, finance, and so on. The plan suggested developing a model tax schedule for levying and collecting taxes to reach self-­reliance (GoB, 2015b, p. 87). Fiscal autonomy would also be ensured through formula-­ based tax sharing. Moreover, the gradual transfer of ADP spending to LGIs with increased block grants was also prescribed according to performance.

70  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG Additionally, formulated ‘Planning Commission Guidelines’ would assist LGIs in aligning their plans with those of the national government and vice versa, and they would include LGIs in the implementation of national programmes at the local level (GoB, 2015b, p. 386). For tackling human resource shortages, the plan advocated for the formulation of a ‘Local Government Service’ to recruit professionals to work in any tier of local governments and for the development of standard training modules, policy frameworks, independent experts, and separate training institutes for urban LGIs. For oversight, the plan envisioned a series of benchmarks and indicators to measure LGIs’ performance transparently by empowered oversight bodies with the capacity to disseminate oversight information. Transparency and accountability would be ensured through the proliferation of e-­governance with the help of the a2i (access to information) project of the PMO for seamless horizontal and vertical connectivity and efficacy of service delivery. It has been found that various FYPs since 1997 to the present include the aspiration of the government to establish strong and effective local government at all tiers. The key areas of reforms as identified by the planners were legal framework, people’s participation, GM, CB, strengthening oversight, bestowing more responsibilities, making LGIs financially autonomous, introducing e-­governance, and improving service delivery. However, over the years, it has been found that the implementation of the components of the plans have remained poor. In some areas there have been no observable changes due to a lack of an ‘ethos of democratic governance’ and strong political commitment; distorted implementation of the recommendations; scarcity of resources, authority, and autonomy; and bureaucratic averseness, corruption, and usage of reforms for creating support base (Sarker, 2006, pp. 1296–1302). Moreover, these FYPs are lacking in visible promise regarding the transfer of resources from the centre to the periphery on the basis of countrywide calculations.

SLG in other plans and strategies There are other government plans that documented provisions for SLG in their visions and missions. The Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 aspired to having autonomous LGIs supply higher levels of services to their constituents by raising local taxes and levies and promoting participatory planning (GoB, 2007, p. 406). The post-­2015 development agenda has emphasised strengthening LGIs financially and administratively (GoB, 2013a, p. 15). Additionally, both the ‘Perspective Plan of Bangladesh’ and the ‘National Sustainable Development Strategy’ urged the government to strengthen governance of the sub-­national governments (GoB, 2012a, pp. 16–17, 2013b, p. 130). The Perspective Plan put forward plans for conforming to constitutional provisions to devolve power, functions,

Table 3.2  Outlines of strategies and initiatives of varied FYPs for SLG  1. Introduction of four-­tier local government (Gram, Union, Upazila, and Zila Parishad)  2. Formation and activation of SCs  3. Devolution of power, authority, and functions to the LGIs  4. Introduction of participatory planning  5. Direct election of female members in reserved seats  6. Empowerment of the poor and the disadvantaged groups through CB and participation  7. Making officials accountable to the citizens and bestowing the power of recalling or removal on loss in no confidence vote  8. Expansion of tax and non-­tax bases for increasing revenue earning  9. Setting criteria for allocation of block funds from the central government 10. Establishing a periodic commission for examining sharing of revenue between central and local government 11. Engaging NGOs in local development 12. Implementation of the recommendations of the Local Government Commission Sixth Five-­Year Plan  1. CB of LGIs to for delivering basic services (2011–2015)  2. Empowering local government to play a more prominent role in local development with transfer of authority and constant monitoring of the utility and appropriateness of such a transfer  3. Enhancing participation of citizens of all strata in public governance  4. Providing both human and financial resources for carrying out mandates for delivery of increased services with responsibility  5. Defining the responsibilities and accountabilities of LGIs lucidly  6. e-­governance for speedier services and transparency  7. Making officials of LGIs accountable to the people to ensure performance  8. Measures would be taken to avoid overlap in functions and authority amongst tiers of local government  9. Quality services would be delivered through segmenting the target groups based on inherent attributes 10. Institution of district-­level budgets 11. GM and ensuring women’s representation in the local bodies with authority and responsibility 12. Strengthening the role of citizens and committees in monitoring functions of the LGIs Fifth Five-­Year Plan (1997–2002)


72  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG Table 3.2 (Continued) Seventh Five-­Year  1. Introduction of ‘Local Government Service’ for Plan (2016–2020) developing a pool of skilled officials  2. Initiation of formula-­based transfer of tax revenue to local bodies  3. Developing the model tax schedule to levy taxes, rates, tolls, and fees  4. Increase block grant corresponding according to performance  5. Integration of local components of national plans into local-­level plans and vice versa  6. Establishment of independent group of experts and policy framework for CB  7. Promotion of intergovernmental cooperation  8. GM in LGIs  9. Development of umbrella legal framework ‘Local Government Legal Framework’ 10. Enhancement of oversight and building capacity of the monitoring agency 11. Strengthening participation of the citizens in planning and budgeting 12. Facilitation of e-­governance at the local level 13. Formulation of ‘Planning Commission Guidelines’ for LGIs 14. Inclusion of planning commission and line ministries in facilitating planning process Source: Adapted and modified from Rahman and Ahmed 2015, pp. 9–10

and fiscal authority to localities. The Plan furthered its conception with emphasising local resource mobilisations and CB of the LGIs to administer the expenses. The national integrity strategy of Bangladesh has identified major problems of local governments –poor capacity, lack of power and resources, ambiguity in separating reserved and transferred issues, failure to recognise focal points, etc. – and proposed ensuring context-­ and need-­based allocation, expansion of sources of income by including sale-­tax and value-­added tax, confirming downward accountability with people’s initiatives, introduction of ‘Local Government Service,’ making ZP a focal point, and so forth for establishing efficient local governance (GoB, 2012b, pp. 18–19). The aspiration of strong local government was reflected in the budget of FY 2018–2019 with a desire for establishing ‘autonomous and self-­reliant’ districts and city governments in all 64 districts and nine metropolitan cities – proposed to run by their ‘own type of bureaucracy,’ with further devolution of power and specific responsibilities (Muhit, 2018, pp. 89–90). Gradually, local government has been planned to be the principal implementer (over 60 percent of the national budget) of the state.

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  73

Some other efforts of the government for SLG Construction of ‘home’ for the local bodies Initiatives have been taken to build a complex in the UP/UPZ to arrange one-­stop service delivery, even by relaxing minimum land requirements from 0.50 acres to 0.25 acres (LGD, 2015, p. 3). Activation of National Institute of Local Government (NILG) NILG is the training institute of local government officials and a research centre that studies local government issues. In return for activating NILG, the officials of the institute have been offered trainings at home and abroad; training facilities and use of ICT have been improved (LGD, 2015, p. 100); NGO engagement has been heightened through the framing of the ‘Guidelines for Strategic Engagement: Experience-­Based Guidelines for NGOs’ (Lahiri & Alam, 2014, p. 9); collaboration amongst sector partners has been enhanced through the ‘National Basic Capacity Development (CapDev) Framework’ for developing a common curriculum for both government and NGO officials; supply and demand driven trainings have been arranged by developing a 150-­member resource pool; and the Upazila Recourse Team (URT) at each UPZ has been organised to provide training to UP officials locally (Lahiri & Alam, 2014, p. 13). Increasing use of ICT Making the dreams of digital Bangladesh come true, the government is promoting e-­governance; and as part of e-­governance, e-­procurement systems, geographic information systems, mapping inventories, modern software for accounting, water billing, tax management, and trade license management, and secured e-­mail services for LGIs have been planned or employed (LGD, 2013, p. 41). Learning trips abroad for officials The government has been sending elected and non-­elected officials of LGIs abroad to learn practices of local-­level institutions. For example, in FYs 2013–2014 and 2015–2016, a total of 200 UP chairs (175) and secretaries (25) were sent abroad (LGD, 2016, p. 2). Increasing honorariums of the representatives The government took initiatives to increase honorariums of elected official of LGIs (LGD, 2013, p. 3). The following lists the officials included along with their current honorarium figures in parentheses: mayors (BDT [Bangladesh Taka]. 85,000) and councillors (BDT. 35,000) of city corporations,

74  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG chairs (BDT. 54,000) and members (BDT. 35,000) of ZPs, chairs (BDT. 40,000) and vice-­chairs (BDT. 27,000) of UZPs, and chairs (BDT. 8,000) and members (BDT. 5,000) of UPs.8 Increased budget supply to LGD and UPs To attain the visions of LGD – SLG for upscaling living standards, developing infrastructures and socio-­economic conditions – the government has increased the budget and ADP allocation in favour of LGD (LGD, n.d.c). The actual budget allocations for LGIs in five consecutive years from 2012– 2013 to 2016–2017 are 123,140, 124,060, 160,600, 177,010, and 153,870 million BDT, and ratios with the national budget are 7.01, 6.56, 7.69, 7.37, and 5.71. The actual ADP allocations to LGIs in same period remain at 104,250, 105,440, 139,830, 152,850, and 12,374 million BDT, and the ratios with the national ADP are 21.1, 19.1, 21.5, 18.9, and 14.7 (Muhit, 2018, p. 138). As can be seen, there has been a trend for the budget and ADP allocation to increase in amount whilst decreasing in proportion to the total budget and ADP, respectively. Data reveal that the budget allocations to UPs in various years – 1,958.7 (2013–2014, actual), 1,973.5 (2014–2015, actual), 2,087 (2015–2016, revised), and 2,040 (2016–2017, provisional) million BDT – exhibit a steadily increasing tendency with an even annual adjustment over the years (Kabir, 2017). However, the challenge has remained getting government resources to targeted people in the face of top-­down policy. According to UNDP estimates, only 2 percent of government resources reach the UPs against the allocated 20 percent (cited in The Hunger Project, 2012, p. 3). Facilitation of NGOs’ activities It has been evident in various FYPs that the government understood the importance of NGOs for complementing the government’s delivery system to reach the poor and the disadvantaged groups more effectively and to play a creative role in raising their awareness. The Fifth FYP envisioned inclusion of potential areas through mutual discussions in which collaboration would be viable (GoB, 1997, p. 160). The Sixth FYP underscored the necessity of widening the area of collaboration in other areas with NGOs’ success in social sectors such as education, health, training, women’s empowerment, microcredit, climate change, and social protection (GoB, 2011, p. 232). The Seventh FYP indicated the gradual making of inroads for NGOs in the sphere of local governance in both urban and rural contexts (GoB, 2015b, p. 383). The government in 2016 enacted a new law – the ‘Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act, 2016’ – for NGOs, merging the Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Ordinance 1978 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Ordinance 1982 into a unified law.

Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  75 Earlier in the 1990s, there was a ‘Government-­NGO Consultative Committee’ to fine-­tune the cooperation between these actors, formed through guidelines of a government order. However, over time, the body gradually was allowed to pause its activities (Singh, 2016, p. 3). Since January 1990, the ‘NGO Affairs Bureau’ has been the regulatory authority that facilitates NGO activities and provides one-­stop service under the PMO for synchronisation of NGOs, line ministries, state agencies, and development partners.

Conclusion Bangladesh is yet to be contented with the tiers of local government. Over the course of various regimes, the local government, as a matter of fact, has turned into a zone of experiments in function and the structure. The government finally realised the urgency of SLG – various documents, commissions’ reports, FYPs, and legal reformations comprise the evidence of such recognition. However, in comparison to the needs of the perspectives, the initiatives of the government have not been found complementary in line with the devolution of responsibilities and authority and making LGIs financially autonomous. The promises, pledges, and commitments of the government seem rhetorical in the absence of actual implementation in the field due to lack of strong political commitment, lack of regard for the essence of democracy, and unwillingness of the bureaucracy with an intention to retain control over central-­level planning (Panday, 2017, pp. 177– 188; Kabir, 2017). Recently, the government has enacted new laws based on the principles of NPM, GG, and SAMs. The citizens and representatives of local areas fall short in implementing the provisions of such acts, rules, and regulations due to a lack of knowledge and skill. Against this backdrop, donors, development partners, and NGOs have shown intentions to play a significant role in SLG in collaboration with central government and LGIs at a local level. Still recognisable and clear aspirations have been lacking in various plans and guidelines in legal documents, except in the seventh FYP, which has mapped out a vision for the inclusion of NGOs in attempts to improve governance. The next chapter discusses at length various GO-­ NGO collaborative efforts to strengthen LGIs by imbuing them with the capacity to implement participatory planning and budgeting and deliver services efficiently, ensuring the customer-­like satisfaction of the citizens.

Notes 1 Kamal Siddiqui, Local government. Banglapedia. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from 2 LGD, History of LGD. Retrieved November 4, 2017, from index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=81&lang=en. 3 District council: AL in absolute authority. Star Online Report, December 28, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2017, from­ zila-­parishad-­polls-­begins-­1336678.

76  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG 4 The committee head was Rear Admiral MA Khan. Government of Bangladesh, Report of the committee for administrative reorganisation/reform, June 1982. Retreived May 16, 2018, from for_Administrative_Reform/_Reorganisation. 5 The CTG of 2007 breached the conventions by holding state power for two long years instead of three months. The constitution permits the transient body only to conduct routine tasks and is principally held responsible for supporting the election commission in arranging a free, fair, and credible parliament election within 90 days. After that, it is supposed to hand over power to the newly elected government. However, it got involved with drastic popular reforms in many areas in which political government had never showed interest. 6 The AL-­led grand alliance government headed by Sheikh Hasina assumed state power on January 6, 2009, after winning the ninth parliamentary election that was held under CTG on December 29, 2008. 7 LGD, Aina o Bidhimala. Retrieced February 25, 2018, from index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29&Itemid=88&lang=bn. 8 Honorarium of mayors, chairmen, councillors increased, The Daily Observer (online desk), January 10, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from www.observerbd. com/details.php?id=52636.

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Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG  77 GoB. (2013b). National sustainable development strategy. Dhaka: Ministry of Planning, Planning Commission, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. GoB. (2015a, April). The mid-­term implementation review of the sixth five year plan: 2014. Dhaka: Ministry of Planning, Planning Commission, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. GoB. (2015b, December). Seventh five year plan (2016–2020): Accelerating growth, empowering citizens. Dhaka: Ministry of Planning, Planning Commission, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Honorarium of mayors, chairmen, councillors increased. The Daily Observer (online desk), January 10, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from details.php?id=52636 Huque, A. S. (2010). Traditions and bureaucracy in Bangladesh. In M. Painter & B. G. Peters (Eds.), Tradition and public administration. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Islam, M. R. (2016). NGOs, social capital and community empowerment in Bangladesh. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. Jahan, F. (2006, December). Public administration in Bangladesh. Background paper for the state of governance in Bangladesh. Retrieved May 18, 2018, from http:// Administration%20in%20Bangladesh.pdf Kabir, M. (2017, February 27). Local government and economic empowerment. The just-­ and-­ Daily Star. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from­ inclusive-­society/local-­government-­and-­economic-­empowerment-­1367632 Khan, A. A. (2017). Discovery of Bangladesh: Exploration into dynamics of a hidden nation (Sixth Impression). Dhaka: UPL. Khan, M. M. (2009). From government to governance: Expanding horizon of public administration to public management. Dhaka: University Press Limited. Khan, N. A. (2016, January 22). Challenges and trends in decentralised local governance in Bangladesh (No. 222-­22). ISAS Working Papers. Lahiri, S., & Alam, K. M. A. (2014). Guidelines for strategic engagement experience-­based guidelines for non-­governmental organisations. Dhaka: SDC and NILG. LGD. (2013). Five years of success: 2009–2013. Dhaka: Local Government Division. LGD. (2015). Annual report: 2014–2015. Dhaka: Local Government Division. LGD. (2016). Comparative report of achievements of present government and previous coalition government. Dhaka: Local Government Division. LGD. (n.d.a). History of LGD. Retrieved November 4, 2017, from bd/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=81&lang=en LGD. (n.d.b). Aina o bidhimala. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from http://old. lang=bn LGD. (n.d.c). Mission statement and major functions. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from Majumdar, B. A. (2005, May 5). Gram Sarkar: A problematic initiative (Editorial). The Daily Star, 5(337). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from http://archive.thedai Masud, M. (2013). Administrative traditions and reforms in Bangladesh: Legacy versus modernity. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from files/1029_550.pdf

78  Bangladesh government initiatives for SLG Mollah, M. A. H. (2014, June). Administrative reforms and governance in Bangladesh: How far the dream of success? Global Journal of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(4), 26–52. Muhit, A. M. A. (2018, June 7). Budget speech of FY 2018–19. Dhaka: Ministry of Finance. Retrieved June 7, 2018, from files/files/ d/S peech_EN_18_19.pdf Nath, D. K. (2015, October 31). Partisan local polls and challenges for political parties (the Opinion Pages). Retrieved November 8, 2017, from https://­local-­polls-­and-­challenges-­for-­ political-­parties/ Obaidullah, A. T. M. (1999). Bangladesh public administration: Study of major reforms, constraints and strategies. Dhaka: Academic Press and Publication Limited. Panday, P. K. (2011, July). Local government system in Bangladesh: How far is it decentralised? Lex Localis, 9(3), 205–230. Panday, P. K. (2017). Decentralisation without decentralisation: Bangladesh’s failed attempt to transfer power from the central government to local governments. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, 39(3), 177–188. Rahman, H. Z., & Ahmed, T. (2015). Strategy on local government strengthening. Background paper for 7th Five Year Plan, 1–45. Retrieved May 4, 2016, from­content/uploads/2015/02/13_Strategy-­on-­Local-­ Government-­Strengthening.pdf Rahman, M. M., & Nasrin, S. (2017). Maiden partisan rural local government elections: Bangladesh experience. Journal of Public Administration and Governance, 7(1), 48–70. Sarker, A. E. (2006). The political economy of decentralized governance: An assessment of rural local government reforms in Bangladesh. International Journal of Public Administration, 29(13), 1285–1309. Siddique, K. (Ed.). (1992). Local government in South Asia: A comparative study. Dhaka: University Press Limited. Siddique, K. (1994). Local government in Bangladesh. Dhaka: University Press Limited. Siddiqui, K. (Ed.). (2005). Local government in Bangladesh (Revised 3rd ed.). Dhaka: University Press Limited. Siddiqui, K. (n.d.). Local government. Banglapedia. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from Singh, S. (2016). Capacity assessment for NGO affairs bureau, prime minister’s office, Bangladesh. Dhaka: UNDP. The Hunger Project. (2012). MDG unions: Villages that work. Dhaka: The Hunger Project. Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://mdgunions.files.wordpress. com/2014/07/mdgs_union-­strategy_2013.pdf Waheduzzaman, W. (2010). People’s participation for good governance: A study of rural development programmes in Bangladesh (Doctoral dissertation). Victoria University, Australia.

4 Collaborative programmes Collective GO-­NGO measures

Introduction This chapter deals with the process of GO-­NGO collaborative efforts. The process includes the inputs, actions, and outputs of the efforts. This chapter discusses collaborative initiatives of Sharique with the UPs. In addition, this chapter highlights some of the collaborative efforts of different NGOs that are working for SLG in general, and UPs in particular, and explains how these actors are implementing their plans. These discussions on strategies and activities of other such collaborative efforts have contributed to uncovering the commonalities amongst the programmes. In Bangladesh many NGOs are collaborating with LGIs for improving the governance of the localities. Amongst them the following major GO-­NGO collaborative initiatives at the local level have been studied in this chapter.

Sharique: a local governance project Sharique: A Local Governance Project, an endeavour of the SDC, has been working for SLG since 2006 and completed more than a decade of involvement and activities through Helvetas. The very word Sharique means ‘partnership’ and has been taken from Bangla (originally Arabic). It has completed three phases, and the third phase ‘Sharique-­III,’ has added dimensions to their previous programme goals. Phase III of the project has emphasised strategic planning and fiscal autonomy, plus poverty reduction and social inclusiveness. This phase has taken initiatives to persuade the central government’s policies and plans to change through promoting good practices of the project and strong research endeavours (Ahmed, Harun Or Rashid, Ahmmed, & Razzaque, 2016, p. 1). Sharique has collaborated with the lowest two tiers of local governments – the UP and UZP – and has been involved with other NGOs, NILG, and different ministries. Having finished its third phase, Sharique began implementing its fourth phase in 2017 with different strategies and goals. As the project is in its final phase, it has planned to institutionalise the practice of collaboration for SLG through the BRDB (Bangladesh Rural Development Board), a government

80  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG agency, and to transfer the activation processes to the agency for replication throughout Bangladesh. Sharique has planned to tackle the matter of emancipating from poverty by improving governance services, firstly, by capacitating LGIs at the Union and Upazila levels and, secondly, by providing assistance to citizens to take part in local decision-­making processes. It has emphasised strengthening LGIs by capacitating functionaries of the LGIs and communities as supply and demand sides, respectively. The project has recognised officials and citizens as key actors to establish pro-­poor good local governance. Furthermore, it has also acknowledged that outside actors can play significant roles in sensitising LGIs, as well as poor and marginalised people to LGIs, through facilitation and support of both officials and inhabitants. It has also remained flexible in implementing, promoting learning by doing, and sharing what has been learned with other actors (SDC, 2013a, p. 8). Sharique has facilitated and provided capacity development opportunities to both UPs and UPZs in the following key areas: open budget meetings, formation of the UDCC, tax assessment and collection, development and implementation of local governance self-­assessment plans (LGSA) and governance improvement plans (GIP), and roles and responsibilities of local government functionaries, financial management, disaster risk reduction, right to information (RTI) act, power and gender analysis, and women’s public speaking and leadership (Sultana & Tomkova, 2012, p. 10). Sharique’s strategies The project established sets of attributes which should be present in good LGIs and active citizens. The LGIs were expected to ensure participatory decision-­making and be accountable, transparent, financially autonomous, pro-­poor, and responsive to people’s demands, and citizens were expected to be active and aware of rights and entitlements, capable of making demands, holding officials accountable, overseeing projects, and mobilising community members (SDC, 2013a, p. 7). These attributes became the targets, and the programme endeavoured to reach these targets by employing various strategies. The project aimed at achieving these targets gradually through milestones (4) and steps (8) to be reached in the course of establishing pro-­poor and good local governance (SDC, 2013a, pp. 9–32). Whilst the LGIs were moving up from lower step to upper, the project’s one of the key strategies was to mentor them staying in close attachment. Sharique, playing a matchmaker role, promoted horizontal learning to introduce best practices of good performing LGIs among poorly performing officials and citizens to facilitate learning by direct observation and experience (Islam, n. d., pp. 1–5). Moreover, the project gave its best practices a formal shape to disseminate to actors of poorly performing LGIs through the introduction of a ‘Union Parishad Local Academy’ (UPLA) at well-­performing units.1 The academy was given NILG accreditation and collaborated with two community

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  81 Table 4.1  The Sharique project at a glance Name of the programme

Sharique: A Local Governance Project

Duration Goal

Phase I: 2006–2009; Phase II: 2010–2013; Phase III: 2013–2016 Contribute to the empowerment of local citizens to make and implement inclusive, gender sensitive, and pro-­poor collective choices about their lives and livelihoods through more democratic, transparent, inclusive, and effective local government systems. 207 UPs, and 29 UZPs, of four districts (Rajshahi, Chapai Nawabganj, Sunamganj, Khulna) Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation

Working area Funded by Implementing agency Field implementing partners Strategic partner Consortium partner Total budget Number of groups/persons impacted

Sachetan, MSP (Multi-­Stakeholder Platform), SNKS (Samata Nari Kallyan Sangstha), SUS (Swabalamby Unnayan Samity), ERA (Efforts for Rural Advancement), CNRS (Centre for Natural Resource Studies) NILG, Mass Line Media Centre BIGD (BRAC Institute of Governance and Development) Phase I CHF 4,950,000; Phase II CHF 8,990,000; Phase III CHF 9,700,000 1,900 community groups with about 50,000 members

Source: Project documents of Sharique

radio stations for publicity. Local resource persons – capable representatives and active citizens – were entrusted with the responsibility to run the academy. The project aimed at connecting the academy with the trainings of all possible platforms (LGSP-­II, NILG’s Network – BARD (Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development), RDA (Rural Development Academy), BRDTI (Bangladesh Rural Development Training Institute), and the other 12 NGOs, etc.) (SDC, 2013b, pp. 1–6). Additionally, the project planned to share the knowledge that it had gained and replicate its good practices nationwide through national seminars and interdisciplinary publications. Activities of Sharique Sharique engaged with UPs through, first, holding a series of bilateral exchange meetings with identified stakeholders, second, organising a meeting by assembling all interested UPs, third, requesting a meeting with officials at the UPZ district and divisional levels, and, fourth, formalising a working relationship with an inception meeting. After that, the scheme identified both the supply and demand-­side actors. To select active actors for the demand side, the programme brought together all the leaders of such groups that

82  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG had been motivated by other NGOs in a ward to form a new group of volunteers (Ward Platform; WP) who had chosen to become active citizens. The platform is intended to play a catalysing role to help organise citizens of all strata, incorporate the interests of the citizens of a ward, prioritise demands, supervise development projects, participate in decision-­making processes, promote women’s participation in UP committees and other activities, and help UPs select SSNP beneficiaries (Buchmann, 2013, p. 3). To activate actors of both sides the project employed the Local Government Self-­Assessment (LGSA) to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the UPs and, based on their findings, develop a Governance Improvement Plan (GIP). Through the GIP, both supply and demand sides have identified lists of challenges for establishing pro-­poor local governance. Issues have been prioritised and implemented with the technical support and strategic grant funding of Sharique. The grant has been considered a reinforcing column of the Sharique approach. The grants are small (up to 400,000 Taka – approx. 5,000 CHF), yet they have been used for pro-­poor development, arranging local training programmes, and implementing GIP (Sultana & Tomkova, 2012, p. 10). The project has also extended assistance to tax assessments with public hearings, social auditing, organisation of WS and OBM, placing information boards, technical support for formulation of FYP, and more. The Sharique project has organised various training programmes for both officials and citizens, particularly for the members of the WPs on RTI, tax assessment and collection, the selection of beneficiaries of social safety net programmes (SSNPs), gender issues, budget and strategic planning, roles and responsibilities of standing committees, and so on (Mcgee & Kroesschell, 2013, p. 16). Moreover, the project has arranged refresher training programmes to keep both the supply and demand sides active in changing contexts and challenges. Moreover, the project has developed various tools to tackle poor capacity and the weak governance: training modules, guidelines, checklists, questionnaires, flashcards, a Compendium of Laws, LGSA, participatory gender analysis, and more. Additionally, the project has awarded a project grant of BDT 800,000 to the women’s groups headed by a female member through a competitive selection of projects for activating women for project planning and implementation. Women have also been provided with public speaking training to help them make demands and pose queries. Sharique has conducted advocacy at the national level for policy change for devolution of power and responsibilities to the LGIs. Similarly, at the local level, the programme has enhanced interlinking amongst different tiers of local government, and most prominently, the UPs and UPZs have absorbed the attention. Key results so far The project itself has claimed success in different sectors at different levels. Some of them are as follows: 130 UPs enhanced their capacity to manage

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  83 GG, and the majority of them institutionalised the practices through employing a bottom-­up strategy, disseminating information, collecting taxes, and delivering services and information to citizens on demand. Additionally, female members have raised their voices, 70 percent of the logical demands

1. Invitation by NGO as collaborative convenor

20. Update the existing schemes, expansion to a new area, or phase out

2. Identifying demand & supply side actors

18. Collaboration at central level with NILG & IPF to develop tools & manuals

3. Signing of MoU to build partnership & inception meeting with all officials of UP, line agency officials & citizens

4. Meeting to become acquainted with government officials at UPZ, & District

5. Joint context/situation analysis

19. Advocacy at national level for policy change

17. Promoting & disseminating best practices, collaboration for conducting research with an independent institution

Workflow of Sharique Project

16. Midterm and final assessment of progress by third-party specialists

15. Promoting social auditing

6. Participatory Formulation of governance improvement plan

14. Tailor-made capacity building on demand

7. Jointly developing community groups with men & women from marginalised groups

13. Interlinking of tiers for coordination and resource supply

8. Developing tools through trial & error for capacity building

12. Participatory tax analysis and tax assessment & resource mobilisation

9. Organisation of training, refresher training, and workshops for both citizens & officials

10. Assistance for participatory planning & budget meeting

11. Supply of matching funds to implement project with supervision of local people

Figure 4.1  Functional flow of collaboration between UPs and Sharique Source: Developed by the researchers based on Begum (2008, p. 127)

84  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG of the extremely poor have been considered at the annual planning meeting, on average, 26 percent of the budget has been allocated for projects that have only been implemented for the extremely poor, and 75 percent of UZPs have been practising participatory and open budgeting exercises.2 Workflow of the Sharique project in collaboration with UPs The simplified functional flow chart of collaboration programme summarises the activities of the project and its various stages from inception to the phase-­out or continuation of another phase. It includes 20 steps, the details of which have been given earlier in this chapter.

Union Parishad governance project (UPGP) and Upazila governance project (UZGP) The UZGP and UPGP projects, connected horizontally and vertically through the processes of implementation, have carried the legacy and inherited the success of two other projects – the Sirajganj Local Governance Development Fund Project (SLGDFP of 2000–2006), and the Local Government Support Project – Learning and Innovation Component (LGSP-­LIC of 2007–2011). Union Parishad governance project (UPGP) The project has been designed to improve governance of the UPs, promoting people’s attachment in every stage of development activities, ensuring supply of enhanced and improved basic services, generating local resources to mitigate the pressure on government efforts, promoting gender equity in participation in the affairs of UPs, capacitating UPs to manage their mandated activities by the Act, and promoting answerability and openness in the management of activities of UPs (UPGP & UZGP, 2015, p. 27). The UPGP project plans to work with four core institutional platforms: the UP, the SC, the WS, and the Women’s Development Forum (WDF) of local governance. Furthermore, the project has been given the responsibility to build an active and effective connection with the Upazila administration and LGD to have an impact on policy support for local government. The UPGP, to materialise these plans, has engaged in activities such as backstopping for four institutional mechanisms in executing their mandates successfully, enhancing the quality of interface of the same four with communities, strengthening planning and financing, improving the process of resource mobilization, capacitating relevant stakeholders, and generating knowledge and policy instruments to support all of these activities (UPGP & UZGP, 2015, p. 27). The project has initiated various training programmes related to legal issues, organizational structures and functions of UPs, activation of WS, formation and functioning of SCs, preparation of five-­year and annual plans,

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  85 formulation of budgets, execution, monitoring, and overseeing of projects, and initiatives to strengthen services by UPs for the people. It has also supported the formation and cultivation of WDF at the UPZ level. There have been initiatives for information disclosure and furnishing and dissemination of CC for greater social awareness on service delivery to ensure and institutionalise local accountability. Financial grants have been supplied based on 41 indicators dependent on performance scores through a four-­ stage approach, namely, performance assessment, ranking on the score, allocation of grant, and revision of allocation based on performance (Bari, 2014, pp. 38–39). Citizen awareness has also been raised through mass gatherings, rallies, cultural events, Pata-­shows,3 folk songs, dramas, sports, and debate competitions based on local culture and heritage. Initiatives have also been taken to train auditors for financial auditing of UPs, performance assessments of UPs, and environmental safeguards and compliance of UPs. Upazila governance project (UZGP) The project has planned to contribute to the implementation of local governance reforms of the GoB to strengthen UZPs and other LGIs. In addition, the project has aimed at improving institutional and functional capacities of local government to ensure transparency and answerability in service delivery and implementation of projects (UZGP, 2015, p. 8). Outcomes such as strengthening UZPs to be more functional, democratic, accountable, and transparent institutions have been set for UZGP. The second broader result involves planning and formulating budgets for the pro-­poor supply of services with an MDG orientation. The third output has been designed to strengthen the national capacity for effective policy review, monitoring, lesson learning, and capacity development of LGIs. In addition, the programme has included assistance to strengthen LGD (Monitoring, Inspection, and Evaluation wing), DLG/DDLG (Director/ Deputy Director of Local Government) for UZP/UP backstopping and monitoring. It has further engaged with elaborate research and development to generate knowledge (UPGP & UZGP, 2015, pp. 75–85). The UZGP project has engaged with CB through training for UZP functionaries and citizens, exchange visits to other districts to share good practices first-­hand, and increase awareness. In addition, the project has planned to equipped districts and divisions with tools to coordinate and review the progress regularly (LGD, 2013, p. 59). Both the projects have worked for development of a national framework for local government capacity development (UPGP & UZGP, 2015, pp. 88–89). The UPGP has also created a transmission belt for the exchange of ‘good practices’ amongst all other related projects including LGSP-­II (UPGP, 2011, p. 4). These programmes have invested endeavours for development of secondary legislation instruments and guidelines, which have been designed to fill the gaps and supplement the Act (UPGP & UZGP,

86  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG 2015, p. 88). Moreover, checklists, charts, formats, and so forth have been developed as monitoring tools to examine compliance with the Act. Moreover, through WDFs (Women Development Forums), female representatives have been mobilised to raise their voices in the meetings and regular activities of the LGIs. Statistics from both the projects have shown that the system of PBG has played the role of catalyst in achieving outputs of the programmes.

Strengthening community-­based organizations for pro-­poor democratic governance (SCOPE) SCOPE has been working to ensure GG and inclusiveness in community and local governance (RDRS, 2014, p. 8). The approaches of the project, based on empowerment and rights, have been different from those of other NSAs as they usually work to fill in the space in service provisions left by the government. The project has been implemented by Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) and Dustha Swasthya Kendra (DSK) in the north-­ west and north-­east part of Bangladesh respectively with assistance from Dan Church Aid (DCA). The mechanisms they have followed have included forming and strengthening community-­based organisations (CBOs)/Federation (project mobilised citizen forum) to raise voices collectively and to participate in the activities of LGIs to make them accountable and transparent. Federations have moved to make poor people conscious about their rights, empowering them to claim entitlements and to tackle their social, economic, and political exclusion in particular, assisting them in networking with LGIs, other CBOs, and local administration to identify and solve local problems and other issues.4 Strategies and activities of SCOPE The project has replicated its model to other parts of the country to bring more hard-­to-­reach areas under its cover. It arranged training on leadership, organizational development, and financial resource management for the potential leaders, 50 percent of whom have been women and 20 percent of whom come from communities of ethnic minorities. These efforts have been introduced to enhance Federation capacities to run the same in an accountable and transparent way and engage with local authorities in formulating community action plans. Additionally, the project has promoted a well-­developed Federation for weaning gradually from the project to be registered with Department of Social Welfare and to make their entities public to get funding from the Bangladesh NGO Foundation. The RDRS and DSK have conducted advocacy, networking, and proposal writing training for fundraising to encourage independence and sustainability through community volunteers taking the role of supervisor (RDRS, 2011, pp. 9–10). The project has provided training to the UP

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  87 officials for helping constituents raise their voices in the UPs and expanding opportunities for citizens’ participation in decision-­making to change the mindset of self-­serving local politicians and promoting a bottom-­up development approach and downward accountability through increasing participation of the stakeholders, especially women and the poor. Citizens have been made aware of provisions of RTI to claim information, participatory planning for active engagement, and so on through campaigns, cultural shows, publication of newsletters, and organised rallies (RDRS, 2011, pp. 13–14). Achievements A midterm review (Panday, 2015, pp. 7–28) disclosed that the project’s initiatives were found effective regarding training and capacity development, participation in community mobilization, facilitation of members to access to services of the government, knowledge enhancement of forum members, inclusiveness in management of Federations, participation in community, local governance, and different committees, selection of beneficiaries and monitoring of government services, and improvement in service delivery. The platforms created by SCOPE and Local Government (UP) Act 2009 have created space for interaction between service providers and recipients. The project has helped to build a sense of collectiveness and community solidarity amongst the poor so that they, especially women and girls, could stand collectively to safeguard their rights against individual abuse. The programme has also been found successful in ensuring the inclusiveness of marginalised people in the power structure and getting the services which have been allocated for them. However, the number of Federation members who have participated in various activities have been found to be low, and the performance in north-­western zone has been better than that of the north-­eastern zone (Panday, 2015, pp. 7–28).

BRAC’s community empowerment programme (CEP) BRAC’s CEP has been designed to establish pro-­poor community institutions through empowering the destitute, particularly women, socio-­politically since 2003, through various steps and mechanisms with designated tools and techniques.5 Rural communities have been strengthened through forming institutions by bridging the gaps between communities and LGIs, scaling up access to information, and making successful and answerable institutions at all stages (BRAC, 2016, p. 31). The components that have been employed for community empowerment are CB, motivating people to raise their voices and take collective action aimed at SLG for initiating programmes for poverty reduction, generating consciousness, making information accessible, and thwarting violence, particularly violence against women.6

88  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG Strengthening local governance of CEP BRAC has been implementing its programme entitled ‘Strengthening Local Governance’ as part of CEP. It has extended its working areas to 61 districts (from 21 districts on June 30, 2015) to improve governance of LGIs through CB, institutionalization of participatory democracy, GM, advocacy, and forming forums of elected female representatives of LGIs and improving bonding between communities and LGIs, particularly UPs.7 The goal of the initiative has been to make LGIs transparent, answerable, and sensitive to the pro-­poor through effectuating efficient governance of public service delivery (BRAC, 2016, p. 31). The programme has motivated and sensitised UP members and chairs for GM and extended CB assistance.8 In order to materialise the objectives of the project, the following activities have been implemented under the SLG component in collaboration with LGIs: capacity development of UP representatives, the formation of Upazila (Sub-­District) forums, ward council, advocacy, citizen committee, supporting open budgeting, and more. Additionally, the project facilitated collaborative bottom-­up enterprises between Palli Samaj, a community group, and UPs to fulfil citizens’ needs by employing available resources. The project has taken action to disseminate information to the citizens through entertainment, particularly through theatre shows and community radio (Pallikantha 99.2) employing the local dialect to build responsiveness and promote easy access to information. Achievements BRAC’s SLG initiatives have provided support for CB, efficiency improvement, and gender sensitization of 30,022 UP functionaries from 2003 to 2015 in Bangladesh. It has extended support for the formation of 306 Upazila forums with the participation of female UP members and organised 206 Upazila advocacy workshops.9 The initiatives have developed the capacity of local government to engage in pro-­poor governance, enhanced transparency and accountability, and promote participatory democracy (BRAC, 2016, p. 30).

Journey for advancement in transparency, representation, and accountability (JATRA) JATRA project has been undertaken by CARE Bangladesh, aiming at strengthening the UPs and public management systems of UPs to conform to the conditions of the Act.10 Its initiatives have concentrated on effective participation of community leaders, especially women, in the key decision-­ making spaces and organizations. Additionally, JATRA has emphasised SAMs to ensure inclusive democratic procedures and equity in access to

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  89 quality services and information at all level of UPs (CARE Bangladesh, 2015c). The gross target of the project has remained to strengthen UPs by effective budgetary process and delivery of services, which would foster the legitimacy of the LGIs and increase local revenue flow.11 Before JATRA, CARE Bangladesh implemented the Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra Poor (SETU) project in four north-­eastern districts of Bangladesh. Project strategies and activities The natural leaders (locally emerged leaders through JATRA mobilization) and members of the citizen forum (a group of citizens sensitised by JATRA) have mobilised inhabitants of locality, particularly people from marginalised and ultra-­poor communities to express their views and needs and actively participate at WS. The project has arranged special measures to give opportunity to the functionaries of UPs to evaluate themselves by awarding numbers for their performances, and the same have been cross-­checked with the evaluators of the localities. A satisfactory performance by a representative has won him a ‘green card’; a ‘yellow card’ has been given to elected leaders who have performed moderately; and an unsuccessful member/chair has been given a ‘red card’ based on the assessment of the natural leaders (CARE Bangladesh, 2015a). The project has supported UPs for ‘local political economy analyses’ based on context and locality by involving local representatives, citizen forums, and the natural leaders to carry out tax assessment and development plans. The project was instrumental in organising social audits through the presence of natural leaders, citizen forums, local government representatives, scheme supervision and ward committee members, journalists and a large number of citizens by checking documents, procedures, and visiting the implemented projects physically, and by presenting the findings to the citizens (CARE Bangladesh, 2015b). Additionally, a community scorecard (CSC) has been introduced by the JATRA project with natural leaders and citizen forums and representatives at the local level with the intention of enhancing voices of the poor regarding delivery of services and reshaping development plans. Achievements The project has contributed to increasing the number of participants in the WSs. In the project area, 130 of 135 wards conducted pre-­budget WS; 49,761 community members including 24,577 women participated in WS; and 60 percent of the attendees came from poor and marginalised groups. Through JATRA initiatives, citizens have been motivated to participate with increased numbers in the process of project implementation, monitoring,

90  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG and feedback (CARE Bangladesh, 2016, pp. 1–2). These measures have enhanced the situation of accountability and transparency of UPs.

SLG of the hunger project The Hunger Project (THP) has been working in Bangladesh with an aim to achieve four specific targets: to empower and organise citizens, to empower women as an agent of change, to strengthen local governance, and to conduct advocacy and form social alliances. THP’s SLG has aimed at establishing effective and strengthened local governance, and it has been concerned with building the capacity of local representatives and extending supports through technical assistance to implement development activities through transparency and accountability, improving the quality of services of the government, and forming sustainable development goal (SDG) unions. The SDG union strategy, which replaced the MDG union strategy in 2016, is an integrated approach for capacity building of both citizens and their representatives to strengthen UPs, empower women, collaborate with LGIs, and accelerate achieving the targets of SDGs. One of the major components of THP’s approaches has been a collaboration with local elected representatives and community associates. The SDG union strategy has performed through procedures like (1) mobilization, (2) CB, (3) taking action, and (4) gauging the outputs. Informing and activating citizens, practicing democracy, and facilitating access to resources have been planned to achieve SDGs.12 Strategies and activities To attain the targets, the NGO has accomplished various activities, including training, workshops, campaigns, and exchange visits. The project in a holistic approach to SLG has initiated and developed various platforms and networks to mobilise citizens on various issues. The project’s strategies have not been ‘money-­centred, [but] rather volunteer-­driven.’13 The platforms have included the Unleashed Women Network, the Ward Action Team, the Union Parishad Advocacy Group, Participatory Action Researchers, Youth Ending Hunger, the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, and Sujan. Volunteers, women leaders, and students have played the roles of catalysers in inspiring the local people.14 THP has expanded its supports to organise WS and OBM with people’s participation. Technical supports have been extended to the UPs for developing the FYPs of the UPs with the continuous supports of the ‘Plan Coordination Committee’ (PCC). Moreover, for raising the acceptability of the UPs, the project has assisted UPs for the effective functioning of SCs with the active presence of local people and their representatives. Moreover, the project conducted advocacy both at local and national levels to bring categorical shifts in policies and attitudes to the development of localities and democratic governance.

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  91 Achievements The Hunger Project has mobilised 185 MDG Unions across seven divisions of Bangladesh. In turn, those unions have taken responsibility for improving the lives of 4.9 million Bangladeshis. Through their MDG union strategy, by 2016, the project had contributed to improving community development efforts and, ultimately, motivated LGIs and people to build a more peaceful and harmonious Bangladesh (The Hunger Project, 2015, p. 32).

The local governance support project (LGSP-­3) LGSP-­3 has followed the path of the World Bank’s ‘country partnership framework’ with Bangladesh for the duration of the 2016–2020 fiscal years to alleviate ultra-­poverty and to achieve prosperity (World Bank, 2017, pp. 12–13). In particular, the project has been promoting incentive-­based performance enhancements in the field of planning, public finance management, revenue mobilisation, and institutionalising SAMs. The project promoted inclusiveness in governance by targeting women and ethnic minorities through a policy shift. Additionally, particular focus has given to FMs to make them chairs of one-­third of the committees and give them the same proportion of responsibility for project implementation. The principal aim of the project targets institutionalisation of fiscal transfers for the UPs, and testing fiscal transfer system for the municipalities. Based on the goal, the project has set four key indicators to assess the results of the project: (1) making fiscal transfers to UP organised and systematic, (2) organising financial audits and assessment of performances, (3) enabling UPs to satisfy local needs based on priority, and (4) supplying expanded block grants, to the Pourasabhas in a predictable manner (World Bank, 2017, p. 13).15 Activities of the LGSP-­3 The LGSP has disseminated and scaled up the good practices of UPGP all over the country to strengthen governance of the UPs. The project has used the transfer of block grants from the national government to UPs to contribute to transforming local government practices, particularly in fiscal transfer, transparency, and community participation.16 To this end, the ‘Ward Committee’ has been given responsibilities to plan, procure, and implement the public project and a ‘Scheme Supervision Committee’ has been given the role of monitoring and oversight.17 The LGSP-­3 has been involved with the following activities: transfer of BBGs (basic block grants) and PBGs (performance-­based grants), and EBG (expanded block grants) for Pourasabhas, financial and performance auditing, providing CB training to district officials and Upazila functionaries, promoting people’s participation at Ward Committees and Scheme Supervision Committees,

92  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG WDFs, open budget meetings, and development of management information system software and its partial operationalization (World Bank, 2016, p. 2, 2017, pp. 11–21). Achievements As the LGSP-­3 has yet to produce results, here focus has been given on achievements of the LGSP-­2. The project has contributed to enhancing the flow of funds towards UPs. The prominent achievement of the project has been fostering a categorical change in the mindset of inhabitants towards the LGIs, especially towards UPs. In addition, the project has generated a space in which to play more autonomous roles with increased financials support. However, the programme still has a lot to achieve in the field of policy and institutional development at various level of government (LGD, 2016, pp. 9–10).

BRAC-­THP SLG In order to make neighbourhood governance more people-­oriented, THP and BRAC partnered to implement a project entitled ‘Local Government Strengthening Project’ with 61 UPs of 14 UPZs of four districts of Bangladesh. The first project of the partnership, entitled ‘Social Movement and Accountable Local Government: Towards the MDG Union,’ was implemented in 2010. Following the guidelines of the Act, the SLG project planned to build capacity of the Ups, enhance people’s participation, and take special steps to ensure availability of government services for marginalised people. In addition, it took initiatives to build awareness amongst local people and organise them to get involved in the process of ensuring UPs’ openness and answerability (THP-­BRAC SLG, February 2016, p. 7). The project also intended to build the capacity of the UPs and conduct advocacy at local and national levels (The Hunger Project, January–March 2014, p. 1). Activities of the project To strengthen the UPs, BRAC’s CEP-­THP were inventive in working intimately with the UPs by signing MoUs. Their ways of CB included foreign exchange visits and conducting trainings and workshops for officials and citizens on the provisions of acts, rules, and regulations relating to the UPs. The project developed volunteers, who stood as key catalysers at the local level to motivate local people on the various issues of the governance. The project arranged special types of training programmes for female leaders, who were followed up regularly with meetings and engagements in WS, OBM, and SCs. Youths were given trainings marked by dissemination of ideas on citizenship, such as the constitutional rights of citizens, the duties

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  93 and responsibilities of citizens, ‍advancement of the country, the depiction of poverty and ways to escape it, the importance of social responsibility, the strategy of knowing the unknown, and the necessity of dynamic leadership to motivate local people through vision, commitment, and action workshops. Moreover, Tathyabandhus (infomediaries) performed quite a significant function in materializing the right to information act of 2009 through supplying information, bridging the gap amongst the local inhabitants, government, and non-­government institutions that provide services. The project helped UPs set information boards and citizen charters. Various forums and citizens institutions such as the Upazila forum for female members, ward citizen committees, and self-­governing UP advocacy groups were formed to make citizens aware, UP officials accountable, and high-­ ranking government officials favourable to citizens’ needs at local level. There were efforts to build awareness through campaigns and popular theatre shows as well. Achievements The elected representatives of LGIs have performed their activities systematically. UPs have informed electorates about the income and expenditure of the institutions. Various committees have been activated through supports of the project and have brought accountability and transparency to the activities of the UPs. The interventions of CEP-­THP have improved the participation of women in decision-­making processes, and volunteer groups have applied pressure to the UPs to hold them accountable to citizens (Ahmed & Amin, May 2016, pp. 1–4).

Social engagement for budgetary accountability (SEBA) SEBA (literally ‘service’ in Bengali), an initiative of the World Bank under Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA),18 has been implemented by the Manusher Janya Foundation (MJF). The project has endeavoured to make the process of project implementation using UPs’ budgets, particularly block grants of the LGSP, more efficient regarding quality, period of implementation, and compliance with social and environmental framework designed to monitor people’s needs, benefits, and satisfaction. It has strengthened SAMs through the intermediary role of local CSOs to develop a feedback channel for transfer of information between LGIs and citizens. The project has targeted improved community participation and inclusiveness and transparency, responsiveness, accountability of the UPs. Activities of the project Prior to getting involved fully with activities, the project conducted social mapping to identify the social structure, context, power relation, and

94  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG resources of the selected UPs for developing community action plans (MJF, 2014). The project has formed a people’s committee called the ‘Community Support Group’ and trained them with SAMs and LGSP tools to stand as volunteers at local level. Officials have also been given training to make them aware of their job descriptions and responsibilities as people’s representatives. The project has arranged horizontal learning programmes to make learning practical and sustainable. Moreover, for busy and soft-­voiced people, the project installed boxes in the UPs to drop suggestions and/ or complaints to the officials. Public hearings and a community scorecard have been introduced in the UPs for social auditing. Both technical and logistical supports have been allocated to organisation of WS and OBMs with the active participation of constituents. Courtyard meetings have been arranged to make women and marginalised people capable of public speaking able to share their grievances in the WS and OBM. Advocacy has been conducted both at national and sub-­national levels to ensure people’s rights and entitlements, and best practices have been disseminated to other actors including the GoB to influence policy shifts. Achievements The project reports have disclosed that in the project area, the UPs have responded actively to disclose information. There has been a rising trend in civic engagement in WSs and OBMs and sector-­wise budget allocation. In addition, the inclusion of indigenous people in the committees of UPs have been recognised and enhanced (ibid., p. 39).

