Sharique-BIGD Seminar on
Ward Shabha Operational Guideline held

Sharique ward shabha seminar
Strong political will is needed to improve the poor functioning of Ward Shabhas. To make it more effective. the authority needs to be transferred to the local government institutions to ensure democratic participation of citizens, said Dr. Salimullah Khan, political analyst and Professor, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), at a BIGD seminar. Dr. Salimullah was addressing the even t as a panelist. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University organized the seminar to disseminate the Ward Shabha Guideline among its stakeholders prepared under the Local Governance Programme SHARIQUE, on Aug 30, 2016 at the Lake Shore Hotel in Capital. The operational Guideline was prepared to assist UP elected representatives with practical suggestions for efficient and effective operations of the Ward Shabha. The seminar was a two-hour session in which the guideline was shared with local government experts, practitioners, academics and policy makers to exchange views with them.

Ward Shabha is an important tool for ensuring social accountability and citizens’ engagement in the overall local governance of UP. It is expected that a well-functioning Ward Shabha will further strengthen the accountability mechanism in UP addressing the local priority needs.

Mr. Kaspar Grossenbacher, Country Director, Helvetas Swiss Inter Cooperation delivered the opening remarks at the event. Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow and Team Leader of Sharique, BIGD delivered the key note speech and presented the issues and also proposed the Guideline related to Ward Shabha.
The Guideline highlights different issues for making Ward Shabha functional including the needs for drafting agenda for Ward Shabha, documenting its proceedings, making appropriate public announcements, deploying volunteers to manage crowds, among other things.

Following the presentation, a lively discussion held under the facilitation of Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, where participants gave their views and shared experiences on the issue. Mr. Ershadul Hauqe, Deputy Secretary, Union Parishad Wing, Local Government Division (LGD), Mr. Swapan Kumar Sarkar, Former Additional Secretary and Director General, Local Government Division, Mr. Azizur Rahman Siddique, Consultant of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), among others spoke at the event.

Mr. Ershadul Hauqe admitted that the Union Parishads have lot of limitations but change was also taking place. For the progress to sustain, he emphasized on citizen’s continuous and active participation. Mr. Swapan Kumar Sarkar said that the Union Parishad needed resource and capacity to conduct Ward Shabhas, which currently it has not.

Elected representatives from the Sharique working areas also shared their experiences of Ward Shabha and expressed their agreement with all the issues highlighted in the presentation.

Concluding the seminar, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, said, “Although there appears to be lots of constraints with regard to the functioning of Ward Shabha in Bangladesh, the situation is not frustrating if we look at the history of our democracy. With increasing political will, we can turn the picture around and ensure a vibrant Ward Shabha that contributes to the functioning of the whole Union Parishad.”

At the end of the programme, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Mr. Kaspar Grossenbacher formally handed over the Guideline and two other advocacy briefs titled “Strengthening Women’s Representation in Union Parishad” and “Strengthening Committees and Standing Committees of Upazila and Union Parishads” of Sharique programme to Mr. Ershadul Haque, Deputy Secretary, Union Parishad Wing, Local Government Division (LGD).

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