30 years celebration of ActionAid Bangladesh

ActionAid has been fighting for a society free from poverty, injustice and exclusion in Bangladesh since 1983. Throughout the 30-year long journey, AAB has worked in partnership with a broad range of rights-holders holding HRBA (Human Rights Based Approach) central to the long-term and short-term interventions.

The rights-holders with whom AAB has walked the miles include women and men at the grassroots, indigenous peoples, Dalits, persons with disabilities, sex workers and their children, children living in socially excluded and geographically remote areas, industrial workers, smallholders and woman farmers, fisher folks, acid survivors, people affected by disasters in urban and rural areas, underprivileged youth, irregular migrants etc.

Throughout 30 years, AAB predominantly invested in leadership and democracy at the grassroots using Reflection-Action process as the tool for empowerment and mobilisation of people helping build their own agency envisioned towards exploring rights-based alternatives.

ActionAid BangladeshIn this process of intervention, AAB continued to create state-community interface not only by addressing micro-level challenges resulted from macro-level policy prescriptions but also offering credible alternatives capitalising on people’s options and preferences in the field of education, health,
food right, women rights including the rights of the marginalised communities and governance in the larger scale. The
development endeavours put in place for the promotion of people’s alternatives and grassroots models helped advance the political influence in the following Policy processes:

  1. incorporaion of rights of persons with disability in UNCRPD, and Disability Rights Law 2013
  2. introducion and the promoion of the use of sign language in the naional media
  3. inclusion of ‘river ambulance’ as a grassroots model in the Naional Health Policy 2011
  4. tackling inclement weather condiion using ‘flexible school calendar’ in the haor areas
  5. replicaion of ‘midday meal’ in 78 schools in 4 districts as a 2011 pilot for policy provision
  6. ariculaion of people’s needs and prioriies in the Disaster Management Act 2011
  7. formulaion of the Domesic Violence (Resistance and Protecion) Act 2010
  8. inclusion of the Urdu-speaking communiies in the Ciizenship Amendment Act 2009
  9. protecion of the fisher-folk’s rights including livelihood supports during fishing ban

Despite many achievements in the life of the marginalised and excluded people, the country has gone through phenomenal changes paricularly in the wake of neo-liberal development intervenions. This market-led approach has substanially affected the development landscape making the already exising heterogeneity of development trends much more complex in terms of vision, approach and strategy.

The worsening dominaion of the market has dispossessed rural, marginalised communiies from producive, common-property resources trading away people’s livelihoods. Rampant privaisaion of social sectors such as health, educaion has categorically reduced common people’s access. The potenial of the RMG sector as the main driver of the economy has fallen to ethical responsibility blurred by rigged rule and double standards in the global value chain. This has put decent employment and workers’ protecion into controversy.

Development is now at a crossroads – one way leading to the market-based approach, and the other to an enabling, people-centred development. Unfortunately, this juncture limits people from making choices for their individual and collecive development.

The trilogue, armed with this hindsight, intends to generate discourse involving Government representaives, civil society and the business community, to explore the possibility of (re)creaing or extending policy space and to chart out people’s journey for the years to come – in tackling the challenges above and realising AcionAid’s envisioned goal: further human rights for all and defeat poverty.

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