In recent years, Bangladesh government has taken up a number of initiatives with a view to strengthening the decentralization process. The latest five years' plan (2011 - 2016) of the government identifies functional Local Governance system as a key priority for development. These strategic settings provide a window of opportunity to support the government for establishing a transparent and accountable local government system in the country. In this regard, development of able and credible media will create a congenial atmosphere at the grass roots to create room for constructive debates and reinforce ongoing process of devolution of power.
The project, Citizens Voice for Improved local Public Services (CVIPS), complements Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)'s cooperation strategy for Bangladesh and works to promote Local Governance (LGov) friendly policies at all levels, outfit Local Government Institutions (LGIs) with capacities, advocate for responsive public services, as well as encourage and train media to play their complementary role for strengthening local government institutions (LGIs). Mass-line Media Centre (MMC) is one of the important partners of this great endeavor of SDC to strengthen local governance through implementing this innovative project.
This project will fill-up a gap in the current media landscape and create a new platform for developing journalist forums where the rights and livelihood issues of grassroots people will be reflected through people's voice raised by media. The project will also engage local/ national newspapers, TV and radio stations and most importantly national press institutes, journalist bodies, press clubs to establish an overarching media network. It will also link up with the newly founded Information Commission of Bangladesh government.
What is CVIPS
The project titled Citizens Voice for Improved local Public Services (CVIPS) aims to contribute in creating poor and disadvantaged people's access to public services of local government institutions (i.e. Union Parishad, Upazila Parishad, Zila Parishad, Municipality and City Corporation), capacitate journalists and local media houses on specific local governance issues and its concept including RTI Act.
CVIPS will contribute to work in a common platform on local governance and decentralization issues with mutual cooperation of the government officials. It will help to build-up linkages between local journalists and national media institutes. The project also aims to address local governance issues in local and national media for wider and in-depth coverage, educate mass people about RTI Act, and sway public opinion regarding local government services and schemes, education, health and agricultural extension services.
The project intends to capacitate mostly local as well as grassroots journalists and their media houses to play catalytic role in bridging gap between the disadvantaged people/groups and the local government institutions (LGIs).
The project goal is to increase transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the provision of public services - positively affecting people's livelihoods especially rural communities, extreme poor and disadvantaged women.
Better informed citizens in local communities and articulation of their concerns: Grassroots and local journalists play an effective role to inform and educate local population on local governance (LGov) issues and to voice its respective concerns.
Increased transparency and social accountability of local government institutions (LGIs): Grassroots and local journalists play an effective role to stimulate people's demand for public information, transparency and accountability of local government institutions.
Influencing policy and broadening public debates on local governance topics: Regional Journalist Forums (RJF) play an important role to enhance information dissemination and public debates on local governance issues and launch regional/national media advocacy campaign for more effective and friendly local governance policies.
1st Phase: February 2011 - January 2015
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
The project covers all districts of Rajshahi and Sylhet division. The covered districts are Rajshahi, Naogaon, Joypurhat, Bogra, Natore, Chapainawabgonj, Sirajgonj, Pabna under Rajshahi division, and Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Sunamgonj, Habigonj under Sylhet division.
Ultimate beneficiaries: Local population, mainly in rural communities, extreme poor and especially disadvantaged women. Moreover, LGIs concerns will be elevated at regional and national levels through media;
Primary group: Grassroots journalists (skill development, reporting);
Secondary group: Local journalists, district news editors and national level mufassil editors (increase quantity, quality and outreach of media publications on local governance issues).
The project works with media and targets three main strategic actors:
- Grassroots journalists mostly young and educated with certain writing skills;
- Local journalists mostly engaged with reporting for local as well as national media;
- District/regional level news editors and national level mufassil editors, having proven professional background and shaping the contents of media publications.
Key strategic interventions
- Capacity Development for Grassroots Journalists (GJ) and collaboration with local journalists, district news editors, national level mufassil editors;
- Orienting local population (Community Based Organizations, Youth Groups and Mass Pressure Groups) to ask for more transparency and accountability of Local Government Institutions (elected representatives and government officials);
- Establishment of Regional Journalists Forums (RJF) and organize public debates, evidence based media campaigns as well as establishment of District Resource Centers (DRC).
