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Support to Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue

Joint Evaluation Bangladesh Country Report

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Support to Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue

Joint Evaluation Bangladesh Country Report


Although policy dialogue is an area promoted by many development partners in various ways, there is little comprehensive knowledge of the role that CSO involvement in policy development can have on domestic accountability and ownership of the development process, including the role DPs can play in supporting and promoting it.

As this is an issue of increasing importance, an evaluation of experiences with civil society engagement in policy dialogue in Bangladesh, Mozambique and Uganda was launched in 2011. The three countries were chosen for study based on the scope of CSO support from the commissioning donors, their differing contexts and the locations of previous CSO evaluations.

The evaluation had two overall purposes. Firstly, to gain a better understanding of how CSOs engage in policy dialogue the strategies they use, the relevance and effectiveness of their policy work, and the constraining and enabling factors affecting their work. Secondly, to analyse different development partner support strategies both in terms of their efficiency (transactions costs involved) and in terms of their effectiveness with a view to make support to this area more effective.

The evaluation was commissioned by the evaluation department in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Danida, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), and Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida) on behalf of a wider range of donors. Representatives of the Canadian International Development Agency (Cida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (Finida), and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) as well as two international networks of NGOs (Better Aid and Open Forum) participated in the international reference group established for the purpose.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Responsible institution:
Evaluation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Other contributors:
Rosendahls Schultz Grafisk (Print and digital edition), BGRAPHIC (Graphic Production), Firoz Ahmed, Demotix/Scanpix Denmark (Cover photo)




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Responsibility for the content and presentation of findings and recommendations rests with the authors.

Table Of Contents


Acronyms and Abbreviations

Executive Summary

1 Introduction

2 Methodology

3 Brief overview of the policy processes

4 Key aspects of an enabling environment

5 Policy dialogue

6 CSO strategies on policy dialogue

7 Development Partner strategies

8 Conclusions

9 Lessons learned

Annex A Terms of Reference

Annex B Methodology and Conceptual Framework

Annex C Evaluation of Support to Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue – Evaluation Framework (revised November 2011)

Annex D List of People Met

Annex E Documents Consulted

Annex F Examples of Third Sector Support Services in UK

Annex G Typology of CSO Engagement in Policy Dialogue: Comparison of the Four Thematic Areas

Annex H Appreciative Enquiry and the Power Cube


The Bangladesh Case Study is one of three undertaken as part of the Joint Evaluation on CSO Engagement in Policy Dialogue, the others being Mozambique and Uganda.

The Evaluation Team would like to thank the many people in Bangladesh and the Staff of the agencies of the Development Partner countries in particular Denmark, Austria and Sweden, who have steered this study throughout, for their important and valued contributions. We have benefitted greatly from the generous, open views of the civil society community, government agencies, Parliamentarians and local government representatives. In particular we would like to thank all the community members who interacted during the field work stages and will probably not see this report or learn of its impact. We hope, however, that the work of all those involved will contribute in one way or another to enhanced CSO effectiveness and in turn to better policies and improved livelihood outcomes, in tune with the needs of ordinary people.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