Upazila governance and development project (UGDP) The UZP, representing the middle tier of the three-­tier local government structures in Bangladesh, remains weak with insufficient capacity and a lack of coordinating roles with UPs. Against this backdrop, the Japanese organisation JICA in collaboration with LGD has begun initiatives to strengthen the governance of the UZP (489) for improved, effective, efficient, and responsible service delivery.19 The project spans six years (2015–2021) concluding in the ‘Perspective Plan’ of Bangladesh. The key strategies of the project have been to supply financial support and build capacity of UZP-­based stakeholders to perform their mandated responsibilities. The project has targeted the development of infrastructure, the mutual accountability of LGIs and line agencies and ensuring their complementary and collaborative roles to create synergy, the promotion of the UDCC for creating LGI and line agency transparency, capacitation of officials of LGIs and line agencies, and championing decentralisation of authority and responsibility to the UZP. The project has arranged performance-­based allocation for the UZPs, based on 16 indicators along four broad spectrums including institutional capacity, financial management strength, capacity of development

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  95 planning and budgeting, and transparency and accountability. Moreover, primarily the UZPs have been selected on four preconditions: regular organisation of UZP meetings, activation of 17 SCs, formulation of budgets and development plans, performance on ADP implementation, and reporting to the superior authorities for the previous three years. Initially, the selected UZPs have been granted BDT 5,000,000, and after the first year, the amount has varied according to their performance. The project has deployed Upazila development facilitators (UDFs) to assist office bearers in implementing projects and organising and providing training to the stakeholders. The project has taken measures for overseeing of project implementation and mitigating fiduciary risks through regular audits. The project has been implemented by LGD, and civil servants from varying levels have been employed to this end. The NILG has remained the partner of the project to disseminate training to the stakeholders of UZPs (LGD & JICA, 2015, pp. ES-­1–6).

Municipal governance support project (MGSP) After completion of the Municipal Service Project (MSP), the government intended to begin another such project with the help of World Bank. The current scheme began in 2014 and is planned to continue until June 2020 with a cost of US$ 471.76 million (World Bank, 2018, pp. 1–7). It has been implemented in 26 hand-­picked urban local bodies (ULBs), which have been selected based on their trends in economic growth and latent possibilities of employment generation. These ULBs are situated in the three major growth zones of the country; the programme has included three other district headquarters to the south. The principal intention of the project has been to strengthen municipal governance and improve essential urban services and their delivery process. Moreover, the scheme aims to improve the capacity of the ULBs to be active during disasters or catastrophes in the localities. The project has adopted four components to attain its aim. The first component corresponds to the supply of financial assistance to the ULBs. The second component copes with demand and project-­based fund supply of grant-­to-­loan ratio of 80:20 through the Bangladesh Municipal Development Fund (BMDF) for improvement of indispensable services of the municipalities. Moreover, to receive the BMDF financing, the ULBs have to finance 10 percent of the scheme expenditure. The third component includes CB for efficient planning, budgeting, accountability, management, and assistance for implementation of programmes. Lastly, the fourth component involves responding to emergencies on the request of the GoB by redirecting the project credit to meet the requirements of the disaster management. The project has readjusted its methods and design in accordance with the capacity of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED),

96  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG BMDF, and ULBs, which have been involved with the scheme. The initiatives of the project for improving services have created direct benefits for about 670,000 people in the first three years. Twenty-­four of 26 ULBs have demonstrated optimistic results in the improvement of governance and secured a minimum of 60 percent ratings for performance in the targeted areas. The BMDF has also exhibited success by achieving 84 percent of repayment of disbursed loans, and the results may contribute to the sustainable development and continuation of BMDF (World Bank, 2018, pp. 1–7).

Commonalities in activities and strategies of the projects NGOs have transformed their roles from relief providers to service deliverers and strategic partners to exert sustainable impacts of their interventions. Service delivery methods were thought to be responsible for sustaining the top-­down policy and lagging in reach targeted groups; and continuation of the paternalistic approaches encouraged corruption in getting the resources. Today, these organizations have taken initiatives that use a bottom-­up approach to improve the governance not only at the national level but also at the local level. They have planned, through productive collaboration, to break the shackles of the patriarchal system of community and local governance. Their common endeavours for SLG have been listed in the following paragraphs. Institution building One of the major components of the NSAs is to form and develop institutions such as the Ward Platform (Sharique), citizen forums (JATRA), federations (SCOPE), Palli Samaj (BRAC), the Ward Action Team (THP), community support groups (SEBA), and ward committees (LGSP). These institutions have been planned to form networks of rural marginalised people to enable them to share their ideas and innovations. In addition, these platforms have also been designed to play the role of collective voice of the poor and to claim their entitlements, that is, they have been intended to mobilise individuals and instil confidence within them to be self-­reliant and claimants of rights. These CBOs have been developed to speak out in a way that will have an effect on decisions, since individual voices, though raised in assemblies, can still be lost. These institutions have been motivated to be watchdog CSOs of LGIs to keep monitoring their activities. Capacity building Major concerns in the process of SLG are that functionaries of local governance and citizens are not capable of practicing the process under institutional laws related to local governance. The development actors of SLG organise trainings, workshops, and peer visits to impart knowledge

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  97 and improve the skills of both the supply and demand sides. With greater knowledge and improved skills, the representatives of citizens at LGIs and inhabitants of localities should be empowered to accomplish the mandated tasks in general, to deliver the services of the government effectively and transparently by the functionaries, and to hold the LGIs accountable by citizens in particular. In addition, CB processes have instilled the confidence in citizens to act according to their choices and contributed to converting knowledge into action. Promotion of inclusive governance Collaborative efforts have intervened to include people of all strata of society, especially the poor, marginalised, women, and indigenous communities in the decision-­making process of LGIs for establishing inclusive governance and ensuring inclusive development. The Act mandates the inclusion of citizens through WS, OBM, committee systems, and so forth. NGOs have mobilised local people, particularly women, through the platforms that formed at the Ward, UP, and UPZ levels to speak out in public gatherings. Increasing participation of citizens in decision-­making is intended to prioritize their issues of concern in the list of projects that have been planned to be implemented. In addition, attending these meetings allows citizens to be familiarised with local politicians and the activities of the UPs. This exposure has been intended to remove the paternalistic mindset of the citizens and political leaders including UP functionaries, and instil courage within inhabitants to pose queries in the local assemblies, which conforms to the principle of making LGIs accountable to the citizens and guide them to be active and pro-­poor. The processes have also complied with the principle of downward accountability and social auditing. Furthermore, these processes contributed to a conspicuous entrance of the citizens in the political process to participate in decision-­making processes and have resulted in empowerment. Making information available Realizing the importance of information, NGOs have involved themselves in the process of making information available for citizens. Disclosure of information on projects, income, expenditure, beneficiaries of SSNPs, and resources makes localities transparent and closes the door of misappropriation. The programmes have included efforts to make the citizens acquainted with the RTI Act and its provisions for enabling citizens to claim information. Sub-­national governments have also been activated to disclose information according to the demands of stakeholders. Information makes local people knowledgeable and aware of their rights and entitlements. This information expedites their access to government services and makes LGIs transparent in their activities.

98  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG Promotion of people’s participation The NSAs have been advocating for participatory planning and budgeting to include the concerns of the citizens in decision-­making processes. The local government act of (UP/UZP) 2009 has promoted the provisions of participatory budgeting, which has to be conducted in conjunction with organisations of WS and OBM, and scrutiny of budgets and plans by SCs. LGIs have been supported by the programmes of donor agencies and NGOs to follow these mechanisms. People’s participation, in addition, ensures the preconditions of SAMs and social auditing. The practice of SAMs through social auditing is suitable for ensuring people’s partaking in and instituting a functional local government (Chowdhury, April 2016, p. 1). These processes enhance budget-­related transparency and accountability initiatives, which produce the most dramatic results (Carlitz, 2013, p. s63). Citizen’s access to budget information and the processes of utilising it evidently contain the potential to make them stronger and encourage LGIs to respond in proactive ways to scale up citizens’ methods of survival (Carlitz, 2013, p. s63). Providing financial support Another strategy employed for SLG has been concerned with financial allocation. Development actors have granted financial assistance for LGIs based on performance with freedom of initiating development activities, which have been found in the WS and included in annual plans or FYP. This process has been designed to play a role in developing the capabilities of functionaries to formulate development plans and making LGIs competent with accomplishing other set activities to have the fund. In addition, the freedom has been given with the intention of increasing confidence for planning and implementing the new project with their own capacity by analysing the prevailing context. This may contribute to, as per the plan, attaining confidence and skill of functionaries of LGIs to be active for eliminating the concerns of citizens with their own resources. Conducting advocacy NSAs have initiated advocacy with the central government to assist the government in formulating favourable policies for the devolution of power and resources to the grassroots government institutions. In addition, they have also been doing the same at the local level to build a congenial atmosphere for active linkages within different tiers of governments and for effective service deliveries. Moreover, the development actors have advocated to the donor agencies for support for development of LGIs.

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  99 Agency building and empowerment The initiatives of the collaborative efforts conform to the mode of agency building, which has an effect on empowering people. Empowerment is related to bringing change by increasing capability to choose one’s way of life in accordance with one’s desires, which have earlier been denied (Kabeer, 1999, p. 437). The NGOs in Bangladesh have been involved with the process of empowerment through, firstly, enabling the poor to ensure access to resources by social safety net schemes, skill development trainings, providing information, imparting knowledge, developing social capital, and so on. Secondly, the resources have been designed to build agency, which is linked with one’s ability to decide one’s life choices even contrary to the decision of other actors (Kabeer, 1999, p. 437). Both resources and agency constitute capability, which, in other words could be called ‘being and doing’ (Kabeer, 1999, p. 437). In collaboration, GOs have been supplying resources and NGOs have been building agency, and their joint ventures have been intended to make the grassroots marginalised people empowered and capable of claiming and bargaining for rights and make choices in their own ways. Overall, training and the free flow of information enhance knowledge and skills, and the aegis of SSNPs guarantee assets and combination of them allows people to make choices for leading a decent life. In addition, the capacity to materialise one’s will into action leads to empowerment, which will assist the poor and marginalised in graduating from poverty and expediting their participation in the political process, which results in accountable, transparent, and pro-­poor local governance. Developing volunteers and promoting volunteerism It has been evident that one of the key strategies of the discussed projects remains active promotion of local volunteers, such as natural leaders (JATRA), volunteer animators (THP), community volunteers (Sharique), and federation members (SCOPE). The principal target of the schemes are involved with developing the volunteers into active citizens to eagerly seek necessary information, participate in planning and budgeting, supervise programmes, challenge social problems, assist LGIs selecting SSNP beneficiaries, and so forth. These enthusiastic inhabitants have been planned to be the mainstay of the projects to activate the community members, particularly the marginalised and poor to constructively engage with LGIs. These local community leaders predictably produce citizens in the WS, OBM, and other programmes of the localities who can teach their neighbours the democratic process of wielding influence over decision-­making. The projects’ precise intentions have been to incorporate these volunteers seamlessly in the various committees (SC, UDCC, PIC, SSC, etc.) to suggest

100  Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG programmes for LGIs to promote community betterment and accountability of local functionaries. They are also encouraged to be elected officials of the UPs or other LGIs, and the process helps community people interact with their political and social institutions through their own people.

Conclusion Collaborative processes between GOs-­NGOs and NGOs-­NGOs-­GOs (BRAC-­ THP-­UP) is taking place both at national and sub-­national levels. At the national level, the GoB, particularly the LGD, in collaboration with donor agencies, has piloted and/or implemented five projects for SLG: UPGP, UZGP, UGDP, MGSP, and LGSP. Specifically, LGSP, MGSP, UPGP, UGDP, and UZGP have worked to accelerate participatory development and improving services and service delivery (LGD, 2015, pp. 32–57). The MGSP also includes components like making ULBs capable and accustomed to borrowing and repaying the same on demand and project basis. The other seven collaborative efforts – Sharique, SCOPE, CEP, JATRA, SEBA, THP, and THP-­BRAC – are being implemented by NSAs, and collaboration is taking place at local level. The programmes have largely been concentrated in the hard-­to-­reach area of the country. Only the LGSP-­3 and a component of UZGP have covered all the UPs and UZPs of the country respectively. The actors have aimed to improve participation, transparency, accountability, service delivery, resource mobilization, preparation of the annual and FYPs, policy formulation at the national level, and more. The schemes have employed, for example, shepherding training programmes, building institutions and awareness, providing financial support, formation and development of CBOs, conducting advocacy at the higher echelons of government, encouraging and accompanying actors, disseminating lessons learned, and development of training materials to give poor people a voice with which to claim rights and entitlements. Various publications, mostly of the NSAs, have shown evidence of the success of the partnership initiatives of GOs and NGOs. However, there is a lack of objectively reported evaluation of GO-­NGO collaborative activities that would help us understand how successful their efforts to promote SLG have been. It has been observed that activities and strategies of collaborative efforts exhibit homogeneity in forms and natures. In this respect, an in-­depth study on ‘Sharique: A Local Governance Project’ with its intention to strengthen local governance, particularly of the UPs, carries merits in exploring the impacts and outcomes of the SLG programmes in collaboration of GO-­NGO.

Notes 1 Helvetas Bangladesh, The compendium of laws on local government is launched. Retreived January 8, 2017, from ?1257/compendiumlawLGLaunch.

Collaborative programmes of GO-­NGO for SLG  101 2 Helvetas Bangladesh, Local governance programme Sharique. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from nce_programme_sharique/. 3 Pata-­show is a type of local folk art. It displays various scenes, drawn on coarse canvas usually made of jute, on selected persons or subjects, and is presented with music. 4 DCA, Strengthening CBOs for democratic governance. Retrieved January 4, 2017, from­we-­work/list-­of-­projects/projects-­in-­asia/strengthen ing-­cbos-­for-­democratic-­governance. 5 BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), a giant NGO, came to existence after independence, in 1972 to be exact as Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee. 6 BRAC, Community empowerment programme (Dhaka: BRAC, n.d.a). Retrieved January 2, 2017, from pdf. 7 BRAC, At a glance (Dhaka: BRAC, n. d.b). Retrieved January 2, 2017, from www. 8 BRAC, Strengthening local governance (Dhaka: BRAC, n.d.c). Retrieved January 7, 2017, from­empowerment/item/840-­strengthening­local-­governance. 9 BRAC, Community empowerment programme (Dhaka: BRAC, n.d.d.). Retrieved January 2, 2017, from pdf. 10 CARE Bangladesh has implemented the project with financial assistance form Global Partnership for Accountability Trust Fund of the World Bank. 11 Mirza Hassan, Baseline survey of the journey for advancement in transparency, representation and accountability (JATRA) project, abstract. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://­research/themes/poli tics-­d emocracy-­a ndgovernance/images/SoG/SoG2015/The%20State%20 of%20Governance%20%202014-­15.pdf. 12 The Hunger Project, Bahubal: SDG union strategy. Retrieved January 9, 2017, from 13 Ibid. 14 The Hunger Project. Retrieved January 23, 2017, from 15 LGD, Local government support project-­3: LGSP-­3 at a glance. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from­web/webGeneralContent/view/266?lang=en 16 amongst total fund of BBG, 25% disbursed equally to all UPs, and rest 75% has been designed to distribute based on fulfilling three conditions: clean audit, evidence of participatory planning and budgeting, timely submission of six-­ monthly report. 17 The Partnership for Transparency Fund, Bangladesh LGSP -­II Fact Sheet. 18 GPSA in an initiative of the World Bank that supports civil society and government to work together to solve critical governance challenges in developing countries. 19 Upazila Governance and Development Project (UGDP). Retrieved September 21, 2018, www.ugdp-­

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5 Shepherding capacity building through GO-­NGO collaboration

Introduction Capacity is deemed as an enabling factor that includes knowledge, skill, awareness, positive attitudes, and ability to perform mandated tasks. The process of capacitation involves long-­term external efforts to enable individuals, organisations, and environment. Sharique’s collaboration of with UPs drives its efforts for capacitation in governance-­related issues. This chapter deals with capacitation that has been ensured by the collaborative efforts. In order to explain the roles of the partnership project in CB processes, data were collected on selected variables for both supply and demand-­side actors from Sharique and non-­Sharique areas. The issues related to both the demand and the supply-­side actors have been included and synthesised in the discussions.

Knowledge and awareness Knowledge of citizenship In the modern era, citizenship includes attributes of both ‘liberal-­individualist’ and ‘civic-­republican’ concepts. These theories represent citizens as autonomous entity not only with responsibilities to pay taxes, follow the laws, and engage in income generating activities but also with some entitlements to consume, democratic opportunities to involve, protections to receive, and public spheres to participate in governance to channel lawful demands, frustrations, and grievances to the authority and form consensus amongst community members on common concerns (Oldfield, 1994, pp. 188–198; Pocock, 1995, p. 29; Ignatieff, 1995, p. 54). In ensuring good participatory governance, Sharique has worked for instilling the conceptual knowledge of citizenship within the conscience of the people in intervened in areas because knowledgeable and aware citizens can hold their authority responsible and claim their rights and entitlements successfully. Now, the question is how far Sharique has been successful to enhance knowledge of both demand-­and supply-­side actors on different issues relating to governance.

106  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building Knowledge and awareness of the UP and its functions In Bangladesh, people have observed UPs’ activities for almost 150 years. The most visible functions of the UP and its officials are constructions and refurbishment of earthen roads and social infrastructures, reconciliations of social problems, and distributions of relief aid in rural areas. Thus, people have gained some sort of knowledge on UPs’ functions from common sense and experience. Moreover, all of the demand-­side respondents (100 percent), who received training from Sharique, mentioned that they became more knowledgeable and aware of UPs’ activities. The survey results have shown the same phenomenon regarding knowledge of the UP and its functions. Most of the respondents replied in this line both in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas, though the Act of 2009 contained 39 functions for the UP to conduct.1 For the most part, these activities concentrated on two issues: construction and refurbishment of infrastructures (74.4 percent), and distribution of services of SSNPs (53.8 percent). When citizens were asked whether they could recognise the functions of the UP they replied affirmatively with 97.5 percent and 95 percent respectively in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas. However, a noteworthy difference was exposed between the citizens of the two areas when they were asked to name some of the activities of the UP. The average number of activities of the UP as mentioned by each respondent of Sharique and control areas were 3.3 and 1.8 respectively. However, when gender was considered, the number of activities mentioned by female respondents dropped both in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas on average from 3.3 to 2.8 for the former and 1.8 to 1.6 for the latter. Thus, it could be said that the demand-­ side actors were more knowledgeable in Sharique areas on the UP’s role than that of the control areas, though female respondents in both areas struggled to match their male counterparts. Now, it is quite relevant here to ask to what extent the supply-­side actors are knowledgeable about the issues of UP acts, legal frame and the functions the UP i.e., about their job descriptions. UP officials are in a position to deliver services to the demand side and remain involved in day-­to-­day tasks and procedures of the UP. Hence, they are expected to be conversant and knowledgeable about UP-­related acts and activities. The respondents from the supply side in Sharique areas, whilst mentioning their duties, brought up on an average 13 activities whilst it was nine in the control areas. While multiple responses were counted, the responses in Sharique areas, signalling heavy choices to ‘construction and refurbishment of infrastructures’ (74.4 percent), and ‘distribution of services of SSNPs’ (53.8 percent), the rest of the options were also pointed out with no less importance; among the rest, seven activities including dispute resolutions, tax collection, organising WS and OBM, saving children and women, and conducting development activities scored between 18 percent and 43.8 percent. However, in control areas the responses would make a tall column in diagram for ‘distribution

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  107 of services of SSNPs’ (78.9 percent), and ‘construction and refurbishment of infrastructures’ (47.4 percent) was their second choice, and the rest of the options were mentioned only by a few, as the third choice stood at the 10.5 percent level and the rest of the options stayed below of that margin. Thus, it can be argued that a larger number of functionaries in Sharique areas were introduced to the extensive and diversified functions of the UP. The same phenomenon, as for knowledge on functions, was observed when inquiring into how conversant they were regarding the Act. The variation was very slim. It was observed that officials from both Sharique (78.1 percent) and non-­Sharique areas (62.5 percent) stood not far from each other with a gap of 15.6 percent. Though the officials of Sharique areas were more familiarised with the act, both groups were inadequately aware of and acquainted with the Act. Now, a pertinent question is why this was so. The major cause behind the present survey results was lack of education. The data showed that amongst the officials, 43.75 percent and 75 percent completed secondary school and below the secondary level of education in Sharique and control areas respectively. This provided a clear indication that in Sharique areas more than fifty percent (56.25) of officials came from higher secondary or above such level. This has been reflected in the results as higher levels of education brought higher levels of cognisance and awareness on legal issues because they could readily absorb the teaching of Sharique. One NGO official echoed: Recently the importance, activities and documentation of the UPs have increased a lot. These require an adequate level of education to perceive the guidelines and directions of the laws and authorities to follow. We trained and guided the officials a lot, but due to lack of capacity bred from the low level of education for their access to the guidelines and the laws, they failed to perform their due responsibilities. (Interview data, January 7, 2018) However, in the backdrop of this bleak scenario, one positive phenomenon has been noticed through observing the fact that in Sharique areas more educated people were becoming interested in local politics and were elected in the offices of the UP. Knowledge and awareness on rights, entitlements, and duties One of the key issues of citizenship involves being informed and aware of rights and duties. The collaborative initiative of Sharique has invested its efforts to enhance the level of realization of rights, duties, and entitlements of the citizens. A respondent from amongst the citizens disclosed, ‘I have learnt many unknown things through Sharique project and become aware of my rights and duties’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). One

108  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building of the questions asked citizens how people perceived the UP’s services. The responses were gained through allowing respondents to complete a half-­finished sentence (‘receiving information, goods, and services is. . .’) and revealed a high inclination to complete the sentence with the answer ‘our right’ in both areas, with 97.5 percent for Sharique and 90 percent for control areas. A meagre 2.5 percent of the respondents in Sharique areas and comparatively a high percentage of 10 percent of the citizens in control areas deemed receiving information, goods, and services as due to the UP’s benevolence. However, a clear picture appeared with the question: ‘do you know about various services of the UP, their process of delivery and timeframe?’ The respondents of the two areas differed dramatically: 62.5 percent and 10 percent in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas respectively answered in the affirmative. The degree of difference in the response clearly laid the ground for the argument to claim that citizens in Sharique areas were more conscious about their rights and entitlements. This fact was substantiated with the comments of a woman of Deopara UP. She revealed, Before Sharique’s intervention I knew nothing what UP did, for whom they (officials) worked for, and how could my community and I be benefitted from the UP. Sharique has made me aware and opened my eyes. Now, I have become an enlightened person, as I know what to receive from, what to pay to, and how to be engaged with the UP. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) The reverse scenario has been noticed at Alatuli UP, when a man plainly argued that he knew very little about UP, its functions, and services (Interview data, December 30, 2017). He added that he did not used to go to the UP and was not aware of what the UP did and for what purposes. He remained indifferent and unresponsive when the researchers asked him various issues about the UP. He furthermore added that the UP was a matter for the chair and members; he had nothing do with the UP. He had not realised that he could benefit from the UP. Receiving goods and services and enjoying entitlements is one side of a coin; the other side of the coin demands some duties and responsibilities to be fulfilled from the part of the citizens. One of the key duties of the citizens to the UPs is to pay taxes. In that line, citizens were asked whether they knew they had to pay taxes. In replies, they affirmed that they knew about paying taxes to the UP. The major admission with responses was that in both areas citizens were fully (100 percent) aware of the issue. The question of whether they paid taxes revealed how they had come to know about taxes. Respondents were asked: ‘do you pay taxes?’ The replies showed that all of the respondents in both areas claimed that they had paid taxes, particularly holding taxes, and thus became aware of paying taxes.

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  109 Awareness of community betterment It is of immense importance for the citizens to own their community and local institutions of the government. Ownership of one’s community results in an improvement in the society through the enhancement of collective bargaining for entitlements and improved delivery of services as well as holding officials of LGIs accountable. A Likert-­scale style question was placed before the respondents to identify their views on community betterment through the UP. The responses in Sharique and control areas varied by a conspicuous margin as 92.5 percent and 60 percent of the citizens who participated in the study stated that they strongly agreed to be engaged with UP for community betterment respectively. The researchers have tried to unveil what prompted citizens to approach the respective UP officials. Data indicated that in Sharique areas citizens were mostly concerned with social problems (50 percent), and then came the issue of SSNPs (43.8 percent), which was followed by personal problems (31.3 percent). Development-­related demands drove a quarter of citizens to be connected with UP. The picture was quite different in control areas as no respondents showed any inclination towards social problems or development activities. Their main concern involved SSNPs (66.7 percent), which was followed by personal problems (33.3 percent). The comparative depiction drawn by collected data clearly showed that citizens of Sharique’s intervened in areas developed a broader consensus to work for the whole community, social harmony, and development. Understanding of Ward Sabha (WS) and open budget meeting (OBM) Newly fashioned key features have been incorporated into the UP Act 2009, which includes WS and OBM for participatory planning and budgeting, as well as RTI and CC for ensuring transparency and accountability. Key challenges for Sharique were to make officials and citizens of the UPs aware, skilled, and accustomed to practise and implement these unprecedented mechanisms. Here, the major focus has been on revealing how far the demand-­and supply-­side actors became aware and capable of comprehending these features. Other issues related to these features have been discussed in detail in the latter part of this chapter. Citizens were asked questions to reveal their awareness of the fact that there are opportunities to participate in the various activities of UPs. The replies represented the discernible impact of Sharique’s efforts in project areas. The colossal size of the respondents (95 percent) asserted their recognition of opportunities to take part in the decision-­making process. By contrast, in control areas, only 25 percent of respondents assured that they had learnt about the prospect of participation in the governing process of the UP, and an enormous portion (60 percent) of the respondents in non-­Sharique areas responded negatively, and 15 percent of the

110  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building respondents in the same areas stated that they had no idea what the researchers were talking about. The next question placed before them was whether they knew the avenues of participation. amongst those respondents who answered affirmatively to the question of knowing about participation in Sharique areas, they fully recognised (100 percent) WS, largely realised OBM, and mostly identified various sub-­committees as the channels through which they could participate in the governing processes of the UP (Table 5.1). By contrast, in the control areas, data portrayed a poor picture, which illustrated that only one respondent amongst five stated that he knew about participation and ascertained WS as the avenue of participation. However, the rest of the respondents (4, i.e., 80 percent) in control areas failed to indicate any avenue of engagement with the UP, answering ‘don’t know.’ In Sharique areas, citizens showed unequivocal responses in detecting WS and OBM as a participatory thoroughfare. One of the respondents among the citizens articulated that the project organised a number of meetings in which they learnt about their rights to make demands through participating in WS and OBM. The project officials encouraged them to participate and let them know how to get involved in the discussions (Interview data, December 20, 2017). The ensuing important endeavour was to reveal to what extent they perceived the motives of institutionalisation of these participatory processes. An outsized portion of the participants of Sharique areas opined that WS and OBM had been introduced to receive the demands of the people (Table 5.2). They further included that these processes had also been formulated as mechanisms for the dissemination of information and techniques to contribute to holding officials accountable by the citizenry. However, they failed to document WS and OBM as the processes of planning and budgeting. In control areas, the data indicated that the respondents were below par in demonstrating their understanding Table 5.1  Avenues of participation in the activities of the UP (citizens’ perception) Area







Ward Sabha Open budget meeting Standing committee Monthly meeting of UP UDCC Various sub-­committees Don’t know Total

38 35 6 3 1 10 – 93

100.0 92.1 15.8 7.9 2.6 26.3 – 244.7

1 – – – – – 4 15

20.0 – – – – – 80.0 100.0

Source: Field data, 2017–2018 * Multiple responses were taken into account


GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  111 Table 5.2  The reasons behind introduction of WS and OBM (citizens’ opinion) Area

Sharique Areas

Control Areas






To listen to the people’s demand To share the information To ensure accountability For planning Formalities Don’t Know

36 6 3 1 1 2

92.3 15.4 7.7 2.6 2.6 5.1

2 – – – – 18

10.0 – – – – 90.0

Source: Field data, 2017–2018 * Multiple responses were taken into account

of the ground of inception of participatory procedures. In addition, the supply-­side actors were also asked the same question to unravel their conceptions on identifying the causes of commencement of WS and OBM. The responses revealed that the functionaries of Sharique areas with overwhelming support for listening to people’s demands (100 percent) and sharing information (43.8 percent) were more versed on detecting the essence of inception of participatory processes at the UP level than that of control areas with support to the same issues (81.3 percent and 12.5 percent respectively). However, the bizarre difference that was observed between two groups of citizens was not witnessed at this juncture between two sets of functionaries of Sharique and control areas. Vibrancy was observed when one UP secretary of Sharique areas pronounced that these participatory processes functioned as a bridge to connect both supply and demand sides, besides being the platforms to receive people’s demands, share information, and hold authority accountable. Yet, none of the respondents, in both Sharique and non-­Sharique areas, succeeded in ascertaining WS and OBM as the process of executing plans. Additionally, the supply-­side actors were asked to find out whether they grasped the importance of people’s voices at WS and OBM. The accounts of the officials of both areas coincided on the same point, as all of them believed or at least manifested that people should raise their voices, and the principal reason they gave was ‘for placing demands’ (100 percent). In Sharique areas, functionaries also comprehended that if voice raising could be practised successfully, it would ensure the establishment of efficient local governance (18.8 percent) in the UPs. Moreover, they realised that people’s voices would induce marginalised access to the course of mainstream development (37.5 percent). At this point, it is of great importance to unveil the level of understanding of potential voice raisers (citizens) on diverse concepts used in WS and OBM, as it is believed that without the animated level of conception of the citizens, the participation for voice raising would be truncated, or

112  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building meaningless. In Sharique areas, nine out of 10 respondents answered affirmatively, whilst it was only one out of 10 in control areas when the respondents were asked whether they understood various concepts used in WS and OBM. The researchers excavated further, to increase their level of understating through the opinion-­seeking Likert-­scale question about how much they understood the notions recurrently practised in WS and OBM. The opinions, given by respondents of Sharique areas, showed that they were very conversant on WS and OBM related notions, with 57.5 percent and 25 percent possessing moderate and high levels of understanding. The picture for control areas was somewhat worse and revealed a giant gap (only 5 percent understood moderately, and 0 percent did at high level) between Sharique and non-­Sharique areas. Hence, the respondents in control areas lagged too far behind to participate actively through raising their voices at the WS and OBM because of their low levels of understanding of the concepts used in participatory processes. This contrasting illustration has exposed the role of the Sharique project in the intervened in areas to enhance the level of knowledge of the citizens on issues that construct ties between LGIs and citizens. Understanding the right to information (RTI) and citizen charters (CC) Making information disseminated and holding UPs’ authorities accountable have been two flagship features of the UP Act 2009. These features have been encompassed in the law for upholding people’s power to ensure establishment of better functioning LGIs in general, and UPs in particular. The Sharique project strove to augment people’s cognisance on these two prominent aspects of the Act. Citizens from Sharique areas expanded their acquaintance with RTI and CC as they understood various services and provisions of deliveries (62.5 percent). In contrast, the citizens from control areas frustrated the process of establishing transparent and accountable local governance at the UP level in line with the Act showing a poor level of understanding (10 percent). However, the actual scenario was a little bit nebulous in Sharique areas, as citizens did not show great interest in either RTI or CC. They sought information, yet they did not follow the procedures in accordance with the guidelines of the Act. An NGO official, who worked for Sharique from partner NGO, disclosed the fact that, as he asserted: None of the citizens of UP was cognisant on RTI and CC. They customarily did not inquire the boards to get the details of the CCs and its various facets including services, their ways of delivery and timeframe. Men, in a few cases, have been seen scrutinising the information boards placed at the UP premise; however, they have not been identified to seek information formally. Contrarily, women have not been noticed looking for information from boards. Equally, male and female of both

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  113 areas leaned towards the village police to get necessary information in some instances. (Interview data, January 10, 2018) A participant of focus group discussion (FGD) sessions in control areas disclosed the ill-­informed state of the people, as he stated that he had never heard of RTI and CC. No one ever told him about these issues. He did not understand RTI or CC. Therefore, in essence, he continued, being aware and capable of using these tools, for him, was out of the question (FGD data, December 26, 2017). Likewise an NGO official observed similar scenario in Sharique areas, as he disclosed that the level of understanding of the citizens about CC was low, and people were not aware of CC (Interview data, January 9, 2018). Consequently, the rate of implementation of RTI and CC remained at minimal level. However, the responses of the officials in Sharique areas revealed that most of the citizens (65.7 percent) possessed knowledge on RTI and CC, whilst 62.5 percent of the officials of non-­Sharique areas believed that citizens knew nothing about RTI and CC. Few officials (12.5 percent) from Sharique areas and a large number (56.3 percent) of officials from control areas exposed the fact that people had no idea about RTI and CC whatsoever. What about the officials? To what extent they understood the RTI and CC. Collected data showed that functionaries of Sharique areas were much more conversant in identifying the logic behind the initiation of CC than their counterparts from control areas. They prioritised the intentions of the CC as follows: first, disseminating information, second and third, ensuring accountability and transparency respectively, and fourth, the delivery of services. In control areas, the same phenomenon was observed. However, the frequencies were very low. The majority of the responses in control areas ended with the response ‘don’t know.’ When the researchers inquired further, the officials of both Sharique and control areas acceded their unawareness about RTI and CC to varying extents with 9.4 percent for the former and 81.3 percent for the latter. A small number of functionaries from Sharique and control areas blamed citizens for not being sensitized to both RTI and CC. Whilst interviewing, the researchers questioned a UP chair from control areas on RTI and CC; in reply, the chair was unsure about the topic and discussed on different issues from citizenship certificates to project implementation. The researchers tried to guide him several times back to the point of the interview, however, he slid away further. The irony was that he had been in the office for a couple of terms, yet his familiarity was very poor with these issues. If this was the level of cognisance of the chair, the condition of other functionaries, except the secretary, could easily be inferred. A member of the same UP disclosed the reason, as he concluded, ‘The chair depends on the UP secretary a lot. He runs the office with the advice of the secretary. Basically, the UP is run by the secretary and that’s why the chair’s knowledge on various

114  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building issues is low’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017). This response was echoed in the expression of the UP secretary. The secretary said that we would discover an empty vessel in him (the chair) when we finished the interview (Interview data, December 27, 2017). In brief, it is crystal clear that the knowledge of citizens on RTI and CC of both areas was low, though it was noticeably higher in Sharique areas. The illustration of such knowledge for the functionaries was not the same in both areas, as in Sharique areas the functionaries were found much more conversant on RTI and CC than the functionaries of control areas. Awareness of strengths and weaknesses of the UP (power and resources) It was learnt from FGD sessions and interviews that citizens were witnessing a transition of the fulcrum of power from the traditional rural elite to modern-­day political elites. Citizens, particularly the citizens of Sharique areas, are very much aware of the changes the society has been experiencing. The comments pronounced at FGD sessions by the citizens in Sharique areas disclosed their state of awareness on the power structure and power relations of the UP. Some of the comments are as follow: ‘People, today, approach UP officials through local ruling party leaders to get expected services or benefits,’ ‘Chair and members are compelled to commit partiality in delivering various services,’ ‘Political pressure can never be removed,’ ‘At present, political pressure is a social crime,’ ‘Sometimes ruling political party leaders are getting the job done bypassing UP functionaries,’ ‘There is no benefit to approach the members due to the excessive political pressures’ (FGD data, December 13, 2017), and ‘The participation of citizens at WS recedes due to the presence and exercise of party politics at local level’ (FGD data, December 20, 2017). These experiences and observations of the citizens indicated the level of people’s awareness of the power pattern of their UPs in Sharique areas. UP officials also held same views as that of the citizens as they (officials) explained about the experience of feeling the pressures of politicians. A crestfallen UP member, whilst being interviewed, disclosed that though he had been the elected member, he had to make unpleasant request to politicians for the cards of SSNPs for the destitute of his area from local ruling party leaders (Interview data, December 18, 2017). Moreover, citizens of Sharique areas mentioned existing diversified sources (12 total) of revenues of the UP, though there were some misconceptions regarding the sources they mentioned. Contrariwise, citizens of control areas mentioned only two very familiar sources of income, namely, holding taxes and issuance of various certificates. The functionaries of Sharique areas demonstrated their clear perception of sources of income of the UP, though they missed some important sources of income like resource supply from NGOs and 1-­percent land transfer fees from Upazila. The officials of control areas mentioned only holding taxes and only four out of

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  115 10 mentioned the issuance of trade licences and certificates as potential sources of income, whilst 25 percent of the officials failed to recognise any sources of revenue. A female member from Alatuli UP in a control area lamented, ‘Even, I, myself, do not know about the income of UP and their sources then, how could I let the citizens know how much the UPs earn and from which sources’ (Interview data, December 26, 2017). The data presented and discussed so far represented the level of awareness of both citizens and officials’ of Sharique and non-­Sharique areas equally, and the map confirmed the progress attained through the collaborative efforts of Sharique with the UPs. One member of the WP of Sharique from Shilmaria UP gave an account that backs up the differences between Sharique and non-­Sharique areas. He explained, During the development of strategic planning and FYP, the project arranged a participatory meeting to conduct resource mapping of the UPs. This extensive process of mapping helped us becoming aware of various sources from which the UPs could earn. The resource knowledge guides us to suggest UP how to increase its income. (Interview data, December 10, 2017)

Administrative and leadership skills of the officials Performance of the officials and audit queries In the UPs, today, two types of auditing process are conducted: revenue audits (regular government audit) and LGSP audit as third-­party monitoring (project audit by renowned C/A farm). Of these two, the LGSP audit is more regular, conducted in each year, and detailed, and after finishing auditing, the team supplied printed minutes of the audit. The LGSP audit reports are shown in Table 5.3. The table reveals that the UPs in Sharique areas faced lesser numbers of audit queries than the UPs of control areas, as the average queries were 4.25 for the former and 5 for the latter. Regarding documentation and fulfilment of legal bindings, the UPs of Sharique areas were doing better. Furthermore, in control areas, the audit team found fraudulent buying of goats, sewing machines, and submersible pumps, but no such incidents were found in the UPs of Sharique areas. However, in some areas, the UPs of the control region did better than those of Sharique areas, such as payment of VAT/taxes, keeping possession of the retention money of the contractors till the competition of the projects, proper construction and reforms activities, effectuation of suggestions of the audit teams, and lowering the amount of mismatched money. Overall, the audit team of LGSP evaluated the UPs based on 12 indicators of five extensive areas. In this respect, the UPs of Sharique areas performed better than the UPs of control areas with performance scores of 19.75 for the former and 17 for the latter.


4 3 4 5 16 4 2 2 4 2

1 0 0 5 6 1.5 0 2 2 1

* The LGSP audit report of FY 2015–2016 has not been found

12 16 17 24 69 17.25 22 17 39 19.5

23937.00 176793.00 129635.00 255819.20 585184.00 146296.00 65559.05 20155.00 85714.05 42857.025

0.32 0.84 0.62 1.34 -­ 0.85 1.33 0.20 -­ 0.58

0 0 0 0 0 0 29 0 29 14.5

6 5 3 5 19 4.75 4 4 8 4

19 20 18 22 79 19.75 16 18 34 17

No. of queries VAT/tax/ Construction/ Documentation/ Amount of Mismatched Nonexistence Non-­execution LGSP retention Reforms fulfilment of mismatched money % of of materials of the performance bindings money total income previously Score given suggestion

6 4 4 11 25 4.25 2014–15 5 2015–16 5 10 5

2015–16 2015–16 2014–15 2015–16


Source: Calculated by the researchers based on the yearly LGSP audit report

Sharique Jhilim Deopara Shilmaria* Shahbajpur Total Average Control Alatuli* Maria Total Average


Table 5.3  Incidence of audit queries

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  117 Therefore, though the UPs of Sharique areas lagged in terms of some audit indicators, yet they did well in key areas such as number of audit queries, documentation and fulfilment of legal bindings, incidence of corruptions, and success scores compared to the UPs of control areas. However, three UP secretaries amongst six disclosed the presence of undue process for having a clean audit report, with a high score to be capable of having an increased amount of LGSP grant as PBG. A UP secretary who was reluctant to have his name published revealed the open secret, Today, it is become a common phenomenon in the auditing process of UP to manipulate audit report. LGSP audit is more rigorous than that of government. When the auditors come to conduct the official financial examination in the UPs, they offer means of getting a higher score for performance through doing only some paperwork. In return, they claim their carrots, with the confirmation of getting the same the findings of the audit report overturned to minimal minor audit objections and an exhibition of good performance that carry high scores. (Interview data, February 25, 2018) Moving further, another UP secretary asserted, Both the audit teams are manageable with backhanders. Particularly the revenue audit teams are more manageable than those of LGSP. Through the inducements, the UPs can fabricate the audit reports, as the version they needed. (Interview data, February 25, 2018) An NGO official revealed that the LGSP performance scores were manipulated as they found that a UP with a ‘C’ grade according to their evaluation was given an ‘A’ grade by the LGSP team (Interview data, April 8, 2018). These types of phenomena weaken the credibility of the audit reports and, in the process, the UPs are given a licence to misappropriate the funds and grants they were supplied. Documentation UPs are to document many of their activities to send reports and satisfy audits and for evaluation. Through mapping of documentation analysis, it has been found that on an average the UPs of Sharique areas kept their activities documented well in comparison to the UPs of control areas (Table 5.4). A UP secretary asserted, ‘Sharique has accompanied us in preparing yearly financial reports, budgets, FYP, income tax statement, resolutions of meetings, etc. Before that, we prepared these documents clumsily in wrong formats’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The researchers

118  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building Table 5.4  Mapping of documentation

Sharique Jhilim Deopara Shilmaria Shahbajpur Total G.T. Control Alatuli Maria Total G.T.

Labour register Information application & seeking register Annual financial statement Preserving photocopy of cheques Scheme implementation register Maintaining cashbook Quarterly purchase report Grant, TR, Kabikha, Kabita, ADP, VGD, VGF register UDC service Book Resolution writing Information Boards Civil works register Advance matching register The identification code for assets Grant register Other registers Total

Monthly financial report

Name of Union Parishads


Names of the Document NOT Kept Properly

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X  4 2 4 3 2 3 32 / Average = 8 X X X X X X  1 0 1 2 1 1 23 / Average = 11.5

X X X X X 2 2 1 X

X X X 1 1 2

6 9 5 X X X X X 1 12 0 1 2 1 2 1 0 2 32 X



X X X X X 3 14 X X X X 1 9 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 4 23

Source: Calculated by the researchers based on the yearly LGSP audit report

have collected annual financial reports, budgets, and resolutions of WS, SC, UDCC, PC, UPs, and monthly meetings of the UPs. It has been found that the UPs principally depended on UP secretaries for all these writings. A tendency was observed where, to satisfy the auditors, the officials kept the documents updated whether the meeting was held or not. A secretary of a UP in control areas told the researchers that though the WS, SC, and the UP monthly meeting was not held regularly, he still kept the documents updated (Interview data, December 27, 2017). In another UP in control areas, it was observed that the secretary composed resolutions in the computer, and later he just changed the discussions and decisions included in the resolutions. The process was a smart move; however, he used the process only to update the files and got the resolutions signed by the officials without an actual meeting. However, in almost all UPs, the use of computers has been observed for keeping documents ready to supply in soft form – print hard copies are generated as needed.

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  119 The annual financial reports, one of the key documents of the UP, have not been found to be well matched with the activities performed. In this regard, 75 percent and 100 percent of the UPs of Sharique and control areas respectively fell short of the mark. Overall, the performance of the UPs of Sharique areas showed a sign of improvement, but they need more training in this regard; more training is also needed in control areas. One UP secretary reflecting on the role of Sharique stated: In the UP, I have to maintain all the documents ready and updated. With new rules, regulations and guidelines the UP required to prepare many documents to store and to send to a higher level. Sharique has helped me identifying and developing the formation of various documents, and accompany me in preparing required documents, such as annual financial reports, budgets, resolution books, etc. (Interview data, December 18, 2017) E-­governance: procuring through e-­tendering and other usages The digitalisation of the governing processes has been included in the government’s Vision 2021. The vision is to let the power of ICT increase transparency and accountability as well as efficiency and access to services by the stakeholders and others within LGIs. Sharique has encouraged, conveyed the benefit of, and built capacity of officials to use ICT in governance. In this regard, the introduction of e-­GP (electronic government procurement),2 is believed and expected to ensure flawless participation of organisations and individuals in tender submissions (Zaman & Rokonuzzaman, 2015, p. 18). The vision developed by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) also aspires for a transparent procurement system through e-­governance in all government agencies (CPD, 2007, pp. 8–13). Sharique has facilitated the process of e-­tendering in LGIs. The UPs have come under the digitalisation process as the government has connected UPs with a high-­speed internet connection and promoted the establishment of an e-­service centre, or UDC (Union Digital Centre), at every UP. Therefore, the question is to what extent the UPs have been exercising e-­tendering in the process of procurements. The inquiry and observation revealed that UPs of both Sharique and control areas were not exercising e-­tendering. It has been found that they were unaware of the process. In particular, the UP officials with low-­levels of education and technical capacity did not understand the process well. However, through UDCs various services of government and private sectors are provided. Additionally, the UPs of Sharique areas opened e-­mail ID, regularly checked for mail and sent various documents to the upper echelons of the government as required, and regularly collected various orders and directions of the government through visiting LGD website. For instance, during a field visit the researchers observed that UPs were using ICT.

120  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building

Box 5.1  Order published on websites followed immediately The government has lowered the fees of birth registrations and the news has been published through government order on the LGD website. The chair of the Deopara UP of Sharique areas, having come across the notice, asked the UP secretary instantly to receive the fee as rearranged by government. Deopara UP, December 20, 2017

Thus, the UPs have become conscious of and have been using ICT to let their constituents benefit by receiving government and private services. Decision-­making and prioritisation of demands (who decides?) One of the key indicators of an official’s leadership ability is having a role in the decision-­making process. The officials were asked whether their opinions were given due importance when decisions were made on various issues in the UP. A total of 96.9 percent and 81.3 percent of the respondents from Sharique and control areas respectively responded affirmatively. Those who responded affirmatively were asked how frequently their opinions were given importance. The replies illustrated that an equal percent (56.3 percent) of the respondents from both Sharique and control areas were always given importance and that 40.6 percent and 25 percent of the respondents from Sharique and control areas respectively thought that their opinions were given importance less frequently. That is, officials from Sharique areas depicted a greater ability to influence the decisions of the UP. One UP member from a Sharique area stated that ‘Both male and female members were provided equal opportunity and importance, and all the concerns of them were taken into account’ (Interview data, December 14, 2017). Conversely, in control areas, the scenario depicted the dominance of men over women and political power holders over their rival groups. Patriarchal attitudes of the male officials marginalised the voices of the FMs in the process of decision-­making at the UP. One UP chair could not hide his attitude towards female members, as he stated, ‘I think the female members actually do not have any particular job to accomplish’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017). The secretary of the same UP summarised the state of female members in the following way, The female members become the sufferer of inattention and ignorance. There is only one woman member against three male members.

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  121 This disparity in numbers, make them weak, and consequently, they fail to use the power bestowed on them with the Act. In decision-­making and distribution of projects, their male colleagues used to deprive female members through using the loophole of the laws. (Interview data, December 27, 2017) In Maria, one UP member stated that the chair promoted his party’s men, and he only counted the opinions of those members who supported the same political party as he (the chair) did. This brief discussion signified the role of Sharique in its areas of coverage to make the officials capable of valuing their presence in the office. Male members, and chairs, became aware of the rights of the female members and the legal bindings imposed through the act of 2009. At the ward level, the members through WS prioritised the demands of the wards and subsequently forwarded it to secure a place in the final list of development projects and to be implemented afterwards. Both male and female members explained that the prioritised demand list of their wards was presented for discussion at OBM. In Sharique areas, 91.7 percent of the officials articulated that their shortlisted demands from WS were made public at OBM; by contrast, 66.7 percent of the officials from non-­Sharique areas found their selected demands of the citizens had been discussed at OBM. Thus, the officials of Sharique areas showed their success in mobilising the demands of the people of their respective wards. At this stage, it has become vital to expose who usually prioritised the demands, which came from each of every nine wards of the UP and were displayed at the OBM in brown papers. It is implied that in both areas the members did not have any control over prioritisation of demands, which were displayed and discussed at OBM. In both areas, the decisions had been taken jointly through various committees and the meetings of the UP, though the intensity of the responses was found mixed in both Sharique (34.4 percent and 56.3 percent) and control areas (43.8 percent and 50.0 percent). The data furthered the disclosure that chairs in both areas played a dominant role, whilst the UP secretaries in Sharique areas were also observed to have prioritised the demands. Moreover, there were also other key role makers in selecting projects. They mostly linked up with the ruling political party and local MPs. A UP chair specified, ‘After having people’s demands from WS, we UP officials, local dignitaries, and ruling party leaders sit together to select the project for implementation in the next fiscal year’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). This means that the officials from Sharique areas presented a higher intensity and ability in bringing the demands of the people to the UP from the ward level than that of control areas. However, the prioritisation process of demands that displayed, presented, and discussed at OBM exhibited almost the same phenomenon in both areas.