Some of the main activities of the project are Capacity building training for grassroots journalists, Seminar, Workshop, Roundtable meeting, Fellowship for journalist, Internship for young journalist, Fact finding mission, Exposure visit, Meeting with news editors, Meet the press, Advocacy reporting, Media partnership and campaign, Day observation, Promotional documentary, Radio/TV Talk show & Drama, Journalist convention, Regional Journalist Forum activation and Peer to peer learning.
For implementing this project, there is a project coordination office in Dhaka and two other regional offices in Rajshahi and Sylhet divisional city. A total of 22 full time staff is working under these offices with the leadership of a Project Director.
Implementing organization (MMC)
Mass-line Media Centre (MMC) is the implementing organization of this project. MMC, a non-profit media-based organization engaged in the development sector in 1995, works for promotion of human rights and democratic values through media and nourishment of journalism. Its overall objective is to remain an advocate for freedom of expression and free flow of information. Access of the rural poor to relevant and affordable information is expected to be the ultimate result of MMC's work. MMC operates multi-donor supported projects with the view to establishing human rights, democratic participation, raising citizens' voice and good governance through utilizing the benefits of media.
MMC received registrations from the NGO Affairs Bureau (Reg. # 1026 dated 10 April 1996) and Department of Social Welfare (Reg. # Dha-03555 dated 17 April 1996). It has all the structural and legal bodies whose members come from academician, media personnel, lawyer, rights activists and top level GO/NGO executives.
MMC envisions a society, in which people irrespective of religion, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic strata are in the centre of free and reciprocal information flow, enjoy freedom of expression and participate in decision-making processes for livelihood.
MMC's mission is to remain a partner of media people for effective media activism, particularly at the rural level, demanding establishment of people's rights and seeking pro-active roles of the local government, civil society and other local organizations.
MMC is currently implementing 4 projects. These are: Citizens Voice for Improved local Public Services (CVIPS) funded by SDC; Strengthening Children's Participation in the Media (Shishuprokash) funded by unicef; Raising Community Voice through Media for the Restoration of Human Rights & Good Governance funded by CARITAS-Switzerland and Promotion of Community Voices through Community Radio (PCVCR) funded by DANIDA.
Donor agency (SDC)
Switzerland is one of the long-standing development partners of Bangladesh. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is Switzerland's international cooperation agency within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). SDC has been working in Bangladesh since its independence. It considers Bangladesh as one of its priority countries to concentrate its long-term development cooperation efforts.
SDC has a substantial programme in Bangladesh with an aim to achieve an effective and sustainable poverty reduction in this country. During the last few years' work, SDC felt that Bangladesh has made huge progress in the previous few decades, notably in population control, food security, child mortality, malnutrition and access to education. However, poverty reduction remains a major challenge. The SDC Cooperation Strategy focuses on the two thematic areas:
- Employment and Income Generation; and
- Local Governance (LGov)
Both thematic areas and the lines of action are aligned with the Bangladesh Government's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Disaster Risk Reduction is also incorporated in the Cooperation Strategy as a special theme. In addition to support of national level projects, the programme has a geographic focus in two low-income and under-served rural areas, i.e. Rajshahi and Sylhet division. In general, SDC is guided by the terms of the Paris Declaration to secure ownership for the joint endeavors among the national partners and to achieve a well-coordinated and efficient cooperation with other donor agencies. Cooperation with other bi- and multilateral (like-minded) donors is an important way for becoming involved in the policy dialogue and for scaling up successful approaches. ••
For more information:
Nicholas Biswas, Project Director, CVIPS Project, Mass-line Media Centre
1/20 Humayun Road, Block-B, Mohammadpur, Dhaka 1207, Bangladesh
Tel: (880-2) 8123446, 9121627 & 9139457, Fax: 880-2-9125077
Mobile: (0088) 01715-108184, E-mail: email@example.com
Website: www.mass-line.org • www.mmc-cvips.org