AAA Accra Agenda for Action
ADA Austrian Development Agency
ADC Austrian Development Cooperation
ALRD Association of Land Reform and Development
BAF Bangladesh Adivasi Forum
BU-IED BRAC University Institute of Education and Development
CAMPE Campaign for Popular Education (Bangladesh)
CAD Canadian Dollar (1 CAD = 5.795 Danish Krone 26 November 2012)
CBO Community-Based Organisation
CHT Chittagong Hill Tracts
CIDA Canadian International Development Agency
CS Civil Society
CSR Corporate Social Responsibility
CVA Citizen’s Voice and Accountability
DAC Development Assistance Committee
Danida Danish International Development Assistance
DAM Dhaka Ahsania Mission
DFID Department for International Development (UK)
DP Development Partner
EC European Commission
FIVDB Friends in Village Development
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GoB Government of Bangladesh
HQ Headquarters
HWF Hill Women’s Federation
(I) CSO (International) Civil Society Organisation
(I) NGO (International) Non-Governmental Organisation
LCG Local Consultative sub-Groups
LG Local Government
LGA Local Government Association (Bangladesh)
LGER Local Government Elected Representative
LGSP Local Governance Support Programme
MDG Millennium Development Goal
MJF Manusher Jonno Foundation
NGOAB NGO Affairs Bureau
PAIC Peace Accord Implementation Committee
PCP Pahari Chhatra Parishad
PCJSS Parbata Chattagram Jana Songhati Samiti
PDDG Promoting Democratic and Decentralised Governance
PEDP Primary Education Development Plan
PIL Public Interest Litigation
PIU Policy Implementation Unit
PSU Policy Support Unit
PTA Parent-Teacher Association
RTI Right to Information
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Sida Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
SMC School Management Committee
SWAp Sector-Wide Approach
TIB Transparency International Bangladesh
ToC Theory of Change
ToR Terms of Reference
UN United Nations
UNDP United Nations Development Program
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
USAID United States Agency for International Development
VFM Value for Money
WRC World Relief Canada

Executive Summary

Background and purpose

The Joint Evaluation of Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue has been commissioned by six international development agencies (Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland) covering the period May 2011 to September 2012. The evaluation focuses on the effectiveness of civil society organisations (CSOs) in policy dialogue and the role played by Development Partners (DPs) in supporting CSOs in influencing policy outcomes. The overall purpose is lesson learning for DPs in terms of how best to support CSOs in the area of policy dialogue in the future. The purpose of the case studies is to provide in-depth analysis of how CSOs engage in policy dialogue, what outcomes they have achieved and what factors have contributed to them. This report presents the results of the Bangladesh country study, which was carried out in two phases, September 2011 and February-March 2012.

The country study was guided by the overall methodological framework provided for this evaluation. However, it is noted, this study is not a conventional ’evaluation’ but an opportunity to identify lessons learned from the analysis of the four ’policy process’ case studies on CSO effectiveness, whether or not supported by the DPs.

The case study themes of primary education, local government, minority land rights and a mini study on food security were selected through participatory consultations with CSOs during the Scoping Study in September/October 2011. Theory of Change models were developed for each theme by the research team to help guide conversations and to interrogate their validity and were iteratively improved upon with CSO representatives. An appreciative enquiry approach was used in interviews, focus group discussions and workshops to help understand process an outcomes and different perceptions of success. The findings were validated through two workshops at the end of March; one with CSOs and the second with DPs in Dhaka. As well as exchanges with key informants, the team spent time in civil society engagement processes including a meeting between elected representatives and youth, a Meet-the-Minister session in education, an exchange meeting between Mayors and a delegation of local government officials from USA, reviewing internet activism and recordings of TV programmes.

Over the last five years there has been a noticeable shift in the common understanding in Bangladesh of the term ’civil society’ beyond NGOs not only to include non-formal CSOs (campaigning and citizen groups) but also media, professional associations, trade unions and faith-based organisations. Bangladesh has very many NGOs and registered groups and is often described as having a vibrant civil society. This notion is increasingly contested on the basis that vibrancy means more than numbers of service providers. Rather small numbers of like-minded CSOs are active in central-level policy dialogue and then only around a rather narrow set of themes. However, at local level there is growing engagement of local citizen forums and people’s groups in holding local service providers to account and in participating in the newly legislated spaces for citizen engagement.

Enabling environment for policy dialogue

Bangladesh has a progressive Constitution providing freedom for CSOs. CSOs must register to receive foreign funds or formally engage with Government but increasingly CSOs involved in advocacy/policy dialogue eschew registration as it limits their freedom to act. The NGO Affairs Bureau which controls all those receiving foreign funds is under-resourced and over-stretched and approvals for projects are often delayed. Some CSOs working on human rights and openly critical of the Government have experienced harassment and have been denied project permission. Accountability of CSOs tends to be to the registration authority and donors rather than to its constituency although there are exceptions.