122  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building Formulation of five-­year plans and their linkages with budget The UP official mentioned that they were facilitated through the financial assistance for identifying schemes and implementing the same, and most of the officials (65.6 percent) have had experience implementing projects that were offered by Sharique. One of the major tasks of the officials is to formulate a long-­term FYP and to incorporate various projects from the long-­term plan into annual budgets subsequently. The collected data uncovered that 87.5 percent and 50 percent of the officials from Sharique and control areas respectively were informed about their UPs’ devising of a long-­term plan. A few officials (12.5 percent) from Sharique areas and a modest number of officials (18.8 percent) from control areas disclosed their unawareness about FYPs. They showed no clue about FYPs whatsoever. Some of them (25 percent) disclosed that they had even not heard about the long-­term plan. Moreover, a substantial number of respondents of officials (31.3 percent) from non-­Sharique areas let the researchers know that their UP had not developed a FYP. However, the reality was that every UP of both Sharique and control areas framed the FYPs. That means the officials, who expressed their ignorance and unawareness of having a FYP plan, remained in the dark. The reasons for their ignorance were, firstly, that these officials did not participate in the formulation of the long-­term plan. The reason behind their non-­participation was that some of these officials were newly elected. Others, who came from a low-­level educational background, struggled to grasp an issue like FYP. In control areas, the UP chairs with the help of the UP secretaries developed the FYPs of UPs, and the so-­called prioritised demands were included in the FYPs. Secondly, during budget sessions, the FYP was not consulted to incorporate projects in the budget document from the same. The researchers examined the FYPs of each UP of both Sharique and control areas to scrutinise their quality of presentation. It was observed that the FYPs of Sharique areas were spotted in a book-­like compiled document, incorporating the detailed procedures of planning, which were followed to formulate FYPs. The FYP documents, more significantly, presented the prioritised demand list with minute details of each project. However, the FYP documents of control areas were not found to be as well formulated as those in Sharique areas, particularly in Alatuli, where the document was only composed using computer and printed on separate disorganised papers cursorily. Meanwhile, in Maria UP, the document, though found in book-­like form, still it had not incorporated every detail of the planning process or the projects which were included in the plan. Now, the question is to what extent the projects assembled in FYPs are considered for inclusion in the annual budgets. The officials who were aware of FYPs from Sharique and control areas expressed their opinions by mentioning that in their UP the long-­term plan had played crucial roles in the process of formulation of budgets with 92.9 percent for the former

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  123 and 75.0 percent for the latter. However, there were other opinions in both Sharique and control areas. One UP secretary from Sharique areas told the researchers that ‘FYP is only paperwork, and it has no effect on budgets’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). Another UP secretary from control areas echoed the same point, stating that ‘Very few numbers of programmes from FYP were incorporated in the budget, and in fact, the FYP was partially implemented through the budget’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). When the researchers analysed the FYPs, budgets, and project lists, it was found that 91 percent and 64 percent of the projects of the budget of the UPs of Sharique and control areas respectively came from the FYPs. This result reflects the opinions of the officials, which has been discussed earlier (92.9 percent and 75.0 percent). One interesting phenomenon was that in Sharique areas fewer projects (36 percent) were incorporated in the budget than that of control areas (81 percent). The reason was that in Sharique areas the UPs included more projects for a year (46.25 projects averagely) in their FYPs than that of control areas (15.5 projects averagely). Thus, the inclusion of more projects in FYPs tended to be implemented in a smaller percentage. Another issue was that in control areas the projects listed in FYPs were not specifically incorporated, that is the projects were included in broad sub-­headings, not as an individual project. Upon careful examination of the FYP documents, it was revealed that two UPs of Sharique areas, named Shilmaria and Deopara, amongst four (50 percent) conducted resource mapping rigorously with the assistance of Sharique. The second set of UPs of Sharique areas, including Jhilim and Shahbajpur, developed their FYPs with less emphasis on mapping and depended on deskwork too. In Maria, the situation was worst amongst all the UPs of the study, as the UP totally depended on the deskwork of the UP secretary. Alatuli formulated their FYP only as a formality, as a close look revealed that the projects they included in the different fiscal years were just reshuffled copies other years of the FYP. It had presented only two projects for each of the wards, as the total projects counted only 18. Thus, it can be summarised that the UPs of Sharique areas documented their FYPs well and the documents of FYPs displayed an unplanned and coincidental linkage with the annual budget to implement the FYPs. The linkages that were observed in some cases were not deliberate but, rather, occurred automatically. A UP chair expressed his observation, ‘Our FYP and its projects are so detailed and inclusive that almost all the demands raised in WS later matched causally. Thus, we do not need to consult FYP to incorporate projects from the same’ (Interview data, December 14, 2017). Communication skills of officials (horizontal and vertical) Officials were asked a proxy question to understand their strength of communication with their colleagues: do other officials help you? In reply, all of the officials of Sharique areas affirmed that their co-­officials supported

124  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building them, whilst in control areas it was found that 75 percent of the officials mentioned having been supported by their colleagues as needed. However, the communications amongst officials past through ups and down. It depended mostly on political affinity, social influence, gender, and the like. There were witnessed core and periphery groups of officials in the UPs regarding the scale of communication. The officials who stayed in the core had typically developed a very intimate communication pattern, and conversely, those who failed to enter into the core possessed a weak communication channel with the inner core. In this regard, the UP secretary always played a key role in the support of the UP chair. Moreover, the communication amongst members was much smoother than the channel of communication between chair and members; and the communication between female members and the chair was found weakest. During a field visit, the researchers came across the following incident in Maria UP, a control area.

Box 5.2  The female member needs to go far: an instance from Maria UP The researchers went to Maria UP on December 27, 2018, only to conduct interviews. Whilst there, the UP chair was absent; however, a female member named Mahbuba Begum was present. During the interview, she disclosed, ‘The chair and I are birds of the same feather, and I have a good working relationship with him. I am one of those who is consulted during the decision-­making process.’ However, later the gesture and behaviour she made proved her claims baseless when she was requested to phone the UP chair to let the researchers know when he (the absent chair) would be in the UP. Showing reluctance and discomfort to phone the chair, she contacted another male member and asked him to phone the chair.

Box 5.3  The experience of a male member from Maria UP Another UP member from Maria UP, named Emdadul Haque, during the interview, told the researchers, ‘The chair of the UP does not count me. My opinions have not been given any value. He (the UP chair) takes all the decisions consulting predominantly with the secretary, as well as his sycophants in the UP. To know the fact, even you can ask other members.’ He went on, ‘I sent the people, when they approached me, to the chair by telling that the power rested on the

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  125 hand of the chair, as a member I have no power and nothing to do.’ He continued, ‘Even, WSs have been organised leaving me absent with the help of two of chair’s steadfast supporters named Abbas and Humayun. I am not told how many funds and what types of projects the UP is to implement.’ He claimed, ‘The problem between the chair and me developed from conflicts, of politics, as well as of interest.’

Boxes 5.1 and 5.2 expose the complexities of communication between the chair and the members. Box 5.2 demonstrates the gap generated from gender-­born discomfort and lack of confidence. However, Box 5.3 revealed that political and personal interests deteriorated the relationship to an unworkable stature. Moreover, the gap in wealth and education, that is, socio-­ economic conditions, and the level of consciousness engendered communication gaps between the chair and members. The collected data have shown that as the gap of education (on average two levels in Sharique areas and three levels in control areas) and consciousness between the chair and the members was lower in Sharique areas than in control areas, so the communication gap remained little between chairs and members in Sharique areas. Through efforts of the Sharique project, the members of Sharique areas gained higher levels of education, consciousness, and confidence, which lessened the gap of communication with their chairs. Vertically, the officials as people’s representatives had good terms with their citizens at the bottom level. During the field visits, it was observed that people from all strata could easily contact UP officials. Most of the citizens who were interviewed from both areas revealed that the officials had paid attention to their voices. However, a higher level of exposure to better education levels (the medians of level of education are – secondary, and can-­sign-­only for citizens in Sharique and control areas respectively), awareness (average no. of activities mentioned – 3.2 and 1.79), financial condition (average monthly income – BDT 7,380 and 3,500) – was observed in Sharique areas, which contributed to lessening the communication gap between officials and citizens. Here, Sharique played the role of catalyst to mobilise the citizens to feel free to contact their officials at ease. A UP member from Jhilim UP of Sharique areas told the researchers, ‘Sharique has made citizens spirited; now, they are not panicked of any officials. Most of the people have become confident to communicate with their officials to raise their demands and queries’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The officials were also asked to unravel to what extent they have developed communication with government officials of Upazila, particularly with the UNO (Upazila Nirbahi Officer) as the officer is the designated supervising authority, and key role players in the coordination between Upazila and

126  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building the UPs at the grassroots level. Sharique intended to build a bridge between the peoples’ representatives at bottom-­level LGIs and the higher-­level government authorities. To accomplish this, the project invited high officials from district and Upazila levels and confirmed their presence in various programmes of the UP, such as WS and OBM. The UP officials were asked whether they receive regular appointment of UNO for discussing issues relating to the UPs and local level development; in reply, 65.6 percent and 50 percent of the respondents of officials from Sharique and control areas respectively affirmed that they secured the appointment of the UNO when needed. In contrast, an equal percent (12.5 percent) of respondents from both areas disclosed their beliefs that they did not felt the urgency or need to stay in contact with the UNO frequently. One UP official from the Sharique areas revealed, ‘We approach him to solve various problems of the UP’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Another UP official stated that they sought the suggestions of the UNO when they confronted complex issues (Interview data, December 27, 2017). Few officials stated that it was the responsibility of the UP chair, and the chair used to maintain the communication with the UNO and other government officials of higher ranks. A female UP member from a control area stated, ‘I do not know him/ her, and I do not approach him/her’ (Interview data, December 26, 2017). It is evident from the discussions that the UP officials of Sharique areas exhibited better working communications with UNOs than that of their counterparts in control areas. Amongst the officials of both areas, the UP chairs and the secretaries maintained continuous communications with the UNOs. In this respect, the general members lagged behind, and the female members lagged far behind their male colleagues. Negotiation for budget allocation with higher authorities The lion’s share of UP funds is, today, channelled through other LGIs, particularly Upazila and district administrations. These two LGIs also play major roles in supervising the UPs. The UPZ, in particular, being very close to the UP, the UP officials’ ex-­officio status in UZP, and with coordinating functions of the UPs under its jurisdiction, has roles to play to enhance fiscal flow to the UPs. Officials were asked whether they had contacted the UPZ and district authority to increase budget allocation for their UPs. In replies, 31.3 percent and 12.5 percent of the officials from Sharique and control areas respectively categorically mentioned that they communicated and negotiated with the authorities of UPZ and district for an increased level of budget allocation. However, most of the UP officials (68.8 percent and 87.5 percent from Sharique and control areas respectively) revealed that they did not negotiate with these authorities in this regard. During the interview, officials revealed that the UPZ and district authority did not have the authority to increase the number of allocations because these allocations followed a certain set of rules and regulations. For example, one UP

GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building  127 chair described his experience: ‘Usually, the UNO has no particular power to allocate more from the UPZ to UP. However, I have developed good communication with him, and he does manage some extra money for my UP’ (Interview data, December 14, 2017). Another UP chair from control areas let the researchers know that he urged the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of his district for allocation of corrugated tin to build roofing of the houses for the destitute of his area. The officer in District assured him, he would serve the people of his (the chair) area in the near future (Interview data, December 30, 2017). In getting extra funds for the UP, the relationship with the local MP or the minister played a crucial role. One UP secretary stated, ‘Our chair has a very good connection with the local MP, and consequently our chair lobbied with the MP to bring extra funds for our UP and he succeeded many times. The amount even sometimes surpassed our targets fixed in budget documents’ (Interview data, 13 March 2018). For example, in Shahbajpur, the immediate previous chair is the brother of a local minister, during the last year of his tenure as a chair, the proposed income in budget for the FY 2015–2016 was fixed at BDT 9,448,150, whilst the actual fund received by the UP in that year stood at BDT 19,024,214, which was more than double of the figure fixed in budget.3 The scenario described here depicted that though there are limitations of the higher-­level authorities of other LGIs to allocate more in the budgets, yet good negotiations skill created an opportunity to get more. In this respect, Sharique project played a pivotal role to encourage, and make them conversant to negotiate with higher-­level officials of LGIs. Having discussed on issues like knowledge, awareness and skill of both citizens and officials the next section has been dealt with citizens engagement in the governing process of UP with roles of officials for the same.

Conclusion The findings reveal that the citizens of Sharique areas have become conversant on functions of the UP and service-­related information. They have become aware of their rights, entitlements, and duties as well. A sense of community betterment developed amongst the citizens of Sharique areas with the ability to contact UPs for wide-­ranging issues which affect them and their society. They have been transformed into conscious actors to deal with provisions of the participatory process of WS and OBM and have been made to understand the various concepts used in the same. However, when the notions are entangled with technical issues the level of understanding of the citizens becomes less prominent. Citizens of both areas, except very few, have suffered from a lack of knowledge on the RTI and CC and related provisions. However, the citizens of Sharique areas have become aware of the spirit of the RTI and CC. Similarly, the officeholders have turned out to be knowledgeable on provisions of the Act, RTI, and CC, though their level of understanding is not promising except in a few instances. The office

128  GO-­NGO collaboration for capacity building bearers from non-­Sharique areas have shown their knowledge to be lacking on the same. The officials of Sharique areas have increased contacts with higher-­level government officials for the betterment of the UPs and enhanced networking horizontally with office bearers of neighbouring UPs. Additionally, the officeholders have attained the ability to organise WS and OBM for planning and budgeting with the inclusion of people’s demands. These narratives of CB have delivered the notion that the project of SDC has equipped both citizens and officials of the UPs to some extent with knowledge, skill, and conscientisation on various issues that can shift the pattern of governance of LGIs. Now the relevant question is how these skilled actors of both the demand and supply sides play their respective roles in the organisation of participatory planning and budgeting meetings.

Notes The UP Act, 2009, sche. 2 (sec. 47). 1 2 The address of the website of e-­GP: 3 LGSP, LGSP Audit Report of 2015–2016, Shahbajpur UP; and the Budget document of the FY 2015–2016 of Shahbajpur.

References CPD. (2007). Bangladesh vision 2021: Prepared under the initiative of Nagorik (citizen) Committee 2006. Dhaka: Centre for Policy Dialogue. Ignatieff, M. (1995). The myth of citizenship. In R. Beiner (Ed.), Theorizing citizenship. New York: State University of New York. Oldfield, A. (1994). Citizenship: An unnatural practice? In B. S. Turner, & P. Hamilton (Eds.), Citizenship: Critical concepts (vol. 1). London: Routledge. Pocock, J. G. A. (1995). The ideal of citizenship since classical times. In R. Beiner (Ed.), Theorizing citizenship. New York: State University of New York. Zaman, H., & Rokonuzzaman. (2015). Achieving digital Bangladesh by 2021 and beyond (Background paper for the seventh Five Year Plan). Dhaka: Ministry of Planning, Planning Commission, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

6 The role of GO-­NGO teamwork in increasing people’s participation in local governance

Introduction Participation, a component of direct democracy, has maintained its relevance and importance over centuries due to its ability to convey the people’s will to the decision makers. At the sub-­national level, the policymakers reintroduce the process of participation with a new mechanism of implementing SAMs. The people’s participation in governing process channels people’s demands to the authority, makes the authority accountable, creates transparency, and enhances legitimisation. A special focus of the Sharique project is to bring the citizens to the assemblies in which decisions have been made about the localities and to make officials organise such meetings to ensure the unimpeded participation of people. The following sections will evaluate various efforts of Sharique for ensuring meaningful participation in decision-­making processes.

People’s participation/citizens’ engagement The development actors, in recent times, have emphasized tackling poor governance and disparities in access to resources to establish participatory and inclusive governance; and in governance people’s participation is taken as an important right with inherent value in itself. Moreover, the outcomes of development activities, poverty alleviation efforts, and initiatives aiming at the reduction of inequality are more significant, long lasting, and extensive if people’s access to the decision-­making process is ensured. The process will not only influence their lives but also help the government to become capable, inclusive, and accountable to its citizens.1 People’s attitudes towards UPs What do people think about UPs? To what extent they perceive UPs as their institution? To unearth the issue citizens opinions were examined through placing questions, who they perceived got the most attention of the UP, or in other words for whom the UP worked. People from both areas

130  Collaboration and people’s participation (70 percent and 50 percent) predominantly expressed that UPs had been working for the whole community. A good portion of the citizens from both areas (32.5 percent and 20 percent) observed that the UP took initiatives for the marginalised people of their respective areas. In both cases, Sharique areas showed better promises and potentials than that of the control areas. Here, the comment of a UP secretary of a Sharique area is notable; he expressed his experience in the following way: I have been working for the UP as a secretary for quite a long time. During the period, from my beginning to the advent of Sharique project, I have found the UP like an abandoned and haunted structure. The UP office remained persistently open for a few hours of the day, and even not every working day of the week. In some cases, people were seen to graze their livestock and to gamble on cards in the UP premise. Today, the scenario has changed totally; as people realised the need of the UP, and find it essentials to be involved with the UP. The influx of people has increased a lot and the UP office has to be kept open until the end of the office hour every working day of the week. The UP, recently, has become a hub of delivery of services and remained full of the noise and chaos of the hustle and bustle of events and activities. Furthermore, with such augmentation of people’s visits, SME entrepreneurs have installed a tea stall near the UP office building, which one remained barren. (Interview data, December 18, 2017) One NGO official forwarded her account as follows: We motivated people to be involved with the UPs. We made them understood that government services would be delivered through the UPs; so for being benefitted, they had to be involved with the UPs. As the people’s involvement had increased, the UP officials were forced to open the office during the office hour. Thus, the light started shining in the UP. (Interview data, January 8, 2018) These accounts of the official disclosed how the attitudes of the people changed over time with the efforts of the Sharique project. Moreover, when citizens were asked to rank (rankings were given corresponding value) their UP in accordance the level of trust, it was found that the average values were 3.65 and 2.95 out of five for the UPs in Sharique and control areas respectively. Thus, it can be argued that the attitude, trust, acceptance, sense of ownership and involvement of the citizens with their UPs have improved with the efforts of the Sharique project, though there was a wide-­ open scope for doing more. For example, inhabitants disclosed that UP

Collaboration and people’s participation  131 officials showed tendencies to provide priorities to their near and dear ones (47.5 percent) and to their political colleagues (50 percent). Organisation of WS and OBM Officials were assigned to organise WS on a regular basis to provide opportunities to the citizens to place their demands. All of the officials who were included in the study claimed that they had organised WS timely and regularly in Sharique areas. In contrast, 75 percent of the officials from control areas said that they arranged WS regularly. The Sharique project had UPs and officials practise WS regularly during the collaboration period. Few members and a good portion of citizens at that time thought that WS was the meeting of Sharique. With the incessant and stubborn efforts of Sharique almost pressed officials to hold WS meetings regularly. All of the officials (100 percent) of Sharique areas revealed that they were aided in organising WS by Sharique. The Sharique project, according to the officials, contributed to the organisation of WS and OBM through financial support (53.1 percent), campaigns (62.5 percent), inspiring people and officials (81.3 percent), and accompaniment (25 percent). In this regard, Sharique played key roles to make officials invite all the voters of the ward. Sharique developed and used WPs to inform citizens about WS. One UP official disclosed his memory: ‘When Sharique was there we did not have to do anything much for organising WS. After the departure of Sharique, we are in little difficulties to hold WS meeting’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). The reason was that the officials became dependent on the efforts of Sharique to organise WS meetings timely and inclusively. It has been found that in the absence of the Sharique project UP officials showed a lack of urgency and motivation. In non-­Sharique areas, officials were found indifferent to organising WS meeting, and if they organised WS meeting ever, they organised them only in a tokenistic manner with only the presence of their political colleagues, diehard supporters, and sycophants as an opportunity to take photographs. One female official in control areas, when asked if she had ever taken the initiative to hold a WS meeting, replied that it was not her duty. According to her, it was the responsibility of the UP secretary and male members (Interview data, December 26, 2017). More­ over, in Sharique areas, the newly elected officials showed a lack of skill and zeal to organise WS meetings. Respondents from citizens pronounced that after the advent of new members no WS meeting was arranged (FGD data, December 17, 2017). A WP member of the Sharique project disclosed her frustration: ‘While Sharique was there we received regular invitations, and remained present in WS, and participated in the meetings actively’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The same view was found at the FGD session in Alatuli UP, where all the participants unanimously expressed that they had not received information about holding a WS and participating in

132  Collaboration and people’s participation it (FGD data, December 26, 2017). However, direct observation and interviews with the officials confirmed that what was mostly absent in organising WS meetings was a spirited willingness of the officials and support from the UPs. The point to ponder now is how much scope and opportunities citizens were provided to participate actively in WS meetings. It was disclosed during FGD sessions and interviews that people were usually not silenced during their presentation of demands at WS. Neither political goons nor influential figures of the local area obstructed the voice of the poor or marginalised. The WS progressed in line with the discussions, as no agenda was set beforehand. The poor and the marginalised were given space to discuss any issues that concerned them and to make demands according to community needs. However, there stayed uncertainties and extensive power-­ distance, that invisibly hindered ‘feel free participation’ of marginalised groups. This latent and invisible obstruction was activated when officials faced sarcastic accountability questions from marginalised groups. This force frequently determined the destiny of the demands of the marginalised groups unfavourably. Thus, it has become evident that the UPs under Sharique areas were at least organising WS, though the regularity and presence of the masses were discontinued in the absence of the Sharique project. By contrast, in control areas, though the officials claimed they had organised WS, citizens did not corroborate such claims. This means in non-­Sharique areas WS meetings were less frequent. Space for participation Citizens were invited through various channels to participate in WS and OBM. The question is how far citizens availed themselves of the opportunity to participate in these meetings, as all the officials believed that citizens should raise their voices to make demands. However, all could not attend such meetings. Citizens from Sharique areas identified three major causes which hindered them from participating in the meetings of WS. These obstacles were (1) citizen engagement with earning activities (45 percent), (2) absence of information (25 percent), and (3) improperly sent invitations (15 percent). Likewise, officials cited non-­existence of information and indifference of the citizens about participation in the first place (33.3 percent), and citizens’ engagement with work in the second place (22.2 percent). In control areas, officials principally identified people’s engagement with work as the cause of absences from WS. The citizens of the same areas were also of similar opinions as of the officials to some extent. The information indicated that the UPs were limiting the space for participation as they had been holding WS in a time when marginalised people remained busy with work. Researchers’ direct observation exposed that during late April and beginning of May people in the study areas stayed

Collaboration and people’s participation  133 busy with harvesting paddies. Moreover, the information dissemination process regarding WS failed to reach every inhabitant of the ward. The officials also showed an intention to fulfil only the mandatory presence of 5 percent of voters at the WS meeting. The UPs usually organised WS meetings during working hours, yet in this regard, three UPs tended to organise the meeting avoiding working hours, such as at 4–6 pm or during the end of the work day, to ensure people’s opportunity. However, organising WS meetings in the latter part of the day brought problems as sunlight decreased quickly, which shortened the meeting. The meeting time was further shortened by late start times and introductory speeches by dignitaries delivered by rural political and non-­political elites. Moreover, UPs for organising OBM with the presence of high political leaders, and in effort to match with their schedules, in few cases, made WS less attractive and effective by arranging WS meeting after holding the OBM; however, the process should be reversed. It has been observed whilst scrutinising WS resolution books that in some wards, only one WS meeting was organised instead of the mandated two, and some did not organise any. Moreover, the information gleaned from a critical study of resolution books differed from the claims of officials because, in reality, the UPs showed a tendency to manipulate the WS resolutions. For example, in Jhilim UP, the WS resolutions were computer generated, and the lists and the signatures of the citizens who attended the meeting were not attached with the resolutions. In Maria, one official acknowledged the incidence of misappropriations in WS resolutions. Additionally, when crosschecked with the citizens the pictures became nebulous, as 77.5 percent (100 percent for officials) and 20.0 percent (75 percent for officials) of respondents from Sharique and non-­Sharique areas respectively asserted that the WS had been organised timely and regularly. Here, the opinions of the functionaries deviated from those of the citizens. The causes were multiples: first, in fact, the WS was not organised at all; second, inhabitants were not invited; third, people did not hear about the WS schedule; fourth, WS was arranged as a tea party; and fifth, WS was organised only with the people within the inner circle of the UP members. A few comments of the respondents from Sharique areas disclosed the fact clearly: ‘the poor and the marginalised do not get invitation properly,’ ‘only known faces get the invitation,’ ‘ward members and their party people are present in the WS,’ ‘today, conscious citizens of the ward do not get the invitation, moreover, the WS is organised and committees like WC/PIC, and PSC (Project Supervision Committee) are formed by including people in the “pocket” of the officials to avoid complexities.’ During FGD sessions at Shahbajpur UP in a Sharique area, participants revealed that, at that moment, the WS was not organised, however, when Sharique was there the WS meeting was held regularly, and most of them were invited (FGD data, December 10, 2017). These accounts of WS and its organisation exposed that the scope of participation of people was not at the desired level that

134  Collaboration and people’s participation had been planned through the Act and spelled out in the UP manual. Yet, some officials of the UPs showed their eagerness and ability to hold WS regularly, particularly in Deopara and Shilmaria in Sharique areas. Officials were interviewed as to what kept them from organising WS meetings. They identified the following issues: lack of funds (43.8 percent), lack of support from UP (3.1 percent), political tension (6.1 percent), and fear of people’s questions and demands (3.1 percent) in Sharique areas. Whilst in control areas 31.3 percent and 25 percent of officials claimed that their efforts were hampered due to the scarcity of funds and lack of support from UPs respectively. The consequence was that the horizon for people’s participation was shrinking. Citizens’ levels of satisfaction were examined regarding having space for placing demands, and it was found that female (35 percent) respondents exhibited their satisfaction, calling it ‘good,’ with a higher percentage than that of the male respondents (30 percent) in Sharique areas. Around 24 percent of respondents of citizens, whose average monthly income was below BDT 6,000, declared that they considered their demand-­making process ‘good’ as well. Whilst giving interviews, the respondents categorically mentioned that in the meeting, they could speak without interruptions. These accounts of the respondents confirmed the presence of free space for the marginalised in the WS. However, citizens found it difficult for all the people who were present in the meeting to speak up because of the limitation of time (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Moreover, according to citizens, the influence of the chair (62.5 percent), the members (37.5), and local politicians (20 percent) sometimes ended smooth demand making. Nevertheless, a good portion of citizens (40 percent) believed that the participatory meetings of WS was managed by them. One field officer of a partner NGO of the Sharique project described it thus: When the UPs have begun organising WS, it has been observed that local elites, influential, political persons took the time of WS by discussing on issues they were concerned. We persuaded them not to speak much in these programmes. We became able to convince them that they had many opportunities to reach the officials to have their demand passed to them; however, for the marginalised, it was one of the few opportunities to speak before the officials with their concerns. That has broadened the space for the marginalised groups to participate. (Interview data, January 7, 2018) That is, the demand-­side actors used the space of participation. However, there was still domination of power holders and, consequently, the process was not free from their influence. Moreover, direct observation unveiled the fact that participants were passive and remained only as listeners, not speakers. The participation was thus tokenistic with a low level of engagement, except for some examples of active participation.

Collaboration and people’s participation  135 Access to participatory mechanisms Circulation of information about meetings of WS and OBM Here, the question is to what extent the UPs follow the guidelines to invite people to WS and OBM. The officials were asked to know how they invited people to participatory mechanisms. In replies, they revealed utilisation of multiple methods of publicising WS meetings. In Sharique areas, the dominant processes of invitation were an invitation letter (53.1 percent), loudspeaker (of mosque/prayer hall) (50 percent), and circulation of notices (37.5 percent) (Table 6.1). Conversely, in control areas, the officials disclosed that they principally invited people to WS verbally through Chowkidars (66.7 percent), and loudspeaker (50 percent). In Sharique areas, 12.5 percent of officials claimed that they themselves also called people for WS, however, none from the control areas corroborated those claims. There were also reports of use of cell phones for the invitation. These processes of invitation indicated that in Sharique areas the UP officials were more ardent about inviting people to WS since they dominantly used invitation letters, which was promoted by Sharique, as people felt honoured to receive an invitation letter. Contrarily, in control areas, the officials showed the tendency to disseminate the information of WS through the security personnel of UP, the Chowkidars. Some officials informed the researchers that they disseminate the news of holding WS in the mosque during the Friday Jumma prayer (the principal prayer of the week). However, the use of loudspeakers for the invitation to WS were limited. The chair of Shilmaria opined that it was not always possible to invite people Table 6.1  The process of inviting people to WS (opinions of officials and citizens) Area

Sharique Areas










Invitation letter Loudspeaker Notice Leaflets Drumbeats Chowkidar UP officials Mobile phone Socially informed Others Total

17 16 12 – 1 1 4 1 – 1 53

53.1 50 37.5 – 3.1 3.1 12.5 3.1 – 3.1 165.7

15 19 6 – –

40.5 51.4 16.2 – –

8 2 – 1 53

21.6 5.4 – 2.7 143

3 6 – 1 – 8 – 1 – – 19

Source: Field data, 2017–2018 *Multiple responses included

Control Areas Officials

Citizens % 25 50 8.3 66.7 – 8.3 – – 158.



– 2 – – –

– 10 – – –

1 – 1 – 4

5 – 5 – 20

136  Collaboration and people’s participation through loudspeaker; still, they used other forms of invitation (Interview data, December 14, 2017). The citizens were asked to express how they were invited, and though their responses sometimes differed from those of some of the officials, the respondents in Sharique areas displayed congruence in their replies with that of officials. In control areas, only a few got the invitation, amongst them, none claimed having received an invitation letter or notice. Those who were invited showed their satisfaction over the ways they were invited to WS (Figure 6.1), particularly in Sharique areas 82.50 percent respondents were of opinions of either strongly agree (52 percent) or agree (32.5 percent). One respondent from citizens of control areas mentioned that he was not invited, however, he had learnt about the WS meeting through word of mouth. Most of the officials, 78.1 percent and 62.5 percent to be exact from Sharique and non-­ Sharique areas respectively, thought that the way they invited people to WS got the message to all people. Conversely, a total of 17.5 percent of respondents of officials from Sharique areas showed their discontent with mode of invitation. Their major area of disapproval was that not all the people received invitations or information about the WS meeting. They argued for the use of loudspeakers to announce the invitation, special measures to be taken to ensure the presence of the marginalised, and enhancement of community involvement in the process of dissemination of information. From demand-­side actors, citizens from Jhilim and Shahbajpur, two UPs of Sharique areas, disclosed at FGD sessions that when the Sharique project was there, they received invitations regularly, but that with the phase-­out of the Sharique project they were not invited to WS meetings (FGD data, December 10 & 17, 2017). The FGD participants sum up – When Sharique project was in operation in our area, WS was organised regularly and we got the invitation duly. Nearly 60–70 people from all occupations came to WS meeting; amongst them 30 percent–40 percent were female. Now, after the phase-­out of Sharique project WS meetings are not organised regularly. The members, who have recently been elected, do not invite us. (FGD data, December 10, 2017) 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

50% 32.50% 10%

Strongly agree

5% Agree

10% 2.50% 0% Neither agree nor disagree

Sharique area %



0% 0% Strongly disagree

Control area %

Figure 6.1  The level of satisfaction with the process of invitation (citizens’ perception)

Collaboration and people’s participation  137 However, the other two UPs, Shilmaria and Deopara, were holding regular meetings of the WS with low intensity, as the organisation of WS meetings occurred only once a year instead of two times per year as specified in the framework. In control areas, the citizens expressed their discontent with not having been invited to WS meetings. One of the respondents during the interview disclosed that, ‘Today, WS has become the place of partisan politics. People have been invited to WS based on their political identity. Neither member nor his delegated person has come to invite us’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). In the FGD session at Maria UP, the participants unveiled that they had scarcely ever heard of a WS meeting as their members never let them know there had been a WS meeting to participate in for making demands (FGD data, December 27, 2017). The participants of the FGD session at Shilmaria UP echoed the same voice, as they mentioned that only known faces had been invited, and the harsh critics of the mismanagement of the UPs tended to be avoided and excluded from the lists of invitees (FGD data, December 14, 2017). It was found that though there was negligence and a lack of enthusiasms amongst officials of both areas, it was verified by interviews with both officials and citizens and by FGDs with citizens that OBMs were regularly organised by all the UPs. For OBMs, the UPs mostly used loudspeaker to invite people. Moreover, they made use of invitation letters, notices, and word of mouth to invite citizens to OBMs. Aforementioned phenomena revealed that in Sharique areas, the UPs with the help of the Sharique project during the tenure of the project organised WS meetings and its preparatory activities with due commitment. However, the departure of the project made the officials less promising in organising WS meetings and OBMs and, consequently, people did not get the invitations they got before. In control areas, the UPs were lackadaisical in organising WS meetings regularly; when they organised WS meetings, it remained only a formality. Hence, the people did not get the opportunity and feel a need to be present at the WS meeting. Participants of Ward Sabha and their identities To explore the identities of the participants the researchers have analysed the documents of the UPs and synthesised them with citizens’ opinions and direct observations. To accomplish this, minutes of two consecutive WS meetings of four randomly chosen assemblies of two wards held in FY 2016– 2017 were examined. The data found in the WS resolutions revealed that in Sharique areas, 148 participants on average attended the WS meetings, and in control areas, the average number of participants was 66. However, when people’s perceptions were taken into account, the average number of participants of WS in Sharique areas went down to 110, whilst for control areas the figures seemed rather fictitious or manipulated. Moreover, when the researchers observed WS directly from March to May of 2018, the average number of the citizens who were present in the WS meeting decreased

138  Collaboration and people’s participation further to only 101 in Sharique areas. Yet again, when the researchers contacted the officials of control areas to find out the schedules of WS meetings, the officials responded with surprise, hemmed and hawed and failed to provide any specific answers, as they actually had no plan for organising WS meetings. Careful scrutiny of the WS documents revealed manipulation of the list of names and signatures, as the person who composed the resolution wrote some of the names and forged their signatures. In another resolution, it was observed that there was only the list of names without signatures or fingerprints. That means these people were going to be contacted for signatures or fingerprints in the future but for some reason had not been. Furthermore, when contacted, some people on the list stated that they were not present at the meeting, and some claimed that they were asked to sign outside of the WS meetings. One UP official confirmed, The WS meeting required the presence of 5 percent voters of the Ward, and when the presence of citizens was below that benchmark, the members and/or chowkidars were given the resolutions book to collect signatures from the citizens of the Ward on request. Otherwise, without confirmation of the presence of 5 percent voters, the UP would face audit objections and consequently, obtain poor points for performance in the LGSP’s evaluation report, and the results would be responsible for low supply PBG. (Interview data, March 1, 2018) The identities of the respondents who participated in the WS meetings were analysed. The data revealed that 77.8 percent of participant respondents were 45 years of age or younger, and the lowest and the highest ages of the participants were 22 and 65 respectively. The indication of the age pattern has made it clear that the most active portion of the citizens participated in the WS meetings, and amongst the participants 52.8 percent were male and the remaining 47.2 percent were female. In control areas no female respondents were found. When education was considered in Sharique areas, 30.6 percent were found to have a primary or below level of education; 58.3 percent of the respondents were at secondary or below level; and 27.8 percent were found to have an undergraduate education level or higher. Amongst the participants, 91.7 percent were Muslim, whilst 8.3 percent practiced other religions. Ethnically, 94.4 percent were Bangalee and the remaining 5.6 percent were indigenous. Moreover, 66.7 percent of them were involved in traditional professions like agriculture, household activities, day labour, and amongst the rest, 16.7 percent and 11.1 percent were involved in business and service respectively. Politically, 66.7 percent of respondents’ allegiance was found to lie with ruling party, AL, whilst 8.3 percent were found to be involved with BNP, and the remaining 25 percent declined to be identified with a political

Collaboration and people’s participation  139 party. Regarding the issue of land ownership, it was found that 13.9 percent of the respondents were landless, whilst 41.7 percent declared that they owned 0.05 acre or below the amount of land. When monthly income was considered, it was observed that 30.6 percent participant respondents earned BDT 4,000, below the national poverty line ($2 per day, which is equivalent to BDT 4,800 per month) (Misha & Sulaiman, 2016, p. 2), and the monthly incomes of 58.3 percent respondents were between no income and BDT 6,000. These statistical descriptions revealed that in Sharique areas, people from all corners – women, ethnic minorities, the poor, and the undereducated – participated in WS meetings, and their presence made the meetings inclusive in nature. Researchers’ direct observations also revealed the presence of diverse groups of people in WS meetings in the UPs of Sharique areas. Officials also claimed that Sharique facilitated the UPs in catering to the poor through promoting implementation of special projects for the economically disadvantaged (75.9 percent), encouraging their participation (62.1 percent), helping the poor get on the SSNP beneficiary list (44.8 percent), and providing income-­generating opportunities (34.5 percent). Most of the citizens (85 percent) also believed that the UPs shifted their orientation to the poor people of the localities. One participant of an FGD session at Deopara categorically stated that before the intervention of the Sharique project the local Bengali people used not to sit next to ethnic minorities but that now the scenario had changed and they not only worked together but also sat and ate together. Sharique removed the barriers of untouchability and poverty (FGD data, December 20, 2017). Nevertheless, the opposite scenario was also visible, as one respondent from a Sharique area pronounced that the weak and the marginalised groups did not receive their invitations properly (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Overall, the WS meetings in Sharique areas produced a mosaic picture with the presence of citizens from all strata, which made them inclusive. People’s interest in participation and the intensity of their presence Data illustrated people’s aspirations to participate in WS meetings for various reasons: fulfilling demands (80.6 percent), satisfying obligations (38.9 percent), honouring requests (16.7 percent), and so forth. A respondent mentioned that through the Sharique project their interest in speaking up increased a lot; it taught them how to receive government benefits (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Most of the citizens (72.5 percent) strongly agreed that the project encouraged participating in the meeting, whilst 15 percent and 12.5 percent disclosed their agreement and indifference respectively on the same issue. It was evident that the citizens became self-­motivated and realised the importance of joining WS to some extent. However, a moderate 16.7 percent of respondents from Sharique areas clarified that they would not have attended the WS meeting if the officials,

140  Collaboration and people’s participation who in most cases were in amicable relationship with the respondents, had not invited them. Some people considered participation in WS meetings their duty as a citizen. However, in-­depth interviews and FGD data revealed something else. Both the officials and citizens, particularly from Shilmaria and Deopara UP, the two UPs where WS meetings had been organised, observed that, though the UPs undertook efforts to disseminate the information about WS assemblies, there was a declining trend in participation from its height of 150 to 200 participants during the active period of the Sharique project, reflecting a loss of interest and sense of urgency among the people. The principal cause of this decline was the return of the people empty-­ handed from WS meetings. Citizens revealed that their demands for important needs were placed in WS meetings every year and resulted in making promise for several times, but ultimately the demands remained unimplemented, leaving them frustrated and annoyed. The chair of Shilmaria explicitly brought the issue to light: Being the best chair, I always try to maximize the presence of citizens at WS; however, recently people have shown their dispiritedness and indifference to come to WS. They told me that what they would do at WS, as their demands remained unfulfilled for years. I have been trying my best to respond to their demands with the limited resources the UP received, yet the efforts resulted only in insufficiency. (Interview data, December 14, 2017) One female UP member narrated her experience: Our UP declared the schedule WS in my Ward. With the imminent date of WS, I started to invite women of my area to come to WS on the due date. During the period of the invitation, I encountered a few tough questions of citizens. They asked me straight, ‘why should I go? What will I get from WS?’ I have tried to assuage them with assurance; however, ultimately, they did not make it. (Interview data, December 26, 2017) FGD session participants at Deopara unanimously expressed their view that many of the citizens who had formerly come to WS meetings ceased attending when they thought attending would not bring them any gain. Moreover, the session participants believed that marginalised groups would not participate without being compensated for their time. However, they thought this gap created an opportunity for the female members of the society, and they found that women, particularly women motivated through NGO efforts, had shown more interest than men to come to the UP. Apparently, they felt that women wanted to make demands according to their needs and possessed in-­depth insight into their problems (FGD data, December 20, 2017).

Collaboration and people’s participation  141 One female respondent from Alatuli UP mentioned that she knew nothing about the WS and OBM. She had heard about WS but never attended the meetings, as she did not know what to do or say there. She added further that if she had been equipped with information and knowledge she would have participated at WS meetings (FGD data, December 28, 2017). Another participant of an FGD session at Alatuli UP expressed her desires: ‘If WS will be organised at the open premise of school, rather than in the meeting room, it will be better and I will participate’ (FGD data, December 28, 2017). The FGD session at Shilmaria demonstrated that the invitations for WS meetings were sometimes channelled in a way that failed to reach every voter of the ward. The session members added that if the invitation had been routed through the senior citizens, then the interest of the local people would have grown further (FGD data, December 10, 2017). A woman from Jhilim UP mentioned that if the information about the WS meetings had reached every doorstep, the women would have heard about and participated in them. The discussions explicated that citizens have an interest in participating in the processes of decision-­making. In Sharique areas the participatory mechanisms were practised more intensely than in the UPs of the control areas. Consequently, the people of the Sharique areas went through the experience of the process. They showed the tendency of declining interest in participation, as the process failed to fulfil their needs consistently. However, the non-­participant respondents asserted their high interest in participation if the WS meetings were to be organised regularly and if they received proper invitations. It was also observed that the marginalised who relied on day-­to-­day labour for their subsistence would not be able to participate, as the participation hampered their livelihoods. In Sharique areas, 90 percent of respondents of motivated supply-­side actors stated that they had attended WS meetings, whilst in control areas 15 percent of the respondents claimed to have done so. They were also asked how many times they had participated in the meeting of the WS. The reported frequencies of people’s participation are represented in Table 6.2. Table 6.2  Frequencies of citizens’ participation at WS (citizens’ opinion) Frequencies of Participation 1–3 3–5 5–7 7–9 9–11 11+ Total

Sharique Areas

Control Areas





6 7 8 5 7 3 36

16.7 19.4 22.2 13.9 19.4 8.3 100

1 1 – 1 – – 3

33.3 33.3 – 33.3 – – 100

Source: Field data, 2017–2018

142  Collaboration and people’s participation It has been found that of the citizens who claimed to have participated in WS in in Sharique areas, 90 percent stated that they participated in the WS meeting several times. Nearly 41 percent of the respondents from Sharique areas appear to constitute the regulars at the meetings, as their frequency was over five times. In control areas, the picture was a bit gloomy, as the numbers of participants were low. Amongst the three who participated in WS, two participated several times, and they were found to be the close allies of the UP officials. Results of the FGD sessions support the argument that Sharique’s motivation shaped and developed aspirations in the citizens about the UPs and bridged the gap between the UPs and the people, which can be observed in peoples’ increased frequency of participation in WS meetings to voice demands. Community satisfaction with engagement Citizens in Sharique areas were found to some extent to be self-­motivated, spontaneous, and interested in participating in WS meetings. Yet some of them participated due to their relationship with the officials. During the awareness building process of the Sharique project, citizens were motivated and recruited to be present at the WS meetings. After the phase-­ out of Sharique project, the passion of the UP officials declined in both holding WS meetings timely and regularly and inviting all of the voters to the ward-­level assembly. It seemed the participatory processes remained a mechanism imposed on the UP and stayed at a distance to adopt it sincerely and become accustomed to it; as having opportunities they refrained from organising participatory meetings, and when citizens got the opportunity, they took advantage of it to make demands and hold officials accountable. Data showed that 80.6 percent of respondents of Sharique areas made it clear that their intention to participate was motivated by having their demands met. When citizens were asked to scale their level of satisfaction, 37.5 percent and 32.5 percent of respondents reported moderate and good levels of satisfaction respectively regarding the way they engaged in the participatory process. However, that the remaining people’s demands went unmet frustrated citizens and dampened their support for the participatory process. About 42.5 percent of the citizens responded that a failure to meet demands cause them to lose their interest in participating in WS meetings. Moreover, 25 percent of officials of Sharique areas considered the intensity of peoples’ participation good and 53.1 percent of the officials ranked the intensity of people’s engagement as average. In control areas, the majority of the officials (56.3 percent) opined that people’s interest in participating in WS meetings was low, and 37.5 percent thought that it was average. The discussions revealed that people’s spontaneous participation was not enough to be satisfactory.

Collaboration and people’s participation  143 Placing of demands Networking and collective voice raising The voices of the poor, particularly when raised in isolation, tend not to receive proper attention. That is, these voices have little impact on the decision-­making process and their demands continue to be denied. Through networking and the unification of interests, the poor and marginalised groups can gain collective strength, which is believed to have effects on the decision-­making process in favour of the demand makers. An inhabitant from Jhilim UP mentioned that ‘Sharique has given us training on how to claim people’s rights. The project informed us that the UPs would give importance to the claims if we move with forming a group’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). This section examines how successful Sharique was in sensitising citizens to network and move forward with a collective voice so as to have an impact. Citizens of both Sharique and control areas were asked, ‘Do community people help and encourage each other to unite and place demands to the UP?’ In reply, 95 percent and 45 percent of the citizen respondents from Sharique and control areas confirmed the fact that people tended to continue their efforts of helping and pulling others alongside in their way to raise their voices collectively in order to have their demands met. In Sharique areas, people have developed a sense of unity which has led them to work and strive for the greater interest of the community. Sharique has developed an institution called a Ward Platform (WP) through which people unite to make demands. An FGD participant from Shahbajpur explained: Sharique has arranged many meetings with us who have been members of WP. The project officials have made us understood about the need of being united to place demands, and also the chance of being successful with such efforts. In the WS and OBM, we used to sit together and make demands in the chorus. (FGD data, December 10, 2017) We examined how much such networking contributed to collectively making demands of the UP. Citizens of both areas disclosed that they worked collectively to place their demands. However, the rate of response in favour of group action was as high as 85 percent in Sharique areas, whilst it was only 50 percent in control areas. That means people of Sharique areas were trained to practise collective efforts to influence the officials in making decisions. The question is now to what extent their collective action achieved intended results. It was found that 61.77 percent and 50 percent of the collective claims were successfully fulfilled in Sharique areas and control areas respectively.

144  Collaboration and people’s participation Amongst the UPs of Sharique areas, Deopara and Jhilim were found to be more sensitive and responsive to the people’s demands, as these two UPs satisfied 77.78 percent of the collective demands of the citizens. This result can be explained by the phenomenon that collective claims are more forceful than isolated demands. In Box 6.1, one female participant from Sharique areas states her experience.

Box 6.1  An instance of successful collective demand In our area, there are numbers of auto rice mills. When these rice mills run in full swing, there flow fine small dark flecks of ashes in the sky. A few years back, as soon as we woke up in the morning, we found our yards, rooftops, streets, that is, all uncovered surface area became covered by a heavy layer of fly ash. This fly ash became the cause of respiratory problems for the people of our area, particularly the children suffered most with diarrhoea, contamination of water, air, and food, etc. The owners of these mills were powerful and had a political affiliation. We collectively approached the members and the chair of our UP. After our united demand and supports, though the owners were rich and influential, yet the UP took necessary actions and stop the flying of ashes from these rice mills. (Kamrunnaher Itee, interview with the researchers, Jhilim, December 17, 2017)

Another resident of a Sharique area discloses his account in Box 6.2.

