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BIGD Special Publication Series 02 -- Social Accountability Mechanisms: A Study on the Union Parishads in Bangladesh

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BIGD Special Publication Series
No.02 March, 2016

Social Accountability Mechanisms: A Study on the Union Parishads in Bangladesh

Contributors: Tofail Ahmed, Md. Harun Or Rashid, Kazi Niaz Ahmmed, Farhana Razzaque

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 BIGD Special Publication Series 2 march 2016 23 03 16 copy

The study has been undertaken to analyze the state of social accountability in the Union Parishad in Bangladesh. The primary objective of the study is to explore the nature and extent of avenues to the citizens to be engaged with the UP activities in different regions as well as UPs under the coverage of special projects and UPs not having coverage of any special project. The study particularly looked at the implementation of the legal-administrative framework particularly the UP Act 2009 (Ward Shava, Plan and Budget Sessions, Standing Committees, UDCC, etc) and the innovations of different projects like SHARIQUE, UPGP and HYSAWA. Besides, the study also adopted strategies to find out the informal traditional practices of responsiveness and accountability developed over the years because of the demands and expectations of the citizens and the community.

BIGD Special Publication Series 05: State of Accountability of the Transferred Departments at the Upazila Parishad and its Consequences for Allocation and Utilisation of Resources

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BIGD Special Publication Series
No.05 July, 2016

State of Accountability of the Transferred Departments at the Upazila Parishad and its Consequences for Allocation and Utilisation of Resources:
A Study of Three Departments Local Governance Programme Sharique-III

Contributors: Mirza Hassan, Farhana Razzaque, Md. Bayazid Hasan,Muhammad Ashikur Rahman

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Special publication 05 Transferred Department Page 01

This study finds that despite the transfer policy, human resources and personnel management set up of these departments manifests a centralised bureaucratic structure and process. Moreover, the system of top down bureaucratic accountability continues and it is effectively enforced by the following well developed accountability tools: Annual Confidential Report, Annual Performance Agreement, Monthly meeting at the District level, Project Evaluation Report and Monthly Activity Report. Therefore, in effect, officials of the transferred departments are clearly subject to a dual form of accountability (manifested mainly in the form of dual reporting). The study also intends to explore the gaps, if any, in the formal accountability structure and process and to reflect on the relations between officials of transferred departments and the elected body of UZP. It reveals that the mode of application of the laws related to the transfer of departments tends to be characterised by a lack of precision and ambiguities. It is a matter of fact that, while Upazila Chairperson (UZC) enjoys freedom in appointing employees of the UZP and taking disciplinary action against them, the authority of the UZC is circumscribed in relation to the central government officials transferred to the UZP. A close scrutiny of the Upazila Manual also shows that it tends to lack clarity regarding the nature of accountability linkages (processes, mechanisms, rules of business etc, for instance, how to coordinate, supervise and monitor the transferred departments) between the UZP elected representatives and the transferred officials. For instance, the Manual lacks concrete instructions such as on how officials will send monthly report, project evaluation report, progress report, etc., (if any) to the UZC, which could have clearly defined the accountability tools/mechanisms.

Apart from the gaps and vagueness in laws there are several other factors which explain as to why the democratic accountability process has remained dysfunctional. The reasons are: (i) Information deficit (ii) Authority deficit (iii) Knowledge deficit of the transferred officials (iv) Elected representative's lack of control over resources and (v) Tools (Annual Performance Review, Project Monitoring by UZC and (iii) Project Monitoring Committee) of the democratic accountability are ineffective.

BIGD researchers present papers at Urban Poverty Conference, Dhaka

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BIGD researchers present papers at Urban Poverty Conference, Dhaka

BIGD researchers presented their papers during a two-day conference on Urban Poverty: Challenges of Perspectives and Action, held on 24 - 25 September 2016 in Dhaka. The conference was organised by the Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC) and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), in partnership with The World Bank and the UNDP. During the conference Ms. Kaneta Zillurand Ms. Farhana Razzaque, Research Associates, BIGD, presented their paper titled ‘Coping with Uncertainties: Trust Dynamics, Fluid Networks and Poverty Traps’ and Mr. Mohammad Sirajul Islam, Research Associate, BIGD presented his paper, ‘Urban Poor and Politics in Dhaka: Participation, Autonomy and Dividends’. Ms. Zillur and Ms. Razzaque highlighted the use of ‘fluid’ social networks by the urban poor in coping with the many uncertainties of living in an urban setting. Mr. Islam highlighted that the urban poor had been passive towards politics in the city and they maintained strong rural connection for benefits by casting votes in local government elections.

pprc workshop

 

The session was chaired by Professor Nazrul Islam, Center for Urban Studies and included panellists, Professor David Hulme, Manchester University and Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, PPRC.