Bangladesh suffers from confrontational-style partisan politics and history indicates that each election ushers in a new parliament which systematically overturns or curbs legislation made by its predecessor. Much of civil society is highly politicised and many NGOs and professional associations are partisan which complicates open dialogue. There are encouraging early signs of change from patron-client style to more representational politics particularly among locally-elected councillors but there continue to be tensions about control of resources typified by the fact that only 2% of national budget is allocated to local government services. This constrains and frustrates the willingness to engage in local level policy dialogue since local decision making has little impact. The Right to Information Act (2009) is regarded as being an important enabler for greater transparency and accountability and improve civil society engagement in policy dialogue.

There are considerable development funds for CS activity but mostly for service delivery. There is a perceived recent shift in preference for these programmes over rights-based programmes which received more attention at the beginning of the decade. Various windows of support have closed and donors’ desire to do more with less has created more competition for resources. The project-style funding which remains dominant, and privileges large over small, established over emerging, scale-up over innovation, Dhaka based over local organisations and those which are effective professional ’bidders’. CSOs outside of the NGO sector such as movements, Trade Unions and non-formal volunteer-based organisations as well as ones considered high risk such as political parties, some activist groups and faith-based groups are largely excluded from conventional donor funding.

Bangladesh has a strong history of voluntarism and philanthropy but these were seriously threatened by the massive NGO penetration of the 1980s and 1990s. Recently there is a re-emergence of voluntarism through both formal (organisation-based) and non-formal means. In both, it is youth and retired persons who are particularly active. These types of organisations play an invaluable policy dialogue role but are less able to get access to conventional DP resources.

Improving telecommunications are an important enabling factor in policy dialogue. With many private TV channels, new community radios and an active internet, the electronic media is increasingly popular and meeting the audience appetite for coverage of current affairs. With mobile phone coverage of 98% of the country and more than 80 million registered mobile phone users, Bangladesh has become a hub of innovative mobile-based services for development. As well as the more conventional provision of SMS information by Government, NGOs and telephone providers, users are also inputting current data on development, corruption, good practice for real time monitoring. All 4,520 Union Parishads have computers and internet access for public use.

Academic freedom is largely respected but politically-sensitive topics are discouraged. Remarkably little independent research activity is carried out including within the case study sectors. There is criticism that the few renowned ’experts’ capture invited civil society space and are remote from the pulse of mainstream opinion. Products of the Dhaka elite and their use of ’high’ Bangla, English and academic language further fuels these criticisms. The status given to age, family and academic background make it difficult for young and unknown people to actively take part in policy dialogue and underscores the importance of social and political capital accumulation to enable meaningful participation.

“Policy dialogue” is a term which is not used much in Bangladesh except to refer to invited formal, controlled (and elitist) spaces. However when the phrase ’citizen engagement’ is used there is a much broader understanding concomitant with the intention expressed in the ToR. This phrase and its Bangla translation accommodate the more messy non-linear and organic processes of policy influence rather than the events interpretation of policy dialogue.

Bangladesh has a history of claimed space for citizen action inspired by successful movements of the past (The Language Movement, Freedom Fighters and Women’s Movement). As a result of development programmes since the 1970s, the principles of people’s participation have been consistently promoted. The recent legislation which requires local government to engage with their constituency through a range of mandatory provisions such as ward-level planning, open budget meetings, local level coordination meetings and active local level standing committees is a transformation of the traditions of claimed space into invited space.