Box 6.2  People’s collective voice brought promising outcomes We have a school in our area. I was the president of the managing committee of this school. The major portion of the students were from aboriginal families. This school was short of furniture, fans, etc. Students, as well as teachers, suffered a lot from the heat of summer. For this, I with other local people of the adjacent area went to the chair. He listened to us attentively and visited the school subsequently. Within a very short time, he took action and supplied eight electric fans, one large almirah (closet) for the school office. He pledged to further supply teaching-­ learning materials soon. (Mantu Murmu, interview with the researchers, Deopara, December 10, 2017)

Collaboration and people’s participation  145 These accounts of successful collective efforts and the discussions that preceded them reveal that people of Sharique areas more readily came forward to help each other and bonded together for the common benefit of the community to make demands of the UP. Moreover, it has been noticed that the collectiveness of the citizens also transpired into sanction awarding capacity of people to control not only the LGIs but also other actors in the locality. In addition, it assisted UPs to become capable of taking action against vested interests’. Demand making at WS and OBM The Act has given citizens opportunities to make demands of their UPs through participatory mechanisms, namely, WS and OBM. How far citizens were able to raise their voice with demands was the core issue of debate. Nearly all the citizen respondents (97.5 percent) mentioned that Sharique had encouraged them to claim rights, entitlements, and information from the UP. A WP member of Jhilim stated, ‘Sharique has trained us how to detect problems, and subsequently to put them to the UPs to solve’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Citizens of both areas were specifically asked to what extent they comprehended the concept of ‘budget’ or ‘written information on the budget.’ In Sharique areas nearly 90 percent of the respondents retorted affirmatively, and the same percentage of citizens from control areas answered negatively. However, during direct observation of OBM, it was found that the budget-­related technical issues remained difficult to grasp by the marginalised groups. Moreover, earlier it was realised that citizens of both areas lagged behind in seeking information regarding income, expenditure, fund release, and other WS-­and OBM-­related issues. Furthermore, direct observation of WS and OBM disclosed that though general people began to speak in the participatory processes, many of them remained uncomfortable about speaking publicly. In this regard, women found themselves in the most awkward situation, particularly with the presence of men and dignitaries. However, a participant of an FGD session disclosed that women came to WS in larger numbers than did men because, she thought, women understood the problems better, and thus made many demands (FGD data, December 18, 2017). However, in Sharique areas, it was discovered that many people, particularly women in Bangladeshi settings, who had once lagged behind acquired public speaking skills. One woman stated her experience: I did not know anything. I understood nothing. I have learnt a lot on various issues regarding my rights and responsibilities, the UPs’ activities, and an array of issues on development since the beginning of the Sharique project in our area. Sharique made me capable of speaking publicly. Today, I take every opportunity to raise my voice. (Interview data, December 17, 2017)

146  Collaboration and people’s participation It was also observed that citizens felt more comfortable in WS than in OBM. With the project’s guidance, citizens in Sharique areas became practised in writing their demands on the brown papers to be presented at OBMs. Nevertheless, it was observed in the WS meeting of ward number eight of Shilmaria UP held on May 3, 2018, that groups of the women in the WS were frustrated because none of them were capable of writing down their demands and they searched for a scribe in vain. In OBMs, the number of participants was high, but the time given for raising questions was limited. Still, overall, the citizens from Sharique areas became capable of placing demands through the efforts of the project.

Conclusion The invitation processes for participation has been streamlined according to guidelines of the Act and the UP manual in Sharique area. The UPs used a range of methods, such as invitation letters, notices, verbal invitations, cell phones, and loudspeakers at the mosque, to invite citizens to WS meetings. Conversely, in the control areas, the UPs displayed reluctance in organising WS meetings. Whenever they do hold such meetings, they request that demand-­side actors through Chowkidar be present. Their invitation process has not been made comprehensive and not all of the voters are informed about the WS meetings; only select people, such as party men, sycophants, colleagues, and relatives, are informed. There reveals a tendency in the UPs of Sharique region that the UP officials avoid inviting those people, who are critical on the disapproving activities of functionaries of the UPs. After the phase-­out of the Sharique project, the invitation process lost its comprehensiveness and intensity and even the organisation of WS meetings have become less frequent. Thus, the WS meeting suffers from the lack of a quorum, which requires the presence of at least 5 percent of voters of the ward. The OBM remains open to all as the invitation through loudspeaker covers a greater area of the UP, and as a result there is a good number of participants ranging from 400 to 500 individuals. Various committees have been formed with the inclusion of citizens, though many of the members of such committees are chosen based on their loyalty to the officials. In most cases these committees are inactive due to their members’ lack of awareness about their functions, an unwillingness of the UPs, the lack of arranged meetings, and in the case of UDCC, the lack of line agency officials. The general view of people’s participation reveals non-­spontaneity and a declining trend because of the incapacity of UPs to cope with grassroots-­level demands in the face of resource constraints. The question now is how much the increased capacity and people’s participation have translated into action in the governing process. To reveal such links, the next chapter provides arguments about whether there has been any shift regarding accountability and transparency.

Collaboration and people’s participation  147

Note 1 CARE Bangladesh, Governance and accountability. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from php?pub_cat=Governance.

References CARE Bangladesh. (n.d.). Governance and accountability. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from Misha, F., & Sulaiman, M. (2016). Comparative cost-­benefit analysis of programmes for the ultra-­poor in Bangladesh (Bangladesh priorities). Copenhagen: Copenhagen Consensus Centre.

7 Collaboration between an NGO project and local government institutions An effort to improve accountability and transparency Introduction Two key GG components can be expressed by the buzzwords accountability and transparency. Accountability refers to making designated officials answerable for their assigned duties to the people and to their superiors. Transparency deals with unfettered openness of the activities of the assigned offices and officials to the people. Both accountability and transparency contribute to the curbing of corruption and the empowerment of the citizens with a sense of their right to information. Data have earlier hinted at signs of increased capacitation of both citizens and officials as well as a shift in people’s participation in decision-­making as a result of collaborative efforts. This chapter discusses results produced through Sharique’s capacity, building processes and increased people’s participation, revealed in previous chapter, in diverse components of governance, such as openness of the activities of the UP, and answerability of the UP officials. The results compare performances of actors in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas based on a natural experiment.

Accountability Responsiveness of the UP functionaries towards people’s demands and queries Listening to, resolving, and showing empathy towards people’s demands The overwhelming majority of the UP officials (96.9 percent) of Sharique areas declared that they were encouraged by the Sharique project to get seriously involved with the citizens. Thus, at this point, it is of great importance to divulge to what extent the functionaries responded to the inducements of the citizens. Data disclosed that 25 percent and 6.6 percent respondents of citizens from Sharique and control areas respectively agreed with the notion that the functionaries had solved their problems.

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  149 When officials were asked how many times they solved people’s problem, the responses were a little bit higher in Sharique areas (21.9 percent) compared to control areas (18.8 percent). The citizens in Sharique areas perceived officials as more active than the officials thought themselves to be regarding the solving of problems, as the percentage was 25 for the former and 21.9 for the latter. Conversely, in control areas, the functionaries claimed that they had solved people’s problems three times more than the citizens claimed (18.8 percent and 6.6 percent respectively). How do we explain this result? In Sharique areas, the differences between the percentage of claims made by citizens and officials did not vary widely, and thus the results displayed similarity and complemented each other. However, the scenario in control areas were somewhat ambiguous, as the claims made by officials were much higher than those of citizens. The results of officials and citizens in control areas could not reciprocate each other. That means in control areas officials wanted to present themselves as people’s friends, and thus they claimed to have solved the problems of the citizens in a higher percentage, which was not supported by the citizens. Thus, it can be inferred that officials of Sharique areas were much more active compared to that of control areas. Data unveiled that most of the officials (75 percent strongly agree and 9.4 percent agree) believed that through the intervention of the project the orientation of the UP shifted to the poor and extremely poor. The functionaries of Sharique areas were more responsive than their counterparts in control areas through giving assurances; as the percentage of responses was almost double (72.5 percent and 35 percent) than that of control areas. The officials in Sharique areas revealed that they were more active in responding to people’s demands than their counterparts in control areas, as 62.5 percent of functionaries of Sharique areas stated that they tried to solve people’s problems, whilst in control areas, it stood only at 6.3 percent. The functionaries of Sharique and non-­Sharique areas declared that they could at least manage to assure their citizens when they approached them with demands or problems. One UP official from a Sharique area stated: When people come to me, I listen to them attentively, and then if it is possible to solve or fulfil their needs at once, I do solve instantly. If it requires time, I assure them to accomplish it later and try to satisfy him/her as per as my capability. In brief, I help the citizens by all means. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) This means that officials in Sharique areas not only gave assurances as they claimed at a higher rate but also employed their efforts to solve the problems of the citizens. Meanwhile, in control areas officials were relying heavily

150  Teamwork, accountability & transparency on making promises and the efforts of them were very low. One respondent from control areas expressed his frustration: ‘Chairs and members make commitments only; they do not give us anything or do not fulfil our demands’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017). The same occurrences, making commitments and failing to fulfil them, were observed in Sharique areas also, as one UP member admitted her inability to follow through by saying that: ‘I used to assure those, who come to me with their demands. However, unfortunately, in many cases, I could not be able to keep my promise’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Another FM from a control area stated that she could do nothing except making assurance to gratify the demand makers (Interview data, December 27, 2017). Notwithstanding that, people revealed their discontent by complaining about procrastination on the part of their respective UPs’ functionaries in both areas, with the rate of discontent in Sharique areas very low (3.1 percent) and very high in control areas (46.7 percent). These results exhibit the presence of more empathetic officials in Sharique areas. The aforementioned discussions provide a clear indication that in responses to the questions or demands of the citizens, the officials of Sharique areas exhibited promptness in responding to and solving problems at a higher rate than that of their counterparts in control areas. When they were thwarted by a lack of resources or due to the complex nature of the demands, the UP officials in Sharique areas demonstrated strong intentions to make efforts to produce positive results. In control areas, there has been observed the same intention, however, it was markedly low in frequency and urgency. In control areas, it was perceived that officials had the tendency to evade responsibilities. Two UP officials from control areas reported that they had sent the demand makers to the chair, when citizens approached them. In spite of that, when they failed to fulfil the demands officially, officials from both areas, responded personally towards the needs of the citizens. One UP official bought 20 blankets by himself to add to the government supply (10) to redress the grievances of affected constituents (Interview data, December 30, 2017). Incorporation of citizens’ demands in the UPs’ documents As stated in the previous chapter, all the UPs of the study from both areas prepared FYPs. Now, the question is whether the UPs incorporated people’s demands in the FYP. When the officials of Sharique and control areas were asked if they integrated people’s demands in their FYPs, 75 percent of the former and 43.8 percent of the latter replied affirmatively. When citizens were asked, 52.5 percent from Sharique areas replied affirmatively. By contrast, none from control areas claimed that their demands were considered in the FYP. The basis of incorporation of the people’s demands in the FYP was the betterment of a large number of people, as affirmed by the officials from Sharique (75 percent) and control areas (43.5 percent) respectively. However, negative replies of citizens indicated that there lacked serious efforts of officials in preparing FFY plan ensuring citizens’ participation.

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  151 In this endeavour, the WS resolutions, the year’s plan, and the FYP were studied and crosschecked to examine to what extent the UP incorporated people’s demands in their long-­and short-­term plans. Among the six studied UPs of both Sharique and non-­Sharique areas, Deopara organised WS meetings regularly, and Shilmaria and Jhilim were also found to organise them regularly with some exceptions. The other three UPs documented the WS resolutions without organising the WS meetings. Therefore, the demands of the WS and their results in these three UPs were omitted from the analysis. Results of performing three UPs show that only 16 percent, 21 percent, and 15 percent of demands made in WSs have been included in the annual budget of 2016–2017 to get them accomplished (Table 7.1). This implies that most of the demands of the citizens remained unfulfilled. A member of the CBO in the Jhilim area revealed that demands were documented but were not implemented (Interview data, December 17, 2017). In these UPs, there has been observed inclusion of such schemes that did not come through the WS meeting. A UP official explained why: It is found that in a few cases the citizens failed to realise the gravity of problems, and so, the issues were not voiced in the WS. Therefore, when we observe the severity of the problems which were not considered in WS, or have grants for allocation, then we take such projects that do not match with the demands of the WS. (Interview data, 18 December 2017) An NGO official, who closely worked with the UPs, disclosed more: UPs are not accustomed to conducting WS. When we worked with them, they organised WS, but now they do the job only in the papers in the name of WS. During the period when Sharique was there, people made demands, and it was observed that the UPs could not even fulfil 10 percent of the demands. Worse, even in some cases, the officials did not include the demands made in the WS and they just overlooked the same. They took projects in accordance with their choice and prioritised such projects which would preserve his/her interests. (Interview data, January 10, 2018) Table 7.1  Inclusion of demands (placed at WSs) in budgets (2016–2017) UPs

No. of WS demands

Inclusion in Budgets


Shilmaria Deopara Jhilim Total

224 116 152 492

36 24 23 83

16 21 15 16.87

Source: WS resolutions, and budget documents

152  Teamwork, accountability & transparency Thus, it can be argued that the UPs are struggling to meet the demands of the citizens raised in the WS due to an unavailability of funds. Moreover, the process has been impeded further by the inclusion of such projects that satisfy the stakes of the officials. Still, three UPs of Sharique areas showed their commitment to include the demands of the citizens in the FYP and budgets for implementation on a limited scale. Implementation of projects in response to citizens’ demands The UPs are instructed to implement those schemes that come through the WS meeting in accordance with people’s demands. When citizens were interviewed, 52.5 percent of them let the researchers know that the demands they made at WS were implemented. An inhabitant from Jhilim UP revealed, ‘With the motivation and encouragement of Sharique project the UPs have become eager to fulfil people’s demands’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The WS resolutions and the project lists were scrutinised to see whether there was congruence between the demands included in the WS resolutions and project lists. The UP secretary of Jhilim disclosed in an interview on March 6, 2018, that typically each UP implemented 25–30 schemes on average in a fiscal year. Thus, each ward of a UP got only three to four projects on average, whilst it was observed that participants of each ward assembly demanded more than 18 schemes to be implemented, which means most demands ended in no result. Thus, some of the demands were voiced repeatedly without receiving proper attention. In studying the WS resolutions the researchers discovered an interesting phenomenon. It was observed that in the WS resolutions, demands of the citizens were listed, but after the lists were written in the resolution book, there was a gap between the list and the next portion of the writings. When asked about this, the secretary of a UP explained the issue – in few cases, he opined, the officials wanted to implement schemes according to their choice for possibility of personal benefits, or in other cases, they had to respond to the emergency conditions, such as natural catastrophes, and in so doing, they enlisted new projects in this gap. In Jhilim and Alatuli the case was slightly different, as these two UPs composed the WS resolutions using a computer, so when they needed new schemes to be included rather than those that had come through the WS, they just destroyed the previous one and included the new one and filed it again with undated signatures. Therefore, the officials used these opportunities to fabricate WS resolutions so they could implement schemes that actually did not reflect the people’s choice. The UP secretary of a UP of a Sharique area asserted three basic reasons for the incorporation of new schemes and the denial of the demands of the citizens made in the WS:

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  153 First, in a few cases, there arise emergencies, which need to be concentrated more than the prioritised list of schemes. Last year, during the rainy season, a heavy rain destructed culvert and its approach roads. Then the UP took initiatives to make it usable again and had to expend an amount, which was settled for other three projects. Secondly, the elected officials have a tendency to satisfy those who have voted for him. In that case, the officials have taken such projects, which will content his/her supporter. Thirdly, in a few cases, the officials want to implement such projects which will bring him/her fortunes and benefits (Interview data, December 17, 2017). A UP official commented on the process of how the schemes were chosen for implementation: Actually, we do not have to bother much about the schemes to choose in accordance with the demands of the citizens, as the demands of the citizens have been numerous, so when we choose projects to implement the projects matched with the demands automatically. (Interview data, December 18, 2017) The documents of Deopara UPs’ WS revealed that even the UPs hardly ever picked the number one scheme of the WS list for implementation. In a list of seven schemes, only one scheme was selected from the ‘first positioned schemes’ from nine wards. That means the prioritisation expressed by the citizens tended to be ignored by the officials. Therefore, the argument can be made that as the demands of the citizens are huge in number, it becomes difficult to balance between the enormous demands and the funds supplied and earned. Nevertheless, with the inclusion of other factors, the percentage of the implementations of the demanded schemes remains only 5–10 percent. That result frustrates the citizens who participate in the WS meetings with lots of zeal and hope, as their demands remained unfulfilled. Inclusion and rectification of beneficiary list of SSNPs on demands It was observed that the selection of beneficiaries for SSNPs was biased based on political identity, nepotism, paying off bribe, and so forth, though some were selected from real beneficiaries. Now, the question is to what extent the officials pay heed to the demands of the citizens regarding the selection of beneficiaries. It was observed that in the case of collective demand the UP officials tended to respect the demands. The case of a destitute woman from a Sharique area describes the response of the officials (Case Study 7.1).

154  Teamwork, accountability & transparency

Case Study 7.1  Marzina Khatun got the old-­age allowance Marzina Khatun is a poor, destitute, and a sexagenarian woman. Her children left her. She became too penniless to run her household. People in her area noticed her suffering. They had the chance during the WS to make her condition known to the officials. They took the opportunity and 20 of them collectively demanded for an old-­age allowance for her. The members present in the meeting nodded positively and subsequently the official produced a card for Marzina. The demand makers were happy and expressed their satisfaction with the official’s action (Abdur Rashid Shah, interview with the researchers, Shilmaria, December 11, 2017).

Case Study 7.2  Eidul Pramanik not alone, UP stood beside him Eidul Pramanik is also a sexagenarian man. He has been running his small business and living with his wife happily. One day, on his way home from his shop, he was hit by a three-­wheeler, he broke his leg, and was hospitalised for few days. His shop remained closed. He fell in difficult condition, as his only child was also a poor mason who had his own family of four and could not afford to bear the expense of his father. The old man was crushed with destitution and felt lonely. However, the neighbours did not let him be alone. They approached the member of their ward to seek assistance for him from the UP. The member obliged and he himself brought a card to the house of Eidul. The destitute man felt relieved (FGD data, Shilmaria, 14 December 14, 2017).

These two case studies show the power of collective demands. In both cases, the officials did not disregard the forceful demands of the groups, who unified themselves for common causes. It was observed that when the marginalised raised their voices unaccompanied it went nowhere, and the demand remained unfulfilled. During an FGD session, a participant from a control area exposed his frustration: You see! I am an old man. I can do nothing, so I am in terrible condition for poverty. To get rid of poverty-­stricken life, I approached a UP

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  155 member and chair several times and let them know I am a real benefit-­ deserving person who needs a card, but I have been denied. (FGD data, December 27, 2017) Another respondent from Maria UP disclosed his inability to have an impact on the decision of the officials, particularly with getting cards for SSNPs. According to him, ‘The beneficiaries were selected politically, and there was no respect for the voice of people like me. Therefore, I feel no need to make a request to the officials for SSNP benefits and keep myself away from questioning them’ (Interview data, December 29, 2017). These incidents materialised the fact that the demands of the marginalised were taken into consideration by the officials when they came with the force of collective voice. People were aware of the distribution of SSNP benefits based on various factors, which thwarted the inclusion of the real beneficiary in the list. They were asked whether they had protested against it and asked the officials to rectify the list. Data revealed that 20 percent and 5 percent of the citizens from Sharique and control areas respectively raised questions about the selection of the beneficiaries. The officials showed their limitation and none of the respondents claimed of a rectification of the wrong selection. The chair of Jhilim UP claimed he had rectified the selection which was placed before him. However, in reality, the respondents witnessed no such action. All the chairs of the study area accepted that there were incidents of inclusion of the wrong person in the beneficiary list. The chair of a UP in a Sharique area explained: We are aware of the fact that there are wrong selections of beneficiaries of SSNPs. It is difficult for us to have a proper list of the real beneficiaries. You know there are many factors and actors that influence the lists. Aware citizens sometimes bring the issue before us, and actually, we could do nothing, as once a beneficiary has been selected, the selection remained active for a certain period. At that time, it becomes difficult to rectify the list. Moreover, the cancellation may ignite a political rivalry. Thus, we abstain from rectifying the finalised list of the beneficiaries. (Interview data, December 10, 2017) The incidents and the discussion of this section confirmed that in both areas it is difficult for the destitute to be included in the list of beneficiaries by themselves without getting favours from those in power or raising a common community voice, though there are other disingenuous ways to be included. However, the important finding of this section is that when citizens unite in solidarity they can sway decisions in favour of the betterment of the community. Sharique in this regard worked for the instilment of community ownership amongst the citizens.

156  Teamwork, accountability & transparency Disclosure of information on demands It was observed earlier that citizens sought information mostly verbally. Now the question is whether the citizens received the information easily or faced any difficulties. Citizens of both areas were asked to identify their views on getting information. The data showed that 60 percent and 20 percent of the respondents of citizens from Sharique and control areas respectively affirmed their receiving of information. Next, the citizens were asked to disclose their level of satisfaction about the way information was delivered. It was found that more than half of the respondents (55 percent) in Sharique areas revealed their satisfaction with the way information was delivered and 20 percent were satisfied in control areas. Thus, the argument can be made that the citizens of Sharique areas were more readily given information than their counterparts in control areas. Satisfaction on complaint redress mechanisms Complaint satisfaction begins with getting complaints addressed properly. The Deopara and Shilmaria UPs in the Sharique area made the complaint lodging process easy by introducing a complaint box (Box 7.1).

Box 7.1  Complaint boxes installed Usually, citizens make their complaints verbally. Sometimes though, people have realised that there has been a misappropriation of funds or an inappropriate accomplishment of activities, yet they want to remain anonymous when making complaints, or they are too busy to attend meetings. To address this problem, Deopara and Shilmaria UP introduced a ‘Complaint Box’ on the UP premises. This was designed to have more complaints, which usually people do not make in public. In the beginning, people dropped complaints, which were regularly checked and satisfied. Currently, however, the boxes have almost been abandoned.

When asked, officials of both Sharique and control areas mentioned that they faced people’s complaints on various issues such as unfulfilment of demands made at the WS, wrong selection of SSNP beneficiaries, misappropriation in project implementation, social problems, information dissemination, and so on. The UPs of Sharique areas were found more sensitised to the complaints of the citizens. The following case has provided the indication of the officials’ action against people’s complaints.

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  157

Case Study 7.3  Solar panel reinstalled in public place One day, while I was going through the other areas of my village, I saw that a solar panel was installed in the house of a close ally of a ward member. I inquired whether it was personal or public. I learnt that it was installed with the expense of government funds. Knowing that I communicated with the UP chair and complained through writing a letter against the misuse of government funds. The chair instantly asked the responsible member to remove it from the personal place and to reinstall it in a public place; and yes, it was carried out (Saidur Rahman, a voter of Ward 5 of Shilmaria UP, December 10, 2017).

As the complaints were numerous, the officials could not always satisfy them. The major answers of the officials against the demands of the citizens were that they were supplied with insufficient funds; therefore, they failed to execute the demands of the citizens. Furthermore, the functionaries of the UPs mentioned that they prioritised the demands of the citizens, and amongst the prioritised demands, some were implemented and for the other demands citizens were assured that their demands would be considered in upcoming budgets. The chair of a UP in Sharique areas summarised the complaint satisfaction procedures: It is not possible to fulfil all the demands of the citizens, as the demands are numerous and almost endless, and even in some cases, they have made demands on such issues which are out of the jurisdiction of the UPs. To balance between the demands and the resource supplies we give importance to the needs of the majority. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) A UP chair who was elected on the ticket of the opposition political party blamed the ruling party MP and other local leaders for intervening in the functioning of the UP. He argued that the ruling party MP employed local leaders of his party for implementation of projects under KABITA (kajer binimaye taka/money for work), KABIKHA (kajer binimaye khadya/food for work), and TR (test relief). He added that these interventions hurt the capability of the UP to satisfy its citizens. When citizens were interviewed, 60 percent disclosed their grievances with the complaints satisfaction procedures by the supply-­side actors in Sharique areas, whilst citizens of control areas did not reveal much on the issue.

158  Teamwork, accountability & transparency However, 40 percent of the respondents from citizens in Sharique areas understood the limitation of the officials or approved the supply-­side actors’ actions after the lodging of complaints. A female UP member from Shahbajpur shared her naïve admission regarding making assurances: ‘When people made complaints with me for not implementation of demanded projects, I assured them that their demands will be accomplished soon. However, finally, in most of the cases I failed to keep my word’ (Interview data, December 14, 2017). A female member from Shilmaria UP conveyed the harsh reactions of the citizens. She mentioned that when she made promises to implement their demanded projects in phases, they became angry and questioned the ability of the UP (Interview data, December 14, 2017). Another female member, from Maria UP, revealed her frustration as she failed to solve the problems of the citizens. She said, ‘I would be happy if I were able to satisfy the citizens of my area’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017). This study has revealed that sometimes citizens mentioned the unhelpful and impolite dealings of their complaints, which generated a fissure within the masses, particularly between the marginalised and the functionaries. The citizens revealed that sometimes their political identity became the cause of the impolite dealings. It was observed that ward members were found more sympathetic with the complaints of the marginalised than the chair of the UP because of a status gap. Data showed that only one of the citizens claimed his complaint was addressed successfully. These tendencies of the UP have been alienating the portion of the citizens who were brought to the UP through the initiatives of Sharique. Social accountability Social auditing Today, social auditing has emerged as an important tool to hold UP officials answerable. The citizens and the officials of both areas were asked whether there were any open meetings for evaluation other than the WS, OBM, and committee system, and the answers were negative. However, few of the officials who had been serving for a long time in the UPs mentioned that when Sharique was working in the areas, they had attended ‘Face to Face’ meetings. They were further asked why they do not arrange such meetings now. A UP secretary said that the UP officials did not accept the meetings well; they felt embarrassed and became afraid of facing the grilling of the citizens (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Sometimes, it was found that the UP functionaries showed such causes which had not happened in reality, such as diplomatic illness to escape the social auditing process. The fear of SAMs led the officials to exclude those participants who were verbal and critical of the activities of the functionaries. It was disclosed in the FGD sessions and interview data that the UP officials invited only those who were

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  159 non-­threatening (FGD data, December 13, 2017; Interview Data, December 19, 2017). An interviewee disclosed that after identifying and revealing illogical budget allocations the UP officials never again invited him to the WS or OBM (Interview data, December 10, 2017). Another respondent, who was physically challenged (disabled), unveiled that when she raised questions with the officials, they did not regard her questions as important (Interview data, December 17, 2017). It can be summarised that the UPs kept avoided arranging audit meetings to evaluate their performances. However, the WS and OBM kept opened the opportunity for the citizens to hold the officials accountable; but the officials tended to organise the meeting without inviting their harshest critics. During direct observations of WS meetings, the researchers found that one schoolteacher claimed that he had not been invited and had found out about the meeting from his neighbours. He wanted clarification for why he was not invited, but the chair or the member present there failed to satisfy him with a reasonable answer. When he was contacted, he revealed that since he had protested the illogical activities of the UP, had been kept off the UP invitation list.1 Thus, social auditing could be an effective tool for the citizens to hold their agents accountable and responsible for their deeds. Moreover, the process may work best with the presence of a third party, as with the intermediary role of an NGO. People’s supervision of projects According to Section 8.2.5 of the Union Parishad operational manual (2012), UPs are to formulate a PSC in each ward to oversee the implementation of the projects in the ward. The WS resolutions confirmed the formation of the PSCs in the wards of the UPs, at least on paper. Respondents were asked whether they ever supervised any project in their wards. The data showed that 15 percent of respondents from Sharique areas, 5 percent from each of Shilmaria, Deopara, and Jhilim, and none from Shahbajpur UP of Sharique areas and control areas had supervised projects. This implies that in the latter three UPs, the PSCs were only formed on paper and the committee members were not informed about the fact (see more in Formation and activation of various committees). Now the question is how was their experience? All the respondents who supervised projects in their respective wards claimed that they monitored projects in their areas, and each of them mentioned that the projects were implemented successfully and that they observed no breach of the guidelines of the UP manual or contracts. However, one interesting issue did not escape the researchers’ attention. It was observed that 66.67 percent and 16.67 percent of those who monitored projects were close political allies and relatives of the officials respectively. The remaining 16.66 percent of the respondents were found neutral in their relationship with the officials. It can be inferred from the data that the UPs of Sharique areas not only formed PSCs on paper

160  Teamwork, accountability & transparency but also activated them. In this line, the contractors or the WCs headed by ward members, who take the responsibilities of implementation of the projects had to collect the clearance certificates from the PSCs. However, with their tendency to remain free form difficulties of overseeing by the PSCs, the officials included their trusted political allies and relatives in the PSCs to receive approval easily. Thus, the argument can be made here that the answerability through supervision committees started in Sharique areas, yet the process did not fully materialise. Formation and activation of various committees UPs have been mandated to form various committees with the inclusion of both elected and government and NGO officials as well as citizens from different professions and social strata. Amongst the committees, the Ward Committee (WC), Project Implementation Committee (PIC), Scheme Supervision Committee (SSC), Standing Committee (SC), Planning Committee (PC), and Union Development Coordination Committee (UDCC) were prominent. The study of various minutes of the meetings and various committees of the UPs revealed that all the UPs of both Sharique and non-­Sharique areas commonly formed WCs/PICs, SSCs, SCs, and UDCCs in accordance with the Act and the UP operational manual. In this respect, PCs were the exception, as that committee was formed only by Shahbajpur UP. WCs/ PICs, and SSCs are supposed to be formed in the WS meetings, and the guidelines specify that these committees should include UP members (male and female), teachers, imams of mosques, social workers (male and female), members of civil societies, NGO representatives, technical personnel appointed by UNOs, freedom fighters, and others. Careful scrutiny of the documents showed that the UPs of Sharique areas formed these committees accordingly. However, it was learnt that only Deopara and Shilmaria formed these committees considering the opinions of the WS participants. The president of the WS of Ward 5 of Deopara explained the process: During WS, I asked the participants to propose the names of the persons of different categories. For example, I told the gathering that I need a teacher as a committee member and they proposed a name of a teacher who would be available in need and had interest in the UP. I followed the same process for selection of social workers, freedom fighter, member of civil society, etc. (Interview data, December 18, 2017 and March 5, 2018) However, the other two UPs from Sharique and two UPs from control areas did not follow the same process. Both WCs/PICs and SSCs have been

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  161 guided to be formed including seven members, however, Deopara and Jhilim included five members in some instances. There was found to be a tendency for local officials to form these committees without consultation of citizens and just write in the resolution of the WS. The officials generally included those people in the committees who were close allies, political colleagues, or family relations, so that the officials remained free from hassles whilst implementing the project according to their choice. A UP secretary remarked, The ward members are the head of WC/PIC and are responsible to implement the project under the direct supervision of SSC. The members of these committees are required to sign the documents that confirm the fair finishing of the project, thus, the officials remain sceptical to include stubborn people outside of their purview. Consequently, they tend to form these committees with their near and dear ones to avoid complexities and keep opportunities open to gain from the project. (Interview data, March 4, 2018) This remark was echoed in the voice of an NGO worker: The UP officials formed various committees at their will and included their own people, the same faces in the various committees. It looked like presenting a cub again and again in different outfits to prove all cubs were in good conditions, whilst the other cubs were missing or killed. The idea is to prove that they are performing well through forming varied committees, however, their committees had not become functional for failure to include competent persons. (Interview data, January 12, 2018) Moreover, in few cases, the members of these committees did not know that they were included in the list of these committees. A woman from Shahbajpur was the member of a WC/PIC, and SC for the next year, however, when she was contacted responded flatly: I do not know whether I am a member of any committees, none of the UP officials ever let me know about this. I have never engaged with any project implementation whatsoever. I have never even been called to such meetings. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) Close examination of signatures of that woman in the UP documents illustrated and confirmed her claim, as the researchers found that the signatures varied considerably.

162  Teamwork, accountability & transparency Yet, when the SSC was formed accordingly amongst the participants of the WS meeting it really worked. A UP male member from Deopara, asserted, Today, citizens of our locality with the initiatives of Sharique have become very conscious. When they have been included in the SSC, they, in fact, supervise the process of scheme implementation. Therefore, today it becomes almost impossible for a contractor or a UP official to commit corruption with huge margins, as the members of the SSC sign the documents after proper implementation of the project, and without clean implementation of the project, they will not sign them. (Interview data, December 18, 2017) However, though there is a lot of promise in this statement, there is a power gap between the implementers and the SSC members. Here, those who are contractors or who own offices are involved with politics and engage mostly with the ruling party and thus hold power and stay at the top of the pyramid power. Therefore, it is difficult in reality for the members of the SSC to hold these powerful men accountable. When the same member asked further, whether ever he or the contractors in his areas faced any problems in getting the documents signed, he replied negatively and added that they used to implement the projects and the SSC members signed the papers accordingly upon request (Interview data, December 18, 2017). The Act of 2009 mandated UPs to form at least 13 SCs for dealing with various issues.2 These committees have been instructed to include five to seven members from both supply-­side and demand-­side actors of the areas based on their capacities to contribute in respective committees. Furthermore, SCs have been given the opportunities to include expert professionals in committees as co-­opt members without voting rights. All the UPs were assembled the SCs, generally including five members, except for few with seven members. The principal task of these committees is to make suggestions and hold UPs accountable for various issues concerning rural development, and they are supposed to meet at least once every two months. It was found in the SCs’ resolutions that the committees sat in the meetings regularly in Deopara and Maria UP. Amongst the rest, Shahbajpur, Jhilim, and Shilmaria reported four meetings of the SCs. However, in Shilmaria, the resolutions of all the committees were not found. In Alatuli UP, the SCs were formed but no meetings were held except for on paper. The resolutions were just copies of other resolutions, and in some cases, signatures of the committee members in the resolutions were found to have been forged. If the committee members had ever sat for a meeting, it had just ended in a tea party. One of the UP members of Deopara informed the researchers that he had invited other members of the SC, for which he was selected as president and that that committee held meetings to discuss issues (Interview data, December 18, 2017). When he was furthered inquired what were

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  163 the particular issues they had discussed, he failed to articulate clear issues. Six secretaries of the study area confirmed that the SCs were formed only on paper; the UPs formed these committees to fulfil the legal bindings imposed by the Act. UPs, both in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas, indicated the same phenomenon in the case of SCs. One secretary admitted: I have formed the SCs by including the names given by the members of the UP. Usually, no meetings of SCs are held; however, I maintain the papers of the SCs. Thus, in reality, some SC members do not know that their names are on the list. Recently, the national ID cards of the SC members have had to be enclosed with the documents, and the UP members collect the same. Even in few cases, the UP members will fail to recognise the SC, for which he is selected as the president. (Interview data, December 17, 2017) An NGO official extended her account: ‘Though Sharique has a special focus on activating SCs, however, the achievement remains limited to formation of the SCs and for activation of these committees additional efforts are required’ (Interview data, January 7, 2018). Why this was so? It has been learnt that sometimes the UP officials formed SCs with ordinary and unqualified supporters (Interview data, January 12, 2018). It was revealed that the respective officials who were in charge of arranging the meeting of committees were found reluctant to do so. They were not aware and skilled enough to generate continuous suggestions for the UP. Moreover, when they sat together and made suggestions for the UPs, the suggestions in most cases remained unfulfilled, and consequently, that led to degeneration of interest in holding regular SC meetings. UPs have been instructed to form a PC in each UP3 and are to include all members, UP secretaries, and all heads of transferred departments of government at the UP level as members of the committee, over which a UP member is to preside as president. Furthermore, the committee has been given the opportunity to co-­opt experts in planning as a member of the committee. It has been found that only Shahbajpur UP amongst all the studied UPs formed the committee, and minutes of the meetings of this committee were found. However, when inquired into in depth, it was revealed that the formation and the creation of minutes were only on paper and that no such committee ever met in reality. Another key forum called the UDCC has been instructed to be formed with the inclusion of UP officials, government officials who work at the UP level and those delegated from the UPZ level, members of the School Managing Committee, NGO representatives, members of CBOs, representatives of the business community, imams, and representatives of women with a view to developing the standard of living of the rural people in general and to coordinate the development activities of government and other development partners working at the UP level.4 The meeting of UDCC has been planned to occur at least

164  Teamwork, accountability & transparency once every two months. It has been observed that the UPs in Sharique areas documented the meetings of the UDCC. In Deopara, Shilmaria, and Jhilim, the meeting of the UDCC was found to be held regularly, and in Shahbajpur the meeting was also found to have been organised though with lower frequency. The Maria UP in the control areas was also doing well in documenting the proceedings of UDCC meetings. Alatuli UP, however, lagged far behind in this respect, as the meetings of the UDCC were found to be documented with poorly and infrequently. However, the documents, when analysed closely, revealed that the presence of government officials at the UDCC was low. When asked why their attendance was low in the meeting, one UP secretary stated, According to the Act of 2009, the officials have been transferred to the UP optionally. Thus, though they have offices in the UP building, the office rooms remain vacant. Moreover, these officials remain busy with their respective activities. When we call them to the meeting, we cannot provide them with good refreshments, travel allowances, and honorariums. Consequently, they are not interested in being present at the UDCC meeting. (Interview data, March 4, 2018) However, when they sat together, they shared their activities and plans, made suggestions for UPs on various issues, and coordinated efforts to avoid replication and disorganisation in establishing harmonious processes of development. The minutes of the UDCC meetings revealed that officials of different transferred departments presented the activities they or their departments were doing and let the UPs and officials know their ideas for the betterment of the local people. Answerability of UP functionaries Attitudes of the functionaries towards the questions of the citizens In the earlier discussions, it has been seen that citizens approached their officials and asked questions about issues ranging from personal and societal problems to development-­related issues. Through the efforts of Sharique, citizens of Sharique areas gained the confidence to raise questions to their officials: 87.5 percent of the respondents from Sharique areas and 80 percent in control areas mentioned asking questions. It was found that the nature and pattern of questions differed from Sharique areas to control areas. For instance, the questions in control areas were not related to seeking accountability, rather involved mostly with personal and traditional types of problems such as reconciliation (Shalish), SSNPs, and other such services. Conversely, in Sharique areas, the questions covered diverse and complex issues, which varied from traditional concerns to seeking explanations about a task, why it was implemented in a particular way, or why it was not implemented.

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  165 The reaction to the inquiries of the citizens differed from area to area. As the nature of the questions was simple so were the reactions of the officials; for instance, those who asked questions in control areas let the researchers know that their respective leaders answered them. One FM revealed, ‘Sharique created a more congenial atmosphere in the UP to increase people’s access to UP and place their questions. We have also become more responsive to people questions and respond accordingly’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). However, in Sharique areas, the reactions were multidimensional (Table 7.2). Data showed that most of the question raisers got their expected answers and revealed their satisfaction with the approaches, attitudes, and replies of the officials. In many cases, though the officials failed to bring expected change, they assuaged the service seekers with soft and constructive words and assured them of future actions. Yet 22.9 percent respondents from Sharique areas encountered disregard, irritating behaviours, obstruction, or irrational or threatening replies. Mostly the women or the people of marginalised groups faced these hostile answers when their raised questions involved seeking an explanation for wrongdoings or corruption of officials and the like. For example, when a woman from Jhilim UP asked questions about the inclusion of inappropriate beneficiaries in the list, the officials shouted at her with the words, ‘The cobbler must stick to his last (don’t get above yourself). It is none of your business’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Another woman shared her experience: ‘When I asked about various issues the officials ignored me, they don’t answer me. Sometimes they attack me verbally as, “Why do you need to understand that much? Oil your own machine (mind your own business)” ’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Respondents also spoke of the rude behaviour of officials in reply to the questions (FGD data, December 20, 2017). The researchers witnessed, in the direct observation of WS meetings and OBMs, that the officials became enraged, impatient, and irritated and that they seemed to feel discomfort in the face of accountability questions, as when the replies of the agent contained disrespectful attitudes and harsh words. These patterns of reactions of the officials represent the tip of the iceberg, as the problems are deeply rooted in the socio-­power structure, patriarchal Table 7.2  The reaction of the officials to citizens’ questions (citizens’ opinions) Areas

Sharique Areas

Control Areas






Give answer Keep themselves away from answering Get irritated/angry Stop the answer seekers Don’t get a reasonable answer Total

27 2 2 3 1 35

77.1 5.7 5.7 8.6 2.9 100

16 – – – – 16

100 – – – – 100

Source: Field Data, 2017–2018

166  Teamwork, accountability & transparency hegemony, and parochial political cultures in the society. The training and orientation of the Sharique project brought change in the visible behaviour of the officials to some extent. Moreover, the project developed citizens’ skills to speak up in the forums and to seek information, however, the invisible inequities need more time to be changed, and it will not happen overnight. Another cause of such behaviours derived from the inability of the officials as they had limited resources and were pressurised by the local political leaders (FGD data, December 13, 2017). Consequently, there developed a tendency of avoiding such people who challenged the actions of the officials through not inviting them to the WS meetings or OBMs and inviting instead only the party men and close allies of the officials. Providing justification for the deeds Answerability is composed of two components, one involves the openness of the organisation, which deals with disclosure and dissemination of information, and the second one ensures officials’ accepting responsibility for their deeds. This section discussed how officials justified themselves. The next section deals with transparency. The provisions of WS meetings and OBM have given the people an opportunity to hold UP officials accountable. The citizens, particularly the marginalised, ethnic groups, and other minorities took advantage of the opportunity, without which it would be difficult for them to make officials deliver an explanation for what s/he did and did not do. The Sharique project instilled confidence and mobilised the citizens to seek clarification. Additionally, the project officials had UP officials understand the fact that through providing clarification they would be freed from the levelling of gam chor (embezzler of wheat grains).

Case Study 7.4  Female member apologised Fatema Begum, a 48-­ year-­ old widowed woman from Deopara, was elected to a reserved seat in 2016 from Wards 1, 2, and 3 of Deopara UP. She attends the meetings of WS in her ward. On March 2018, at the beginning of a WS meeting she stood before the crowd and told them what she did and did not achieve. She mentioned her inability to keep in touch with many of the citizens of her area regularly for her familial problems. She took responsibility for her deeds and apologised to the crowd. However, she revealed that she met people when they asked her to stand beside them. Furthermore, she claimed that she communicated with people when she came across citizen gatherings. She pledged to work hard for the community people.

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  167

Case Study 7.5  Padmaabati got an explanation Padmabati, an indigenous woman in her 40s of Adarshagram (ideal village, which was built for the homeless) Colony, of Ward 6 of Deopara UP, asked for an explanation in the WS meeting. In the last WS, she and her neighbours placed a demand for a road to be rebuilt and repaired in her area. It caused great difficulties during the rainy season, as the road went under water. Despite the sheer need of the community, the UP neither included the demand in the year plan nor materialised the same. This time, in another WS meeting, she got the opportunity and taking full advantage of it, categorically asked the member, ‘Why have you not executed our demand?’ The member accepted the claim that he failed to implement the project. He clarified that they were short of funds and could not fulfil all the demands. Hence, they prioritised all the demands that came from the nine wards of the UP and selected some to be implemented in accordance to their fund supply in the budget; and during the process, their demand lost in the competition of prioritisation. Notwithstanding that, the member assured her, this time he would work to include it in the annual plan and implement it.

Thus, both demand-­side actors were encouraged to seek answers and the supply-­side actors were obliged to provide an explanation for their deeds. The two case studies show a glimpse of the process that was practiced in the WS meetings of Sharique areas. These cases clearly indicate that the officials changed themselves, and in the WS, before the citizens of their respective wards, they became accustomed to accepting their limitations willingly. Moreover, citizens became empowered even to seek an explanation from their officials. The officials responded with an explication of the reasons that actually halted their will of fulfilling the demands of the people. Enforcement Kluvers and Tippet (2010, pp. 46–53) involved enforcement with legal compliance, obligation and community satisfaction. Correspondingly, Schedler (1999, pp. 14–15) identified two dimensions of enforcement related to the principals’ capacity and action to arrange punishment for wrongdoing and rewards for good performances. However, the Act of 200, circulars, and other legal or quasi-­legal documents have provided the principals a very small scope within which to arrange punishment or rewards except for elections, which are held every five years. The presence of direct control mechanisms of the ombudsman, recalling of officials, opinion surveys, focus

168  Teamwork, accountability & transparency groups, and deliberative polling could widen the scope for the citizens to exercise the power of sanctions. However, in absence of these measures, this section includes Kluvers and Tippet’s explanation to identify the level of enforcement in Sharique and control areas. Citizens’ satisfaction on various issues of UPs The supply-­side actors of Sharique areas shifted the nature of UPs interaction with their constituents. One of the respondents from Shahbajpur uncovered that the UP became pro-­people with the initiatives of the Sharique project (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Scores were collected using a five-­point Likert scale to understand people’s opinions on 11 particular areas: corruption, sufferings in receiving services, politicisation of service delivery (SSNP & other services), fiscal soundness, participatory planning and budgeting, transparency in various activities, accountability, trust in UP, gender sensitivity, responsiveness to special needs of marginalised groups, poverty reduction, and overall image about their respective UPs. Figure 7.1 displays the findings by providing an average mean score of the scale. The figure shows that the citizens of UPs of Sharique areas gave their UPs high marks in comparison to the UPs in the control areas.


Overall Image



Poverty reduction

3.33 2.75

Responsiveness to special needs of marginalised groups


Gender sensitivity


3.05 2.95

Trust in UP






Transparency in various activities



Participatory planning & budgeting

3.25 2.25

Fiscal soundness Politicisation of service delivery (SSNP & other services)

2.88 3


Sufferings in receiving services





2.3 0

Control area









Sharique area

Figure 7.1 Response of the citizens on varied aspects of UPs on mean scores of a 5-­point Likert scale

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  169 Transparency Seeking, understanding and using information by the citizens In reply to the question, ‘Do you seek information?’ 72.5 percent and 25 percent of the respondents of citizens from Sharique and non-­Sharique areas respectively replied ‘yes.’ That means people of Sharique areas were more accustomed to seeking information than their counterparts from control areas. Earlier, it was observed that people of Sharique (97.5 percent) and non-­Sharique areas (90 percent) were aware of the fact that seeking information is their right. A majority of the officials (65.7) from Sharique areas believed that citizens use the RTI for demanding information. However, both groups of citizens were found not conscious of the fact that their right was protected by the Act, and by the RTI Act of 2009. Hence, their process of seeking information was not formalised or forceful. Data revealed that none of the citizens of both Sharique and non-­Sharique areas had ever demanded information through a written process. Why was this so? The principal reason was that they were accustomed to seeking information verbally, as all of the respondents who stated that they sought information added that they tried to find information by asking officials. Furthermore, in most cases, they were not required to apply formally for the information, because they were supplied the information instantly when they requested it verbally. Another reason citizens found it inconvenient to write for information was that the rate of literacy was low in the rural area and they would have needed the help of others to complete the forms. During the field visit, the researchers witnessed UPs of Sharique areas deliver information through information billboards. However, the scenery was frustrating as citizens used not to collect information from these boards as only 10 percent of the respondents expressed they sought information on the boards. A participant of an FGD session stated that people used not to look for information in the boards placed in the UP premises; rather they usually felt more comfortable asking for the information orally (FGD data, December 13, 2017). Again, the major cause was their (citizens’) low level of education. In addition, people found it difficult to search the particular information from the huge pile of information written on the boards. They found it easy to seek information verbally as it cost less time and effort. Consequently, these information boards seemed to become decorative, in some cases fulfilling the conditions of the donors and satisfying the external visitors. Information was also disseminated through websites/web pages. All of the UPs of both Sharique and control areas were provided with websites/ web pages under the a2i project of the PMO. The question is to what extent citizens were using these websites to search for the information they needed. The scenario was rather gloomy because only one respondent from Sharique areas and none from control areas had claimed to have visited the web page of his UP for information.

