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Rights and development activists asked the civil society organisations on Wednesday to engage with the donors and the government for effective utilisation of foreign assistance in development activities.
Speaking at a consultation meeting they said that no development effort, without the involvement of the common people, could provide the desired results. They called for involving the people with development efforts, from planning to implementation.
Two forums, Aid Accountability Group and The Reality of Aid, jointly hosted the national consultation session on ‘engagement of civil society organisations in aid effectiveness’ at the National Press Club.
Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation chairman Qazi Kholikuzzaman Ahmad said it was time to adopt a plan to make Bangladesh, a self-reliant and welfare state, an election pledge of the Awami League-led alliance government.
He said that the civil society had a huge responsibility to mobilise and involve the people with the process of development. Kholikuzzaman said that Bangladesh needed a plan to exit from the aid burden.
VOICE's Executive Director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud was profiled recently on the CIVICUS World Assembly blog on the CitizenShift website. The assembly will take place in Montreal this year, and will focus on three main themes: Aid Effectiveness. Economic Justice and Environmental Justice. A portion of the original blog post is re-posted here.
Bangladesh is a major recipient of foreign aid money, collecting over 2 billion $US in 2008, according to the latest OECD stats available. The largest portion of this money was spent towards Economic Infrastructure and Services and the vague "Multisector" areas, while less than a fifth of it was spent on Health and Education.
Some 21 civil society organizations staged a protest rally on Tuesday to denounce the role of the development partners and their allied ‘elite class’ and bureaucrats in development process, saying they were responsible for misusing foreign aid.
They [the development partners in Bangladesh, the ‘elite class’ and the bureaucrats] have made the country increasingly indebted since liberation, the protesters from rights based organizations told the rally.
Bangladesh government on Monday began a two-day dialogue in Dhaka with multilateral lenders and donor countries seeking approval of the poverty reduction strategy, a lender-driven development document.
Parallel to the ongoing BDF meeting, the rights organizations — Arpan, AMKS, Eso, Bangladesh Krishak Federation, CSRL, EquityBD, Kishani Sohva, Lead Trust, On line knowledge centre, Protikrit, Karmajibi Nari, La via campesina, MFTD, Prantik, Purbasha, RCSV, Swadhin Bangla Garments Sramik Federation, Solidarity Workshop, Sirajganj Flood Forum, Uddipan, Voice, and World Development Movement, UK—organised the rally in front of National Press Club in the city.
The organizers demanded sovereign, democratic and responsible financing to ensure that the benefits of aid and loans reach the poor through a transparent and accountable manner.
VOICE, a rights research organisation, on Sunday called upon the government to reject ‘destructive foreign aid’ that has crippled national policymaking by robbing it of ‘sovereignty and independence’.
The rights leaders, at a press conference ahead of the meeting of the Bangladesh Development Forum, insisted that the government should announce when it will stop receiving conditional external assistance and begin to prepare the national budget with domestic resources only.
They added that only 25 per cent of foreign aid and loans reached the target group while the rest went to auxiliary and support services including the fees of foreign consultants.
‘The people of Bangladesh are becoming more and more indebted due to the loans given by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and thus have become more vulnerable to foreign manipulation,’ Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, told reporters at the National Press Club.
Speakers at a press conference yesterday said loans and grants of the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other international financial institutions are destructive for Bangladesh as the donor agencies take away more kickbacks than what they have provided as aid or loans.
Only 25 percent of the foreign aid and loans provided to the country go to the target group while the rest of them are attained for the auxiliary and support services, they added.
The speakers said this at the press conference organised by VOICE, a rights-based research group, and Aid Accountability Group, a civil society alliance, at the National Press Club in the city.
They called on the government to reject destructive aid and formulate an independent economic policy instead of PRSP and to make all loan agreements public ensuring transparency and accountability.
BDF won’t accommodate people’s voices or representatives: VOICE
Rights group VOICE, complaining that people’s voices will not be heard nor their representatives accommodated in the upcoming dialogue between the government and global lenders, has demanded that that conditions imposed for, and the expenditure pattern of, foreign aid-funded development projects must be made public.
Referring to the meeting of the Bangladesh Development Forum scheduled to be held in Dhaka on February 15-16, VOICE has called for a debate on the relevance of external loans, which should involve politicians, professional groups, businesspeople, civil society dignitaries, and representatives of local government and community organisations.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the BDF meeting which will be attended by representatives of the Local Consultative Group, a forum of lending agencies and donor countries, and those of the newly emerging economic superpowers.
‘People from all strata of life do not have any access to the Forum although it demands greater participation of stakeholders,’ Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, noted in a position paper titled ‘Destructive Aid and Bangladesh Development forum 2010’.
Speakers in a discussion meeting yesterday stressed the need for ensuring transparency among NGOs to make effective use of the foreign aid which they felt was necessary for equity based development.
They also suggested for the disclosure of NGOs activities including amount of aids they received and the mode of expenditures.
They were addressing the discussion 'Role of the Civil Society on Aid Effectiveness' jointly organised by Voice (Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment) and Aid Accountability Group at National Press Club in the city.
The European Union ambassador in Dhaka, Stefan Frowein, has urged the civil society members to find a way to work together to elaborate common positions and lobby effectively to contribute in development and progress to make aid more effective.
‘This is especially true in Bangladesh… where civil society plays a crucial role as partner of the government improving the living conditions of thousands and thousands of people,’ he said while addressing a discussion at the National Press Club Tuesday morning.
Voice (Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment) and Aid Accountability Group jointly organised the discussion titled ‘Role of the Civil Society on Aid Effectiveness’.
European Union (EU) ambassador in Dhaka Dr Stefan Frowein has urged the civil society members to find a way to work together to elaborate common positions and lobby effectively to contribute to development and progress to make aid more effective, reports UNB.
"This is especially true in Bangladesh… where civil society plays a crucial role as partner of the government improving the living conditions of thousands and thousands of people," he said while addressing a discussion at the National Press Club (Tuesday).
Voice (Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment) and Aid Accountability Group jointly organized the discussion titled ''Role of the Civil Society on Aid Effectiveness''.
Pinaki Roy, from Copenhagen
While parties were struggling to reach an agreement at the Bella Centre in central Copenhagen before the high-level segment of climate talks, environmental activists from across the globe staged demonstrations yesterday with a call for 'Climate Justice'.
The environmental activists were demanding a 350ppm limit on carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and no more than a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperatures for the sake of survival of the most vulnerable countries like Bangladesh, small islanders and African nations.
Meanwhile, global civil society groups demanded a legal and institutional framework for protecting and rehabilitating 'climate refugees' who are being displaced due to climate change.
They launched an International Campaign on Climate Refugees' Rights (ICCR) on Friday afternoon at Klimaforum, the people's climate summit, in downtown Copenhagen.
The social movement groups from Asia, Africa and Latin/Central America joined hands together to demand the rights of millions of climate refugees.