Spaces for engagement

There are more invited spaces for policy dialogue around primary education than in the other themes reviewed in this study. This is because it is regarded as public good around which there are less contested issues. It has cross-party political backing further endorsed by Government being signatory to international declarations such as Education for All and the education goals of the Millennium Development Goals. It is also because NGOs represent a significant percentage of education service provision and have acknowledged technical expertise. Even so the invited spaces have had to be fought for over many years and only relatively recently has there been any permanency e.g. inclusion in the Joint Annual Review Mission of the large education SWAP, inclusion in committees formulating the National Education Policy. Unlike local government, CSO influence in primary education has been mostly directed at central level (in National Education Policy and major education programmes) and local level advocacy (through new local government invited spaces and capacitated school management committees) is still in its infancy.

Whilst national level civic engagement in primary education led by NGOs is more mature than in the other three thematic areas reviewed, it has only recently provided spaces for Teachers Associations, parents and students and still needs to consider further inclusion of the private sector and association of local elected representatives. While the national coalition for education NGOs has legitimacy conferred by its 1,300 member NGOs and its more than 20 years of social and political capital accumulation, the other important players such as Teachers Associations are not routinely included in policy dialogue nor are well prepared to take part.

Much has been achieved by CSOs working in the education sector through invited and claimed spaces regarding inclusive education, early childhood education and learner-centred education in particular. The special relationship developed between Government and the Coalition as well as a small number of renowned educationalists also means that much is achieved through informal invited spaces, where advice is sought ’off the record’. This essential and time-consuming role is often overlooked or under-recognised by conventional monitoring and evaluation approaches and attribution is often hard to prove.

Whereas NGOs have taken the lead in education, they are purposely taking a back seat in policy dialogue at central level regarding local government and letting the Local Government Professional Associations lead. These Associations have the clout, legitimacy and understanding of the issues as well as understanding of the political environment in which policy dialogue takes place. The surviving Associations are less than 10 years old and are still concerned with their own organisation and mandate but are increasingly claiming space at national level. Invited space is much more constrained than for education as the issues for engagement are more contested. Despite political rhetoric, there is, for example, little evidence of parliamentary or civil service support for decentralisation, a main tenet of the local government agenda. The dominance of UN and International Financing Institutions over other donors in the local government sector with their ’working with Government’ modality has led to a more cautious approach to including CSOs in policy dialogue compared to the education sector where DPs have actively promoted and ensured this.

At the local level the growing confidence in people power and emergence of citizen groups which demonstrate success in realising entitlements is fuelling a slow but mounting pressure from below, some but not all of which is NGO facilitated. Thus we see there has been more achievement at local level engagement than in central level, which remains, for the reasons given above, comparatively closed. While CSO engagement in primary education has influenced national policy but has yet to fully exploit the possibilities for engagement at local level, in local government the opposite is seen. There is considerable activity around the new provisions for citizen engagement (open budget meetings, ward level planning, ward level coordination meetings and activation of local government standing committees) as well as enhanced attitudes towards representational politics and the link between taxpaying and voice. Study participants are of the opinion that it will be the positive experiences of local government representatives and the electorate which will drive parliament to consider issues such as decentralisation rather than advocacy efforts at central level per se.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) land issues present another scenario. Here, invited spaces at central policy level for minority land rights are somewhat tokenistic as little is achieved through them, forcing issues into claimed space. As this a minority issue, there is little public demand for change and few alliances which the CHT CSOs can draw on beyond the human rights organisations. While international support is strong in theory there is still no resolution. The variety of vested interests in the CHT conspire to create an impasse in successive governments which they prefer not to disturb. The geographic remoteness of the CHT, the different languages spoken, the lower than average education and continuing presence of the military make it very difficult for CSOs to engage in policy dialogue at either local or national level.

Most CSOs involved in food security are concerned with service provision and rarely with the often controversial aspects of land use for non-food agriculture, high yielding and genetically modified seeds, food adulteration and food sovereignty. Although these issues are important they are forced to play out in claimed spaces and are more often championed by the media than by other CSOs. With public interest clearly focused on keeping food prices low and ensuring relief food distribution when needed, the issues above are marginalised. In the course of the study we came across only a handful of isolated CSO voices conducting research and low impact advocacy around such issues.