BIGD organises Seminar on Aid and Developmental Transformation in Bangladesh

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BIGD organises Seminar on Aid and Developmental Transformation in Bangladesh

Naomi join 1
Naomi Hossain (left) and the participants included Syed Saad AndaleebSultan Hafeez Rahman,
Wahiduddin Mahmud, Dr. Naila Kabeer (from right) with other participants 

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, organized a Seminar on Aid and Developmental Transformation in Bangladesh on 26 July, 2016 in the BIGD Conference Room In the seminar, Dr. Naomi Hossain, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University, UK discussed her forthcoming book titled The Aid Lab: Understanding Bangladesh’s Surprising Success. The book will be published by the Oxford University Press, UK in February 2017.

In her discussion, Dr Hossain shared that, no longer the world’s ‘basket case’, Bangladesh has become a celebrated example of how aid can bring about development under the most testing conditions. According to Dr. Hossain, rather than open markets providing the motor for development, a social contract to protect the masses against natural disasters and other crises emerged out of the tragedy of the 1974 famine. This social contract helped the state build popular legitimacy and laid resilient foundations without which human development was impossible. Aid supported – but it did not create – these conditions. Lessons from Bangladesh’s disaster-studded history matter more than ever, at this time of climate change and global economic shocks.

Naomi join 2


The Seminar was chaired by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD. Among others, Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor, BRAC University; Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, Prominent Economist; Dr. Naila Kabeer, Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE); Simeen Mahmud, Head (Ad Interim), Gender Cluster & CGST, BIGD; and Dr. Mirza Hassan, Research Fellow of BIGD also spoke at the seminar.

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BIGD organises a Seminar on the Political Economy of Social Protection

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BIGD organises a Seminar on the Political Economy of Social Protection 

 

BIGD organised a seminar titled the Political Economy of Social Protection in Developing Countries on April 7, 2016 at the BRAC Centre Inn, Dhaka. Dr. Syed Mansoob Murshed, Professor of the Economics of Peace and Conflict at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University in the Netherlands presented a paper titled on the Determinants of Social Protection Expenditure in a Cross Section of Developing Nations. Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD chaired the seminar.

Distinguished participants at the open discussion

In the presentation Dr. Mansoob discussed the determinants of social protection and public health expenditure in a cross-section of heterogeneous developing countries. He shared that these types of spending are a function of fiscal capacity, the degree of democracy, institutional quality, inequality, internal conflict, trade openness, the presence of financial crises, food insecurity, as well as macroeconomic variables such as inflation and debt servicing that inhibit government expenditure.

Dr. Mansoob added that debt servicing robustly reduces social protection spending, whereas higher per-capita income and fiscal capacity encourage it. Greater openness does not necessarily encourage more spending, nor does increased inflation always inhibit it. Rising democratisation promotes social sector spending, and the presence of greater democracy and fiscal capacity reinforces this effect. More equal societies spend more on protection and public health. Internal conflict and crises variables have more ambiguous effects.Followed by the presentation of Dr. Mansoob, distinguished guests participated in an open discussion.  


Among other participants, representatives from BRAC, BRAC University, James P Grant School of Public Health, SANEM, University of Dhaka, IGC, and media attended the seminar.

BIGD Research Fellow Dr. Md Shanawez Hossain participated in the Faculty Workshop at University of California, Berkeley

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BIGD Research Fellow Dr. Md Shanawez Hossain participated in the Faculty Workshop at University of California, Berkeley

BIGD Research Fellow Dr. Md Shanawez Hossain participated in the Faculty Workshop on Research Writing & Publishing in the USA from October 11-18, 2016. Hosted by Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, University of California, Berkeley in partnership with the American Institute for Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) and the US Embassy in Dhaka. Eight faculty members from top universities from Bangladesh participated in the program. The workshop led by UC Berkeley faculties covered topics on research methodologies including, deconstructing a paper, qualitative methods, survey methods, literature review/theory, archival research, polishing the paper and publishing process. The overall program was coordinated by Dr. Sanchita Saxena, Executive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies; Director, Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, University of California, Berkeley.

Shahnawez Faculty WS

 From October 20-23 Dr. Hossain participated in the 45th Annual Conference on South Asia organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club. The four day conference featuring research panels and roundtables, lectures and addresses, film screenings, booksellers, association receptions, and other special presentations was attended by more than 750 scholars, students and professionals. On 20th October Dr. Hossain presented a paper on ‘Regional Cooperation for Resource-Centered Strategies: Analysis from Energy Security Perspective in Asia’, at the daylong session titled, ‘From MDGs to SDGs: Bangladesh as a Case in Point’. Dr. Jason Cons, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin was discussant of the paper. Dr. ASM Atiqur Rahman, Professor, Institute of Social Welfare & Research, University of Dhaka presented the keynote in the event.  Among others Dr. Golam M. Mathbor, President, AIBS; Professor, School of Social Work, Monmouth University; Dr. Sanchita Saxena, Director, Subir and Malilni Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley and Mahbub Hasan Saleh, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Bangladesh Embassy in USA attended the event.