VOICE is a rights-based, activist organization working mainly on the issues of food sovereignty, aid effectiveness, economic justice, and the right to information and communication, both in Bangladesh and on a global scale. By building a broader constituency of alternative voices to the ‘mainstream development discourse’ through research and public education, VOICE is taking a stand against unjust and undemocratic practices.

VOICE organized a press conference 'End Policy Conditionalities, Ensure Democratic Ownership'

By farjana - Posted on 28 August 2008

No strings with foreign aid demanded

Social and development activists on Monday called for bringing an end to conditions in taking foreign aid and ensure a transparent, accountable and coordinated process based on the UN charter.

Representatives of a number of organisations, under the banner of Aid Accountability Group, expressed their concern over the issue at a news conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity, organised ahead of the ministerial meeting on ‘effectiveness of foreign aid’ to be held in Ghanaian capital Accra in September 2-4.

The speakers warned that the US and the World Bank at the Accra meeting would try to establish the dominance of the lenders in setting terms and conditions for providing foreign assistance to developing countries.

Alongside the ministerial meeting, citizens’ organisation from all over the world will also meet in Accra from August 31 to September 1 to discuss how foreign assistance can be made more effective in the development process of a country.
The coordinator of the Aid Accountability Group, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, also the executive director of Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment, stressed ensuring ‘democratic ownership’ of foreign aid.

Multi-stakeholder national consultation on CSOs and aid effectiveness: OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT

By farjana - Posted on 13 July 2008


Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play important roles in development. They are also important and distinctive contributors to aid effectiveness as a function of their independence, their advocacy and watchdog roles, their close connections to the poor or their effectiveness as channels for aid delivery.

As development actors, CSOs share an interest in the concept of aid effectiveness as an important one for keeping development efforts on-track, for drawing attention to outcome and impact level results, and for drawing lessons of good practice from accumulated experience. The shared pursuit of aid effectiveness provides a legitimate entry point for dialogue among all development cooperation actors, including CSOs. Recent discussions involving civil society and the Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (DAC) in Paris indicate that there is considerable interest in engaging in this sort of dialogue.

The March 2005 Paris DAC represents a landmark achievement for the international community, which brings together a number of key principles and commitments in a coherent way. It includes a framework for mutual accountability, and identifies a number of indicators for tracking progress on the part of donors and partner countries.

Strong local govt seen vital for tiding over aid dependency

By voice - Posted on 10 July 2008

Staff Reporter, 10 July 2008

Participatory democracy, capacity building of politicians as well as public administrations, strong local government and long-term commitment can make Bangladesh an aid non-dependent country.

Donors will come to the country as visitors to see how we developed if, we pay taxes regularly, our government keep us informed about the state policies, our foreign remittances are utilised for the benefit of the poor and our local government develop into a strong force to mobilise local resources, said Dr Kazi Kholikuzzaman Ahmed, president, Bangladesh Economist Association.

It this regard partnerships among civil society organisations, government and non-government organisations are imperative, he also said.


VOICE national consultation on 'Road to Accra: Paris Declaration and Aid Effectiveness'

By farjana - Posted on 10 July 2008

Multi-stakeholders discussion held: Effective use of foreign aid helps reduce poverty

Staff Reporter, 10 July 2008 - http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/07/10/news0105.htm
Speakers at a discussion yesterday urged donors and recipient countries to reform and properly manage foreign aid in order to improve its effectiveness.They however, said that widening of tax net and proper investment of foreign remittances could significantly help reduce the country's aid dependency.

If the necessary reforms were carried out in the utilization of foreign aid then it would reduce poverty, inequality, accelerate economic growth, build capacity and enhance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's), they added.


Lenders’ reps admit failure to judge quality of projects

By voice - Posted on 10 July 2008

Staff Correspondent, 10 July 2008

Overseas funding agencies and countries providing aid have not always shown due discretion in judging the quality of projects and spending mechanisms of recipients including Bangladesh, admitted two donor representatives on Wednesday.
At a multi-stakeholder consultation on ‘Aid Effectiveness’ in Dhaka, they said the voice of Bangladeshis had not been reflected in development planning and formulating policy documents such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, especially in the absence of a functional parliament.