Development Partner support

DPs support CSO engagement through funding their programmes, contracting and helping to broker opportunities for engagement. The requirement for funding is often relatively resource light and so does not fit well within DP current funding modalities where there is an emphasis on large disbursement, low transaction costs and value-for-money measures which valorise economic return on investment. The non-funding role of DPs is equally important and brokering international bridges and constant vigilance to maintain invited and created space for CS engagement are key elements of this. As exemplified by the case studies the nature of support should change as the CSO and the policy engagement environment changes. So, for example after building some success at national level engagement resources need to be made available to the non-NGO actors for wider engagement in primary education and to support local level advocacy around access and quality education. The Coalition has secured invited space and now needs secured resources to participate. While in local government resources are needed to amplify local voices and build a critical mass for change from below. Non-financial support needs to be directed at ensuring that there are invited space opportunities for meaningful central-level dialogue as well as alliance building in local government, CHT land rights and food security. In all cases there needs to be a greater emphasis on evidence collection and strategic advocacy approaches.

There is an urgent need to develop better-articulated indicators and better instruments to measure both the process and outcomes of CSO engagement in policy dialogue. Whilst these remain vague and inappropriate this kind of work will continue to be under-valued and will be vulnerable to unfair comparison with service provision projects where impact measures are more straightforward.

As recognised by DPs themselves there is also an urgent need to find better-suited funding modalities for CSOs engaged in policy dialogue which allow continuity for those with key invited space roles, flexibility to meet ’right moments’ for advocacy and to support issue-based transient organisations. These modalities include Trust Funds and Foundations but also funding consortia of implementers around themes and public access resources which can help a large and diverse range of civil society actors to grow rather than privileging a few funded ones.

DPs need to consider supporting a diversity of civil society action which does not distort the indigenous dynamic. The underlying ideologies of civil society engagement need open and honest debate among DPs and CSOs to avoid distortions. It is essential that more support is given to truly independent research and opportunities to debate and contest issues rather than simply promoting like-mindedness and lobbying.

1 Introduction

1.1 Introduction to the Country Report

The study is commissioned by members of the Donor Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness, comprising three Development Partners (DPs): (Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Danish International Development Assistance (Danida) and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). They have commissioned on behalf of a larger group of bilateral DPs including Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) which support the study through their participation in a Reference Group, which also includes Open Forum and BetterAid. The main purpose of the study is to share knowledge on the current state and future of support to civil society engagement in policy dialogue.

This report is the Bangladesh Country Report. It is one of four main stand-alone study products; three country reports (one each for Bangladesh, Mozambique and Uganda) and a Synthesis Report which provides a meta-analysis which draws on the lessons learned in each country report and combines this with other information sources to provide conclusions regarding current and future support to civil society engagement in policy dialogue.

Primary users of this report are those working for the commissioning DPs in Bangladesh who may be expected to use the findings and lessons learned in future programming to support civil society engagement in policy dialogue. Secondary users include the CSO community in the country, the Government and wider DPs and ICSOs and INGOs.

The Bangladesh Country Study was undertaken between September 2011 and March 2012 by a team of three researchers comprising Dee Jupp (International team leader and responsible for the Local Government case), Maheen Sultan (National expert responsible for the Primary Education case) and Thomas Costa (National expert responsible for the Minority Rights case and Food Security mini-case).

1.2 The context

While the involvement of civil society in policy dialogue has a long history particularly in relation to social movements, this role is being increasingly encouraged by DPs.

