State of Governance: State of Social Accountability and Deliberate Democracy in Bangladesh

SoG 2018, one of the flagship publications of BIGD, wanted to explore the dynamics of social accountability (SA) forums in various sectors of Bangladesh. The SoG 2018 deals with both formal (institutional) and informal (societal)
dimensions of social accountability and deliberative democratic practice in Bangladesh.

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) hosted a Roundtable where the State of Governance Report (SoG) of Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), which is one of its flagship research publications, has been launched. The SoG 2018 focuses on the functioning of social accountability (SA) forums in Union Parishad and education sector. In the event titled “State of Governance: State of Social Accountability and Deliberate Democracy in Bangladesh” the study findings were presented by Dr Mirza M Hassan, Senior Research Fellow & Head, Governance & Politics Cluster, BIGD. He is the Lead, State of Governance 2018. The discussion was followed by a Question & Answer session.

Honourable Minister of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Md
Tazul Islam, MP graced the event as the Chief Guest. The special guests were Ms Rasheda K Choudhury Executive Director, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) Former Adviser Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, and
Ms Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation. The expert panellists for the panel discussion included: Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, Country Director, The Hunger Project Bangladesh; Mr Anowarul Haq, Social Development Adviser, DFID Bangladesh; and Ms Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment, Integrated Development, and Gender Justice and Diversity Programs of BRAC.

The principal observation of the SOG report is that NGO interventions—to make SA forums functional—tend to have positive impacts in ensuring better governance of these forums. The study found that except SMCs, the available SA institutions/forums tend to remain largely dysfunctional unless they are activated and nurtured by the NGOs. However, the study also found that when these spaces are functioning, citizens of different classes and genders are eager to aggressively seize the opportunities to voice their demands. The report argues that there is a need for long-term external interventions to make existing SA forums efficient, robust, and sustainable. Such interventions would require a synergy of state-NGO-community since the goal can only be achieved when all these three actors work together rather than individually.