170  Teamwork, accountability & transparency However, the man who visited the website was assisted by his children in surfing internet. Multiple causes hindered the use of websites for searching for information. Firstly, citizens were not capable of using websites due to their low levels of education and they did not know how to visit websites; secondly, many of them mentioned they actually did not realise what websites were or how they disseminated information. However, those who were capable of visiting websites mentioned that they were not aware of the hosting of websites by UPs. Some stated that if it had been necessary, they would have visited the UP website. A few of them could not visit the website, as they had no device capable of internet browsing. It was revealed that citizens of both areas mentioned that they had sought information, and they gathered the required information verbally. In most cases, people sought information regarding issues like SSNPs, TR, KABITA, KABIKHA, 40 days employment generation programmes, birth registration, and issuance of certificates. This meant the information sought by citizens covered the areas that might induce personal benefits. In both areas people showed a lack of interest in seeking information regarding income and expenditure of UP, CC, and RTI, as well as other information involving participatory planning and budgeting. Thus, it can be argued that people became conversant on seeking information they used for personal gain; however, information relating to technical issues of planning and budgeting was found to be incomprehensible by the citizens. The observation and collected data revealed that people enhanced their demands, queries, and actions based on the information they were supplied by the UP. Yet, it was found that some people refrained from using the information in both areas, as they made ‘no action by officials’ (83.3 percent and 90 percent of respondents from Sharique and control areas respectively) responsible as the central basis of not using information for further action. Moreover, the use of information for planning, development, and the fulfilling of demands that came through social mapping was rare. Thus, the discussions make it clear that people have started seeking information, but they are still not very aware of and accustomed to look for the information related to resources supplied to the UP and, hence, adapt their demands in accordance with the availability of funds. State of information dissemination At the beginning of the Sharique project, it was a tall order to convince the officials of UPs to disclose information. They were not ready to open the UPs to the people. One NGO official narrated his experience: We arranged an exchange visit to Matikata UP of Rajshahi, for the officials of a UP of Chapai Nawabganj district to make them acquainted with the best practices of Matikata. The members of the UP from Chapai Nawabganj learnt that there were other sources of money of

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  171 the UP supplied form Upazila; and previously they were not aware of the fact. The members in the visit wanted to know the UP secretary whether their UP received money from mentioned source. The secretary nodded affirmatively. Then the members asked him what their UP did with the money. The secretary referred the issue to the UP chair. The chair took his time to reply and asked me (the NGO official) to come up with him. In the other room, he furiously told me, ‘I will quit the chairmanship. Have you brought me here to expose me? If everyone knows about every penny, how will I run the UP? Better you take the charge of the UP, I will resign.’ However, we made the change to disseminate information. (Interview data, January 9, 2018) The scenario changed a lot in Sharique areas with the intervention of the project. The officials revealed that the Sharique project contributed to implementing RTI and CC through encouraging (83.9 percent), awareness building (51.6 percent), and disseminating information on RTI/ CC (35.5 percent), which helped them to disseminate information. A UP secretary revealed that Sharique taught, supported, and persuaded them to disseminate information through information boards (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Officials mentioned that the project assisted them with information dissemination through the installation of information boards (71.9 percent), dissemination of RTI and CC (43.8 percent), and building of awareness of citizens to claim information (53.1 percent). A community member revealed, ‘The UP placed information boards, opened the statement of income and expenditure, displayed the phone numbers of the officials, etc.’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Now the question is what contents were displayed or disseminated through these mediums and to what extent this information was updated. The close observations of these mediums revealed that UPs disseminated information on the annual budget, financial statements, ongoing projects, the state of tax collection, various development activities, resource lists, and so forth. Citizen charters were found displayed in the UP premises of Sharique areas, however, the two UPs of control areas failed to do the same. It was guided through the legal documents that the CC should be developed taking the citizens’ opinion under consideration and should be changed from time to time with variation in services and nature of demands, but it was found that citizens were not consulted, changes were not frequent, and the information displayed in the CC across the UPs were found to be identical. Moreover, though there were CCs in the UP premises, both the supply-­side and demand-­side actors were found unconversant on the issues of CC. UPs have been instructed to disclose information through interactive websites, billboards, boards, notice boards, information boards, wall writing, various reports, budgetary documents, annual reports, and more. It was observed that the UPs of Sharique areas, except Shahbajpur, displayed

172  Teamwork, accountability & transparency information boards, notice boards, and other billboards. The UPs of control areas identified no such boards in the UP offices. The UPs of both areas composed various paper-­based documents to send to their higher authorities and many of the documents were not made public. Annual reports though can be one of the key documents for disseminating information, yet no UP of any area was found to develop an annual report. Moreover, no UP produced brochures or leaflets to disseminate. It has been observed that the UPs of Sharique areas were more activated to deliver information (Table 7.3). Conversely, the UPs under control areas showed all most no efforts to disseminate information. For example, Alatuli UP owned a budget board, but it was found last updated with the budget of FY 2012–2013; Maria UP did almost nothing to disseminate information. Moreover, the information cell that was established there was found without electricity for the last six years due to political rivalry, yet the UP did not make any effective measures to confirm the electricity supply. Among the UPs of Sharique areas, Shilmaria UP has been impressive with their efforts to disseminate information on budgets, tax collection, financial statements, beneficiary lists, and more. Shilmaria was the only UP which disclosed the list of SSNP beneficiaries. The Jhilim and Deopara UPs followed Shilmaria UP with their efforts regarding disclosure of Table 7.3  Information displayed in boards or notice boards and their states Areas

Sharique Areas



Shahbajpur Jhilim


√ Updated

× –

Financial Statement

√ Updated

√ Not updated × –

√ Not updated Tax Collection √ Not updated UP Activities × Citizen Charter √ Office Time × Beneficiary List × Awareness √ Resource List √ Information Cell √

Project List

Control Areas Shilmaria



√ Updated

√ Updated

× –

√ Updated

√ Updated

√ Not updated × –

√ Not updated √ Updated

× –

× –

× –

√ Not updated √ Updated

× –

× –

× × × × × √ √

√ √ × × √ √ √

√ √ √ √ √ √ √

× × × × × × √

× × × × × × √

Source: Checklist and observation

× –

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  173 information. In Sharique areas, on the subject of information dissemination, Shahbajpur UP performed poorly. When the officials were asked, it was revealed that the UP building was newly built, so they had the boards in the storeroom. However, the researchers learnt that the UP moved to a new building three years back, which meant that the UP made no effort to reinstall the information boards in the UP. However, no UPs displayed lists of updated ongoing projects. Thus, it can be argued that the UPs of Sharique areas were more galvanised in a way to disseminate information through display boards than that of control areas. The researchers expanded his search to find out who was officially responsible for delivering information. There was no name found anywhere in any UP as the information officer. Officials were asked to identify the information officer, and 81.3 percent and 50 percent of the officials of Sharique and control areas respectively mentioned that there was a specific person to deliver information. They were further asked who the person was. The replies exposed contradictions: in Sharique areas 75 percent named the UP secretary, and in control areas, the percentage was 37.5 percent. Conversely, 6.3 percent and 12.5 percent of officials from Sharique and control areas respectively mentioned that it was the responsibility of entrepreneurs of the UDC. The interesting issue was that amongst the UP secretaries, who were described as the information officer by the elected officials, 50 percent mentioned that there was no specific person to deliver information. Moreover, it was learnt from the data that 15 percent of respondents of citizens from Sharique areas mentioned that they had faced problems identifying whom to ask for information. The confusion in identifying a specific person, and the hectic nature of activities due to lack of personnel in the UP caused chaos in the UP. A respondent revealed, We are to search for information to the secretary, as there are no specific persons to do so. You know, almost all the time the UP secretary remains very busy with various activities. Thus, it becomes very difficult to get information from him. A few days ago, I have sought information from him; however, he refused to provide me information showing his busyness as the cause. It annoyed me greatly; and we exchanged heated words. The matter has not finished there; I have made complaint against him with UNO. The UNO assured me of taking action against him. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) It was revealed in an FGD session that the officials sometimes hide information (FGD data, December 10, 2017). In a few cases, the officials took the shelter of a reservation of the Act regarding RTI, claiming that classified documents and information could not be supplied.

174  Teamwork, accountability & transparency Websites/web pages: gateway of digital dissemination of information The GoB has promoted the development of websites/web pages to deliver information. The Sharique project encouraged LGIs to disseminate information to open up the LGIs not only to their constituents but also to the whole world through publishing documents in the websites. The study of websites of four UPs under Sharique areas and two UPs of control areas showed that every UP has its own website with good-­looking graphical interfaces and navigational textual tools, with frames, tables, banners, hyperlinks, and more. All websites exhibited the pictures of important establishments, scenic beauty, historical places, artefacts, and so on of their respective areas. However, the most important issues about the website study were to find out to what extent these web pages were updated with necessary information and relevant content. How far are these sites reflecting the willingness of the UPs to disseminate information voluntarily on their goods, services, and activities? An examination of the web pages showed that no UPs had uploaded their CC on the websites (Appendix 7.1). In Sharique areas, Shahbajpur UP performed poorly – the web page remained almost inactive, the sparse information present was outdated without any significant updates after the initiation of the page. Jhilim UP was another poor performer in terms of feeding websites with information. Nonetheless, Deopara UP showed promise regarding uploads of information. Amongst the UPs in both Sharique and control areas, Shilmaria stood out for not only its volume but also quality of updated information. Visitors to the website would have the chance to deepen their understandings and knowledge through experiencing its various parts. However, in general, one issue was common in both areas – the websites were not updated regularly, and the information uploaded was 3–10 years old. No UP uploaded the yearly fiscal statement. Moreover, the then latest budget of FY 2017–2018 was not found at any of the websites of any UP. Moreover, these websites did not include the CC of any UP, and the citizens, stakeholders, and visitors were not given opportunities to interact with each other or with the authorities. However, two UPs of Sharique areas were found active in social media, namely, on Facebook. Overall, this study of websites reflects that the website of Shilmaria was doing exceedingly well. Two websites of two UPs of project areas and all of the UPs’ websites of control areas were updated poorly with information. Overall, the UPs of Sharique areas were doing better in the world of the internet in comparison to their counterparts in control areas. Use of information by people It has been observed that people were using information to hold the officials accountable, to be empowered to claim their rights and entitlements, and to ensure the interest of the community.

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  175

Box 7.2  A conscientious school teacher caused budget rectification A schoolteacher was invited in the OBM of Shilmaria UP. During the meeting, he was provided with a draft copy of the budget. In his words, ‘I have gone through the whole budget; suddenly I was struck by a line which read “Excursion of UP officials – BDT 25,000.” In a moment, I made the decision that I would raise a question on the issue. With the presence of Upazila chair, UNO, and other dignitaries, I grabbed the very first opportunity, and commented, “For an UP BDT 25,000 is good enough amount, particularly from its self-­fund; I think such an amount should not be allocated for the excursion of the officials, as almost all of them are capable of bearing their expense, and the UP should use the same for the betterment of the destitute.” I was appreciated with clapping. Having realized the fact, the UP chair proposed that he would reduce the budget for excursion to only BDT 5,000 and the rest would be used for income-­generating projects for the marginalised. Everyone present in the meeting welcomed the outcome.’

This case of a conscientious citizen of Shilmaria UP denoted that with information disseminated at the OBM, the participants made the UPs answer reasonably and to rectify the inappropriate budget allocation. Information dissemination made the citizens empowered, and through this the UPs became transparent and accountable. Their opportunities to misuse the funds were decreased. It was claimed in an FGD session in Shilmaria that 90 percent of the citizens became aware of the UP and its services (FGD data, December 10, 2017). A citizen respondent from Deopara UP revealed his realisation: ‘I think, probably the best change that Sharique induced was the fact that now everyone knows everything about the UP. Thus, with the information accessible by all, it has become difficult to escape the eyes of the citizens’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Incidence of corruption Presence of corruption The level of corruption as disclosed by the citizens has not been different in Sharique or control areas. When citizens were asked whether they bribed to get SSNP services, 30 percent of the respondents from citizens of both areas uncovered that they had to pay or knew that their neighbours had to pay to enlist for services and subsequently to be a beneficiary. However, when citizens were further asked whether they were supplied less in the

176  Teamwork, accountability & transparency case of delivery of goods, 47.5 percent and 65 percent of the respondents from Sharique and non-­Sharique areas mentioned that they received less from the volume they were declared to be delivered. To curb the corruption in supplying grains, the government began to supply grains in sewed up jute bags. The bags full of grains were collected directly from the silo and in the same day, the grains were delivered to the beneficiaries instantly with the presence of selected NGO officials who collected a certain amount of money as deposit from the beneficiaries to return them to use in the future as capital. Still, some of the beneficiaries mentioned that they were supplied 2 to 3 kg less of grains from the volume supposed to be found in the bags of 30 KG. In such cases it was found that the UP officials were not involved in the embezzlement, and it had happened at other stages previously. However, in other cases, the researchers learnt that the beneficiaries were to share with the representatives for getting the allocated benefits a portion of the benefits s/he received from the UPs. A naïve disclosure of a UP chair in a control area hinted at the presence of corruption in project implementation. When he was asked to learn whether he received the amount from the UP’s own fund he stated that in some cases he and his colleagues did not receive the amount from the UP. However, he revealed his elected colleagues implement various projects, and they offered him money, which he accepted (Interview data, December 27, 2017). A few of his colleagues mentioned that he (the chair) offered lucrative projects to those who served the interest of the chair more. While reviewing audit documents of LGSP, the researchers found that the UPs of both areas tended to be late in depositing the cash collection in banks. Almost all the UPs had to deposit money during the audit procedures to avoid audit objections. Astoundingly, the authenticity of audit exploration was in question as the UP secretaries revealed that they had to pay the auditors; and the payment depended on the level of misappropriation. An NGO official who worked in Sharique areas anonymously mentioned that the LGSP audit team was compromised through bribery of an amount of BDT 100,000 to 500,000, and/or political pressure (Interview data, January 10, 2018). However, an NGO official, terming the condition as ‘a virus in the antidote,’ exposed that in the beginning the rate of audit compromise remained a bit low ranging from BDT 20,000 to 70,000 (Interview data, January 7, 2018). The NGO official further mentioned that the rate of corruption was high in the projects that were taken with the allocation of KABIKHA, KABITA, TR, and GR.

Conclusion This chapter has covered two important components of SLG: accountability and transparency. The officials display their responsiveness towards the people’s voice, as demands placed in the WSs are documented and enlisted in resolutions and some of them are implemented later. However, officials

Teamwork, accountability & transparency  177 and party men at the local level influence selection and implementation of projects. In most cases, the participants can use their voice freely and are given with explanations. In broader aspects, the active engagements of the citizens in ward-­level meetings still remain poor as many of the participants do not take part dynamically in discussions and stand by calmly and passively. The UP office bearers seem to be beginning to accept responsibility for their deeds and justify their actions. However, critics, marginalised groups, and supporters from opposition party with voice have not been treated well. In UPs of Sharique areas, standing committees are formed but the activation of these committees requires more efforts and interventions. The UPs of Sharique areas are in a better position to maintain various procedures as articulated in legal framework. However, regarding handling of money the UPs from both areas remain almost identical as they fall short of maintaining the mandates of the guidelines to full extent. In case of transparency, the UPs in Sharique areas display CC and regularly update the information boards. In particular, the budget boards are found quite up to date. The practices of CC remain poor because of lack of awareness of both officials and citizens, unwillingness of service providers, and the presence of corruption. In Sharique areas, the state of implementation of the RTI has been increased, as the majority of the respondents claim that they receive the sought particulars. Evidence revealed that, through the efforts of Sharique, the UPs become more transparent to the citizens. Now, the UPs deliberately disseminate information through various boards, CCs, disclosures at meetings, supply of copies of budgets, and so forth. More­ over, the supply of information on demand has also increased. There have been UDCs in every UP of both quarters, and the UDCs of Sharique areas have been turned into busy centres. Still, people approach the UDC for information in only a few cases. Moreover, there are not any designated officials in the UPs of both areas for information disclosure. Websites and web pages are key elements of digital dissemination of information. It is evident that the rural people virtually never visited websites and web pages. More­ over, the websites/web pages are not updated regularly, though amongst all the UPs, Sharique area UPs are doing a better job updating websites/web pages. Another key area to evaluate the UPs is in regard to their discretion over the money they earned or are supplied for carrying out development activities for the betterment of communities which we will explore in the next chapter.

Notes Direct observations of WS meeting, Ward 5, Deopara UP, March 14, 2018. 1 2 According to the sec. 45 of the UP Act of 2009 the following SCs are to be formed: Finance and Establishment; Audit and Accounts; Tax Assessment and Collection; Education, Health and Family Planning; Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, and other Economic Development Activities; Rural Infrastructure Development, Protection, and Supervision, etc.; Law and Order; Birth and Death Registration;

178  Teamwork, accountability & transparency Sanitation, Water Supply and Sewerage; Social Welfare and Disaster Management; Development, and Conservation of Environment, and Tree Plantation; Family Conflict Resolution, and Welfare of Women and Children. 3 The Union Parishad Operational Manual, sec. 3.1.2. 4 LGD Circular no.-­­74 of February 13, 2011.

References Kluvers, R., & Tippet, J. (2010, July). Mechanisms of accountability in local government: An exploratory study. International Journal of Business and Management, 5(7), 46–53. Schedler, A. (1999). Conceptualizing accountability. In A. Schedler, L. Diamond, & M. F. Plattner (Eds.), The self-­restraining state: Power and accountability in new democracies (pp. 13–28). Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. The Union Parishad Operational Manual. (2012). Local government division. Dhaka: The Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh.



Information on CC

No CC of UP (land office has a CC)

Demographic & A brief with no other particular information information Details of No list of functionaries functionaries or other information; List of health workers and agriculture officers without phone nos.

Sharique Area

Area Deopara



Control Area Maria

(Continued )

A well written A well written Key information A well written brief with key brief with key is not fully brief with key information information available information No information No information on Functionaries Functionaries are Chair with photo elected officials, on elected are listed with listed with their and phone only the name & functionaries, their phone phone numbers, number, secy. phone no. of secretary’s numbers and no photos are listed secretary, List name with and photos, except chair, List without phone of Agriculture wrong phone except secy., of health worker & number & no officers without no., List of List of health Agriculture list of members phone nos., & Agriculture worker & officers with phone are found, list of health workers officers, & Agriculture no. available health worker with phone nos. health workers officers without with phone nos., without phone phone nos. a name of agri. nos. officer without phone no. No CC of UP No CC of UP (land No CC of UP No CC of UP or No CC of UP or (land office has office has a CC) (land office has land office land office a CC) a CC)

Key information is available


Websites of UPs & their status during FY 2017–2018

Appendix 7.1







Control Area Maria

Information of Social Safety Nets

Updated Lists of List of List of Updated Lists of Lists of Some lists of beneficiaries up beneficiaries beneficiaries beneficiaries beneficiaries, beneficiaries, without any without any without time to 2014–15, and up to 2015–16 no specific update. update. frame few cases up to period, some 2015–16 lists showed the name of other areas Information on Name of some Name of some Some projects with Updated projects No information No information Projects projects with projects with budgets of the list with except few old except few old budgets, budgets, no time financial year budgets of the names names no time framework 2013–14 financial year framework 2015–16 A FYP with no A well-­developed A FYP for A FYP (2011/12– A FYP (2013/14– Five year plan & A FYP specific period, 2011/12– strategic FYP 2015/16) with 2017/18) with yearly budgets (2011/12– no year wise 15/16 & year (2015/16– some year wise year wise lengthy 2015/16) projects, no wise projects, a 2019/20) with probable projects; lists probable with some budget, budget but no some year A budget of projects; last year wise period, wise probable 2013–14 fiscal budget found of probable projects; year; Land tax rate 12–13; No land projects; A budget of is mentioned tax rate is seen A budget with 2016–17 fiscal no duration; year, Land No land tax tax rate is rate found mentioned

Sharique Area



A very few information, not updated (last update: no date), & almost dormant (UDC still remained as UISC)

Lack of information, not updated (last update: no date), & almost dormant (UDC still remained as UISC)

Source: Based on web page/website visits.


There is some information, not fully updated (two weeks ago), & active

Data & information of various area available, fully updated (two weeks ago), & active

A very few A very few information, information, not updated moderately (last update: no updated date), & almost (last update: inactive (UDC 5 months still remained as ago), & almost UISC) inactive (UDC still remained as UISC)

8 Do GO-­NGO collaborative efforts bring fiscal autonomy of local government units? An examination

Introduction Fiscal autonomy denotes true decentralisation of authority and power to the sub-­national levels. As a concept, it signifies the capacity and authority of LGIs to impose taxes, fix the rates, and retain the discretion to spend the money earned in accordance with the needs and decisions of the localities without any type of external control. It also refers to lessening dependency on transferred financial grants from central government grants and relying more on local funds. Thus, a fiscally autonomous body can initiate plans and projects based on local requirements to satisfy the principals. LGIs in Bangladesh exhibit heavy dependency on the national national treasury for the supply of money to implement development activities at localities. In this, regard, Sharique has motivated both officials and citizens to raise the tax rate, diversify the sources of income by the officials, and to pay the taxes and tolls by the citizens.

Mobilisation of income One NGO official commented that previously the officials were found not interested in imposing and collecting a tax mainly because it was not popular. Likewise, citizens were not accustomed to paying tax, particularly holding tax. Furthermore, the UPs were not aware of the sources of tax and non-­tax revenue. Moreover, citizens were found sceptical of the use of tax money. Few believed that the tax revenue has been used as the pocket money of the officials. Some raised questions, as they have not seen any perceivable and tangible change with increased tax revenue (Interview data, January 12, 2018). A schoolteacher was complaining, ‘Why should I pay tax? We have not found any visible change in service delivery or development activities’ (Interview data, December 10, 2017). However, Sharique motivated both the supply and demand sides to mobilise tax and non-­tax revenue. One UP member claimed, ‘Sharique has given us training on tax collection. Now we know the sources of taxes and have become interested in taxation to increase local revenue’ (Interview

Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork  183 data, December 27, 2017). Sharique helped to assess tax rates and sources and develop a database of the taxpayers. To encourage the UP officials, the project offered and awarded foreign trips for those UP chairs who collected the most revenue from their sources. About 75 percent of the officials mentioned that Sharique helped them in increasing the income of their UPs through identifying new sources of tax (65.4 percent) and non-­tax sources (53.8 percent), encouraging citizens (42.3 percent), and inspiring them to increase tax rates (38.5 percent). Moreover, citizens were made aware that paying taxes is their duty and that it would enable the UP to implement those projects which were demanded by the community. A UP chair mentioned, We are not interested in collecting tax regularly, and not aware of the sources of tax and non-­tax income as local self-­revenue. Sharique has made us realise that increased income builds the capacity of the UP to spend more for development with our discretion. With the assistance of the project, the UP has conducted resource mapping, which has given us a clear indication of sources from which we can earn, and we have been trying to expand the sources of our income and have increased the same. (Interview data, December 17, 2017) It has been observed during field study that all the UPs of both Sharique and control areas strengthened their efforts to raise more taxes as income through the expansion of sources and increasing the tax rate. In some UPs, the respective authority hired third parties, mostly NGOs, to raise taxes. Through these exertions inhabitants became noticeably aware of paying taxes and started to pay tax. Diversification of sources of income from tax The Sharique project worked for the generation of income from various local sources. They mobilized both citizens and officials to pay taxes and augmented the base of the taxes to increase the reliability on their income. The UPs have been seeking new bases for tax collection. Table 8.1 illustrates whether there has been an enhancement of the base of tax sources. The data represented in the table show a tax map of Sharique and non-­Sharique areas. On an average, the UPs of Sharique areas collected tax from four different sources, whereas it was only one and a half in control areas. Among Sharique areas the efforts of Deopara are worthy of mention. It has been trying to expand the base of taxes in its area. In this respect, though the positional advantage plays an important role, other UPs have their own positional advantage, but they have not been found as enthusiastic enough or interested in exploiting it. For example, Shahbajpur was renowned for mango orchards and related businesses,

184  Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork land port–related activities warehouses, non-­motored vehicles, and so forth, however, upon analysis, it was found that the UP did not take the initiative to include these sources in their base of taxes. Moreover, all UPs have been allowed to impose a tax on construction and reconstruction of brick-­made houses, but a close look uncovered that, except for Deopara, no UPs had endeavoured to include this in their tax base. Overall, the UPs of Sharique areas showed more promise for the expansion and diversification of the tax base in the respective areas. In these areas, Sharique’s tax mapping, motivation, encouragement, and competition to be the best UP in the district or even in the country motivated them to enhance their tax bases. The secretary of a UP in a Sharique area revealed, ‘We constantly tried to be the best UP of the district, we have already done it once, but our chair wants more. You know, though in that endeavour even when have not been the best, we have fought strongly as we have placed at top five each time’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). Table 8.1  UPs sources of taxes and rates Sources of Tax

Areas (UPs) Sharique Areas

Control Areas

Deopara Shahbajpur Jhilim Shilmaria Alatuli Maria √

Tax on Construction and Reconstruction






Tax on Rice Mill Business, Profession Brick Field and Saw Mill Industry Cell Phone Tower



















Land Tax Tax on entertainment Rate for electric light, theme park, water supply, sewerage, slaughtering Firm and other organisations

× × ×

× × ×

× × ×

× × ×

× × ×

× × ×






Tax for honorarium of village police Tax on price of Ijara (1%) Total







× 6

× 3

× 4

× 3

× 1

× 2

Holding Tax

Non-­holding Tax


Source: UP budget and financial statement

Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork  185 Diversification of non-­tax sources of income UPs have other sources of income other than taxes, including various fees, Ijara, assets, capital and goods. Table 8.2 depicts the comparative scenario regarding the sources of non-­tax income. The table includes the data of five fiscal years from 2012–2013 to 2016–2017. The presented data have shown that the UPs of Sharique areas diversified their sources of non-­tax income, as on an average each UP of Sharique areas collected non-­tax revenue from eight sources whilst the UPs of control areas identified five

Table 8.2  Sources of non-­tax income in UPs Sources of Non-­tax Revenue

Licence for Business, Professions, and Permit fees Ijara Ferry ghat Khowar Hat/Bazar Registration fee on non-­motored Vehicle Property rent and profit Village court fee Transfer fee of livestock Birth, death, & succession certificate fee Private clinic, paramedical institute registration fee Tutorial school, coaching centre registration fee Fee for approval of construction of brick-­made building (BDT 1/sft) Sale of tree Fare of ambulance Marriage registration fee Training institute Personal donation Total

Areas (UPs) Sharique Areas

Control Areas







× √ √ √

√ √ √ ×

× √ √ √

× √ × √

√ √ √ ×

× √ × ×





√ ×

√ √

√ ×

√ ×

× ×

√ ×



















√ × √

√ × ×

× × ×

× √ ×

√ × ×

× × ×

× × 8

× × 8

× × 7

√ √ 9

× × 6

× × 4

Source: UP budget and financial statement

186  Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork sources of non-­tax income. Amongst the UPs of Sharique areas, Shilmaria has expanded its sources more with nine particular areas of revenue, whilst Jhilim remained in second place with little margin. Shifting patterns of budget The budget documents of all six UPs of the study area were examined thoroughly to understand the changing patterns of their budgets. The budget analysis of both areas illustrated that the average budget size of the UPs of Sharique areas was 3.42 times greater than that for the UPs of control areas, however the average growth rate was lower in Sharique areas (21.46 percent) than control areas (35.79 percent) for unscrupulous increases in budget allocation. UPs, in accordance with the Union Parishad operational manual (2012), have been prescribed to formulate budget based on the received funds and the expenditure incurred in the immediately prior financial year.1 The UPs in every new fiscal year made changes in the budgets. In some cases, the changes in the budget were just made arbitrarily without any logical base. For example, Maria and Alatuli UP of control areas changed their budgets without any preparatory work; the UPs just altered the figures of the previous year whimsically to set a new target in budget for the new fiscal year. Budget preparations were also found to be a little jagged in two UPs of Sharique areas – Shilmaria and Deopara – with sharp ups and downs. However, Jhilim and Shahbajpur UPs of Sharique areas exhibited continuous, smooth growth in their budget formulations. The budget study additionally revealed that all the UPs displayed a lack of skill in proper accounting and documentation in annual financial documents. Moreover, the documents showed some sorts of anomalies, which were found not to conform to the audit documents of LGSP. The UPs showed tendencies to incorporate the cost of establishments other than salaries under the heading of development expenditures. The other important issues included in the Section 3.2.2 of the Union Parishad operational manual (2012) maintained that budget allocations should be made available for women’s empowerment and benevolence toward children, the young, physically challenged, and the old. Furthermore, the manual specifies that budgets should be divided across sector-­ based schemes: general establishments, development, and miscellaneous. In development, the sub-­ sectors include communication, health, water supply, education, management of natural resources, agriculture and markets, sewerage and waste management, human resource development, and sundry. Budget document examination disclosed that almost all the UPs divided their budget allocation into sector-­based schemes, though they did not cover all the sectors in the same budget. The UPs under Sharique areas displayed more concerns over human resource development compared to the UPs of control areas. Overall, the budgetary skill of the UPs of both areas required further development for proper mapping of change and development.

Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork  187

State of fiscal autonomy LGIs could make very little effort to carry out development activities from their own revenue, and thus, they depend heavily on the central government as national government bears 85 percent of local government development expenditure.2 Sharique has made efforts in this connection to lessen the dependency of UPs for fund supply on the central government. The results below revealed what was achieved in terms of instituting fiscally autonomous UPs. Tax autonomy One of the essential traits of activities of UPs involves mapping revenue sources and taxing them accordingly. To facilitate the efforts, the government promulgated a legal frame called the ‘UP Model Tax Schedule of 2013.’ Through this model, the UPs were given limited opportunity to expand the base of tax and non-­tax revenue, and to eliminate taxation from weak areas. However, the LGIs enjoyed autonomy within the limited space to increase revenue receipt locally. Evidence revealed that the UPs were not exploiting the prospects fully. Sharique took initiatives to expand the sources of revenue and raised the number of revenue receipts. The following sections include the analysis of revenue collections. Income from taxes One UP member revealed, ‘Through the efforts of Sharique there was observed increased tax collection’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Most of the citizens (80 percent) mentioned that they were encouraged to pay tax with the motivation (52.5 percent) of the Sharique project. Citizens also realised that paying taxes would accelerate development (Interview data, December 13, 2017); here, the question is how far the UPs exploited the opportunity to raise tax-­based revenues. Figure 8.1 depicts the tax map of the UPs of Sharique and non-­Sharique areas. The average income of five years from tax was BDT 363,862 and BDT 87,238 in Sharique and control areas respectively, and the figures denoted the strong footing of UPs of Sharique areas. Moreover, the UPs of Sharique areas outperformed the UPs of control areas with a high average growth rate of 15.1 percent for the former and (−)1.3 percent negative growth rate for the latter. Moreover, the UPs of Sharique areas have exhibited their continuous mushrooming in the areas of tax collection, except for a hiccup in FY 2013–2014 because of political unrest that stemmed from the national election. Separately, on an average, Deopara has been the best performer, which was followed by Jhilim, Shilmaria, and Shahbajpur UPs. Before 2016–2017 Shahbajpur collected tax poorly, but in FY 2016–2017 it rose dramatically by increasing their income almost three-­fold from just BDT 106,923 on average over the preceding four years to BDT 458,109.

188  Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork

2,043,700 1,744,579 170,812



FY 16-17

129,870 858,399

2,000,000 1,000,000


FY 15-16

127,781 226,445 217,468

FY 14-15 FY 13-14

FY 12-13

0 Sharique area Control area FY 12-13

FY 13-14

FY 14-15

FY 15-16

FY 16-17

Figure 8.1  UPs income from taxes Source: UP budget and financial statement

The achievement marked by the assessment of the tax collection and tax mapping in the strategic FYP was accomplished with the technical help of the Sharique project. The mapping exposed the weakness of the UP and the opportunity to collect more tax from 10,850 households. The UP secretary of Shahbajpur clarified that the UP was not aware of tax collection. Thus, it did not try to detect potential sources of tax collection, and thus, the process of tax collection remained weak. The Sharique project’s resource mapping made them aware of how to fix tax rates and collect taxes. These helped them commit to tax collection and appointing NGOs/third-­parties to collect tax (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Jhilim was the most consistent performer as it is crowded with small-­scale industries, and income from tax of this UP gradually doubled over five years. The growth of tax-­ generated income in Deopara was inconsistent. The scenario was reversed in the UPs of control areas as they collected tax poorly, particularly Alatuli. In the other UP of that area, Maria, though the amount of tax collected was poor, it showed some forward progress. Thus, it can be concluded that the UPs of Sharique areas displayed improvement in tax collection. Holding and non-­holding tax: an analysis It was found that the UPs of Sharique and control areas heavily depended on holding tax, as they collected 86 percent and 94.5 percent of their tax-­ based income from holding tax respectively. In Sharique areas, Shilmaria earned 26.6 percent of its tax-­based income from non-­holding tax, and that is the best ratio of holding and non-­holding tax in the study UPs, which was followed by Shahbajpur and Deopara UPs. In this regard, Jhilim UP

Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork  189 did not separate the tax revenue from other sources. The UPs of control areas could not earn much from non-­holding tax. Overall, the UPs of Sharique areas diversified their base of income from taxes and, evidently, the amount of revenue from non-­holding tax was better in comparison to their counterparts of control areas, as the UPs of control areas were not doing much to increase their tax collection. Data on tax collection showed that the UPs were not using their potentials up to the mark, as they were not collecting tax from all the households of the UPs – the strategic FYP identified that the rate of tax collection was 42 percent for both Deopara and Shahbajpur and 92 percent for Shilmaria. The mapping of tax collection indicated that the UPs became aware of their potential of collecting more tax. However, the officials’ fears of losing popularity and the reluctance of the citizens to pay increased tax posed a threat to exploiting the potential in full. In this regard, Sharique has motivated citizens and officials to increase tax collection for the betterment of the UP. Recently, UPs have appointed professional tax collectors for accumulating revenues, and the process created an exit opportunity for the officials to be free of fear of decreasing popularity and to overcome the confrontation of citizens. The scenario was rather gloomy for the UPs of control areas as holding tax per household in Sharique and control areas were BDT 49.70 and BDT 23.23 respectively. It is evident from the data that the UPs still need to collect more household tax both in Sharique and control areas; the UPs of control areas lagged far behind in this regard. Thus far, the collection of non-­holding tax has not been optimal. The UPs have opportunities and potential to accumulate more tax from non-­ holding tax, and Sharique has persuaded UPs to identify more bases of non-­holding tax. The UPs of Sharique areas on an average collect 14 percent of its tax revenue from non-­holding tax, whilst it was 6 percent for the UPs of control areas. Thus, it can be argued that opportunities are there and the UPs are to materialise the opportunities. Other sources of income Income from other sources (non-­tax) The mapping of income depicted that the UPs of Sharique areas (BDT. 220,630) were, on average, earning nearly five times more than their counterparts in control areas (BDT. 47,360) from non-­tax sources. In Sharique areas, Shahbajpur UP outclassed other UPs with a high average growth rate (61.7 percent) and a high average income from non-­tax sectors (BDT 319,703). The principal sources of non-­tax income of Shahbajpur were licenses, permit fees, and Ijara. Moreover, components like larger areas with larger populations gave that UP an advantage. Regarding the income from non-­tax sources, Deopara and Shilmaria lagged behind with slow growth rates of only 1.7 percent for the former and 0.03 percent for the

190  Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork latter. The principal cause of this phenomenon in Deopara and Shilmaria was their geophysical location in purely agro-­based areas, where they lacked an opportunity to push further to increase the growth rate of income from non-­tax sectors. However, when the average growth rate has been considered between two areas the rate was high in control areas (23.6 percent) in contrast to Sharique areas (9.6 percent), which happened due to outlier figures in income and erratic patterns of non-­tax income in Alatuli. The growth of income from non-­tax sources was negative in the Maria UP of the control area. Overall, the UPs of both areas required more conscious efforts to drive the growth rate upwards consistently. Financial conditions and expenditure autonomy Reliance on local income (ratio of total income/expenditure) Table 8.3 shows that the UPs of both Sharique and non-­Sharique areas heavily depended on government grants to run the UPs and pay for development expenditures. Nevertheless, Sharique initiated a slow reduction in the dependency of UPs on the central government for funds. Resources and potential sources of income mapping with the help of the Sharique project made the UPs aware of increasing the self-­income of the UPs. The results in the table show that the UPs of Sharique areas (4.7 percent), on an average, contributed more than nearly three times to the total expenditures of the UPs than that of the UPs of control areas (1.8 percent). Amongst the UPs of Sharique areas, Jhilim raised the average contribution of local income to the total expenditures to double digits. Shahbajpur closely followed Jhilim, as its average contribution was 8 percent. However, Shilmaria and Deopara depended more on the government money, one of the causes of the phenomenon being that these two UPs were getting increased funds from LGSP, as BBG, PBG and EBG, as well as for the social safety nets and employment generation programmes for their lobby with Table 8.3  Ratio of total own income and the total expenditures Areas


Fiscal Years 12–13


14–15 15–16

Sharique Areas Deopara 4.3% 4.1% 3.8% Shahbajpur 7.4% 5.5% 9.6% Jhilim 16.5% 13.8% 5.6% Shilmaria 2.2% 2.3% 2.2% Total 4.6% 4.4% 4.3% Control Areas Alatuli 0.1% 0.7% 1.1% Maria 8.4% 2.2% 1.3% Total 3.7% 1.5% 1.2% Source: Financial reports of UPs


Ave. Ratio

4.4% 2.4% 3.8% 7.6% 10.0% 8.0% 11.9% 9.1% 11.4% 2.9% 3.5% 2.6% 5.4% 4.9% 4.7% 0.3% 0.9% 0.6% 1.5% 2.1% 3.1% 1.1% 1.5% 1.8%

Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork  191 local MPs. In control areas, Maria was not far behind Deopara and Shilmaria, but after FY 2012–2013, the ratio showed a steep downward trend. However, Alatuli lagged behind with the average ratio of only 1.1 percent. Thus, the argument could be made that the UPs of Sharique areas were promising, showing a trend to enhance the role of the UPS’ own money in their expenditures. Moreover, data revealed that per-­capita UP income for FY 2016–2017 was BDT 19.69 and 7.55 in Sharique and control area respectively. Overall, these results clearly indicate that the UPs remained dependent on the government fund supply. Changes in local income The average local income of the UPs in Sharique areas was BDT 588,747, whilst it was BDT 134,597 for the UPs in control areas, almost four times greater than that of control areas. When the growth rate has been considered it has been shown that the UPs of Sharique areas gained more momentum in this respect and the rate was 12.5 percent, whilst it was −2.3 percent in control areas. The reason was that the UPs of Sharique areas have exploited the opportunity to raise the amount of local income, whilst the UPs of control areas have yet to expand their base to push forward the income from their own sources. Deopara UP of the Sharique area seemed to struggle to maintain a high growth rate amongst the UPs of Sharique areas. The inquiry revealed that a late surge in Shahbajpur gradually expanded the base of sources to earn more as local income in comparison to its neighbours and pushed the growth rate to as high as 48.4 percent. Alatuli UP in the control area also maintained a high growth rate, though erratically. Between these two UPs, Shahbajpur and Alatuli, the former in Sharique areas championed in exploiting unused sources it possessed to enhance its own income; consequently, now it is quickly accumulating increased amount of revenue from the mentioned sources. Thus, it can be concluded that the UPs of Sharique areas evidently pushed their efforts to increase their income from own sources. Amount received as local income against the amount assessed in budget The UPs of both areas fixed their targets to achieve an ambitious amount of money as their own income. The results disclosed the fact that all the UPs failed to accumulate the amount of money they fixed in budgets. However, the UPs in Sharique areas on average earned 56 percent of its targeted amount, whilst the UPs of control areas amassed 37.2 percent of their targets. Amongst all the UPs of this study, Jhilim UP of the Sharique area was the leader in this respect, fulfilling 78.6 percent of its target fixed in the budget. These figures support the argument that the UPs of Sharique areas were better performers in terms of getting close to their targets.

192  Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork Pattern of total funds received by the UPs The maps of total fund received – from the government and non-­government sources and local income – by the UPs of both areas displayed that the UPs of Sharique areas were performing better. The average amount of funds received by the UPs of Sharique areas was BDT 13,009,700 whilst it was BDT 6,935,478 for the UPs of control areas. The growth rate (11.6 percent and 4.2 percent for Sharique and control areas respectively) showed promise for the UPs of Sharique areas as the rate was almost three times higher than that of control areas. Thus, it can be argued that the UPs of Sharique areas were accumulating more funds from various sources. These figures in Sharique areas also reveal the capacity of the UPs of Sharique areas to lobby for an increased supply of grants to the higher authorities. Moreover, these UPs were also getting recognition for their better performance with an increased supply of BBG and PBG from LGSP. Use of funds for development The annual financial reports and LGSP audit documents were analysed to observe the patterns of the fund usage, particularly for development purposes. Analysis showed that the UPs of Sharique areas (BDT 189,611) on average earn more than that of control areas (BDT 5,908) from local sources to spend for development activities after managing the establishment cost. However, the development cost paid from local funds was very little as it was just 2.1 percent and 0.14 percent of aggregate development expenditure in Sharique and control areas respectively. Moreover, when capita development expenditure from local funds was taken into per-­ account, the result showed the UPs of Sharique areas were spending more from their own source, though it was very poor: BDT 1.21 and BDT 0.19 for Sharique and control areas respectively. Overall, the UPs of Sharique areas contributed more for development from their own source than the UPs of control areas, though there were some inconsistencies. Data showed that the UPs of control areas outperformed the UPs of Sharique areas regarding expending for development in ratio of total received, as it was 55.4 percent and 58.1 percent in Sharique and control areas; however, the difference between the two groups was not remarkable as it was only 2.7 percent. It was also discovered that the UPs in Sharique and control areas expend BDT 58.43 and BDT 129.42 respectively per person annually for development which means that the UPs of control areas were spending more per person than that of the UPs of Sharique areas. The reason for this was that in Sharique areas the population was much higher than that of control areas. This large size of population lessened the per-­ capita expenditure for development in Sharique areas. When the average development cost was calculated for each UP of both Sharique and control areas per year, it was found that the figures were BDT 9,135,203 and BDT 4,293,311 respectively. The results clarified that the UPs of Sharique areas

Fiscal autonomy through GO-­NGO teamwork  193 were spending more than double the amount spent by control areas for development. Evidence revealed that against development expenditures the amount of a UP’s own revenue remained poor in both cases. The poor amount made them less autonomous regarding expenditures. Likewise, the high dependency of the UPs on government funds for development and the earmarked status of the most of the funds supplied to the LGIs for development hurt the expenditure autonomy of the UPs.

Conclusion Data reveal that the UPs of Sharique regions are striving to collect more revenue from taxes and lessen their dependency on holding taxes, increase non-­holding taxes for revenue generation. The UPs in Sharique zones also exhibited diversification of earnings from non-­tax sources. The outcomes reveal increases in tax and non-­tax income with diversification of sources, but the ratio of their own income to annual expenditure stands on average at only 4.7 percent, whilst the figure remains as low as 1.8 percent in non-­ Sharique areas. In Sharique areas there has been a growth of 12.5 percent in UPs’ own returns, whilst it is −2.3 percent in non-­Sharique areas. On top of that, whilst fixing their targets the UPs in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas achieved 56 percent and 37.2 percent of their targeted own income set in the budgets. When the whole scenario of funds received from their own sources, the government, and NSAs has been considered, the picture demonstrates better performance of the UPs of the Sharique area with an 11.6-­percent average increase, where the UPs of non-­Sharique territories are struggling to little extent with a 4.2-­percent increase. All that reveals better performance of the UPs of Sharique areas, however, the autonomy of the UPs involved with financial issues remains low due to government control, unwillingness of the officials, lack of motivation of the masses, and poor conditions of supply of services. It is also important to learn how women are doing and how they are placed in the governing process, as the project has employed special measures to create equal and equitable opportunities for women in the UPs.

Notes Section 3.2.2 of Union Parishad Operational Manual. 1 2 World Bank, Bangladesh empowering local governments. Retrieved January 9, 2017, from­empowering-­local­governments.

References The Union Parishad Operational Manual. (2012). Local government division. Dhaka: The Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh. World Bank. (2016). Bangladesh empowering local governments. Retrieved January 9, 2017, from­empowering-­ local-­governments.

9 Mainstreaming gender in the local governance The outcomes of collaboration between local government units and an NGO project Introduction GM involves the removal of imbalances between the men and women in society and institutions. Thus, both men and women and their roles become important for GM. It requires a social change, a change that shifts the nature of relationships between male and female. For this, an intended and deliberate effort stands as the prerequisite for GM. The collaborative endeavour has given such attention to mainstreaming gender in the UPs by empowering women both as officials and as service recipients. Consequently, an attempt is made in this chapter to discuss the results of the efforts of the Sharique project in collaboration with UPs to mainstream gender in the governing process of the UP.

Awareness of gender issues Cognitive change towards gender One of the key issues, covered by the Sharique project, was to change the perception and thinking of the actors from both sides regarding gender. How far the actors under the project areas were sensitised on gender has been laid out in this section. When asked, 95 percent and 90 percent of the male officials from Sharique and control areas respectively said they supported the quota system for women. The UP chair of a UP in Sharique areas mentioned that until and unless the full potentials of the women were used, the development of the UP would not be sustainable (Interview data, December 14, 2017). He further argued that women should be mainstreamed, though he proposed reforms in the present quota system for the UP: I do not like the present quota system for women; though it was created opportunity for women to participate in politics, it is deteriorative. The existing system made female members suffer from an inferiority complex since, first, they represent three times more area and citizens than their male colleagues, second, though were elected directly, their seats

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  195 are reserved, and, third, the constituency of a FM is solely not her own as three male colleagues of her, in parallel, cover the same area, as the total ratio of numbers of female and male elected officials in a UP stands at 3 : 9, is equal to the ratio of 1 : 3. To overcome the present complexities, I propose a system, which will allow fixation of constituencies of ward numbers in a UP according to population and where the number of wards can vary from one UP to another UP with the variation in a population. After getting the number of wards, a certain number of wards, ideally 50 percent, will be fixed for women. These seats of women will rotate in a cyclic order every new election, which means that the constituencies for women will be changed in every new election, and to cover the whole area of the UP by women it requires two five-­year terms of office. (Interview data, December 14, 2017) However, though the chair of another UP in Sharique areas was of the same opinion of his counterpart in the UP mentioned just before, his way of quota reformation was different. He proposed that there would be one general member and one FM from each ward of a UP, which meant a total of 18 members from each UP on aggregate. He advanced his idea that the jurisdiction of the male and female members would be separated (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Now, the key question is how the males from both sides perceived the skills and potentialities of women. In Sharique areas male citizens (80 percent) and officials (95 percent) strongly believe that women possess same skill as men, whilst a smaller portion of male citizens (30 percent) and officials (45.5 percent) in control areas developed same kind of belief. It was found that in Sharique areas, men from both groups of officials and citizens developed more rational thinking about the women than their counterparts in control areas. The men of Sharique areas identified that if women got the opportunities and environment they would respond in the same manner as men. Considering the matter, the chair of a UP in a Sharique area said, ‘I think the projects for the empowerment of women should be given more space and budget, so that they can be included in the mainstream’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The Sharique project instilled gender issues in the consciousness of the general public. People’s level of understanding and awareness increased to a new height. The FGD session in Jhilim revealed that the people of the area became aware of gender as they ascertained that women should participate in WS meetings and OBMs (FGD data, December 17, 2017). Moreover, FGD participants in Deopara claimed that men began to show respect for women and welcome their involvement in local-­level politics (FGD data, December 18, 2017). Officials were found lagged no far behind, as one UP member mentioned that he brought his sister to the UP because he realised her participation in WS meetings and OBMs would encourage others to participate in the same way (Interview data, December 27, 2017).

196  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming The officials also identified that focusing on only women would not be enough to ensure mainstreaming gender. It is also required to enhance the role of men as well. A UP secretary stated, ‘It is needed to include women and their men to increase the participation of women’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). It was also noted that the purdah system barred women’s participation in local politics.1 The UP secretary of a UP in control areas realised, ‘To participate in the UP, in large numbers, women have to come out of the custom of purdah’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). The cognisance of the people has been realised in observations of the FGD participants, one of whom stated, ‘People do not understand or try to realise the necessity of women or FMs in the UP. Thus, the election of female members did not experience a close contest as people do not show mentionable interests’ (FGD data, 18 December 2017). It was also learnt that people also became aware of ‘post participation complexities’ of women, as it was noted that those who got into politics faced unwelcomed situations (Interview data, December 18, 2017). They have to fight against patriarchy continuously to claim their space in the decision-­making process. Based on the discussions above, it can be argued that both officials and citizens were knowledgeable about gender issues. They became aware of and developed insights on the issue. It was perceived that the people of Sharique areas were more versed in realising the importance of minimising the gender gap to ensure sustainable development. Awareness of rights and entitlements The women of Sharique areas were found to be more aware of their rights and entitlements than their counterparts in control areas. One FM disclosed, ‘Sharique has made us aware of our rights, entitlements, and existing laws. The project empowered women through conscientising and improving financial status. It has also removed obstacles to women participation in politics’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Data showed that 95 percent and 77.8 percent of the women who responded from Sharique and control areas respectively mentioned that they were aware of receiving information, goods, and services from the UPs as their rights. However, when the inquiry further queried their awareness of the different services and their timeframe, it was found that 50 percent of the respondents (women) from Sharique areas asserted that they were aware of these issues. However, none of the women from control areas were found to be aware. The participants of the FGD sessions also confirmed that women have become aware of various issues (FGD data, December 20, 2017). A member of society in Deopara stated, ‘Women have learnt about their rights through the intervention of the Sharique project’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017) and that, consequently, women had been speaking up for their rights and entitlements in WS meetings and OBMs (Interview data, December 17, 2017).