A strong civil society actively engaging with the state is now regarded as an end in itself and a public good, leading to better democratic practice and outcomes. This position is further endorsed in The Accra Agenda for Action in 2008 by heads of multi- and bilateral development institutions and Development Ministers with the intention “to accelerate and deepen the implementation of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005)”.[1]

It heralds an important milestone for recognition of the role of civil society and civil society organisations in aid effectiveness. In relation to the promotion of participatory policy dialogue, it pledges that “Donors will support efforts to increase the capacity of all development actors……parliaments, central and local governments, civil society organisations, research institutes, media and the private sector… take an active role in dialogue on development policy and on the role of aid in contributing to countries’ development objectives’ (Section 13.b). The Agenda also promises to deepen engagement with CSOs as “independent actors in their own right, whose efforts complement those of governments and the private sector”. (Section 20)

Policy dialogue is defined in the Accra Agenda for Action (Section 13) as “open and inclusive dialogue on development policies.” The Agenda further states that “Developing country governments will work more closely with parliaments and local authorities in preparing, implementing and monitoring national development policies and plans. They will also engage with civil society organisations (CSOs).” (13.a) and thereby making explicit that policy dialogue includes all these elements. The following diagram clarifies the cyclical nature of this process and postulates that civil society engagement can occur at each of the stages.

Figure 1 Policy Cycle: showing possible entry points for engagement

Figure 1 Policy Cycle: showing possible entry points for engagement

Invited or claimed spaces: Civil society engagement may be in invited or claimed spaces.[2] Spaces are areas where interaction/engagement and where information exchange and negotiation can occur. They are spaces of contestation as well as collaboration.[3] Invited space includes provided space (sometimes referred to as ’closed space’ if it is strictly controlled) such as official parliamentary consultations, as well more open invited space such as public consultations. Invited space is often described as controlled ’from above’. Claimed space, on the other hand, refers to space which civil society creates for itself (or ’from below’), for example through lobbying, campaigning, education, public interest litigation among others. All three spaces for civil society engagement can be found anywhere in the policy cycle but are all expected to result in influencing Government so that policies are inclusive and equitable and Governments become more accountable and transparent to their citizens (i.e. for the common good).

Civil Society and CSOs: Although a vibrant civil society is regarded as an essential feature in the democratic life of countries across the globe,[4] its definition still remains contested and variously defined. It is usually regarded as the third sector distinct from Government and business.[5] As such it comprises a range of individual and associational activity which may be formal or informal, transient or long-term, collaborative of confrontational. CSOs are defined as:

All non-market and non-state organisations outside of the family in which people organise themselves to pursue shared interests in the public domain. They include a wide range of organisations that include membership-based CSOs, cause-based CSOs and service oriented CSOs. Examples include community-based organisations and village organisations, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, farmers associations, faith-based organisations, labour unions, cooperatives, professional associations, chambers of commerce, independent research institutes and the not-for-profit media’ [6]

CSO effectiveness: The term emphasises the effectiveness of CSOs as development actors.[7] In terms of policy dialogue it refers to the effectiveness in the processes adopted and outcomes achieved by CSOs in raising the voice of citizens to influence government action and to hold Government to account. The study also recognises that beyond the organised action of CSOs there is also informal action[8] which must be factored in to consideration of the overall impact of civil society on policy dialogue.

DPs support: DP support to civil society engagement in policy dialogue refers to the channel of support (direct, through intermediaries, through budget and sector support) and type of support (core funding, contractual, project support (both targeted and untargeted) as well as non-financial support such as influencing space for policy dialogue).

1.3 Purpose of the evaluation

Although DPs have been actively promoting civil society engagement in policy dialogue for some time, there is little knowledge on the results of this support and the collective effectiveness of civil society efforts. There is also little known about how political will, critical to positive change, is generated and sustained. This study has been commissioned in order to understand both the role of CSOs in policy dialogue and the role of the enabling environment including the role of DP support models aimed at enhancing CSO work in this area.

