MDG Unions: Building Participatory Democracy From the Bottom Up in Rural Bangladesh
The project improved the awareness of Union Parishad (UP, local government) decision makers about participatory democracy and their attitudes towards basic human rights. It also established participation mechanisms for the local population (Ward Shavas) and groups (Standing Committees) representing their interests. The visibly high degree of commitment among UP chairs to advocate for decentralization impressed the evaluators. Trainee assessments evidenced successful clarification of the roles and responsibilities of Standing Committee members. Ward Shavas not only provided grass-roots input to the annual budget and the five-year planning process, but led also to the posting of citizen charter displays in all ten Unions supported by the project. Given this success, it will be appropriate to investigate long-term options introducing enhanced cooperation in local governance to a wider circle of beneficiaries. For such purpose it would be necessary to improve the existing qualitative evidence of case studies of the project beneficiaries’ achievements, and to actively disseminate it to facilitate efficient replication for the benefit of sustainability elsewhere.