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  197

Equality and equity Participation and voice raising of women Officials (93.73 percent) agreed that the Sharique project contributed in preparing women to participate in discussions about serious issues in the forums. Data and direct observations of participatory processes like WS meetings and OBMs revealed that women were participating in them in significant numbers. Sharique’s motivation and awareness building efforts made women understand the necessity of being linked with UPs. Officials mentioned that Sharique contributed to activating women to engage actively with UPs through providing training (73.3 percent), increasing confidence (3.3 percent), awareness building (53.3 percent), and developing skills (43.3 percent). Citizens (70 percent) also disclosed their agreement in favour of Sharique’s role in encouraging women to participate. They found that Sharique contributed to women participation in decision-­making processes mostly through awareness building (20.7 percent), encouraging them to raise their voices (17.2 percent), motivation (13.8 percent), and persuading them to participate in the meetings (13.8 percent). An NGO official described Sharique’s initiatives as follows: Women did not come to UP before. We have made them understand that the UPs are the hub of government services at a local level, and if you become engaged with the UPs, you all will benefit. We take initiatives to bring the women to the UP. For this, we instituted a body, named Ward Platform (WP), of local inhabitants of both genders. We include those who already have an attachment with other NGOs for microcredit or other income-­generating activities. In WP, we include those women who are habituated to speaking out. Through WP, women have developed unity, which has been their strength. It has become easy for the UPs to organise WS with the presence of WP members. We made the WP members perceived that the UP will write letters to you to invite you and this is an honour for you. Later we influence the UP secretary to issue letters to the WP members. With the issuance of letters, the WP members come to WS in numbers. (Interview data, January 12, 2018) However, the beginning was not easy. The existing socio-­cultural environment complicated bringing women into the public. For example, in Shahbajpur, the bordering UP, society was more conservative than the other UPs of the study area. Women were uncomfortable and reluctant to speak in front of men. At that time, facilitators of Sharique encouraged UP officials to organise separate sessions of the meetings or dividing the gathering into

198  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming two parts for men and women with dividers or curtains. An NGO official gave his account: In Shahbajpur, the religious obstruction for participation was higher in comparison to present time situation. Men and women could not sit together in the WS meeting. Therefore, in the beginning, we have to organise WS by dividing the people who were present in WS with drapes, in line with their identity as male or female (Interview data, January 10, 2018) Now the question is how Sharique’s efforts have worked. Data revealed that 90 percent of the women from the demand-­side observed that women became aware to participate in WS meetings and OBMs. However, in control areas, the women were found to suffer from indecision, as the lion’s share (77.8 percent) of them revealed neither agreement nor disagreement on the issue of women being aware to participate in WS meetings and OBMs. When we asked female respondents whether they took part in the meetings, 85 percent female respondents from the demand side in Sharique areas claimed that they participated in the process. Conversely, none of the same group claimed such in control areas. A female member (WM), from a UP in Sharique areas pronounced, Women are coming to WS or OBM with larger numbers; even in some cases, they surpassed the number of men, particularly in WS. The reason is that they understand the problems deeply; they get more free time in comparison to their men; and most importantly, the demands are high in quantity and quality from women. (Interview data, December 18, 2017) The participants of the FGD session at Jhilim UP supported that the numbers of the women were higher than that of men. The session participants further agreed that the women of their areas became aware of their rights, which led them to participate in WS meetings and OBMs to claim their rights and entitlements (FGD data, December 17, 2017). The researchers have furthered his inquiry to unearth the observation of the officials, particularly of FMs. Amongst the FMs, 91.7 percent and 33.3 percent from Sharique and control areas respectively mentioned that women had been participating in WS meetings and OBMs. A social worker went on to express his experience as, ‘Almost 50 percent of the WS participants are women’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). The direct observation of WS meetings and OBMs confirmed the claim of respondents. For example, in the OBM of Deopara 60 percent of the participants were female. One of the reasons was that the area is the abode of ethnic minority groups who have been motivated easily, and the impediments of these groups to participation were very low. The close observation of the WS

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  199 meeting also revealed that amongst the women who participated, the rate of participation of women from indigenous groups was higher in comparison to that of mainstream Muslims. The reason behind the presence of increased numbers of aboriginal women was their reduced (or lack of) impediments from family, society, religion, and culture, as well as their easy accessibility to the goals of the project. The discussion here revealed that in Sharique areas women had more opportunity to participate in WS meetings than that of control areas. Now the question is what narrowed the opportunity of women to participate in the governing process of the UP, particularly in control areas. The two important causes, which were revealed during the field visit and data collection period were, first, in control areas, the UPs were not organising WS meetings regularly, and second, if they organised WS meetings and OBMs the invitation to the assembly did not reach everyone. The women from the demand and supply sides, as well as male officials were asked to identify the issues that hindered women’s equal participation. They mentioned lack of education, patriarchy, loss in familial activities, lack of awareness, lack of exposure, religious restrictions, poverty, lack of benefits, and so forth as the causes of non-­participation of women. An NGO official realised, ‘There are three set of areas from which women’s participation has been impeded. These three major areas are familial, social, and religious impediments’ (Interview data, January 7, 2018). Table 9.1 shows that in Sharique areas, according to women from the demand side and FMs, religion was not a big threat to participation of, which was pervasive in control areas. Nevertheless, it has not been removed completely yet, as a sexagenarian male participant of an FGD session said, ‘I have heard about OBMs through loudspeaker, however, I have not come because I felt discomfort for the presence of women there’ (FGD data, December 14, 2017). It was noticed that patriarchy remained as one of the heavy impediments to the participation of women in Sharique areas. A member of Shahbajpur expressed the opinions of the patriarchal society: ‘Women’s political participation is not welcomed by the society’ (Interview data, December 19, 2017). Supply-­side actors from Alatuli corroborated the sentiment of that member: We do not like women’s participation at WS and OBM. We men will go there. Our wives and other women need not go there. The women of the house will remain at the residences. Religion and the society here do not like these systems of participation. (Interview data, December 30, 2017) Another notable impediment to the participation of women is their household activities. Though women were aware, they had to stay home to accomplish their daily activities. A woman from Deopara opined on the part of the aware women, ‘I think, though women have opportunity to participate in WS and OBM, yet, they have not joined in the same due to a possible

200  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming Table 9.1  Impediments of women to participate in politics Areas

Sharique areas


Male official

Response* f % Lack of education 5 41.7 Poverty 3 25.0 Religious 4 33.3 impediments Existing cultures 2 16.7 Lack of power 2 16.7 Patriarchy 7 58.3 Lack of awareness 4 33.3 Lack of opportunity 2 16.7 Lack of money 2 16.7 No impediments – – Loss in family – – activities No benefit – – Shyness – – Total 31 258.3

Control areas



f % – – – – – –

f 1 – –

– – – – – – 2 100 5 1 50 – – – – – – – – – – – – 3

Male official

% f 11.1 3 – – – 3 – – 55.6 – – – – 33.3

1 – 2 1 – – 1 –

– – 1 11.1 – – – 1 11.1 – 3 150 11 122.2 11

% 50.0 – 50.0 16.7 – 33.3 16.7 – – 16.7 –



f % f % 2 50 1 14.3 1 25 – – – – 3 42.9 – – – 1 – – – –

– – – 25 – – – –

– – – 1 – – – 6

– – – 14.3 – – – 85.7

– – – 1 14.3 – – – – – 183.3 4 100 12 171

Source: Field data, 2017–2018 Multiple responses taken into account


hamper of their homemaking activities’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). An FGD session participant in Deopara revealed, ‘There are impediments for women to participate in WS or OBM from the respective families and in this respect mothers-­in-­law and husbands were the potential thwarter’ (FGD data, December 18, 2017). Though women were motivated and made skilled, still they need continuous efforts to bring them to the UP and its activities. An FGD session organised at Jhilim, uncovered that women were not spontaneous in participation in the participatory processes. Unless they were not guided or inspired continuously, their participation would drop, though they thought they should participate in the activities of UP (FGD data, 17 December 2017). In control areas, the scenario of women’s participation can be seen in the following assertion of a participant of the FGD session: Women do not go to WS and OBM, because usually, they do not get regarded with the right kind of importance from officials. They think that there will be no benefit gained from participation in the UP’s activities. Many keep their views/demands to themselves and do not express them in public. In this area, people are mostly farmers or agricultural workers by profession, and illiterate and conservative in nature. This

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  201 demographic phenomenon has made an unfavourable environment here for women to participate in WS and OBM. Nevertheless, in the face of sheer need, they go to the UP’s participatory programmes. (FGD data, December 26, 2017) It has already been revealed that in Sharique areas women were participating in WS meetings and OBMs. Now is our opportunity to unearth to what extent they had been given an opportunity to take part actively. Researchers’ direct observations of WS meetings and OBMs revealed that the officials had been seen to encourage women to express their demands. FGD data also revealed that, at both WS meetings and OBMs, opportunities were provided to all, and women in particular were repeatedly asked to raise their demands (FGD data, December 17, 2017). An NGO official claimed, ‘Women have developed the ability to make demands. They, who have been motivated and trained by the Sharique project were found to be comfortable in speaking up in social gathering and WS’ (Interview data, January 7, 2018). The researchers verified the assessment through observation and other processes of data collection. For example, a woman from Shahbajpur asserted that Sharique taught them how to speak up in public (Interview data, December 20, 2017). However, it has been found that the numbers of speaking women were limited, and most of the women remained silent and continued reluctantly in these participatory processes. It was further disclosed that those who could speak spoke a lot, and those who felt uneasy did not speak at all. Another NGO official observed, Most of the women remain inactive. For example, usually we have 17 people in a WP, and amongst them, seven are women. Only three of them have been found to be active through raising their voices in different forms. The main reasons for their inactiveness are their lack of education and weak social stature. Whilst I was working in Puthia, it was observed that the participation of women in WS was low. When they were paid incentives, then they came to the WS and OBM. It was also seen that the UP officials, to show the participation of women, brought those women who were beneficiaries of SSNPs, in the face of the threat of cancellation of the beneficial status of the women. (Interview data, January 12, 2018) Thus, the argument that can be made here is that the Sharique’s efforts changed the scenario of participation of women in the intervened areas. Women are coming to WS meetings and OBMs in numbers. Women in Sharique areas still face the hurdle of patriarchy, but the barrier of religion seems to have been reduced. It was further observed that at WS meetings and OBMs women are provided opportunities to speak up, but the numbers of voice raisers amongst women are limited.

202  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming Equal rewards and benefits We inquired into how male demand-­and supply-­side actors from both Sharique and control areas were thinking about women getting equal benefits and rights from the UPs. It was detected that male officials from both Sharique (80 percent) and control (80 percent) areas displayed their consensus on women’s getting equal benefits. However, male citizens from both Sharique (95 percent) and control (54.5 percent) areas diverged in views as almost half of the male of control areas did not find it reasonable that women should receive equal benefits as men. Those who did not support the equal benefits for all invoked the logic that, firstly, women lack skills, secondly, they know and understand less, and thirdly, men usually work more in comparison to women. The next analysis involved how the UP treated women regarding benefits and rewards. It was observed that women were being awarded equal rewards and benefits as men from the UPs of both Sharique and control areas. A man from a Sharique area mentioned, ‘Men and women are getting equal benefits from the UP’ (Interview data, December 14, 2017). A chairperson asserted, ‘We do not discriminate between men and women. Actually, the provisions of various instruments do not allow us to do so. I personally believe that women should get equal benefits from all institutions’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). A 40-­day employment generation project was assessed to understand whether UPs discriminated between men and women. It was learnt that the UPs of both areas did not discriminate in payment of equal benefits to men and women. The principal reason behind the equality was the legal binding of the project. However, a proxy system was discovered in Alatuli UP from the control area. It was found that in the payroll list the names of women were entered but, in the field, men worked on behalf of the women. This discussion supports the argument that belief in equal rights for women has been instilled in the people of Sharique areas, and the supply-­side actors possessed same level of awareness on the issue in both areas. Male bias or gender blindness with men-­streaming? The observation and the data revealed that in comparison to the UPs of control areas, the UPs of Sharique areas are providing more space and scope to the female members. However, the question is to what extent these increased scopes and spaces removed male bias in the UPs. The female members of Shilmaria and Deopara UP in the Sharique area could freely express their opinions and accomplish their assigned projects and other activities. Both general members and the female members of reserved seats were treated equally in the office. One female member from Deopara opined, ‘Men are evaluating us equally’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). However, in the other two UPs of the Sharique area and in the UPs

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  203 of control areas, it was found that to fulfil legal mandates the UPs kept official procedures up-­to-­date, but in practice, the scenario was rather different, as in many cases the women were not entrusted with what they were mandated to be involved with or benefit from. An NGO official revealed, Women did get their just share from the UP on many issues, which once they were denied. They were entitled to get one-­third of the projects of the UP. On paper, it was maintained according to the guidelines, but in practice, it was something different, since though some projects were headed by female members officially, in practice male members were given responsibility to implement them. Moreover, the female members were also elected as panel chairs; however, their receiving of responsibilities of acting chairs were rare, as, in absence of the chair, the duties of the chair were usually assigned to the male panel chairs. (Interview data, January 10, 2018). The NGO official’s statement was echoed in the grievances and frustration of a female member. She disclosed, I am officially assigned and awarded to accomplish various projects, but the process sometimes remains only on paper, as my male colleagues take the responsibilities to accomplish them. However, I would like to complete my projects by myself. (Interview data, December 17, 2017) This statement affirmed that FMs got equal numbers of projects de jure, but they accomplished fewer projects de facto. It was also revealed that the level of having one’s voice heard in the office of the UP and the level of contentment of the same was high for male officials in contrast to FMs. A female member from Alatuli UP in the control area asserted, ‘My male colleagues get more than what I receive when demanded, and we are not gratified all time. We sometimes face the negligence of the males at UP’ (Interview data, 26 December 2017). It was also unveiled that in both areas when it concerns the issue of important and/or big projects, the UP showed its bias for men. Thus, it can be concluded with the argument of Chant and Gutmann (2002) that there should be efforts for men-­streaming on issues of gender in the UPs to ensure FMs’ right uphold. Gender budgeting The budgets of six UPs of Sharique and control areas were studied to unearth how much of these budgets were gender sensitised. We analysed whether the UPs gave special focus on women’s affairs and if they did so, then how much was allocated particularly for the women and their development in the budgets. The secretary of a UP in Sharique areas stated, ‘There

204  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming was no special allocation for women in the budget of UP. Sharique has suggested that we allocate a portion exclusively for women in the budget’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). When officials of both areas were asked whether there were any special provisions in the budget for the development of women, 84.4 percent and 56.3 percent of the supply-­side actors from Sharique and control areas respectively claimed that they allocated funds in budgets for the development of women and gender-­related issues. In practice, it was observed that (Table 9.2) all the UPs of the study had allocated money in the budget for the development of women. However, all the UPs were discovered to be inconsistent in their approaches to spend for the women. Data showed that the UPs of Sharique areas became more sensitised to women’s related issues than the UPs of non-­Sharique areas and the reflection of the same was observed in their budgets. Each UP of Sharique areas allocated on an average BDT 63,655.31 yearly for the development of women, whilst the figure stood at BDT 35,500 in control areas. Amongst the UPs of Sharique areas, Shilmaria was found most sensitised on the issues of women. The expenditures mostly included expenses for distribution of sewing machines, livestock, and development of projects which particularly targeted the development of women. Here, another notable issue was that in all the UPs a tendency was revealed that the UPs in most cases distributed sewing machines. However, it was learnt that distribution of sewing machines was not effective in all the cases to eradicate poverty, as reliance of so many on the same sources of earnings resulted in a lesser amount of income for the beneficiaries. Moreover, the UPs also showed lack of interest in sensitising officials and citizens on the issues of gender, as no awareness-­ building efforts were found supported with the allocation of budgets. Overall, the budget allocation for the development of women did not match the needs. Moreover, though the UPs struggled with their limited income they

Table 9.2  Allocation for women in budgets (actual) of the UPs (in BDT) Areas


Fiscal Years 2013–2014 2014–2015 2015–2016 2016–2017 Average Allocation

Sharique Deopara Areas Shahbajpur Jhilim Shilmaria Total Control Alatuli Areas Maria Total

0.00 0.00 0.00 134,950 134,950 100,000 0.00 100,000

0.00 0.00 100,000 290,000 390,000 150,000 0.00 150,000

150,000 175,000 0.00 0.00 325,000 0.00 34,000 34,000

0.00 0.00 48,535 120,000 168,535 0.00 0.00 0.00

Source: Annual financial reports of UPs, audit reports, and project lists

37,500 43,750 37,133.75 136,237.50 63,655.31 62,500 8,500 35,500

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  205 were found in a position to initiate more focused action to increase the allocation for the development of women.

Empowerment/agency building Change in power relation Women were asked about their status during the decision-­making process at home. In reply, according to data, 80 percent of the respondents from Sharique areas confirmed that they were consulted during decisions making. Conversely, in control areas, the women respondents from citizens disclosed that they were unsure about their role in decision-­making processes. Moreover, the FMs were also asked whether they were treated properly during decision-­making processes. Data showed that there were no observable differences found between the FMs of Sharique (58.3 percent) and control (66.7 percent) areas as they both faced patriarchal obstacles during decision-­making. The disclosure of these outcomes regarding women meant that the women in everyday life in Sharique areas became empowered in decision-­making processes by the men of the families. However, when it came to the issue of playing roles by female officials in decisions, it became tough for women as the male officials played a dominant role in decision-­making. The entrance of FMs in power structures has not been attained yet. A chair opined, ‘In politics, the opportunities for women are limited; they have to overcome hurdles after hurdles, including sheer negligence of men, at every stage’ (Interview data, December 14, 2017). It was echoed in the voice of a FM from Shahbajpur, as she mentioned, ‘I could not express my opinion in the past at my office, as I was obstructed’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). These hurdles impeded the progress of the women, and the process resulted in less empowered female members with limited opportunities in both Sharique and control areas. Development of ownership Sharique took the initiative to develop a sense of ownership in the women of the UPs. It was learnt that whilst the project was in operation, the women through WP were activated to participate in the planning process, through which women could demand forcefully for projects to be implemented. Later, when the proposed projects of the women were taken into account women felt more attached to the projects and the UPs. In addition, women were involved with the supervision of the implementation processes of the projects and these types of involvement accelerated the development of ownership. A woman from Shilmaria UP mentioned, In our UP, a sanctuary for birds has been developed. For this, a watchtower was proposed to be built to oversee the sanctuary. The UP

206  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming bestowed on us the supervisory role for project implementation. During implementation of the project, I regularly visited the construction site and confirmed the following of the project documents appropriately. Now, as the project has been accomplished, I feel proud to let the visitors know that the project was implemented under a team in which I was also a member. (Interview data, December 12, 2017) Another woman form Deopara narrated her experience, Once the UP assigned me along with a few other community members to supervise the task of filling up the small ditches and pits of the roads with earth. During the implementation of the projects, goons, who were involved with local politics, came to me to demand extortion, but I did not give them anything. After being unsuccessful they tried to stop the work, yet again they remained ineffective as we collectively frustrated them. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) Moreover, whilst interviewing, the researchers asked female citizens whether their projects had been implemented. In reply, 35 percent of the women mentioned that their proposed projects were accomplished. However, in control areas, no such incidents were mentioned by any of the women. That development encouraged women to be engaged more with the UPs, as 90 percent of the women in Sharique areas commented. Furthermore, the women in Sharique areas mentioned that they participated in WS spontaneously to meet the legal requirements (30 percent), and to make demands (60 percent). In contrast to Sharique areas, none of the control areas mentioned spontaneous participation, and only 9.1 percent of the women respondents mentioned that they participated in the WS to place demands. This pattern of participation depicted that the women developed a sense of ownership of the UPs for which their self-­guided participation in WS meetings was increased in Sharique areas. Freedom of choice and action Women were asked whether they could take part in WS meetings and OBMs at their will. It was revealed that the women of Sharique areas (65 percent) were enjoying more freedom than that of control areas (33.3 percent). A physically challenged woman stated, Sharique has provided me training on skill development and income generation. The project has encouraged and made me aware, plus provided me with a sewing machine. The officials of the project have made me understand various issues. I did not know how to speak up at public gatherings, but they taught me how. I learnt a lot. I think if the UP follows the techniques and the policies of Sharique then we women will

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  207 be self-­dependent and unemployment will be reduced. Consequently, we will gain more space in power structures. (Interview data, December 17, 2017) Through the efforts of Sharique, women became self-­confident and courageous enough to participate in meetings and go outside when needed of their own free will. A woman from the Sharique areas revealed, Previously I did not go outside of my house or I could not go outside due to lack of courage. Now, with the encouragement of Sharique, I go to various places when needed, and I have even travelled to Dhaka solely (Interview data, December 20, 2017) It was also found that the sewing machines that Sharique has given to the poor women have empowered women financially (Interview data, December 20, 2017). Furthermore, women were found changed completely from mere homemakers to high post–holders in the ruling political party. A woman, who was a member of the WP in Shilmaria UP, narrated her life-­changing motivational account of Sharique in the following case study (Interview data, December 12, 2017).

Case Study 9.1  Mousumi became an enlightened woman I was mother of a child. I was just a homemaker. One day I got an invitation to join a yard meeting. I went to the meeting, and found quite a few women there. I learnt it was a meeting of the Sharique project. I was impressed by the way they motivated us. I became a member of the WP and was inspired to join other programmes of Sharique and had various trainings like women leadership development, speaking up, participatory gender analysis, etc. This was the start. After the initial stage, I began to participate in WS meetings and OBMs. Later I was assigned to motivate other women to join the UP. I have enjoyed it a lot. The mixing with people encouraged me to mount on broader platform. I got one. You know, now I am the president of Upazila Mahila [women] Juba [youth] League [an associate organisation of the one of the two major political parties in Bangladesh]. This season I will consider running in the election of the UP for the post of the chair (Mousumi Rahman, interview with researcher, Shilmaria, December 12, 2017). (Note: The two major parties in Bangladesh remain Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party).

208  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming

Case Study 9.2  Jahanara became a member of the UP I have become interested in running in the election during my involvement with the Sharique project. My dream coincided with that of my father to see me as a member of the UP. The dream matured with increased confidence during the intervention period of Sharique. As a WP member, I have gotten training from Sharique and have become aware and participated in WS meetings and OBMs. I have also been selected as a member of the SC. Since then I have begun to aspire to being the office bearer. This time before the election my neighbours came to me and encouraged me to run in the election as they thought I would be an appropriate and competent candidate for the post. They worked hard during election campaign and now people have casted their votes in favour of me, and I have become an elected member of the UP, and I hope I might now contribute for the betterment of the marginalised, particularly for the women. However, I did not get any special supports from fellow WPs (Jahanara Begum Sathi, a WP member of the Sharique project, elected as a UP member on March 27, 2018, in Shilmaria UP).

The case of Jahanara Begum Sathi showed promise, as she translated encouragement and aspiration into action. Though Sharique has been phased out, the project’s enlightenment remains alive. Sathi, a marginalised woman and a mother of two daughters attending university, has taken part in the election at her will with the support of her family and won. However, she did not get enthusiastic support of the members of the former WP, which had been developed by Sharique. The researchers further assessed whether FMs could take initiatives for the development of their area. Data revealed that the FMs of Sharique areas gained positions extensively as they sometimes (83.3 percent) were able to initiate enterprises for the development of their areas in comparison to the FMs of control areas (66.7 percent) who were more often denied. The FGD session in Alatuli UP in the control area revealed that women could not perform any activities according to their enterprise and will (FGD data, December 26, 2017). Here, the argument can be extended that the Sharique project has instilled courage and willingness through motivation, skill development, and income generation to empower women to make choices and act accordingly.

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  209

Women in leadership Networking (reciprocity, trust, cooperation and common good) Sharique, through the WP, assembled women and men under shared groups. One NGO official narrated the process, Women brought other women to the WS and OBM. This made the participation of women higher than that of men. We trained two community volunteers to motivate the women to come to the UP. In the beginning, mostly poor women participated; however, later we included leaders of the other groups formed by other NGOs working in other sectors. The process made it easy to make women aware and bring more women by inviting the group leaders to come and bring their colleagues. (Interview data, January 9, 2018) However, there were challenges to bringing the women out of the home to be involved with the UPs. Another NGO official disclosed, The members of WP, particularly the female members, brought other women into the WS. However, there were great challenges, which included the propaganda of removal of purdah and proselytization to Christianity. Moreover, the people of that area exhibited symptoms of stubborn radicalism to some extent. (Interview data, January 10, 2018) When asked 40 percent and 10 percent of the women in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas respectively opined that they were and are involved with groups. They realised that they could influence the decisions of the UP if they approached the UP collectively in a group. However, in control areas, no existence of such groups was mentioned. In Sharique areas, the formation of and involvement with groups helped women to learn more and keep united to move ahead with a forceful voice. FGD data revealed that women became aware of their rights and entitlements. They discussed many issues of the UPs in groups, which enhanced their knowledge, and developed group solidarity (FGD data, December 20, 2017). Data showed that 75 percent of the women in Sharique areas disclosed that they helped each other to participate in WS meetings and OBMs, whilst in control areas none claimed such. FGD participants asserted, ‘Women participated in WS and OBM in groups’ (FGD data, December 18, 2017). Further inquiry revealed that 95 percent of the women from Sharique areas strengthened other community members in placing demands at the WS meetings. By contrast, 45.5 percent of women from control areas stated that they also

210  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming extended supports to the people of the community to make demands at the UPs formally or informally. Moreover, 80 percent and 44.4 percent of the women of Sharique and control areas respectively claimed that they demanded collectively to the UP. It was also observed in Sharique areas that the bonding of the women through the WP was so substantial that they decided to send one of their own to hold the office of the FM in the UP. A member of the WP of Sharique gave her account, I, though I was uninterested, with the insisting request of the group which I belong to, declared my candidacy as FM for the reserved seat. In the election, I lost marginally. I felt that general people casted their votes for me profusely, but I lost to the buying of votes by other contestants with black-­money. (Interview data, December 17, 2017) However, in Deopara the WP members did not experience such a defeat. A female member of WP of Sharique project mentioned, We have a group of 17 women including me in Ward 5 of Deopara. We met frequently to discuss many issues of the community. In fact, we still sit together, though less frequently. During the last election, we decided to elect a FM from amongst us, and in response, an indigenous woman amongst us was made a candidate, and in the election, our candidate won the contest. Through her, it has become easy for us to ensure that our rights and demands are upheld in the UP. (Interview data, December 20, 2017) A woman from Jhilim also asserted, ‘Women in groups, influenced the decision-­making process through their members’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). From this discussion one can infer that in Sharique areas, the women became interconnected, helped each other, and worked for the community’s betterment. Capacity of female members Data showed that 58.4 percent of the FMs from Sharique areas and 50 percent of the same of control areas had some sort of knowledge on the Act. Meanwhile, the percentages were 90 percent and 70 percent for male members, who were more conversant on the act, in Sharique and control areas respectively. Moreover, it was furthered found that all of the FMs and 83.3 percent of the FMs in Sharique and control areas respectively were aware of their responsibilities. In Sharique areas, 50 percent of the FMs mentioned that if it was needed, they could contact the higher officials of the government, whilst the rate was only 16.7 percent in control areas.

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  211 When asked whether they implemented CC in their respective UPs, in reply 75 percent and 20 percent of the FMs in Sharique and control areas in that order affirmed such a claim. Regarding information dissemination, it was revealed that 83.3 percent of the FMs in Sharique areas contributed to disclosure of information to the citizens, whilst it was 50 percent in non-­ Sharique areas. The female members were also participating in village courts as arbiters. The chair of a UP from the Sharique area mentioned, ‘Female members have played an active role in the Shalish and conflict resolutions in their Wards’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The data depicted that the FMs of Sharique areas became conversant on various issues and developed their capacities in comparison to the FMs of control areas. However, when male members of Sharique areas were compared with the FMs of the same, it was learnt that in this regard the FMs lagged behind. Though data revealed that the FMs were made dexterous on acts, duties, and responsibilities, they still have far to go. FGD participants of Jhilim UP unanimously disclosed, ‘Female members depend on their male colleagues or on the other men of their family or neighbours’ (FGD data, December 17, 2017; Interview data, December 18, 2017). A freedom fighter observed, ‘Female members, in fact, cannot exercise the power with which they have been invested’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). According to a man from Alatuli, ‘FMs are not counted by the chair’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). Moreover, one of the senior UP secretaries who closely observed the FMs mentioned that the women were less skilled, and consequently, they finished their tasks inefficiently with dilly dallying and procrastinating (Interview data, December 17, 2017). The disadvantages of the FMs were revealed in the account of an NGO official, as she revealed, Female members are not skilled and educated. They have deficiencies in presentation. They are not cared about and ignored in the UPs. Through analysis of power relation, it has been known that the FMs lag behind due to their lacking in possession of power. A majority of them possess the idea of gaining personally from the office through fair and/or unfair means. They exhibited a lack of commitment to the UPs and their duties, which is necessary to establish good governance. It has also been observed that 90 percent of the women remained inattentive in the meeting. Their level of knowledge and understanding is low, as it has been found that even some of the female members, who can sign only, found elected in the UP office. I think, if they understand the information well, and become educated, or educated women come to the arena, then the women will be able to exercise their power and fulfil the demands of citizens, particularly those of the women. (Interview data, January 7, 2018) The claim of the NGO official was also observed in the data set, as it has been learnt that in Sharique and control areas the level of education of FMs

212  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming was poor. In Sharique areas, 83.4 percent of the FMs studied only up to the secondary level or below; and in control areas, all the FMs had passed only the primary level. Thus, though the FMs increased their capacity through the initiatives of Sharique, due to their low level of education and lack of skill they failed to achieve what they have been designed to realise. Performance of female members The state of FMs at the beginning of the Sharique project was depicted in the words of an NGO officer. In her words, When we entered the UP, the presence of FMs could not be detected, as they remained only present during disbursement of projects. In other cases, the spouses of the FMs did not allow them to come; instead, the husbands of the FMs visited the UP. They did not know anything about the laws and related issues. They could not speak up in the meeting or bargain with a chair, and the chair did not let them speak. Additionally, the men in the UPs did not care them at all. (Interview data, April 8, 2018) Against this backdrop, efforts were taken to unearth how much the FMs have been transformed. Citizens were asked how the FMs performed in the UP. In Sharique areas, 80 percent and 65 percent of the men and women respectively thought that the FMs were performing well (Table 9.3). Conversely, in control areas, 27.3 percent and 44.4 percent of men and women supported the notion that FMs executed their responsibilities well. Moreover, when male officials were asked about the performance of the FMs, 70 percent and 60 percent of them thought that FMs’ performance was satisfactory for Sharique and non-­Sharique areas respectively. The data revealed that the FMs in Sharique areas performed better in comparison to the FMs of control areas. However, it was learnt that the FMs faced difficulties in handling the technical issues, such as budgeting, Table 9.3  Performance of the FMs according to supply-­side actors Areas

Sharique areas



Response Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree Total

f 10 6 – 4 – 20

Source: Field data, 2017–2018

Control areas Women

% 50 30 – 20 – 100


6 7 2 2 3 20

Men % 30 35 10 10 15 100


2 1 4 3 1 11

Women % 18.2 9.1 36.4 27.3 9.1 100

f – 4 4 1 – 9


– 44.4 44.4 11.2 – 100

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  213 planning, documentation, project implementation, and the like. A male member mentioned, ‘Female members face problems at every task they have been assigned’ (Interview data, December 19, 2017). It was observed that in Shahbajpur the FMs were assigned officially to implement projects, however, in practice male members implemented the projects, and to keep the documents free of audit objection the FMs signed the documents, having been requested to do so by the chair (Interview data, December 20, 2017). The chair from a UP in control areas observed, ‘A female member can perform her activities well if she is directed well’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). The citizens’ principal complaint against the FMs was that the FMs visited them during the campaign period for election and after triumphing in the election, the FMs do not visit their constituents frequently. A woman revealed, ‘The FM did not visit us often. Since the election, which was about two years ago, she has not visited us’ (Interview data, December 17 & 20, 2017). One NGO official observed that the UP gave project implementation responsibilities to the FMs; however, in few cases, they sold the projects to their male colleagues for BDT 500 to 1,000 (Interview data, January 12, 2018). The discussions above support the argument that the performance of the FMs and their credibility remain illusory both in Sharique and non-­Sharique areas with various margins. Mobilising citizens against social problems Sharique has made citizens aware of social problems, particularly on issues like discrimination against women, child marriage, and the dowry system. It was observed that the women became aware of these issues. Data showed that the FMs of Sharique areas intervened successfully on violence against women, child marriage, and development of women besides their regular activities. In control areas, FMs were found to be involved mostly with children’s and women’s health care and the issue of child marriage, but the intensity was high in Sharique areas on women’s social issues. In Shilmaria UP from the Sharique area, a female member stopped a child marriage with the help of the other FMs and officials of the UP. A WP member of Sharique in Shilmaria UP claimed that she personally stopped five or six child marriages. She continued, ‘When I get the information of child marriage, I try to convince the parents of the child, and in some cases, they agree to stop it. However, when I fail I get the chair to intervene and when he fails we pass the information to the UNO’ (Interview data, December 12, 2017). They have even taken initiatives to punish marriage registrar with fines to stop him conducting child marriage. However, she mentioned that the parents that day temporarily stopped the marriage with the presence of them, but rearranged the same later without any ceremonies and registered the marriage officially. Moreover, a few parents relocated the girls to get them married. In a few instances, though guardians were made aware on the adverse consequences

214  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming of child marriage to halt the same, the girl could not be made agreed to stop the marriage. In one instance, when they stopped a marriage, the girl warned them of her probable suicide, though they made her understand the issue later to refrain her from getting married in her young age. Most importantly, she observed that these efforts to stop child marriage affect the voting behaviour of these families, as they refrained from voting for those officials who were involved with stopping the marriage of their girls.

Case Study 9.3  JSC examinee escaped child marriage Renuka Banu is a female UP member. She narrated an incident: ‘While I was busy with my household activities, my phone rang. I answered the phone call it was my female colleague from the next ward.’ She said, ‘A group of students in school uniform just have come to me, and disclosed that a school friend of them, who would appeared in the JSC examination after few months, was forced to get married by her parents.’ Listening to the incident, I asked her to get to the point and then I contacted the chair and described the incident to him, and he told me to go to the house of the destitute girl. In the meantime, the chair arrived. We made the parents of the girl understand the repercussions of child marriage. They realised their fault and refrained from getting their JSC examinee girl married in her childhood’ (Renuka Banu, interview with researcher, Shilmaria, December 14, 2017).

The case study and the discussions revealed that officials and citizens became aware of social problems and achieved the capacity to motivate others, particularly women, as it was easy for a woman to make other women understand the complex issues and their repercussions. However, more awareness building is needed to achieve the targets. Satisfaction of female members FMs were queried as to their level of satisfaction over their performances. The opinions of the FMs revealed that 50 percent and 33.4 percent of them from Sharique and control areas respectively were satisfied with how they performed their duties. Thus, the remaining 50 percent and 66.7 percent of the female members from Sharique and control areas, respectively, were dissatisfied with their performances. That is, in comparison to control areas, female members of Sharique areas found themselves in a position to affirm their satisfaction. When asked what general acceptance they are getting as women representatives, 50 percent of the FMs from each area mentioned that they

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  215 Table 9.4  Causes of dissatisfaction showed by FMs Areas








Could not fulfil the demands Want to implement project my self Don’t get importance Don’t get equal opportunities Total

3 1 1 1 6

50 16.7 16.7 16.7 100

1 – 1 2 4

25 – 25 50 100

Source: Field data, 2017–2018

were accepted. However, in Sharique areas, 33 percent of the FMs mentioned that they were ignored. Overall, the level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction of the FMs were even with the ways they accomplished their duties. Why is this so? Half of the female members who were dissatisfied in Sharique areas blame the UP’s inability to cope with the demands of the citizens, that is, their failure to satisfy them (Table 9.4). A FM mentioned, ‘I am not satisfied due to my struggle to fulfil the demands of my constituents’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). However, the other half of the FMs from Sharique areas directly or indirectly pointed to the dominance of men in the UP. The same phenomenon was also found in control areas, where 75 percent of FMs attributed their dissatisfaction to male dominance. A female member from Deopara postulated, ‘I could not deliver my opinions. If I ever expressed my opinions, they were not given exact attention, which they deserved, and the incidence of implementation of my proposed plans and/or projects was very sporadic’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). FMs from Alatuli exhibited their anger and grievance due to unimportance and deprivation in the office. They mentioned, ‘We are not given importance for being women. Our rights were denied, and opportunities were bottlenecked. We have not been given equal opportunity and rights’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). Another female member from Maria disclosed, ‘My male colleagues have been attended more than us. When we make demands on behalf of our people we are considered scarcely and fulfilled only a little’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017). Clearly, the FMs have faced difficulties in the office and they are far from satisfied with their performance as they failed to fulfil the righteous demands of their electorate and limited by their male colleagues regarding decision-­making.

Presence of enabling environment Shifts in men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women Most of the men disclosed that since half of the citizens are women without mainstreaming them sustainable goals would not be achieved. The chairs of

216  GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming two UPs in Sharique areas mentioned that the FMs in their respective UPs accomplished their activities well. However, the perception of the male colleagues regarding FMs was not much different in Sharique areas and control areas. Male officials still considered women as weak, because according to them ‘women are women.’ A male member from Shahbajpur opined, ‘Women mean weakness, because they are women. Women cannot perform any activities well’ (Interview data, December 19, 2017). Sometimes male members found the FMs irritating. A FM from Deopara in the Sharique area found, ‘The men in the UP considered us as a disturbance’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). Men also accused women of being opportunity seekers and exploiters. A male member of Deopara claimed, ‘Women in the UP have exploited their womanhood to extract benefits’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). These statements only reinforce the pervasive patriarchal attitude of men in the UPs. In control areas, the officials had yet to develop positive notions on the participation and activities of the FMs. The UP chair of a UP in control areas opined, ‘I do not see any job of the FMs in the UP.’ He raised question, ‘Whom will I evaluate: the three female members or nine male members’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017)? A UP secretary with his close observation, identified, ‘Women do not possess the same kind of skills as men, because they do not understand well a lot of issues’ (Interview data, December 30, 2017). The male members even raised questions about the cause of the participation of women in politics. The UP secretary of a UP in control areas commented, ‘Some women have entered into this arena of local governance to satisfy their personal wants’ (Interview data, December 27, 2017). He furthered his comments that the FMs were not still participating in local government politics voluntarily, as the men in the family or tradition of the family involvement in politics brought the women in the arena. Thus, they were not found prepared enough to play constructive roles in local governance. The perception of the UP secretary was echoed by the comment of a male member of Maria. He noted, I do not think it is ever needed for women to participate in the governing process. They are weak. Even I myself do not know various information regarding UP and its activities – then how it is possible for a woman to manage all that? Moreover, I think, female members are self-­ interested. It is not possible to form a workable relationship with them. (Interview data, December 27, 2017) The discussion here revealed a severe case of patriarchal dominance. While in two UPs of Sharique areas, the perceptions of men regarding FMs changed a bit, overall the men have yet to accept the participation of women in local governance. Furthermore, incapability of FMs also made them nominal office bearers in the UPs, which led the men to be sarcastic about the FMs.

GO-­NGO teamwork for gender mainstreaming  217

Conclusion Inclusion of women, through conscious efforts, in the governing process with the principles of equality and equity is imperative for inclusive development. There has been a shift in the thinking of male officials regarding women’s involvement in the councils. The women have also become aware of their rights and entitlements and realise the importance of being connected with the UPs. Consequently, the numbers of women in WS meetings and/or OBMs have increased markedly to such a level that they are equal to the numbers of men; in a few UPs, the women in attendance outnumber the men. The women raise their voices to place demands, seek explanations, and make recommendations. However, the number of women speaking up is low, as most of them remain silent, inactive, and reluctant to engage. Moreover, the FMs thrive well in Sharique areas with access to increased spaces and opportunities; they become conversant on their jobs and responsibilities. However, in both areas they are at the same level of capacity regarding technical and legal issues and depend on their male colleagues for managing the same. The performance of FMs has improved and has been recognised by men from both sides and women from supply side. Regarding their weakness, people accused FMs of being disconnected from their constituents after elections. Additionally, inequality in numbers of FMs in the UPs also plays a role in determining the status of FMs in the council. The collaborative initiative of Sharique and UPs can be given credit for the shifts and achievements that have been observed. Thus, it also bears importance to deepen understanding what propels the process and what hinders the outcomes. To this end, the next chapter seeks to reveal insights into the collaboration.

Note 1 Purdah, in Muslim society, is related with keeping women away from others male who are not related to them. It involves two forms: the first is the physical segregation of women behind curtains, etc., and the second includes women’s restrictions from being engaged in outside activities.

Reference Chant, S., & Gutmann, M. C. (2002). ‘Men-­streaming’ gender? Questions for gender and development policy in the twenty-­first century. Progress in Development Studies, 2(4), 269–282.

10 NGOs’ collaboration with local government institutions Aspects, sustainability and challenges

Introduction The collaboration of GOs-­NGOs expands the horizon of the government to enter into the hard-­to-­reach areas, and complementary and concerted roles of the partners bear importance in the arena of development. Helvetas, with the financial support from the SDC, implemented the Sharique project, whose main goal was to strengthen the governance of the UPs. The previous three chapters delineated the outcomes and impacts of collaborative efforts – mostly outcomes of the project regarding SLG. The main aim of this chapter is to identify the state of sustainability of the outcomes and the nature and various factors of collaboration which affect them. Furthermore, this chapter offers a discussion on the problems that have been faced by the project during the implementation stage. Lastly, the researchers lay out the challenges of the collaborative endeavour for SLG in the future.

Enabling factors/formation of social capital Willingness All of the officials (100 percent) of Sharique areas indicated that they would welcome NGOs to work with UPs for SLG. It was revealed that at the beginning, the UP officials were confused as to whether to cooperate with the project or not. The project let the chairs know about the project and its targets and requested that they consult the respective council members to decide collectively whether to collaborate or not. In this regard, the members were more proactive to initiate the collaboration process with the project as they observed that the project focused more on the council as a system than the chair of the council. Through the process, the members were handed opportunities to have their say. An NGO officer stated, When we started the process with 20 targets to achieve in Rajshahi, they agreed to cooperate and successively received us but hesitated to practice our guidelines at first. They became frightened of exposing of

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  219 secrets of the office, and the exposure might lead to allowance of all to know all the matters of the Parishad, and to failure in their re-­election. At that time, the chairperson and the secretary controlled all aspects of the UP, and the members did not have much influence over the office. They took the initiative positively. (Interview data, April 8, 2018) After the initial fluster, there were grudges over the issues of making the UP transparent. At that juncture, the UP chairs, in some areas, showed their reluctance to work with the project, as the project guided the UPs to become transparent in views of the citizens; and the officials became fearful of losing their authority over resources and exposing their corrupt intents. An NGO worker of the Sharique project included her experience of a UP. She mentioned, ‘When we approached the chair, he replied, “There are laws, rules, and regulations in the country. There is also government in the country. So, why do we need Sharique here? We do not need any help” ’ (Interview data, April 8, 2018). In an FGD session, the participants disclosed the UPs’ reluctance in the process of collaboration. The views of the FGD was summarised in the following statement: The UP officials do not want Sharique for organising training for, building awareness of, and encouraging citizens, because, through these efforts, the empowered citizens raise uncomfortable questions to the supply-­side actors. Thus, they want distance between citizens and the Sharique project. (FGD data, December 18, 2017) However, gradually, the officials accepted the project to guide, to build capacity, and accompany them to ensure the implementation of the mandates of the laws. In the course of time, the willingness of the UPs to work with the project became stronger. Moreover, there was a growing aspiration for continuation of the project for an indefinite period, and engagement of the project with UPs in the form of partnership-­based governance. Mutual respect and trust Both citizens and officials portrayed the images of well-­behaved NGO officials; and during interviews, citizens particularly, remembered NGO officials with fondness. It has been observed that, in collaboration, Sharique officials were found to be a little bit sceptical about the UP officials. They took it for granted that the UP officials always tended to be corrupt when they have opportunities with some exceptions. Likewise, during the seeding period of the project, the UP officials remained dubious about the project officials and their goals with previous experience of improper treatment to the NGOs by the UP officials. However, as the time passed both parties

220  Aspects, sustainability & challenges in collaboration became close and the result was enhanced mutual understanding. Nearly all the officials (96.9 percent) mentioned that there was trust and respect in their relationships with NGO officials. Through the process, the project officials found some UP officials to be their confidants who came forward more than other officials did to cooperate intimately with the projects officials to achieve the goals of the project. In the process, some UPs became model UPs in the project areas, where the project officials arranged peer/horizontal learning visits for the officials of other UPs and exchange visits for other NGOs and donors for sharing best practices. These achievements can be attributed to the NGO officials who worked at the grassroots level with continuous caring accompaniment, which helped the project officials gain respect and trust from the UP officials. Nevertheless, at the end of the third phase, that is, the phasing-­out period of the project from Rajshahi and Chapai Nawabganj, the UP officials of Chapai Nawabganj lost their trust in the project officials due to their failure to supply committed capital, capital goods and services like livestock, sewing machines, and so forth to the citizens through UP officials. A UP official mentioned that they lost their credibility with the citizens due to the disappointment regarding unsuccessful efforts for the fulfilment of the commitment. People thought that the UP officials looted the delivered money, and the incident turned the elected officials into swindlers in the eyes of the people. Consequently, the UP officials lost confidence in the NGO officials (Interview data, December 19, 2017). One NGO official said that some UP officials complained to him with unforgiving words as they thought they lost in the election due to their poor reputation which they got from the failure of the project to supply the committed capital goods (Interview data, January 10, 2018). Another UP member from Shilmaria UP expressed his discontent at the delay of fund supply by the project (Interview data, December 13, 2017). A few officials also remained doubtful about the achievement of the projects, though one mentioned, ‘Sharique has made us aware on various issues, however, there has not been observed any benefit or result in implementing the programme’ (Interview data, December 19, 2017). Thus, the argument can be underlined here that the actors from both sides developed a good working relation with respect and trust. However, pre-­existing beliefs along with failure to supply of committed funds undermined the continued development of mutual trust. Cooperation After the icebreaking period, the project officials of Sharique gradually developed a working relation with the officials of the UP. The study reveals that the officials of the UP remained cooperative in achieving the goals of the project, as all of the officials (100 percent) of Sharique areas mentioned that they cooperated with the project in achieving the goals.

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  221 Table 10.1 The ways UP officials cooperated with the Sharique project (officials’ opinions) Area

Sharique Areas




Participated in Sharique’s programmes Called people to Sharique’s programmes Accompanied them Provided meeting places Followed their directions Allowed them to work Helped them by conducting training Motivated citizen to engage with Sharique’s efforts Formed various committees Cooked for gatherings Organized programmes Provided information Implemented projects Others

9 6 7 3 15 3 5 4 1 1 6 8 5 3

28.1 18.8 21.9 9.4 46.9 9.4 15.6 12.5 9.4 3.1 18.8 25 15.6 3.1

Source: Field survey, 2017–2018; ; multiple responses included

They cooperated with project officials in many ways including participating in various programmes (28.1 percent), following their instructions (46.9 percent), providing information (25 percent), accompanying them (21.9 percent), and organising programmes (18.8 percent) to mention few (Table 10.1). Data showed that 78.1 percent of the officials opined that they did not face any problem whilst working with the project officials. The officials extended their cooperation with the project through bringing citizens to the project meetings, identifying ultra-­poor and marginalised, propagating the goals of the project (‘Go to the UP, and you will be benefitted.’), demonstrating model activities for the peer visitors, opining on modalities of implementation of the project, implementing various projects of Sharique, providing soft skill training to the destitute, arranging food supply, and supplying required information. One UP official commented, ‘I have provided various information that Sharique required. I also helped the project in identifying the ultra-­poor, and implemented various projects of Sharique’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). Moreover, the chairperson allocated a room in the UP complex for the use by the project officials to conduct skill development training on computers for the unemployed youths. However, there was a lack of joint identification of project strategies, and planning, forming a combined monitoring body, and initiation of multiparty analysis of the progress for further changes in the future.

222  Aspects, sustainability & challenges Shared goals The principal target of the project was to strengthen local governance, which would be pro-­poor and sensitised on marginalised groups and gender through the implementation of the Act in accordance with guidelines of the UP manual. All the officials (100 percent) mentioned that the goals set by collaborative effort bear immense importance. They stated that goals of the project were to improve service delivery (46.9 percent), relations with citizens (40.6 percent), and accountability of the officials (21.9 percent). Conversely, it has been learnt that most of the UP officials did not own the goals of the establishment of strong local governance as it empowered the citizens to hold the officials accountable and to limit their power to some extent. In addition, it was perceived that the UP officials found the target of instituting strong local governance had been reached. They showed more interest in getting funds, which the project planned to supply as matching finance (i.e., ‘co-­finance’ as termed by the project) than capacitation, awareness building, gender sensitisation, tax assessment, and other soft skill development. An NGO official revealed that from one UP they were forcefully evacuated for failure of fulfilling continuous demand for supply of money to the chairperson (Interview data, April 8, 2018). One local governance expert clearly pointed out that the UP officials’ most desirable demands have been the supply of goods and money of the donors. The expert further added that the officials showed intense interest in having the authority over the money without being controlled or subjected to oversight (Interview data, April 20, 2018). The resonance of the voice of the professor was found in the statement of a UP official as he distinctly pointed out, ‘ Providing financial supports have been the effective way of mobilisation of local governance’ (Interview data, December 19, 2017). Further inquiry revealed that the extended accompaniment of the project over long period developed stronger engagement of the officials with the common goals. Gradually, the UP officials absorbed the goals of the project in the UP with continuous reinforcement from the project officials.

Quality of inputs Initiatives for skill development and motivation The project organised various trainings, workshops, exchange visits, and cultural programmes for awareness building and formed community groups accompanied by the activities of the UP. The training of the Sharique, as related by the officials, contributed to boosting their confidence (56.3 percent), made them aware (81.3 percent), increased skills (62.5 percent), developed ownership of the UP (37.5 percent), and assisted in income generation (21.9 percent). The study revealed that awareness building for the demand side through yard meetings, cultural programmes, and

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  223 participatory gender analyses remained most successful. Yet, the accompaniment role of the project officials worked best for the supply-­side actors. Moreover, the training sessions and workshops played an important role in capacitating and raising the awareness of the officials of the UP. For women, public speaking programmes worked best to help them speak publicly in the various meetings of the UP, and leadership building training also enhanced the confidence of the female members. It was further learned that the more the recipients were educated the more the inputs regarding skill development were successful. Finally, Sharique has instilled the idea that if the UP wants to develop itself, it can (FGD data, December 20, 2017). Publications The publication of the project has been quite impressive. The published documents of the project can be categorised into three groups, including training-­related, evaluation-­related, and knowledge-­and experience-­ sharing-­related publications. The manuals developed by Sharique were found to be excellent, as these were carefully designed for the target groups considering their status and background. These manuals are easy to follow and can guide the instructors to disseminate the knowledge gradually through engaging participants in the learning with the inclusion of key issues of governance along with ways for obviation of boredom of the training programmes. Moreover, the compendium of laws on local government remained a majestic task of the project that compiled the local government related laws into one book. The project published its various evaluation reports at different stages of the project prepared by renowned specialists on the field of SLG from home and abroad. Sharique, in strategic partnership with the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), conducted research on the outcomes of the project and published various papers. Furthermore, the project published systematic guides for other actors of SLG, and the documents are worth reading. Overall, the publications of the project have been of a high quality and will be helpful for the actors from the GoB and NGOs as well as for practitioners and donors. Grant and co-­financing There is quite an intense debate over whether the donors themselves allocate the funds to the beneficiaries or channel the money through government mechanisms. The donors want their authorities preserved over their money until it reaches its destination at the end in the form of goods, services, or cash, as they have doubts about government agencies. However, local governance specialists and the government maintained that if the funds are channelled through the government the funds will be used in a coordinated way and the failure to do so could result in overlapping or duplication of expenditure in the same arena (Interview data, April 20, 2018).