ADB's Long Term Strategic Framework Criticized for its Anti-poor Stand and Corporate Bias

By farjana - Posted on 21 June 2008

[VOICE, Dhaka, 19 June 2008]

Speakers in a meeting strongly criticized the Long Term Strategic Framework (LTSF) for 2008-2020 of Asian Development Bank for its anti-poor stand showing blanket biasness toward private sector led development. The meeting was organized by a research organization ‘Voice’ in the Supro conference room on 19 June 2008. Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of Voice moderated the meeting while it was attended by civil society organizations, trade unionists, farmers’ organizations, NGOs, students, activist groups and civil society actors.

Farjana Akter, programme coordinator of Voice presented the key note speech terming the long term strategy as anti-poor. She said that the ADB is far behind its commitment to reduce poverty, rather its involvement with corporate sector makes the poverty situation worsen in the region.

ADB's long-term strategy slammed for anti-poor bias

By voice - Posted on 20 June 2008

Rights activists want
collective stand against ADB's role

[Staff Correspondent, http://www.newagebd.com/2008/jun/20/nat.html,
20 June 2008]

Development activists and
rights campaigners strongly criticised the Long Term Strategic Framework for
2008-2020 of Asian Development Bank for its anti-poor stand showing blanket
bias toward private sector-led development, says a press release.

They were speaking at a
discussion sponsored by Voice, a research organisation, at the SUPRO conference
room in
Dhaka Thursday.

The private sector
domination in the development process would concentrate on their own profit
leaving behind the agenda of poverty reduction, which would ultimately worsen
the poverty situation, they warned.



VOICE publishes 5 briefing papers on ADB's Operations in Bangladesh

By voice - Posted on 25 May 2008

VOICE published 5 briefing reports (4 in English and 1 in Bengali) on the topic of the ADB in Bangladesh especially for the National Consultation.

1. The ADB in Bangladesh: ‘Country Strategy and Programme’: A Corporate Bias
by Tanim Ahmed

Journalist Tanim Ahmed dissects the 4-year development plan proposed by the ADB, exposing the Bank’s clear corporate bias behind its claims of poverty reduction. Through trenchant analysis of their Bangladesh policy, Ahmed summarizes frankly their intentions in the poverty, governance, private sector, agriculture and natural resources, transport, energy and health sectors.

2. Water for Sale? Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority: A project financed by ADB for Privatization
by Tanim Ahmed

In this paper Tanim Ahmed delivers a detailed assessment of the ADB’s proposed privatisation of the water distribution system, starting with a well-constructed history of recent events in water rights. Ahmed breaks down the agenda behind their proposal, including conditionalities and their recommendations to DWASA.

Asian CSOs Urge Leaders to Reject ADB’s Strategy 2020 Framework

By voice - Posted on 05 May 2008

MADRID, Spain - By IFI Water Watch
Civil society organizations from Asia urge their leaders attending the 41st Governors’ Meeting to reject the pro-privatization and anti-poor Strategy 2020- the new long-term strategic framework of the Asian Development
Bank- which is part of the agenda of the meetings in Madrid, Spain, from May 3-6. Contrary to its corporate vision of ‘An Asia and Pacific Free of Poverty’, the Strategy 2020, which replaces the long-term strategic framework 2000-2015, will actually lead to increased poverty, debt, hunger and environmental plunder in the region.
The strategy aims to create a business-friendly environment and increase public-private partnerships to at least 30% of total activities by 2020. The strategy also aims to scale up private sector development and private sector operations to 50% by 2020 in core areas such as environment, finance sector development, regional cooperation and integration, education, and infrastructure (including water, sanitation and waste management).

ADB Annual General Meeting in Madrid, Spain: Poor are left unconsidered by Asian Development Bank

By voice - Posted on 03 May 2008

Madrid, Spain, 3 May 2008 - Ahmed Swapan Mahmud
The Annual General Meeting of the Asian Development Bank's is currently being held from 3rd to 6th May 2008 in Madrid, Spain. The Bank has failed to meet its poverty reduction targets for more than four decades, leaving millions of poor in developing countries.
The Bank is emphasizing private sector development, to which it is allocating 50 per cent of its budget without considering the social protection and human security of the poor. Economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration are now the priority areas, while the lending agency continues to ignore public service support.

ADB’s strategy for 2020 puts the private sector in control over a country, leaving public services open for the multinational corporations. Also, the Bank has put pressure on the government to cut down spending on public services, and has been advocating for blanket privatization and commercialization while the poor suffer the worst due to reduced state responsibility. Whom does the ADB serve? The corporate bias of ADB ensures private sector making profit over life, while millions of poor suffer from malnutrition and lack of proper access to land, water, and common resources.