224  Aspects, sustainability & challenges In this debate Sharique followed a compromising path, which led them to co-­finance, with controlled discretion of UPs, in the projects that were taken by the UPs following due procedures. The principal target of the allocation of matching funds was to introduce the procedures of project management and implementations to the officials. For this, the project categorised the UPs into three groups –A, B, and C – according to their performance against set indicators to provide matching funds of BDT 250,000, 400,000, and 600,000 respectively. In addition, the project also provided support to the UP in organising the WS meetings and OBMs with financial assistance. To find out to what extent the officials became knowledgeable, aware, and skilled on planning and implementation of projects, we asked questions and in reply, 68.8 percent of them thought that Sharique’s co-­finance contributed in enhancing their skill. However, 25 percent of the officials remained sceptical about the achievement of the project’s goals in this arena. In practice, it has been found that the elected officials remained quite dependent on the UP secretary for such technical issues. Nevertheless, the financial support to bear the expenditures of the WS meetings and OBMs encouraged and expedited their organization, though the amount was little as BDT 2,000 for WS meetings and BDT 5,000 for OBMs. The reason they supplied small amounts of money was to make the UP self-­reliant in organising the participatory meeting with the amount they would have in the future in the absence of such supports from outsiders. Advocacy Sharique has advocated for some practices to be transformed into policy at the national level. The project, in order to complement the activities of NGOs working at the UP level, initiated a quarterly meeting for GO-­NGO coordination. The same process with the name of ‘Link Model’ was, at that time, being practiced by a project of JICA. Both projects exchanged visits, shared best practices of the coordination meeting, advocated at the central level with NILG to acknowledge the coordination meeting officially, and implemented the process all over the country. Later, with collective inducement, in the year 2011, the government acknowledged and formalised the process with a legal umbrella under the name of the Union Development Coordination Committee (UDCC) to arrange meeting bimonthly in the UP. With the inceptions of the UDCC, the UP has the space for coordinating the development activities at the UP level, instead of erratic efforts of various GOs and NGOs, which may cause duplication and misuse of funds (Interview data, January 9 and April 11, 2018). Furthermore, the formation of the UDCC has created opportunities for the line agencies of the government to be accountable to the UP for their activities in the UP area and to channel the necessary information and demands to the upstream and downstream tiers of the administration.

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  225 The project, from the beginning in 2006, stimulated UPs to include citizens’ voices to hear from them to formulate demand-­driven projects and make the activities of the UP open. The project exchanged and shared its ideas and practices regarding participatory ward-­level planning and UP-­level budgeting with the LGSP and other related projects of the GoB and the donors. Later, with efforts from donors and local government activists, the GoB endorsed and enhanced the participatory processes and included them in the Act to legalise and to make the system mandatory. Recently, the LGSP-­3 has made the practices of participatory processes compulsory evaluative indicators to measure the performance for allocating PBGs. Sharique, going beyond Local Government Ministry and bringing other players like Ministry of Finance (MoF) into the picture for intervening on the issue of local level public finance management (PFM), has collaborated with the Institute of Public Finance (IPF). That move has been the first instance in SDC’s 10 years of working in the local governance sector in Bangladesh (Interview data, April 11, 2018). Following the collaboration of understanding, the IPF has supported Sharique to develop a full package of training manuals on the UP’s PFM that has been useful for the UPs and other stakeholders in Bangladesh. The MoF has continued to provide all types of support to that collaboration in order to ensure better PFM systems and practices at the local level. Furthermore, Sharique has collaborated and advocated with NILG to incorporate the contents and methods of projects in disseminating training to develop skills of both the functionaries and the citizens. The collaboration with NILG has been furthered with the development of a guide to collaboration of NGOs with GOs, which has been uploaded on the websites of the NILG (SDC & NILG, 2014). Despite this success, the project has yet to transform its best practices into policies such as UPLA, participatory gender analysis, mainstreaming its manuals in NILG, and so on, due to the slow movement or unwillingness of the government to institutionalise its findings.

Sustainability Data revealed traces of success of the Sharique project in various areas, such as capacity and awareness building, institutionalisation of participatory processes through promoting organisation of WS meetings and OBMs, dissemination of information, practices of SAMs, GM, and generation of UP income. Almost all the officials (90.6 percent) were of opinion that the changes in the governance of the UP that have been brought by Sharique will last. However, the issue of sustainability requires further investigation. The following sub-­sections have focused on various issues to unearth the state of sustainability of the outcomes of collaborative project of Sharique and UPs.

226  Aspects, sustainability & challenges Activation of demand side It has been learned that the Sharique project during its operation made the citizens aware about the roles of the UPs and their importance regarding fulfilment of demands, that they are the lowest tier of local government to deliver the government services to the doorsteps of the citizens. This was reflected in the presence of large of numbers of citizens, particularly of marginalised groups, raising their voice with demands in the participatory planning meetings which were organised on a regular basis at ward level during project period. The officials of the UPs of Sharique areas (81.3 percent) mentioned that they had been facing more demands form their constituents. However, the opinion survey disclosed that after the phase-­out of the project, the presence of the citizens in the WS meetings and OBMs reduced sharply. Furthermore, there were observed no demands from demand-­side actors to organise WS meetings or OBM regularly, as the demand side waited passively to be invited to the assemblies, and the findings suggest that with well-­circulated invitations the demand-­side actors participate in WS meetings and OBMs in large numbers. In recent times, both men and women have responded to the invitation, come to the meeting, and made demands for their needs. They also place demands for their rights and entitlements and seek information. That refers to creation of a demand side and enhancement of people’s engagement with the UPs and an increase of incidence of placing demands. Developing ownership A FM revealed that through the initiatives of Sharique, there was observed an escalation in people’s communication to the UP (Interview data, December 19, 2017). The challenge was to make the process continuous and enlivened with the feeling of proprietorship amongst the citizens so that the feeling would deliver spontaneous engagement of the citizens with the activities of the UPs. However, data revealed that the presence of the citizens was not naturalised in the participatory processes, as citizens were not found searching in advance for information about the WS meetings and OBMs, the allocation of the LGSP and other government and non-­government grants, income of the UPs, and project oversight. The only interest the marginalised people showed was in their being benefitted directly through SSNPs. That is, the project, though it made the citizens aware, did not instill the feeling of ownership of the UP sustainably in them. Apart from this, direct observation of WS meetings revealed that participants were making demands based on their status as taxpayers and, consequently, that they believed they deserved attention and expected their demands to be fulfilled. Shift from elitism to populism The sustainability of the project may be gauged by observing the change in the UPs’ target from elitism to populism. It was revealed that the UPs

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  227 remained far behind in terms of practicing populism. For example, the UPs were not fully being acclimatised in including people’s voice in selecting and implementing projects as the inclusion of projects from WS and FYP were side-­lined in many cases and, as a substitute, the officials privileged their or their political colleagues’ interest in choosing the projects. It was also reported that the officials remained selective during inviting citizens to the WS through the inclusion of the members of various committees in line with party affiliation, relations, and roles during elections. In addition, the WSs were organised with low participation from the people; in most cases the presence of citizens was below the mandated quorum of 5 percent of the voters of the ward. Moreover, the UPs were also found reluctant in some cases and unable in other cases to select the beneficiaries in accordance with the popular choice. Gender sensitisation Data revealed that both functionaries and citizens became aware of gender equity and gender parity issues. The initiative brought modification in behaviour and instilled empathy into the views of the local government actors, though it was observed that electronic media, political socialisation, and so forth had played a significant role in promoting gender sensitivity. Both officials and citizens realised the necessity of the participation of women in the process of decision-­making and development activities. They had positive attitudes towards female engagement with the UP. However, it was observed that the changes taking place were not satisfactory as many of the female members reported facing occurrences of being neglected in the UPs. Moreover, the disproportion in numbers of FMs in the office played a decisive role in overturning FMs’ choices in the UPs. Lack of capacity and performance of the FMs continued the old-­fashioned perception that women are weak. NGO workers included that more efforts are needed to work for gender related issues for extended time. Now, in the project areas, there exists an enabling environment to work with the gender issue (Interview data, January 10 & 12, 2018). Moreover, the notion of reserved seats made general seats ‘men’s seats’ only. Thus, the women tended to contest in the reserved seats and consequently it has been learnt that no woman was found elected from general seats; no instance of women contesting in the general seats was reported in the study area. Pro-­poor and gender budgeting A UP secretary credited Sharique for making the UP pro-­poor (Interview data, December 17, 2017). A partner NGO official claimed, UPs did not have any particular budget for poverty reduction previously, though the UP has the opportunity to spend 10 percent of the LGSP block grant for human resource development. Sharique has

228  Aspects, sustainability & challenges motivated the UP to allocate a special portion for the marginalised, extremely poor, ethnic minorities, and physically challenged people. (Interview data, January 9, 2018) In Jhilim, the UP initiated shops for physically challenged people. More­ over, female domestic animals were supplied and after giving birth to calves/ billies, the female animals were passed to other poor people. Other efforts such as distribution of sewing machines and house building assistance were observed. However, data revealed few pro-­poor incidences of allocation for the development of soft skills. The mainstreamed budgeting led to infrastructural development activities, installation of tube-­wells, and so forth. Special allocation for the marginalised, extremely poor, ethnic minorities, and physically challenged people were not found regularly in the budget. Moreover, the allocation for women in the budget was found insufficient. The officials claimed a lack of funding supply from the central government, little control over government money, and compelling demands for infrastructure development made them incapable of taking such projects. A UP chair from the Sharique areas expressed resentment for the little control over government supplied money, extensive control of bureaucracy over LGIs. (Interview data, May 12, 2018). Change in attitudes and cultures Common people’s engagements with UPs increased markedly. However, the reasons were not laid out in making demands of the UP for the people rather. For example, recently the government has intensified the need of birth registration cards, which further necessitated the contacts with the UP. The assignations of marginalised people with UPs can be credited to the receiving of SSNP benefits. However, the community-­driven causes, suggestions for initiatives, and inquiries for plans and projects were not what motivated them to be engaged with the UPs. The trust and confidence towards UPs and its officials were not instilled in the views of citizens. People remained sceptical about the role of the functionaries of the UPs, as they thought the officials maintained a clandestine will to be benefitted personally. The greater environment for the people’s engagements with the UP changed a bit; however, for significant change it required further acceleration. The acceptance of the citizens, particularly the marginalised groups by the officials has improved in many cases, yet there exist quite a number of examples of threat and humiliation from the functionaries. Officials were not found ready to welcome the common people cordially. The inquiries and questions of the marginalised were looked upon with irritation. UP revenue generation and fiscal autonomy The thrust for augmenting revenue generation has been observed in UPs of Sharique areas. Data revealed that the withdrawal of intervention of the

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  229 project has not resulted in the gathering of high local income. It was found that in addition to the project’s inducement, the officials of these UPs of the study area were also be lured with promises of being the best chairs of various stages from Upazila to the national level by the government. However, the principal concern about the UP’s income was how far the income contributed in the budget. It was found that the UP still had far to go to be self-­sufficient with its own income, as the total income covers only a meagre percent (4.7 percent on average) of the total expenditure. This means that the UP’s own income remained low due to the existence of many untapped sources, partial assessment, people’s inability and unwillingness to pay taxes, absence of such persons, who care little about popularity, for tax collection, and so on. In short, the UPs are limited with their own income, and a delayed supply of LGSP funds, as well as earmarked, and indefinite fund supply of the government limit the fiscal autonomy of the UP. Ability to meet agreed community demands and services The UPs were found burdened with people’s demands, which were made in the WS and budget meetings. The listed demands through various processes graduated to the long-­term plans or year-­wise plans. However, it was found that the implementation of projects that came from WS and various plans remained low. The major impediments to meet people’s demand were lack of funds from the central government. Earlier it was revealed that the UPs depended heavily on the funds of the central government because their own income was low. The implementations of projects from UP income remained very small and rare. However, it has been found that the elected officials made fictitious promises which ultimately went fulfilled, and this, in turn, generated frustrations amongst the citizens. These situations resulted in such circumstances, which conform to declination in engagement and alienation of citizens from the UPs. Implementation of RTI/CC Evidence revealed that the UPs became proactive and enthusiastic in respect to dissemination of information regarding CC, projects, and other related issues. Most of the UPs (three out of four) in Sharique areas have been disseminating information regularly. However, the intensity was low compared to the implementation period of the project. During the field visit, the researchers found many fossils of such boards abandoned in the UP premises or that remained decorated with old data. However, improvements have been observed in supplying information on demand. On the demand side, there was observed no evidence of seeking information formally with written petitions, as people’s seeking of information was only evident in verbal claims. One FM recounted, ‘Sharique has encouraged us to implement RTI and CC in the UP, however, these have not been materialised’ (Interview data, December 20, 2017). The substantial findings have

230  Aspects, sustainability & challenges been that the functionaries and the citizens were unaware on the provisions of RTI and CC. Though they realised that they had a right to the information has been their right, the information has still not been converted into power. Streamlining social accountability mechanisms Sharique along with other actors of SLG advocated centrally for the legalisation, inception, and implementation of participatory planning and budgeting (Interview data, January 9, 2018). The project initiated the system of participatory planning and budgeting in 2006, before the formal inception of WS meetings and OBMs through the Act. It was observed that previously UPs formulated their plans and budgets behind closed doors. The preparation of plans and budgets included routine tasks with no innovations; citizens were not aware what the UPs were doing, and for whom they were working. Sharique played key roles in opening the process and materialised it through the dissemination of invitation, urging citizens to be present, and extending financial (BDT 2,000 for the WS and 5,000 for the OBM) and technical support for the participatory meetings (Interview data, January 9, 2018). It has been revealed that in Sharique areas the practices of organisation of WS meetings and OBMs have become regular in some, episodic or formalities in a few, and stopped and on paper only in other UPs. Moreover, some UPs organised WS meetings once a year instead of twice, as stipulated. Thus, the enthusiasm for organisation of participatory processes was declining gradually and became dependent on the whims of the officials, who in reality were not interested in engaging with the opening up the meeting, inviting the nuisances of peoples’ voices, putting them in danger of peoples’ sarcastic comments designed to make them (officials) accountable. During the collaboration period, the project persuaded the officials to organise the participatory meetings, which were regularised at that time. However, the absence of the project made the officials unenthusiastic and inactive again. Moreover, the same thing has been observed in respect of the citizens’ active participation in WS meetings and OBMs, as recent observation of participatory mechanisms revealed that the citizens have asked very few or almost no questions to make the officials accountable, but they asked questions previously with the readymade questions formulated by the NGO officials. The observation crystallised the fact that the citizens’ active participation during the collaborative period was fabricated with creation of artificial principal-­agent relations that have not become sustainable. Another striking issue that undermined sustainability was that the election in the UPs brought new faces in the offices, and these new office bearers were not skilful and motivated to promote SAMs. It has been further noticed that the collaboration period varied in the study UPs from at least three

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  231 years to as long as 10 years. Amongst the four studied UPs, Shilmaria and Deopara were involved in collaboration for the full 10 years; Jhilim and Shahbajpur were in collaboration for two phases (seven years total). Results disclosed the fact that Deopara and Shilmaria remained better performers in implementing participatory mechanisms. Thus, it can be summarised as follows: those UPs which got a longer period of support from the project remained more active in organising the participatory meeting. Furthermore, in the third phase the of the project intervention, the motivation of the citizens lessened; consequently, the process affected people’s participation adversely. Sustainability of social capital During its implementation period, the project developed people’s associations or community groups of citizens to be involved and informed as well as united. FGD participants disclosed, ‘All become united for mutual co-­operation, and stay beside other members in need’ (FGD data, December 20, 2017). However, it has been revealed that, with the phase-­ out of the project, the people of these groups became disconnected and fragmented and the social capital that was built weakened further. The groups formed by the project were not naturalised as no such groups were formed with the initiations of the local people themselves. One NGO official opined that it is difficult for new structures like the WP to be sustained in the face of other older organisations and institutions (Interview data, April 7, 2018). It has been observed that without continuous nurturing with attachments of the NGO officials these groups and the social capital will fall apart. A newly elected female member, who was a WP of the project, was categorically asked about the role of her ex-­group member in her being elected. In reply, however, she failed to mention any significant role of them. Development of human capital Helvetas inserted the Sharique project at the grassroots level through partner NGOs. It has been found that partner NGOs recruited local competent youths mostly to work with both supply-­and demand-­side actors. After the phase-­out of the project, many such workers of the partner NGOs became unemployed. Nevertheless, it has been learnt that some of these unemployed NGO workers have been regularly consulted by some UPs to guide and accompany them in documenting and implementing numerous provisions of the UP Act, and the LGSP manual. These supports assisted the UPs to evade audit objection with better documentation and performance, and to maximise the supply of the LGSP’s PBG as favourable audit reports earned them increased PBG. Moreover, during the implementation stage, some local people volunteered for the project and a few of them have been

232  Aspects, sustainability & challenges recruited by Helvetas for implementation of its mission. Additionally, there is evidence that functionaries of UPs also consult these volunteers. Fragile state of sustainability of the outcomes of the project It can be argued that the initiatives of the SDC for SLG have been graded well by both demand-­and supply-­ side actors. However, the questions remained unanswered to know how far the outcome of collaboration of the project with the UP has become sustainable and whether the collaborative efforts impacted the governance of the UP. The discussions in the earlier parts of this chapter have exposed that the project brought positive changes during the tenure of collaboration. Some of the efforts of the project have translated into sustainable practices. Major areas which have witnessed sustainable development include knowledge enhancement and awareness building, capacity development, local income generation, documentation, and organisation of WS meetings and OBMs in some cases. Supply-­side actors have become more skilful in implementing their routine activities. However, though the demand sides became knowledgeable, they were not skilled enough to engage actively with the activities of the UP. An NGO official involved closely with the implementation of the project revealed her observation: When observed the level of improvement, we realised the changes, as there happened many transformations. Yet, institutionalisation of good governance remained far off, as achieving good governance was not that easy. It cannot be implemented overnight. It requires long-­term endeavours with the willingness of the government and the awareness of the people. (Interview data, January 12, 2018) The study indicated that no sooner had the project phased out than many of the practices that were promoted, though not untarnished as they were rooted in the legal frameworks of the UP, have become mere formalities or have ceased being practiced. An NGO official revealed her scepticism about the sustainability of the project as she mentioned, ‘We feared that the UPs would not practice the mechanisms instituted by the Act and UP manual in the absence of the project officials’ (Interview data, January 12, 2018). One UP official also asserted that the process requires a strong driving force to propel it forward like a rocket engine (Interview data, December 18, 2017). The important question is why it has happened in this way. First, the ownership of the UP amongst the citizens was not developed in all the cases. It was promoted through NGO’s collaborative efforts and, thus, when the project stopped its intervention the progress shrank.

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  233 Second, citizens’ demands were numerous and most of them remained unfulfilled due to budget shortage. Inclusion of projects was made in line with the choice of the UP officials; consequently, citizens lost interest in participation with the activities of the UP. Third, the environment for participation was created synthetically with a lack of spontaneity in participation (Interview data, April 22, 2018). Some respondents even mentioned the WS as the meeting of Sharique not of the UP. Citizens have not developed the instinct to be engaged with the UP as citizens mentioned that if they got invitation they would be present in the participatory planning. Fourth, though the male officials were sensitised on the gender issues, they still dominated the FMs with patriarchal attitudes, inequality of numbers, and accusations of weakness. Fifth, gender was not mainstreamed fully in the UP; there was a nominal presence of gender budget. Moreover, though women were made heads of various committees and one-­third of development activities were transferred to FMs’ authority, it was done only to fulfil the legal requirements. The effectiveness of the presence of FMs in UPs remained on paper as FMs’ suggestions were ignored, considered lightly, and overturned by a male majority. Sixth, people’s participation has also been tainted by political divisions, as officials with party inclinations showed a tendency to invite only those from his/her party. Seventh, UP officials have been found reluctant in organising participatory planning meetings. Moreover, citizens have also not pressurised the officials to organise such meetings. Eighth, the mentoring and coaching of the project with close accompaniment have become the driving factors for the officials to accomplish a number of activities of the UP; the absence of such factors created a vacuum, which demoralised the officials. Moreover, the UP has changed from a one-­man show to a two-­man show of the chair and the secretary, and it was evident from the data that the UP became more dependent on the secretary for the implementation of the provisions of the rules and regulations. Moreover, the secretaries’ status of being salaried and paid by the government every month, and their accountability to the national government, made opportunity to exploit their position to exhibit likings and as a result implementation of many of the provisions of the UP depends on his/her active willingness. An NGO official recounted, ‘The implementation of all these mostly depends on UP secretary. The secretaries were like ‘Jacks of all trades,’ they needed a propelling force behind them, otherwise, they cared nothing and just sauntered, doing nothing particular’ (Interview data, January 12, 2018). Ninth, the UPs suffered from lack of personnel. The UP secretary remained the only skilled person in the UP as elected officials in most

234  Aspects, sustainability & challenges of the cases remained unwilling and unable to perform their duties. Only recently, some UPs have been strengthened with the appointment of an accountant-­cum-­computer operator, and the remaining UPs will be reinforced with such officials in phases. Tenth, there was a lack of incentives in the UPs. To be engaged with the UPs required a sacrifice of opportunities to earn subsistence by general people. Therefore, they required cash and/or in-­kind inducement for their engagement. Citizens now are included in various committees, and these committee members do not have any sitting allowance or other kinds of incentive, which is required to activate them. Eleventh, lack of close monitoring system that may closely follow the day-­ to-­day tasks of the UPs on a regular basis. Twelfth, the line agency officials of the government were not fully transferred to the UPs as there remained loopholes in the Act, and the UPs do not have any control over such officials. Thirteenth, in the process of collaboration the partners became sufferers of ‘wicked problems.’ One of the problems was that usually the LGIs did not initiate the enterprise for collaboration; and thus, they are not the collaborative convenors. It was found that in all cases, NGOs come forward with a proposal to invited LGIs to engage in teamwork. Thus, in the process of collaboration, the LGIs tended to exhibit a reluctant interest in the engagement from the beginning. Fourteenth, with failure to include UPLA in the mainstream training dissemination process of the NILG, both Sharique and UPLA promoting UPs attempted to continue the academy through offering training to the officials at their own cost. However, the offers were announced with no instance of acceptance by any of officials. Fifteenth, the recent election of the UPs has witnessed the selection of candidates particularly for the post of chairpersons based on their political identities with tickets from higher echelons of party leaders who contested in the election with party symbols. The process brought the UP chairs to the centre of power politics as they became actively engaged with local MPs. Under the aegis of the MPs and other high-­positioned leaders, the chair not only distances him/herself from colleagues but also minimises gap with the UNO, the supervising officer for the UPs in the Upazila. The outcome of the process can be seen through observing their increased accountability to the political leaders but not to their constituents. In some cases, the tickets for the nomination of the UP election have been within the purview of business deals; additionally, the high cost in the election has tempted the officials to make their position a moneymaking tool and opportunity. These factors made the officials non-­responsive to the voices of the citizens and proper functioning of the UPs.

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  235

Problems and challenges of collaborative efforts The collaboration of Sharique with the LGIs faced multidimensional problems on the way to SLG ranging from policy-­related issues to the implementation process. In the beginning, the UP officials were frightened and reluctant to cooperate with the project. However, with the discussion at various stages, including the inception meeting, the project was able to make them understand that they had nothing to lose and, rather, had opportunities to gain. Specifically, opening up the governance brought them esteem through removing people’s misconceptions about the UPs’ having lots of money and the money being misused or embezzled by the officials. The major areas of problems faced by the project are discussed in the following sections. Absence of well-­coordinated policy for collaboration Collaborative GO-­NGO programmes for SLG required the support of a well-­ articulated policy. The government remained confused about how to nurture the GO-­NGO collaborative efforts. The government formally neither recognised nor denied the collaborative efforts (Interview data, April 22, 2018). Consequently, there has not been any specified policy which might disclose the deliberate intent of the government for guided decisions and implementation of collaborative schemes for rational outcomes. In the absence of such policy, the LGIs and government officials at local, regional, and national levels remained unsure how to be engaged in collaboration with NGOs for SLG. Only, recently, the seventh FYP has put forward some indications for such collaboration. Absence of legal frameworks The present laws for local government and for NGOs are not synchronised in terms of collaboration for SLG, which impeded the progress of the effort. The project felt the absence of legal frameworks in pursuit of SLG through collaboration with GOs. Since there has not been any legal coverage and the roles of the elected and non-­elected officials were not defined, the collaborative efforts depended mostly on the constructive willingness of the officials of the LGIs. This dependency on whims is putting the achievements of the projects at risk. Lack of trust The NGO officials had reservations about the elected officials, as they believe the elected officials’ trustworthiness was stake due to their tendency toward misappropriation, being negligent in their duties, and doing things only on paper instead of real implementation in the field. On the part of

236  Aspects, sustainability & challenges UP officials and citizens, it has been learnt that they possessed confidence on the NGO officials, though in some areas the failure to fulfil commitments in one hand and discontinuation of intervention without informing both WP members and officials on the other hand created mistrust in both supply-­and demand-­side actors. This is echoed by a partner NGO official: At the last stage, Sharique has hurried to phase out. The project was not attentive in implementing its activities. There was a lack of trust and honour between the project and UP officials. Ordinary people also observed the difference. They began to say, ‘There are two projects of Sharique, ‘New Sharique,’ and ‘Old Sharique;’ they are separate, and the new Sharique is fake. (Interview data, January 10, 2018)

Non-­cooperation of local bureaucracy The NGO did not include local bureaucrats as a subject of SLG and/or partners of collaboration. The project officials reported incidence of non-­ cooperative attitudes about the local bureaucrats, particularly about UNOs. A UP secretary commented, ‘Government officials in higher position did not cooperate with the project’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). They delayed permission of entrance in localities and the sending of reports to the upper echelon. NGO officials mentioned that the ‘UNO was late in providing a clearing certificate to Helvetas, as the NGO did not have a good relation with government officials’ (Interview data, January 10 & April 8, 2018). The government officials at the local level did not take the NGO into confidence; they were sceptical, confused, and tentative on the projects, and they were deemed with low esteem mixed with mistrust (Interview data, April 22, 2018). Every time, when the UNO to prepare reports, as required, on activities and outcomes of the NGO to send to the upper echelon of the government s/he rigorously crosschecked the matter with the chair and/or the secretary and the process suffered from ‘red-­tapism’ with procrastination (Interview data, April 22, 2018). Problems bred from supply of matching grants The project was guilty of delaying of the release of its committed matching funds. The UP officials were found discontented and irritated on the delayed supply of the fund. An NGO official revealed, Some chairs were hot-­tempered. For being late in getting the funds of Sharique, one of the chairs asked us to leave the UP. Some also revealed their anger about the low amount of money supplied. Once, I was even threatened with mutilation by cutting my leg if I visited that UP again (Interview data, January 12, 2018)

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  237 However, in Chapai Nawabganj, during the last part of the third phase the project did not supply the funds and the failure of the project deteriorated the level of trust of UP officials about Helvetas. One UP member from Shahbajpur disclosed his irritation: ‘Sharique has not kept its word; it has made us deceivers in the eyes of the people. The project has not supplied the money and goods in reality, but the people supposed that we have smuggled the allocation supplied by Sharique for them’ (Interview data, December 19, 2017). For such projects in the future, the most demanded components to be included in the project frame remains funds (33.3 percent), longer attachment (23.3 percent), and partnership governance (20 percent). Conflict of management between the UP and project officials In few instances there was misunderstanding between the project and UP officials about choosing plans and activities. An NGO official claimed, ‘Sometimes the UP officials did not pay heed to my advice’ (Interview data, January 10, 2018); and the FMs were characterised as unmaintainable, uneducated, and poor as well as hungry for benefits (Interview data, January 12, 2018). A UP secretary opined, ‘There were problems that were induced from unmatched plans and activities of Sharique with the UPs’ (Interview data, December 17, 2017). Sometimes UP officials, particularly the UP members with their low level of knowledge and capacity were disregarded and disliked and their opinions were rebuffed because Sharique officials played leading and dominating roles with their high status in education and in links with donors. According to a UP secretary, ‘There have been disagreements between Sharique and the UP officials. Sharique officials seemed not to take heed of the views of UP functionaries’ (Interview data, December 18, 2017). However, the opinions of the UP officials sometimes remained biased, undeveloped, personal-­gain-­oriented, and contrary to the NGO’s goals. Working with the chairs and members remained very tall tasks because they were very busy. Some of them tended to make money using the office as they spent huge amounts of money to get elected and wanted to take shortcuts. For example, NGO officials expressed that they promoted open tender, however the officials interested in practising ‘request for quotation’ (RFQ), that is, spot quotations, and some influential officials tried forcing them to include their (officials’) chosen ‘pocket’ people for training, committees, and as project beneficiaries, and the like. Moreover, they sometimes made the NGO officials wait for hours (Interview data, January 7, 10, & 12, 2018). The usual tendency of the officials was expressed through negligence in implementation of mandated undertakings such as WS meetings and OBMs and disclosure of information (Interview data, January 7, 2018). Some UP officials even tried to guide the activities of the project. These mismatches in interests and lack of mutual understanding opened wide gaps between these two partners in collaboration.

238  Aspects, sustainability & challenges Mismatches with LGSP requirements The LGSP was designed to award four points for well-­developed FYPs in its audit and evaluation report to measure performance to allocate PBGs. In Chapai Nawabganj, the FYPs were developed and published in book form with technical support, and a huge expense provided by Sharique was made void because those FYPs did not maintain the government provisions. Sharique left out social issues and included more than five areas in the plan, although the LGSP had stipulated the inclusion of no more than five areas in the plan (Sharique included communication, sanitation, tax, employment, and education). Consequently, the UPs were in danger of getting poor points, these points were determiners for receiving the LGSP’s PBG. Later, to get the points, these UPs with the help of the UNOs developed FYPs in only two to three days, and they secured points for the PBG (Interview data, January 9, 2018). Problems relating to politics, politicians, and influence Sharique trained people from all walks of life, irrespective of political and religious identity, caste, creed, or socio-­economic status. The project wanted these trained people to be included in the various committees and activities of the UPs. However, the UP denied selecting the trained members of the WPs for the various committees of the UP, as there were people of opposite political parties. Even the UPs were found changing the names of members of the SCs after their formation (Interview data, January 12, 2018). Sometimes it became difficult to manage those officials who were engaged in politics with post and position. They showed a tendency to impose some kind of control over the activities of the project. One NGO official provided an account of such a case, When Sharique has donated BDT 800,000 to the UP, the local MP claimed his share. Moreover, there was pressure of politicisation of the UP, as the officials wanted to exercise political influence in evading implementation of requirements of the rules and regulations. (Interview data, January 7, 2018) Engaging political leaders, bureaucrats, and the untapped youth It has been learnt that the UPs’ activities have been intervened in by local leaders of ruling party, though legally they have no responsibility; however, they made decisions on many issues that are mandated for the UP (Interview data, April 7, 2018). The last UP election was partisan in nature instead of being the traditional non-­party election at the local level, but the project did not concentrate on the issue much. Additionally, local bureaucrats were not included in the project initially; however, later with their intervention

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  239 at the UPZ level they indirectly tapped the UNO to some extent. They have critical roles to play in the local government, thus their motivation and active engagement are needed for better performing local government. Likewise, educated youths have great potential and it has been observed that in the UP, the elected young officials are promising in terms of implementation of the provisions of the rules and regulations. These untapped youths were not made a focal point during the collaboration period. Conflict of interest in the UPs There were multi-­angular conflicts of interest in the UP between mainly chairs and members, members and members, and others. In various cases, the members did not cooperate with the chairs. Some officials assumed the project officials to be intruders in the UPs. They became irritated by the project’s efforts. These views brought discomfort in the relation. Moreover, there were conflicts in the UP originating from founding UPLA, which was instituted by Sharique in three UPs in the project areas. The chair and secretary worked as resource personnel at the UPLA with other experts. The opportunity made local experts dignified and renowned and brought honour and honorariums as well. However, the money and time spent for the academy, according to dissident officials, could be spent for the development of the UP. One NGO official commented, ‘There was conflict in the UPs regarding inception and continuation of UPLA, as the members of the UP found it a waste of money. They wanted the money for them to implement development projects in the UP’ (Interview data, January 7, 2018). Expansion of the epicentre of the UP The UPs exhibited the tendency of the supremacy of chairpersons with the association of the UP secretary. Both of them remained instrumental in guiding the UP forward and vice versa. One NGO official mentioned that the epicentre of the UP had been the chair and the secretary, but it would better if the centre changed from its present setting to the UP as well as others (Interview data, January 10, 2018). The UPs have to be run as a vibrant council of all the elected officials and citizens, not just as institutions led by the chairperson only (Interview data, April 20, 2018). According to a commentator on local government, in the UP, there is a lack of democratic culture, and to overcome this the UP members and the citizens have to play vital roles in decision-­making (Interview data, April 20, 2018). Dissatisfaction of the officials of the partner NGOs Some partner NGO officials showed mistrust and disrespect for the leading the NGO, namely, Helvetas. One NGO official mentioned, ‘There was an incident of corruption in the collaboration of a Sharique worker

240  Aspects, sustainability & challenges and the UP’ (Interview data, January 10, 2018), although the researchers did not discover any. Additionally, they found that Helvetas charged a lot for project management, though they (partner NGO officials) were paid little, and cut short field-­level expenditures. One partner NGO official commented, The project lowered the budget at the field level in the third phase; it was even lower than the budget of the 2007–2008 fiscal year. There were big budgets for the high-­level officials and the expenditure for dinner or lunch rose up to BDT 5,000 per capita. However, at the UP, we project officials failed to include Chowkidars for the lunch except two. (Interview data, January 10, 2018) Partner NGO officials’ dissatisfaction was also aggravated from getting the project papers at the last minute. Sometimes these partner NGOs did not get papers at all from Dhaka and this was acutely so in the third phase. Moreover, the papers sent to them were translated Bangla from English, and the translation was very poor in a few cases; for example, according to the same partner NGO official, ‘The Bengali form of Strategic Plan guideline documents were not good enough to understand’ (Interview data, January 10, 2018). It has been revealed that in the areas where the partner NGO officials expressed dissatisfaction the performance of the UPs was found to be comparatively poor. Problems relating to duration of training and interest of recipients It has been learnt that some of the training sessions were short, and in the third phase, the project shortened the length of the few other training sessions because of phasing out. In Chapai Nawabganj, the project delayed its phase-­out as the event fell in the mid of transition period, and the newly elected body replaced the old one through election. The project waited for the new body to come, and hurried up in conducting the training to draw the end of the collaboration there. These short training sessions did not generate expected results. According to an NGO official, ‘Short-­term training was not much effective, as it has been observed that the newly elected officials in Chapai Nawabganj failed to perceive the training packages’ (Interview data, 10 January 2018). It has been further identified that the higher frequencies of training and a longer period of involvement brought better results. Moreover, it was realised that training remained effective for those who were interested and needy when it matters for income generating soft skill development. Additionally, young and the educated groups perceived the training well, but persons with low interest and education just participated and do not gain anything from the training at all (Interview data, 12 January 2018).

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  241 Conflict with other NGO officials working in the UPs Today, a good number of NGOs have been intervening in and with the UPs. These NGOs need to be coordinated with the UPs. Thus, all the NGOs working in the UPs needed the schedule of the UP officials, however, the officials found very busy, and allocated little time for the NGOs. Thus, it became difficult to manage fruitful quality time with the UP officials. The meeting with NGOs in the UP frequently became a programme for photo-­ shoots. However, Sharique managed more time with UP officials, and that made other NGOs’ officials envious with Sharique officials and manifested conflicting attitudes (Interview data, 7 April 2018). Problems relating to human resources The elected representatives – generally members, and particularly female members – were found to be weak, unmaintainable, uneducated, and unimaginative in handling the issues related with the governing process of the UP, particularly the technical issues (Interview data, January 9, 2018). It has been observed that FMs came into office not for their interest but for their family’s interest and dynastical tradition, which lead to the election of FMs without judging their quality or qualification. Additionally, after each election the previously trained elected officials left offices for failing to re-­elect or refrain from contest though only a few remained unchanged, and new officials were elected to the office of the UP, and these latter officials were unskilled, unaware, and unmotivated, as they had no training and orientation. Newly elected officials need to be oriented with the UP and its activities and various laws, the implementation thereof, and processes. This created a vacuum of skill, awareness, and motivation in the UP. Thus, the key responsibilities lay in the hands of the UP secretary, which is a permanent post and in most cases is the only highly educated, trained, and sound manager of technical issues in the UP. The project depended, during its intervention period, mostly on the UP secretary, and it was believed that he would continue the good practices and teachings of the project in the future within the UPs. What is needed most is a change in attitudes and commitment (Interview data, April 7, 2018). However, observation revealed that in every case, the secretary was found to be an opportunity seeker and evaded his/ her duties whenever the opportunity arose. Moreover, it has been difficult for the UP secretary to cover all the issues and accomplish all the tasks that have been assigned to the UP. Additionally, the activities and responsibilities of the UP have been increased further. Recently, although the government has appointed an assistant officer at some of the UPs, it is not sufficient and more such personnel are needed in the UP because more trained and motivated permanent personnel in the UP might make the outcomes of collaborative efforts sustainable. Until then, the whole system needs to go through the similar kind of trainings and activation repeatedly by external actors.

242  Aspects, sustainability & challenges Mainstreaming the best practices of the project The project found several of its tools, practices, and mechanisms to be successful and add value to the SLG sector. However, these best practices of the project have become disintegrated and have ceased being practised in the UP. These practices should be (1) continued in the UPs of Sharique areas and (2) mainstreamed in the other UPs of the country (Interview data, April 22, 2018). The fact of the matter is that the government has not intended to include these best practices into the policy. To this end, handing over of the project efforts to other organisations and their absorption by government mechanisms can facilitate the survival of the best practices. Managing compensation and incentives People’s participation and engagement with collaborative efforts and particularly with the UPs need to be supported with incentives, particularly the participation of the marginalised who have to earn their livings and come to meeting from a great distance at their own expense, which makes them reluctant to participate. Moreover, citizens’ engagement in the various committees of the UP can be incentivised. Furthermore, provisions of incentives on tax collection may activate the UP officials to enhance tax collection. Covering of all citizens The project during its intervention period formed platforms of the citizens including nearly 15–17 persons per group. Through the platform the project planned to cover the whole area. However, the study exposed the target was still far off, as the citizens outside the platforms had not changed except for in a few instances and there was only a narrow gap between the people of collaborative and non-­collaborative areas. This means that all of the citizens need to be brought into intervention process, which would be a great challenge. Contextualising the base of operation on needs of localities The study results revealed that amongst the UPs covered by Sharique, Shahbajpur, the bordering UP, comparatively lagged behind regarding CB, GM, and continuing participatory process. The UP’s nearness to the Indo-­Bangla border, linked with the neighbouring Indian district of Murshidabad and Maldah, and the presence of migrated people from India made the area comparatively conservative. Moreover, the lifestyle of border areas made the people relatively intractable. Thus, a long and tenacious effort of both GOs and NGOs is required to empower citizens empowered and enable their environment.

Aspects, sustainability & challenges  243 Bringing line agency officials into collaborative efforts Various agencies of the government work in the UPs. However, officials of these agencies were not made liable to the UPs; rather they have been responsible to their superiors. Correspondingly, coordination amongst line agency officials was lacking, and they found themselves as each other’s opponents. The process allowed these officials to remain insincere regarding effective engagement with the UP. These officials needed to be brought into the collaborative efforts. Inclusion of remote pocket regions The study reveals that the collaboration initiatives of Helvetas have not been implemented in all the UPs of the study districts of Rajshahi and Chapai Nawabganj. Some 11 UPs remained out of collaboration efforts due mostly to their physical location in remote and relatively inaccessible char land areas. Only a few UPs of the areas willingly refrained from participation in the collaboration. In two other cases, the UPs have suffered from the absence of permanent office complex as a newly formed municipality drove out the UP office from the area as the former possessed the land of the office building in one case, and because of the unstable land of the UP due to river erosion in other case.

Conclusion At the local level, the collaboration between the LGIs, UPs, and Helvetas exhibited a strong base capable of facilitating roles of enabling key factors of social capital like apparent willingness to collaborate, mutual respect and trust, active cooperation, and shared goals. In the beginning, there were minor malfunctions, however, as time passed the collaboration between NGOs and LGIs smoothed out. The elected representatives of the UPs, particularly the members, agreeably cooperated with the project executives. The project has excelled in documenting their notable success stories and developed guidelines of SLG in distinct phases for other actors of this arena. Furthermore, it developed manuals for training and compiled various local government-­related laws. The financial supports gently encourage local officials to hold WS meetings and OBMs, and the matching grants promote self-­formulation and implementation of projects in the UPs to some extent. The programme collaborates and persistently advocates with NILG and IPF of the MoF to develop standard manuals for training and skill development. The sustainability of the outcomes of the projects is tenuous because the practices of key provisions of the legal frameworks continue in some areas but have been discontinued in others and reduced in a few UPs in the absence of the facilitating role of the project. The collaboration scheme encounters problems and challenges in strengthening

244  Aspects, sustainability & challenges the governance of UPs; in this respect a lack of mutual trust, mismatched goals, political interferences, discontinuations of best practices, and non-­ cooperation of government officials are some noteworthy impediments. Nevertheless, the endeavour earned the trust and respect of everyday people who aspire for similar efforts with more intent and engagement with them and their institutions. Along these lines, the concluding chapter summarises the findings and results and formulates suggestions to avoid such inadequacies and obstacles in future initiatives.

Reference SDC & NILG. (2014). Guidelines for strategic engagement: Experience-­based guidelines for non-­governmental organisations. Dhaka: SDC & NILG. Retrieved from http:// d967_4676_9fb8_1d8bd65e61eb/Strategy%20for%20Engagement%20Guide line.NILG-­SDC. pdf on May 12, 2018.

11 Conclusion Insights for theory, policy implications, and modelling of GO-­NGO collaboration

Introduction This research has been undertaken to understand the outcomes of collaborative efforts to strengthen local governance and to examine whether the collaborative efforts of their inputs, activities, and outputs have brought expected results. Thus, the findings of the study have been manifested in the following areas: (1) initiatives of government for SLG, (2) enterprises of the GO-­NGO collaborative schemes in pursuit of making local governance strong, (3) outcomes of Sharique endeavours in collaboration with UPs to build capacity of both supply-­and demand-­side actors to establish responsive, participatory, transparent, accountable, equitable, fiscally autonomous, and gender sensitized governance in the UPs, and (4) the problems and challenges the collaborative process withstood whilst implementing the planned project for SLG. Therefore, the study results have been arrayed in four varieties of research outcomes. The first set of findings includes various efforts of the government to decentralise, strengthen, and reform local government. The second set of results represents the different GO-­NGO endeavours in Bangladesh which have been employed for SLG. The third set comprises analysis of the outcomes and impacts of the Sharique project in its intention to strengthen the governance of the UPs in Bangladesh. The fourth and final set includes the analysis of the collaborative process itself and its various problems and challenges.

Discussion and analysis of the findings The first cluster of findings includes various efforts of the government to decentralise, strengthen, and reform local government. The findings reveal that government efforts for SLG concentrated on the formation of various commissions/committees to offer suggestions, develop aspirations in FYPs, and enact of laws and formation of other legal/quasi-­legal instruments. Results suggest that most of these efforts failed because there lacked provisions for true participatory governance, one of the key aspects of democratic spirit. The major reforms principally involved the renovation

246  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model of functions and structures of local government. The rhetorical wishes of the political elites are merely for displaying their misleading passions for public, were marked by tendencies toward centralised power and a lack of enthusiasm towards real efforts for devolution. This result corroborates the studies of Aminuzzaman (2014, pp. 1–15) and Wahed Waheduzzaman and Quamrul Alam (2015, pp. 260–279), who found that government initiatives were figurative, lackadaisical, and disorganised, which only led to lasting absence of valued morals of democracy and its practices at the local level. NGOs’ roles in development of a variety of areas such as socio-­economic status, empowerment, awareness building, and strengthening governance cannot be ignored today. The government only has recently displayed intentions to include NGOs in the process of SLG in the long-­term plan, that is, in the Seventh FYP. However, no policies or legal framework for national and sub-­national government to proliferate GO-­NGO collaboration for SLG have been found to exist. The results substantiate the conclusions of Aminuzzaman (2013, p. 219), who concludes, ‘Grassroots-­based LGIs are not legally empowered to incorporate the non-­state actors and CSOs in the mainstream development and management of UP.’ Still, these NSAs are not waiting for favourable conditions to be engaged in the process of SLG, particularly the governance of the UP, and have already been engaged in the areas. The second cluster of results represents the different GO-­NGO endeavours in Bangladesh, which have been employed for SLG. LGIs in Bangladesh have not been developed at expected levels not only because of the failure of true decentralisation but also because of the incapacitation of both citizens and officials and the existence of a patron-­client culture. Various donors and foreign and local NGOs have taken this gap as their opportunity to empower the actors at the grassroots level. The leading areas of intervention of NGOs include awareness raising of citizens on rights, duties, and entitlements, developing community ownership, building and promoting CBOs, forming social capital, sensitising on gender, and encouraging involvement with LGIs. These organisations also make efforts to support office bearers of localities through CB, notifying them of their job descriptions, legal bindings, and various procedures, as well as shifting their attitudes. Furthermore, NSAs invest their endeavours at central level to trigger changes in policy through advocacy. The envisioned initiatives have brought success in many areas and various studies have presented evidence of achievement of the interventions of the non-­profit actors (Panday, 2018, pp. 125–137; Chowdhury & Panday, 2018, p. 94). The third clusters of discoveries tie together outcomes of the collaborative project between UPs and Sharique for strengthening the governance of UPs. The Sharique project has been engaged in collaboration with the UPs to strengthen the governance of the UPs since 2006. The scheme has covered four districts of Bangladesh, namely, Sunamganj, Khulna, Rajshahi, and Chapai Nawabganj, which are located in the north-­eastern,

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  247 south-­western, and north-­western corner of the country. Two of the districts, Rajshahi and Chapai Nawabganj, are located in the north-­west of Bangaladesh. Moreover, because of the existence of identical projects of other NSAs in Sunamganj and Khulna, these two districts have been left out of the study. The strategic target of this collaborative venture has been to establish ‘pro-­poor good local governance’ in the UPs. To achieve this goal the programme has collaborated with the UPs and subsequently included the UZP in the process. The collaborative efforts of Sharique have used innovative strategies and activities and has included both supply and demand sides to strengthen the governance of the UP principally through the promotion of implementations of the provisions of the UP Act 2009, the Union Parishad Operational Manual (2012), and LGSP guidelines. The outcomes of collaboration of the Sharique project with UPs have been categorised into five sub-­sets, based on five propositions: that the collaboration of Sharique with UPs increases capacity, participation, transparency and accountability, fiscal autonomy, and GM. The first sub-­set of findings involves the CB of both citizens and office bearers. Specifically, CB includes enhancement of knowledge, skills, and awareness. Broadly, it includes relationships, values, and attitudes as well. It is a continuous process and has links with performance and sustainability. In a broader aspect, CB involves three levels: individual, organisational, and societal (Lorenzo, 2012, p. 8). Findings suggest that the collaborative process attains developments in the mentioned areas to some extent. At the individual level, both actors from supply and demand sides exhibit improvement on knowledge, skill, and attitudes. According to agency theory, the demand side, as principal becomes aware about its roles, as well as the functions of the agent to influence the decision-­making process and exercise controls over the supply side. Results substantiate the formation of citizenship as the citizens became aware of their rights and entitlements, were sensitised on community ownership, networking, participation, the essence of RTI and CC, and information seeking and sharing. The skills they attained contributed to group building, the placing of demands, seeking explanations, and holding UP officials accountable formally and informally. However, the citizens showed weaknesses in dealing with technical issues of budgets, legal issues, seeking information through written processes, and gathering information from web pages. The knowledge of officials on legal issues has gotten better though there is still opportunity to improve. The officials of both areas have been found to be aware of the participatory planning and budgeting, as these groups showed no significant difference. However, regarding RTI and CC, the office bearers of Sharique areas demonstrated better aptitudes than their counterparts in control areas. The functionaries of Sharique areas became aware of resources and new sources through which local revenue could be increased but they were not enthusiastic about expanding the bases. Still, gradually, they have been increasing the UP’s own revenue sources. The

248  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model UP representatives of Sharique regions displayed better connectivity with their constituents and developed options to access to government officials at upper echelons. The office holders in Sharique realms were empowered on organising participatory meetings, long-­term planning, documentation, and regular budgeting. LGSP performance scores corroborate the better performances of the UPs of Sharique areas. Furthermore, overall, as institutions, the UPs have become a vibrant place, empowered with their own income, enhanced access for women, and increased admissibility. Testing the results with Pareek’s four propositions of institution building – elitism to populism, percolation to growth, centralism to decentralisation, and isolated professionalism to dialogue – it was revealed that the UPs lag behind in all the four areas. However, the institutions made small shifts towards populism, dialogue, and inclusive development with increased people’s participation in the governing process. Moreover, the UPs were at the lowest level in the four-­levelled staircase model of development – the stage of an institution with low and unpredictable output. At the environmental level, it is difficult to indicate any shift due to the project’s brief duration. However, in Sharique areas findings suggest the presence of an enabling environment for the participation of women and attitudinal change towards UPs. Yet a budding shift of power structures at localities was observed with the emergence of a youth group, which gained strength from its roots to political affiliation, and these unaccountable groups decide on distribution SSNPs, selection of beneficiaries, etc. bypassing accountable local government officials. The second sub-­set of achievements of the Sharique project involved the issue of peoples’ participation in the operation of planning and budgeting. Evidence revealed that endeavours of the Sharique project resulted in regular participation of citizens in planning and budgetary meetings and the formation of various committees of the UP with the inclusion of local inhabitants. Participation brings positive changes in the field of planning, accountability, and empowering citizens through dispersing knowledge, skill, and awareness and inspires functionaries of LGIs to be active and inclusive for legitimacy. Peoples’ participation in Sharique areas conforms to the mixture of ‘the political model’ and ‘the democratic model’ of governance. In the political model, community participation reaches the stage of ‘involving’ from the mere ‘informing’ and ‘consulting’ stages. However, most strikingly in this model the participation for decision-­making to accomplish a project occurs in line with political affiliation or connection, which supports the results of Waheduzzanman and As-­Saber (2015, p. 133). The invitation process was selective, attendance and engagement in WS meetings and OBMs were dominated by people of the same interests or political colleagues, and the members of the committees were handpicked. Aminuzzaman (2014, pp. 1–15) identified this course as a ‘pseudo participatory’ process, where the marginalised groups have limited scope. The study also unveiled the presence of marginalised groups in the participatory process

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  249 in Sharique areas. Accordingly, their voices were heard to some extent as factors in decision-­making of the UPs in vain efforts to make the UPs a bit predictable and legitimise the decisions. This participation of marginalised groups supports the arguments of the democratic model theory. However, according to Arnstein’s (1969, pp. 217, 216–224) ladder of participation the level of participation of the marginalised in Sharique areas remained at the level of tokenism, which allows voice though this voice possesses little power to influence the decision-­making process. Moreover, as has been found by Pandeya (2015, pp. 67–98), in Sharique areas, the study revealed an incapability of LGIs to respond in a timely manner to a large number of demands and to have left most of them unfulfilled, translating into negative impacts, including tokenistic participation, feelings of alienation, powerlessness, and socio-­economic exclusion. Therefore, the project areas still have far to go to achieve ‘the democratic model’ of governance, which encompasses spontaneity in participation of citizens, particularly of the marginalised and disadvantaged groups, and formation of various committees with citizens in accordance with their capacity, not based on their political affiliation. The citizens of Sharique areas still do not feel spontaneous desires to be engaged in WS meetings and OBMs. Citizens’ lack of spontaneity in participation substantiates the arguments of public choice theory, as the study showed a low level of spontaneous engagement of the inhabitants, who see little chance of being benefitted (economic self-­interest), and incentives from the UPs because of resources constraints of the local government units. In some cases, incentives can induce participation of the marginalised, specifically when there are refreshments at the meetings. In the UPs of Sharique areas, there observed expected shifts in various areas, proposed by Gaventa and Valderrama (1999, pp. 1–16) that are depicted basically through the implementation of participatory process. More of the shifts can be seen in the outcomes of Sharique project, as people have acquired the attributes of citizenship and have joined in decision-­making and implementation processes with the involvement of community. Still, the study suggests little evidence of transformation of practices/projects into policies. The third sub-­set of findings includes the role of Sharique in improving the status of the accountability and transparency in the UPs. The study reveals that the officials maintain three varieties of accountability compliance: legal obedience included in the Act, such as organisation of various meetings for social accountability, maintenance of procedures, and documentation of the activities; project requirements such as maintenance of guidelines of LGSP, requisites of NGOs working at local levels; and traditional socio-­political measures for responding to people’s queries and demands as well as voting mechanisms. The literature also supports the results (Ahmed, Harun Or Rashid, Ahmmed, & Razzaque, 2016, pp. 23–42). These forms of compliance are related to various forms of accountability, such as upward, horizontal, and downward accountability. In efforts to

250  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model comply, the UPs of Sharique areas arranged WS meetings and OBMs for participatory planning and budgeting with citizens’ engagement in line with the essence of public value management, which encourages empowerment of the citizens to hold the service providers accountable. However, some inconsistencies and irregularities in the organisation of WS meetings and OBMs were noticed. In this regard, the study suggests that the UPs of control areas completed their tasks only on paper without actually holding such meetings and depriving the constituents of opportunities to seek answers. In Sharique areas, corroboration of arguments of the new governance agenda was proven with the detection of the presence of members of CSOs, CBOs, and NGOs in addition to local entrepreneurs in WS meetings and OBMs. They play catalysing roles to engage citizens with accountability mechanism through voicing NGO-­formulated issues or questions. In this fashion, the two groups, the caretaker and the award provider or punisher, engage in debates regarding fulfilling demands to ensure downward accountability. The citizens have begun to raise their voices with their concerns and some of them started to be entertained. This finding substantiates the pronouncements of Kumar (2007, pp. 623–626), as he found in Kerala that citizens have become empowered through CBOs’ assistance to hold agencies accountable at the local level. However, not all voices are entertained and not all questions are answered, which means the responsiveness of the officials has yet to be achieved fully. The reasons behind this lack of the full range accountability derives from imbalances in socio-­power structures, patriarchal hegemony, parochial political cultures, the inability of the officials, and political pressures. Moreover, all concerns are not voiced because of time constraints in the meetings, the busyness of stakeholders, a long gap in between meetings, power gaps, and discomfort with public speaking. To hear these voices the UPs set up complaint boxes in their premises. Furthermore, the project has accompanied the UPs to maintain other procedures and prepare various documents to supply the upper echelon of governments and for inspections and audits in the localities to promote vertical accountability. According to the theory of NPM, the consumer-­like satisfaction of citizens is key to responsive government. In Sharique areas, citizens expressed their satisfaction at greater levels than in non-­Sharique areas on twelve issues. However, the improper application of answerability existing mechanisms, the power gap between the supply and demand sides, the low level of oversight by demand-­side actors, the absence of formal grievance procedures, the presence of corruption and lack of legal measures for recalling the officials, and so forth debilitated the process of accountability. Regarding the distribution of benefits, the study results revealed delivery of SSNP benefits based on patron-­client relationships and corruption since the voice of low-­profile inhabitants had yet to become an enforcing mechanism. Furthermore, in the distributions process the local political leaders, who have no accountability to the citizens, play crucial roles.

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  251 Again, according to public choice theory, the agent gets control of resources and, thus, promotes dictated development. In this regard, transparency play keeps tyrannical decisions in check. The UPs in Sharique areas showed that they disseminate information through display boards, in meetings by way of disclosures of information regarding projects implemented and projects demanded in brown papers and supply of copies of the budget, and verbally on demands. However, citizens displayed no efforts to seek information formally in written form. Citizens’ charters have been found in the UP premises, whilst in non-­Sharique regions the display boards were few in number and were not updated. Each UP owns a UDC and a web page. UPs in Sharique areas updated theirs with the most recent information in some cases, though there were visible gaps between the information in the internet and in reality, whereas the web pages of the UPs of non-­Sharique areas were at the embryonic stage. However, the information disseminated in boards, notices, or through web pages remained ineffective in most cases, as the people did not look for information there, due mostly to their lack of education and concern. The fourth sub-­set of findings involved issues relating to fiscal autonomy. Theoretically, fiscal autonomy directly relates to fiscal federalism in a broader sense and, more narrowly, it includes fiscal decentralisation for various measures and procedures. The findings uncover that through the efforts of the Sharique project the UPs stepped up their earnings from local sources. To attain this end, the UPs have increased both bases of sources and the tax rate within the limit fixed in the UP Model Tax Schedule of 2013. Accordingly, the findings suggest an increase in revenue generation from local own sources of income in the UPs of Sharique areas. This findings of the study corroborate the research of Blair, Cartier, Hussain, and Mostofa (2014, p. 6) as they have found that collaborative efforts remained successful in increasing locally generated income. Evidence suggests that the bulk of the fund of the UPs come from the government transfer. As a result, the UPs’ fiscal autonomy is yet to achieve, and this result substantiates the outcome of the study of BIGD (Rahman, Hossain, & Uddin, 2016, p. 33). Moreover, the UPs can decide on revenue collection independently to a limited extent. In most cases, the UPs have to follow the guidelines of the government. Consequently, the LGIs’ authority is truncated and case sensitive to include new diversified bases for revenue collection and to increase the rate of taxes, toll, fees, and the like beyond the government directions. As a result, the UPs’ taxation autonomy is limited. Ironically, it has been evident that the UPs of both Sharique and non-­Sharique areas dared not to raise the rate to the granted limit. Then again, the government has allowed the UPs a limited opportunity to exercise discretion over expenditures, as most of the government revenue transferred or shared comes with specific directions for targeted areas. Therefore, the findings of the study suggest that the process of fiscal decentralisation and its components began to be

252  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model practiced, and there need many tasks to be done in future for ensuring fiscal autonomy of localities. The fifth sub-­set of findings involved GM. Theories of good governance and inclusive governance argue for the process of conferring power back to the people through making government institutions and policies accessible and answerable to the citizens, particularly to the disadvantaged groups to ensure preservation of their rights and entitlements. Hence, GM in LGIs upholds values of SLG. The study suggests that the presence of women in the various processes of planning and budgeting increased almost equal to the number of men. Sharique made the women aware, encouraged, motivated, and cognizant of the necessity of getting involved with the governing process. Evidence confirms that the religious barriers to participation in Sharique areas have lessened to some extent; however, patriarchy remains pervasive in the region. The findings indicate a growing sense of ownership amongst the women of the localities. The women in Sharique areas engaged in networks, moved collectively in need, placed demands in harmony, contested in elections, and got involved in campaigning and casting votes in favour of their candidates. This outcome conforms to the study of Panday and Feldman (2015, p. 316), as they have also discovered that through NGOs’ assistance women developed bargaining capacity and grew interested in engaging in ‘local politics.’ The women of the project areas exhibited symptoms of their choices being honoured and wills being implemented, and free movements in needs being recognised. This finding substantiates the argument of empowerment and agency building of women. The study suggests that FMs have been mainstreamed to some extent in the UPs. They have been provided the opportunity according to the legal mandates that FMs are to be made heads of standing committees, allowed to implement one-­third of the total projects of the UP, made joint signatory of the bank accounts, and so forth. It has been evident that the UPs of non-­Sharique areas are also given the same opportunities; however, they have displayed inadequate levels of capacity to obtain a firm footing and execute the given responsibilities. In Sharique areas, FMs have demonstrated that they were no longer showpieces in the UPs; they have realised what their roles are and begun to exercise their authority in a limited scale. This finding corroborates Panday’s (2016) study that mentioned joint efforts of GOs-­NGOs has contributed significantly to empowering elected women representatives by building their agency with CB on the governing process of the UP and other community-­related issues. However, the FMs from both areas showed no difference on their access to various laws, rules, and regulations and in most of the cases they were ignorant of such technical issues and became depended on their male colleagues. Nevertheless, in Sharique areas their colleagues and constituents ranked FMs high for their performances in comparison to the same of non-­Sharique areas. Overall, the tripartite stakeholders including FMs themselves, their male colleagues, and the citizens showed low levels of satisfaction on the performance of

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  253 FMs for having a few opportunities, low levels of capacity, and a lack of visible success in fulfilling people’s demands. This finding upholds the evidence of a study of BIGD (Sultan et al., 2016, pp. viii–ix), which conveyed that the FMs’ failures to deliver on pledges and undertakings made during elections discourage them from contesting a second time for the office. Furthermore, FMs exhibited insubstantial roles in organising participatory meetings at the Ward and UP level. In Sharique regions, both FMs and male members became sensible on discrimination and violence against women, child marriage, and the like. The male officials of the UPs recognised the quota systems for the FMs, but FMs clamoured for equality in numbers and a few male officials acknowledged the problems and proposed remedies. UPs of both areas allocated special chunks of budgets for women. The frequencies and amount of allocation in budget were erratic in both areas, yet when the amount was considered the UPs of Sharique areas fared better. The fourth cluster of outcomes of the study includes the analysis of the collaborative process itself and various problems and challenges of the same. LG-­NGO collaboration has been tested through the theory of change, which involves the identification of outputs, intermediate outcomes and long-­term outcomes and their logical and causal relations with the interventions. The bottom-­up approach of NGOs, democratic pluralism, the failure of both government and market mechanisms for balanced development, and the comparative advantage of NGOs make these organisations crucial partners in development. Helvetas with its Sharique project has collaborated with UPs for strengthening the governance of the later. Here, Helvetas has functioned as a ‘collaborative convener’ or ‘collaborative entrepreneur,’ which deliberately has stressed facilitation and has operated as a partner to promote such an environment, which has contributed to fruitful collaboration. The outputs and outcomes of the project have been analysed in two categories: firstly, SLG-­related issues, and secondly, collaboration-­related factors. The SLG-­related findings, including outcomes and impacts of the collaborative endeavour, have been discussed previously. This next section involves the issues of collaboration process. It is evident from the study that as outcomes, the collaborative efforts developed social capital amongst the officials of GOs and NGOs and citizens. This finding is consistent with those of Morris, Gibson, Leavitt, and Jones (2013) who have found that both intermediate and long-­term outputs/outcomes have generated social capital. The social capital has worked as the base of the efforts to achieve desired shared goal of SLG through developing trust, values, and networks. Initially, the linkages between officials of both groups were a little shaky, and later as time passed the strength of the relationship was cemented further. This outcome validates the findings of Jelinek (2006, p. 18), as the author has mentioned that NGOs’ presence in an area for an extended time fosters positive impressions and shifts the attitudes of the local people in favour of the NGO. Better performance

254  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model of the citizens and officials occurred in Sharique-­covered areas where the collaborative programme lasted for an extended period. However, the delay, and failure to supply matching grants, and the quick and silent phase-­out of the project has reduced the level of trust and confidence in the NGO and its officials. In this study, the collaborative process has gone against the thought of Downs (1967) as the operation of the collaborative enterprise ends abruptly with the decision of the donor. Downs mentions that the process of collaboration ends snappily in very few times, and in cases, the operation can continue surviving with adoption of the process by other organisations (ibid., p. 22). However, the SDC followed one concern of Downs, as the project authority initiated transferring of the programme to BRDB, a government organisation for rural development, to continue the best practices of the Sharique project in an effort to continue the scheme. That means NGOs cannot substitute governments mostly for resource constraints. The products and services such as training, workshops, cultural shows, accompaniment, and documentation of the Sharique project for SLG have remained quite competent. The scheme has employed trials and error to test the goods and services and to promote these processes as universal practices, that is to change projects into policies. When the sustainability of the outcomes has been tested, the results showed that some of its promoted practices have been continued after the end of collaboration term. However, many of the provisions of the Act promoted by the endeavour remain unimplemented or lost their intensity after the phase-­out of the programme. In addition, the collaborative programme has encountered various problems and challenges. Major problems/challenges have stemmed from limited supply of matching funds, the intervention of ‘outside dynamics’ like politics, establishing policy linkages (i.e., inclusion of best practices as policies), technical incapacity of UP officials, achieving broader and sustained impacts, orientation of fresh representatives, and non-­cooperation of local bureaucrats.

Suggestions This study proposes suggestions on two areas including the processes of SLG and collaboration for SLG. The following two sections have been organized to offer suggestions for further development in the respective fields. Suggestions for SLG Government and advocates of well-­functioning local government may concentrate on the following issues.   1 Initiatives for decentralisation of administrative and financial authority should be taken through formulating policy and enacting a new law.

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  255  2 Initiative should be taken to bring the community groups into the UP having ensured their engagement in the various committees, and providing them with opportunity to lead the participatory process and oversight of the activities of the UP.   3 Programmes should be set to institutionalise the best practices of the NGOs in the local governance. To achieve the targets the policies (project to policy) should be included in the government instruments.   4 UPs need a more permanent workforce to accomplish the day-­to-­day activities and carry the learning forward through the next elected officials. In this gap, initiatives can be taken to recruit skilled human resources from local people or utilise their expertise for the UPs. Moreover, UPs should be outfitted with technical personnel such as engineers, accountants, computer operators, etc.   5 The tax collection process can be incentivised. Furthermore, partnership efforts with NGO/private entities can be engaged for tax collection. Payment of taxes by citizens may facilitate building a sense of ownership.   6 There should be arrangements to stipulate punishments or rewards for those officials who are involved with wrongdoings or are renowned for better performances in the localities.   7 Efforts should be made to arrange closer monitoring and supervision for meeting the requirements of implementations of provisions of the various laws. Moreover, based on this there should be further efforts to develop the skills of the underperforming UPs and their officials.   8 Initiatives should be undertaken for the glorification of the taxpayers at the local level. Attempts should be taken to arrange tax-­fairs at the UPs to encourage local people to pay taxes. Tax payment should be compensated with services.  9 Efforts should be made to decentralise NILG training all over the country to ensure continuous and long-­term training. Based on performance and advancement, attempts should be made to ensure refresher training and provide tailor-­made training as demanded. DDLG can be engaged in this process. 10 Initiatives should be undertaken to culturalise WS meetings and OBMs in the context of rural Bangladesh. Initiatives for institutionalising social accountability in Bangladeshi culture at the rural level remains a difficult task, as the officials have found the process threating and challenging to their post, position, power leadership, and dignity. It will require a long period of patient practice to make them accustomed psychologically to the process. 11 There should be arrangements for upward mobility of the secretaries of the UPs, as the UP secretary remains in the same post without any promotion. 12 Arrangements should be put in place for social service provisions of the local level industries with their tax-­arrangement.

256  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model 13 For mainstreaming gender at the local level, there should be initiatives to formulate policies and implement projects to promote inclusive social movements. 14 Conscious efforts need to be made to reduce outside control in the governing process of the UPs through politics. Suggestions for future collaboration The study found various loopholes in the joint efforts of UPs and the NGOs for SLG. Based on these loopholes the study has formulated suggestions for the success of such efforts in future. Promoting mutual trust and respect between the actors of collaboration Mutual trust, respect, and positive attitudes are important preconditions for a successful collaborative effort. Lack of these attributes may undermine the progress of the effort. Officials from both sides should concentrate more on combining their good efforts by showing positive attitudes to each other. Both actors’ careful efforts are needed to increase the level of interaction. Formulation of enabling policies and legal frameworks There has been success in various GO-­NGO collaborative efforts. These collaborative efforts need to be supported by enabling government policies. Furthermore, the collaboration of GOs-­NGOs should be brought under legal frameworks. With the presence of lucid legal guidelines, this type of programme will get a strong foothold in the sector of SLG to facilitate an environment in which the intervention has space to be activated with inclusion of people from all strata; and the success in this sector might bring other relevant areas under the collaborative efforts. Ensuring transparency in collaboration The collaborative programmes should be made transparent. Both the NGO and GO should keep the process open not only to each other but also to the citizens. Keeping the process open may eliminate confusion, disbelief, and misguidance. Engaging other NGOs working in the UP in collaboration Government has opportunity to involve other NGOs working in the local level in improving governance. In rural Bangladesh, there have been various NGOs working in various areas. These NGOs can be brought under a collaborative operation to improve the governance of the UPs, in addition

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  257 to the regular missions in the intervention areas. Moreover, the efforts of NGOs working for SLG should be coordinated. However, NGOs’ roles should be limited to guiding and facilitating both citizens and officials and should not substitute the community. Formation of joint committees for needs assessment, resource management, and monitoring Joint committees can be formed to maintain the collaboration governance. These committees may be formed with tripartite actors, such as NGO and GO officials and citizens. These committees will assess needs, plan types of intervention, manage resources, monitor the progress, and suggest further changes. The collaborative efforts may generate a collaborative fund with joint contributions of agreed-­on amounts. Ex-­UP officials with their expertise can play act on behalf of the citizens in these efforts. Incentives for engagement with collaboration Community betterment has yet to become the incentive for active engagement of both the UP officials and the citizens. In collaboration, if the engagement is incentivised, there will likely be better performance on the part of demand-­and supply-­side actors. Therefore, managing and providing incentives of cash and in-­kind could accelerate target-­ achieving missions. Furthermore, the NGO should expedite the supply of committed matching funds, which will also be an incentive for the UP as a whole. Arranging training for both actors in collaboration Actors from both sides of collaboration should be equipped with training. Further involvement of the NGOs in the governance of the UP requires synchronised training according to their demands. Moreover, common training for both GO and NGO officials should be arranged and the process should connect both actors for disseminating learning. To conduct trainings on a regular basis and effectively, there should be efforts for establishing permanent training institutions at the local level. Engaging line agency officials and LGSP facilitators in the efforts The Act transferred line agency officials to the UP, and these officials should be activated to perform their activities in the UP. Moreover, LGSP has been a mega player in the field of SLG. For a successful collaboration at the UP level, these actors can be included in the collaboration. Particularly, the line agency officials, if activated, may play a crucial part in the efforts of SLG.

258  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model Activation of forums of elected officials for increased communication for collaboration There exist various forums of elected officials at different levels. These forums should be given opportunities to be involved with collaborative efforts. The regular meeting of elected officials in forums may contribute to enhancing collaboration with different UPs through sharing best practices and challenges. Engaging local bureaucrats and political leaders Local bureaucrats of the central government at local levels have key roles to play in the affairs of local governance on one hand; on the other hand, political leaders have played crucial roles previously in this field, and now with the inception of party-­based election in the UP their roles have been magnified further with direct involvement. Their motivation, awareness, and strong willingness are much-­needed for the improvement of governance in the localities. Thus, these portions of empowered people should become objective in their attitudes, opinions, and actions to the establishment of responsible local governance at local levels. Initiation of partnership governance The roles of NGOs in service delivery, implementation of projects, documentation, and innovation have made them acceptable partners in development. In this regard, there should be efforts to generate options to include them formally in the process of governance. During the field visits, the researchers has been notified the aspiration of some UP officials and citizens for intimate engagement of NGOs in the governing process. Particularly, NGOs can be involved in service delivery and poverty reduction processes besides soft skill development. Additionally, donors and NGOs should extend their partnership from localities to the national level to capitalise on their strengths to form strong partnership with the central government and its various agencies for making the outcomes sustainable. Transferring the good practices of the programme to other actors Results provide evidence for having better outcomes in the areas where the collaborated efforts have been run long-­term. Thus, in the case of an NGOs’ phase-­out due to resource constraints or policy change or another reason, the practices of the projects can be transferred to other government organisations or other actors to continue the process, which may foster sustainability of the outcomes.

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  259

Proposed model of GO-­NGO collaboration for strengthening local governance Collaboration process The proposed model of GO-­NGO collaboration explains how collaboration between GOs and NGOs may work better for SLG at the local level. In this model, LGIs and NGOs interface at the local level, meet up and overlap each other with their strategies and activities to form a shared zone to collaborate. The collaborative efforts for SLG are placed in this shared zone, and these efforts are proposed to be maintained by a tripartite committee of people and GO and NGO officials. The key actors of the programme are LGI functionaries and NGO officials for empowering electorate to establish accountable and transparent governance at the local level. In collaborations, the efforts include setting targets, designing strategies, implementing the planned projects, evaluating the achievements, and continuing the cycle based on feedback. The process should focus on both collaboration itself and the SLG. The nurturing of collaboration enhances the process of implementation of the project by forming social capital. Moreover, to make the process more transparent and responsible officials of both localities and NGOs may participate in decision-­making bodies reciprocally as non-­voting members. For SLG, both supply and demand sides should be brought under the intervention processes, which includes but is not limited to training, workshops, skill development, institution building, accompaniment, backstopping, and participatory analysis.

GO-­NGO collaboration model The progress of partnership (see Figure 11.1) is planned to be monitored, and the impacts of the same are to be evaluated by another trilateral evaluating committee of citizens, LGI and NGO officials, and a third-­party expert body. The outcomes or the impacts of the collaborative project can be tested by comparing the same with the targets, based on state of variables on baseline survey, which include empowered citizens and officials, organisation of participatory planning and budgeting, accountable, transparent, and gender sensitised LGIs, fiscally autonomous governance, and formation of social capital amongst actors of collaboration. Through feedback, the achievements or nonfulfillment of the desired goals transfers to both the LGI and NGO and through them to government and donors. The project, based on the feedback, can employ renewed efforts in collaboration with redefining its targets and redesigning its strategies and implementation process. The collaboration for SLG to be successful requires involvement and support of various stakeholders. The functions of and relations amongst these stakeholders are discussed in the following sections.

260  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model

Government Ministry, other departments

Donors Foreign countries, INGOs & other actors

Local bureaucrats & representatives at UPZ and District

Line agency officials



LGIs Implementation of acts, Service delivery, Tax collection, Development activities


Discussion, Needs assessment, Training, Workshop, Empowerment, Awareness building, Fund supply, Institution building, Gender sensitisation, Project implementation , Evaluation, etc.

Advocacy Documentation Learning dissemination

People CSOs/NGOs of local areas

Local political leaders

Outcomes/Impacts Feedback

Capacitated citizens & officials, organisation of participatory planning & budgeting, accountable, transparent & gender sensitised, fiscally autonomous governance, formation of social capital among actors of collaboration


Figure 11.1  Proposed model of GO-­NGO collaboration

Government Government at the top, in a centralised country like Bangladesh, plays the decisive role for LGIs, NGOs, and collaboration. The collaboration can take place at the central level when government becomes the implementing

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  261 agency or when a government contracts with NGOs directly to implement the programme. Government can respond to advocacy of NGOs or donors and to make demands of LGIs with shifting policies, enacting laws, supplying human resources, increased fund supply to LGIs, providing enabling environments for collaboration, and so on. Moreover, the government can monitor the progress and accordingly expand the programmes nationwide through including best practices in government programmes or by employing other agencies to continue the process. Donors Donors including INGOs/development agencies or philanthropic foreign countries can come forward with the funds and ideas to reform governance. They can implement their programmes through national government and/or can contract local/national NGOs or INGOs. The donors make the implementer agencies accountable to them, and according to performances, the fund supplies can be continued, and the project areas may be broadened. Local government institution The LGIs have close links with people at the grassroots level at the bottom and with other tiers of local government and central government at the top. Thus, they can channel needs and demands of the grassroots level to the top; and the government at the top level can supply resources to LGIs directly and indirectly through other tiers of local government and can contract NGOs for interventions. In collaboration, LGIs remain one group of the key actors. They will take part in collaboration with assets like positive intentions, funds, physical infrastructures, information, human resources, and organisational facility. Non-­governmental organisations The roles of NGOs have been deemed as the most important factor in collaboration. In most cases, the NGOs are the convenors of collaboration. Donors/INGOs, or government can contract with them to involve them in the process of SLG. NGOs will take part in collaboration with funds/grants, human capital, soft skill development measures, accompanier roles, advocacy, and the like. In addition, the model illustrates that the collaborating NGOs stay accountable to their donors or INGOs or to the government at the national level for their performance and activities. Citizens of the locality People stay in the centre of the whole process. The major attempt of the SLG process involves giving power back to the citizens. In collaboration, the

262  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model citizens will support the entire process through taking part in training sessions, skill development procedures, institution building processes, being volunteers to promote the missions, and being the members of management and evaluation committees of collaborative efforts. Associated stakeholders The model collaborative endeavour is proposed to include local political leaders, CSO members, and NGO officials working at local levels, line agency officials, local level representatives, and bureaucrats of the central government in the process as favourable stakeholders. The roles of local political leaders may become crucial for their influence at the local level and their tendency to bypass LGIs in beneficiary selection and project execution without any kind of accountability to people, and for their connections at central level, through which they can be helpful in policy change. CSOs and NGOs working at the regional level may assist the collaboration for SLG with harmonisation of awareness building and encouragement of their respective beneficiaries to engage with the UP. The motivated line agency officials may be equally significant actors at the local stage through extending their support for collaboration with their skills, resources, and technical knowledge. The favourable attitudes of UPZ and district-­level elected representatives and civil servants of central government are crucial components for collaboration, which can facilitate the efforts and transmit the demands of the efforts to the national government.

Contribution of the book The book has contributed substantially to the domain of knowledge regarding LGI-­NGO collaboration for SLG and the collaboration process itself. Theoretically, the results conform to the arguments of good and inclusive governance, NPM, social accountability, and fiscal decentralisation to some extent. Empirically, the study findings provide insights to deepen the understanding of the policies and the processes of implementation and strengths and weaknesses of the programme, which may encourage NGOs, donors, LGIs, and government to review their attempts for SLG to replicate with alterations in line with the model developed based on the research outcomes. The following areas deserve the attention of policymakers, donors, and academicians.   1 It is possible to strengthen governance of the localities with collaborative efforts of the GOs and NGOs. The study reveals a cause-­effect relationship between inputs, actions, and outputs of collaboration with results, which includes outcomes and impacts. At the local level, both citizens and their representatives remained unaware of legal mandates for the governing process of the UPs. Then again, citizens and officials

Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  263






impeded heavily due to their low level of formal education and orientation on issues of governance. Besides, citizens revealed attitudinal complexities with their lack of interest in engaging with the governance of the UP. In this context, they required extensive CB efforts which can be attained in collaboration. The methods, mechanisms, and devoted efforts that the Sharique project has applied can be replicated to other areas of the country with some modifications in suggested areas. The project has included both supply-­and demand-­side actors to make them aware, knowledgeable, and skilled through intensive training, workshops, learning visits, accompaniment, and establishing training institutes at the local level to create demands amongst the marginalised, community ownership, and naturalisation of officials to practise participatory and transparent governance. All these efforts result in frequent organisation of WS meetings and OBMs, proactive disclosure of information, increased receptiveness of the officials, burgeoning of local income, and extended participation of women in decision-­making. The level of social capital developed amongst the actors, particularly GO and NGO officials and citizens, determines the success of the endeavours to a great extent. In their involvement, the functionaries of the UPs, citizens, and the officials of NGOs have dwelled close to each other; and through the process, they have developed a relationship. The relationship needs to be sustained through mutual respect and trust, cooperation, reliable dependency to achieve shared goals, and transparency in their activities. The longer the collaborated intervention continues, the more the success rate remains attainable and sustainable. In the process of collaboration for SLG, an aspiration develops amongst actors, particularly amongst demand-­side actors for engagement of NGOs more intimately in partnership governance with UPs for service delivery and implementation of the provision of legal mandates. People’s participation for placing demands need to be satisfied reasonably and without it, the participation and SAMs will fall short. The engagement of the citizens with the governing process demands support with incentives. In this regard, the LGIs need to be fiscally autonomous with high local revenues, shares of the revenue of national government based on a formula, and acceptance of funds supplied from other sectors conditioned on autonomy in spending. The most important issue for SLG entails strong political commitment of the government to develop a congenial atmosphere for active involvement of various actors of the field. The government needs to respond to the demands of the actors from local level to bring shifts in policy, legal frameworks, decentralisation mechanisms, revenue sharing, and delivery of more services and implementation of ADPs through LGIs.

264  Conclusion & GO-­NGO collaboration model  7 The officials are uninterested in participating in the self-­ financed training programmes which have been offered them. Some good functioning UPs with the promotion and sponsorship of Sharique in collaboration with the NILG developed the UPLA to conduct training at local levels with diffusion of practical experience to the participants. After the phase-­out of the project, the academy turned out to be dysfunctional because of a lack of financial and technical support, conflict of interest amongst officials of the UP, and non-­cooperation of the NILG and LGD.  8 ‘Partyarchy’ and ‘patron-­client relationship’ continue to play critical roles in the governing system of the UP. Party people administer a parallel UP without any responsibility. When a powerful ruling party chairperson runs the UP, the ward members who are weak and elected from the opposition party suffer much from a lack of power and opportunity to satisfy their constituents; and when the chairpersons are from the opposition party, the whole body of the UP suffers as it is bypassed by the ruling party leaders at the local level.  9 The NGO tends to include those citizens who have already been supported by non-­ financial services of other NGOs. Diversification of client selections of NGOs has been limited, as they have targeted unchanged individuals recurrently and simultaneously.1 Moreover, the NGO includes accessible areas and is reluctant to include remote areas within the intervention. 10 Study results reveal the occurrence of ‘coercive invitation,’ which denotes people’s participation in the WS meetings and OBMs against their self-­will and comfort level. This type of persuasive invitation has been observed when the officials need the presence of large numbers of participants to highlight their performance during NGOs’ programmes or when high-­ranking NGO and/or GO officials are in attendance. Typically, the process involves summons of the SSNP beneficiaries, particularly women, to participatory mechanisms, threatening to cut the benefits. In other cases, the process entails tempting those who possess desires of securing benefits of SSNPs in future by proving loyalty and engaging in patron–client relationship.

Note 1 In Jhilim UP, one woman has had ‘NGO’ tagged before her name for her frequent and incessant involvement with different NGOs.

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Chowkidary/Chowkidars  Watchmenship/Watchmen Gram Sarkar  Village government Gram Sabha  Village assembly Bazar  Local marketplace Chakla  A division/district of a country Dui nambari  Corruption Gam Chor  Embezzler of wheat grains Ghat  Stairs or a passage leading down to a body of water Hat  Local marketplace Ijara  Lease Khowar  A place to keep unattended animals Khas  Government-­owned Kotwal  In the medieval period, police officer like the leader of a fort Manusher Jonno Foundation  Foundation for people Pourasabhas  Municipalities Palli/Gram Parishad  Village assembly Palli Samaj  Village society Panchayet  Village assembly Pargana  A group of villages or a subdivision of a district Parishad  Council Sabha  Meeting Sarkar  A man who owns land worked by tenant farmers Swanirvar Gram Sarkar   Self-­reliant village government Shalish  Local judicial system Thana  Police station Union  A rural area consisting of some villages Upazila   Sub-­district Upazila Nirbahi Officer   A civil servant deputed to UPZ as Chief Executive Officer Ward Sabha  Ward meeting Zila   District


Note: italic and bold page numbers denote references to figures and tables, respectively. access to 29 – 30, 35, 37, 61 – 62, 70, 87 – 88, 90, 97 – 99, 107, 111, 119, 129, 165, 217, 248, 252 accompaniment 131, 220, 222, 254, 263 accountability 3, 7 – 8, 14, 23 – 24, 26 – 27, 29 – 36, 39, 44, 46, 47 – 54, 62, 69, 70, 72, 85, 87 – 88, 90, 93, 94 – 95, 97, 100 – 102, 109, 111, 113, 119, 132, 146 – 167, 168, 169 – 178, 222, 230, 233, 247 – 250, 255, 262, 264, 265 advocacy 41, 83, 90, 94, 224, 260 agency building 99, 252, 265 agent 31, 39, 68, 90, 165, 230, 247, 251 allocation 7, 21, 63, 68, 71, 72, 74, 85, 94, 98, 126, 127, 151, 175, 186, 204 – 205, 226, 228, 237, 253 answerability 16, 23, 29, 34, 37, 84, 85, 92, 148, 160, 250 Article 59 64 assessment 5, 10, 12, 25, 37, 69, 80, 82, 83, 85, 89, 91, 188, 201, 222, 229, 257, 260, 265 attitudes 2, 3, 12, 24, 25, 90, 105, 129, 130, 165, 215, 227 – 228, 233, 236, 241, 246 – 247, 253, 256, 258, 262 autonomy 3, 14, 23 – 24, 36 – 38, 46, 48 – 50, 52 – 55, 58, 62, 69 – 70, 79, 182 – 193, 228 – 229, 247, 251 – 252,  263 awareness 6, 13 – 14, 24 – 25, 39 – 41, 74, 85, 92 – 93, 100, 105 – 107, 109, 114 – 115, 125, 127, 142, 146, 171, 177, 195 – 197, 199 – 200, 202, 204, 214, 219, 222 – 223, 225, 232, 241, 246 – 248, 258,  262

Bangladesh 1 – 3, 5 – 6, 8 – 10, 12 – 13, 17 – 18, 24, 40, 41 – 42, 50 – 51, 54 – 64, 65, 66 – 70, 72 – 81, 86, 88, 89 – 91, 94 – 95, 99, 101 – 104, 106, 182, 193, 207, 225, 245 – 246, 255 – 256, 260, 265 beneficiaries 16, 27, 82, 87, 97, 153, 155 – 156, 165, 172, 176, 201, 204, 223, 227, 248, 262 best practices 64, 80, 83, 94, 170, 220, 224, 225, 242, 244, 254, 255, 261 bottom-up 7, 9, 44, 83, 87, 88, 96, 253 BRAC 5, 9, 15, 16, 81, 87, 88, 92, 96, 100 – 103, 223, 264 – 265 budget 5, 16, 28, 31, 67, 69, 72, 74, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 89, 92, 94, 98, 109, 110, 122 – 123, 126 – 127, 145, 151, 159, 167, 170 – 171, 172, 174 – 175, 177, 184, 185, 186, 188, 191, 195, 204, 227 – 229, 233, 240, 248, 251, 253 bureaucracy 6, 62, 67, 72, 75, 228, 236, 265 bureaucrats 3, 4, 8, 236, 238, 254, 258, 260, 262 capacity building 5, 9, 13, 16, 24, 45, 83, 90, 105 – 115, 117 – 128 CARE Bangladesh 89 charters 23, 66, 171, 172, 251 choices 28, 35, 37, 81, 97, 99, 106, 208, 227, 252 citizen charters see charters co-financing 223 collaboration 2, 3, 5, 8 – 11, 13 – 15, 21 – 55, 73 – 75, 79, 83, 84, 88, 94, 96,

268 Index 99 – 100, 105 – 115, 117 – 128, 131, 194, 217 – 220, 225, 230 – 232, 234 – 237, 239 – 240, 243, 245, 246 – 259, 260, 261 – 265 collective voice see voice commission 63, 68, 70, 71, 72, 76 – 77,  128 commonalities 24, 79 constituents 13 – 14, 30, 37, 87, 94, 120, 150, 168, 174, 213, 215, 217, 226, 234, 248, 250, 252, 264 constitution 6, 58, 61, 63, 64, 76 consultation 27, 28, 45, 57, 68, 161 corruption 3, 6 – 8, 10, 30 – 32, 34, 40, 42, 70, 96, 148, 162, 165, 168, 175 – 177, 239, 250 decentralisation 3, 8, 21, 26, 45, 59, 69, 94, 182, 246, 248, 251, 254, 262, 263 decision-making 4, 6 – 7, 10 – 11, 14, 16, 21 – 22, 24 – 25, 27 – 29, 34 – 37, 39, 43 – 44, 56, 67, 69, 80, 82, 87, 93, 97 – 99, 109, 120 – 121, 124, 129, 141, 143, 148, 196 – 197, 205, 210, 215, 227, 239, 247 – 249, 259, 263 demand side 10, 34, 81, 106, 198, 199, 222, 226, 229, 247 democracy 6, 23, 30, 41, 45, 51 – 52, 58, 59, 75, 88, 90, 129, 246 democratisation 41 disclosure of information 97, 156 e-governance 31, 62, 69, 70, 71, 72 – 73,  119 elites 3, 4, 28, 40 – 41, 61, 114, 133 – 134,  246 empowerment 10, 14 – 15, 24 – 5, 27, 39 – 41, 62, 74, 81, 86 – 87, 97, 99, 101 – 103, 148, 186, 195, 246, 252, 265 enabling environment 215, 227 enforcement 31, 34 – 35, 167, 168 engagement 6, 7, 15 – 16, 27, 33 – 34, 45 – 47, 73, 87, 93 – 94, 110, 127, 129, 132, 142, 219, 222, 226, 227, 229, 234, 239, 242 – 244, 248 – 250, 255, 257, 258, 263 entitlements 24, 45, 80, 86, 94, 96 – 97, 100, 105, 107 – 109, 127, 145, 174, 196, 198, 209, 217, 226, 246, 247, 252 expenditure autonomy 37 facilitation 9, 80, 87, 253 feedback 31, 44, 90, 93, 259 fiscal autonomy 37, 251

frameworks 22, 26, 33, 38, 46, 70, 232, 235, 243, 256, 263 freedom 30, 206 functionaries 4, 6, 63, 80, 85, 88, 89, 91, 96 – 98, 100, 107, 111, 113, 114, 133, 148 – 150, 158, 164, 227 – 228, 230, 232, 247, 248, 259, 263 gender 3, 6, 8, 14, 38 – 40, 48 – 49, 52 – 56, 80 – 82, 84, 88, 106, 124 – 125, 168, 194 – 217, 222 – 223, 225, 227, 233, 245 – 246, 256, 259, 260, 265 gender budgeting see gender gender mainstreaming see gender gender sensitisation see gender GG 4 – 6, 8, 23 – 24, 27, 41, 45, 56, 59, 61, 75, 83, 86, 148; see also good governance GO-NGO 2, 9 – 10, 12, 13 – 15, 20, 42 – 46, 47, 79 – 129, 182 – 217, 218 – 259, 260, 265 GO-NGO collaboration see GO–NGO good governance 4, 8, 211, 232, 252 grant 37, 72, 82, 85, 95, 117, 227 grassroots 1, 4, 6, 9 – 10, 52 – 53, 56, 61, 98 – 99, 126, 146, 220, 231, 246, 261, 265 Helvetas 2, 6, 79, 81, 231, 232, 236 – 237, 239, 240, 243, 253 human capital 231, 261 incentives 201, 234, 242, 249, 257, 263 inclusive governance 97, 129, 252, 262 information dissemination 14, 133, 170 – 171,  211 institutionalisation 40, 60, 61, 91, 110, 225, 232 institution building 24, 25, 248, 259, 262 interdependence 21 intergovernmental 36, 37, 72 interventions 7, 9, 12, 25, 62, 93, 96, 157, 177, 246, 261, 265 leadership skills 115 legitimacy 21, 27, 41, 46, 89, 248 LGSP 3, 5, 16, 81, 84, 85, 91 – 94, 96, 100 – 103, 115, 116, 117, 118, 128, 138, 176, 186, 190, 192, 225 – 227, 229, 231, 238, 247 – 248, 249, 257 local governance 1 – 4, 7 – 10, 12 – 15, 17 – 18, 20, 22 – 24, 36, 45 – 46, 47, 48 – 51, 53 – 56, 60, 67, 69, 72, 74, 79,

Index  269 80, 82, 84 – 91, 96, 99 – 94, 111 – 112, 129, 194, 216, 222 – 223, 225, 245, 247, 255, 258, 259, 265 Local Government Legal Framework 72 Local Government Service 70, 72 manual 134, 146, 159 – 160, 186, 222, 231, 232 marginalised 2, 4 – 5, 7 – 8, 10, 27, 35, 40, 44, 45, 80, 83, 87, 89, 94, 96, 97, 99, 111, 120, 130, 132 – 134, 136, 139, 140 – 141, 145, 154 – 155, 158, 165 – 166, 168, 175, 177, 221 – 222, 226, 228, 242, 248, 249, 263 matching grants 236, 243, 254 mobilisation 9, 16, 40, 56, 57, 68, 83, 91 model 2, 15, 26, 28 – 29, 69, 72, 86, 187, 220 – 221, 246 – 259, 260, 265 monitoring 15, 34, 39, 41, 62, 69, 71, 72, 85 – 87, 89, 91, 96, 221, 234, 255, 257 networking 25, 29, 86, 128, 143, 247 New Governance Paradigm 21 NGO Affairs Bureau 75 NPM 22, 23, 32 – 33, 61, 75, 250, 262 Ordinance 58, 62, 65, 66, 74 oversight 37, 62, 64, 69, 70, 72, 91, 222, 226, 250, 255 ownership 10, 14, 30, 56, 130, 139, 155, 205 – 206, 222, 226, 232, 246 – 247, 255, 263 own income 14, 190 – 191, 193, 229,  248 paradigm 5, 59 participatory planning 8, 24, 26, 67, 70, 71, 75, 83, 98, 109, 128, 168, 170, 226, 230, 233, 247, 250, 259, 260 partnership 5, 8, 15, 28, 35, 42 – 43, 62, 79, 83, 91 – 92, 100, 105, 219, 237, 258 – 259,  263 partyarchy 29, 49 patriarchy 196, 199, 200, 201, 252 patron-client 35, 246, 250, 264 people’s participation 3, 6, 14, 44, 60, 67, 70, 90 – 92, 98, 129 – 135, 137, 139 – 148, 233,  264 platform 36, 82, 207, 242 pluralism 4, 22, 253 policies 1 – 2, 7 – 9, 13, 26, 36 – 37, 38 – 39, 46, 67, 79, 90, 98, 206, 225, 246, 249, 252, 254, 255 – 256, 261 – 262

political leaders 6, 8, 97, 133, 166, 234, 238, 250, 258, 262 politics 21, 27, 29 – 30, 40 – 42, 47, 52 – 53, 59, 69, 107, 114, 125, 137, 162, 194 – 196, 200, 205 – 206, 216, 234, 238, 252, 254, 256, 265 populism 26, 226, 227, 248 power 1, 3, 4, 7 – 8, 10, 25, 27, 28, 31, 33, 36 – 37, 39 – 40, 43, 45, 58 – 59, 62, 64, 65, 67 – 70, 71, 72, 80, 82, 87, 93, 98, 112, 114, 119 – 121, 124 – 125, 127, 132, 134, 154 – 155, 162, 165, 168, 182, 200, 205, 207, 211, 222, 230, 234, 246, 248, 249 – 250, 252, 255, 261, 264 powerless 27 principal 21, 31, 72, 91, 95, 99, 111, 135, 140, 162, 169, 189, 190, 202, 213, 222, 224, 229, 230, 247 pro-poor 15, 69, 80, 81, 82, 85, 86, 87, 88, 97, 99, 222, 227, 228, 247 purdah 196, 209, 217n1 reforms 32, 56, 63, 64, 67 – 68, 70, 76 – 78, 85, 115, 194, 245 representation 24, 27 – 28, 71, 88, 101 – 102,  265 representative 89 resources 3 – 5, 6, 8 – 9, 21 – 22, 27, 33, 37, 39 – 40, 43, 44 – 46, 55 – 56, 63, 69, 71, 72, 74, 84, 88, 90, 94, 96 – 101, 114, 129, 140, 150, 166, 170, 186, 219, 241, 247, 249, 251, 255, 257, 261, 262 responsiveness 7 – 8, 16, 27, 29, 88, 93, 168, 176 revenue 36 – 38, 57, 62, 66, 71, 72, 89, 91, 115, 117, 182 – 183, 185 – 187, 189, 191, 193, 228, 247, 251, 263, 265 right to information 29, 80, 93, 112, 148; see also RTI rights and entitlements 105, 196 RTI 66 – 67, 80, 82, 87, 97, 109, 112 – 114, 127, 169 – 171, 173, 177, 229, 230,  247 SAMs 8, 14, 36, 75, 88, 91, 93 – 94, 98, 129, 158, 225, 230, 263 satisfaction 33, 75, 93, 134, 136, 142, 154, 156 – 157, 165, 167, 168, 214 – 215, 250,  252 SDC 2, 5, 79, 80, 81, 128, 218, 225, 232, 244, 254 SDGs 9, 56, 90 sensitisation 227, 260

270 Index service delivery 7 – 10, 15, 20, 22 – 23, 33, 41 – 42, 45, 66, 68, 70, 73, 85, 87 – 88, 94, 100, 168, 182, 222, 258, 263 social accountability 93, 102; see also  SAMs social capital 23, 26, 44, 45, 46, 218, 231, 243, 246, 253, 259, 260, 263 SSNPs 82, 97, 99, 106, 107, 109, 114, 153, 155, 164, 170, 201, 226, 248, 264 standing committee 68, 82, 110, 160, 177, 252 Stiglitz 30, 54 supervision 68, 83, 89, 159 – 161, 205, 255 supply side 83, 106, 217, 247 sustainability 15, 56, 86, 218, 225 – 226, 230, 232, 243, 254, 258 sustainable development 7, 9, 23, 32, 40, 45, 90, 196, 232 system theory 44 tax autonomy 37 top-down 8, 74, 96

transparency 3, 14, 23 – 24, 29 – 32, 34, 44, 46 – 54, 62, 69, 71, 85, 88, 90 – 95, 98, 100 – 102, 109, 113, 119, 129, 146, 148 – 167, 168, 169 – 178, 247, 249, 251, 256, 263 trust 21, 30, 43, 46, 130, 168, 209, 219, 220, 228, 235 – 237, 243 – 244, 253 – 254, 256,  263 Union Parishad Local Academy 80 Vision 2021 9, 10, 22, 68, 119 voice 8, 23 – 24, 27 – 28, 31, 33, 35 – 36, 40, 43, 52 – 53, 54 – 55, 67, 100, 111, 132, 137, 142, 145, 155, 161, 176 – 177, 197, 201, 203, 205, 209, 222, 226, 227, 249, 250 volunteers 86, 92, 94, 99, 209, 232, 262 women’s empowerment see empowerment World Bank 4, 5, 23, 39 – 40, 52 – 53, 91 – 93, 95 – 96,  104