The overall purpose of the study is ’lesson learning’ so that DPs can gain a better understanding of how best to support CSOs in the area of policy dialogue in different types of enabling environments.[9]

The study “seeks to increase the conceptual understanding of civil society and Government interaction in different contexts and circumstances” (ToR 2.2.) as well as evaluate the strengths and weakness of different DPs’ strategies in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Specifically the study has the following objectives:

  1. Establish an understanding of how CSOs engage in policy development and implementation at different levels (issues, strategies and type of interaction/engagement) including how aspects of the enabling environment (such as power structures, political, social and legal institutions) influence the approaches CSOs chose.
  2. Assess how CSOs have contributed to policy dialogue- the relevance, effectiveness and outcomes of their work, and the identification of what works and what does not.
  3. Identify the enabling and disabling factors which affect CSO ability and willingness to play an effective role in policy dialogue, including the enabling environment, capacity constraints and other key issues determined during the evaluation. This also includes an understanding of why some CSOs, who given their constituency and profile could be expected to be engaged in policy dialogue and chose not to.
  4. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different DP strategies both in terms of their efficiency (i.e. transaction costs involved as well as in terms of their effectiveness (i.e. ability to support effective CSO policy dialogue.
  5. Identify lessons learned and provide recommendations for future support to CSOs in the area of policy dialogue.

The research was expected to take the form of a study (generating new knowledge around objectives i.-iii.) and to adopt a more conventional evaluative process to examine objective (iv.) (strengths and weaknesses of donor strategy). This was expected to use the DAC criteria[10] of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability as an evaluation guide and was not intended to be confined to the six DPs involved in this study.

Roadmap for this report

Following the introduction (Chapter 1) and methodology (Chapter 2) the report provides a brief overview of the policy processes case studies (Chapter 3). Chapter 4 then examines the context for CS engagement in policy dialogue focusing on the legal and political factors and economic and social factors which determine the enabling environment for policy dialogue engagement. The types of spaces for CS engagement are discussed at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 5 describes the policy dialogue in the country context as a prelude to the strategies adopted for engaging in the policy dialogue cycle (Chapter 6) and discusses how relevant, effective and efficient these are using the DAC criteria for Development Evaluation. Chapter 7 reviews DP strategies for supporting CS engagement in policy dialogue in terms of relevance. Chapter 8 provides some conclusions and Chapter 9 lessons learned.


[2] Gaventa, J, 2005 Reflections of the Uses of the Power Cube approach for analysing the spaces, places and dynamics of civil society participation and engagement’. CFP Evaluation Series no 4.

[3] Cornwall, A and V. S.P Coelho Spaces for change? The Politics of Participation in New Democratic Arenas, 2007.

[4] The Siem Reap CSO Consensus on International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness, June 2011.

[5] What is Civil Society?

[6] Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness, Finding s Recommendations and Good Practice, 2009, ’BetterAid’ series on aid effectiveness, OECD.

[7] See OECD 2010, Civil society effectiveness.

[8] CIVICUS notes that action and engagement can take place ’within a neighbourhood or faith based community, online using social media or as a part of spontaneous protest, but is not directly associated with, or behalf of, a formal organisation’ Broadening civic space through voluntary action: Lessons from 2011, CIVICUS.

[9] Evaluation of Support to Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue ToR 2.1.

[10] DAC Criteria for Evaluating Development Assistance, OECD.

2 Methodology

2.1 A conceptual framework

Drawing on the ToR and the lessons learned during the inception and scoping phases, a conceptual framework was devised and documented to guide the case study approach and analysis, with the specific aim of providing direction and consistency of approach to the Country Teams during the main study phase. The Conceptual Framework document is given as Annex B with this chapter providing a methodological overview, the selection process for identifying the case studies, information sources, evaluation tools and the role of the Theory of Change in the study. The validity and the study limitations are also described and discussed.

2.2 Methodology overview

The Country Study was divided into an Inception period (Phase 1) which included a Scoping Study, followed by the detailed Case Studies phase (Phase 2). The findings from this study, together with the findings of the other two Country Studies, provide the primary source material for the Synthesis Phase (Phase 3). The objectives, timing and outputs of each phase are given in the following table.

Table 1 Methodological Overview
Phase 1:
Phase 2:
Country Studies
Phase 3:
  • Understand different stakeholders perceptions of policy dialogue
  • Understand the context for CSO action
  • Provide recommendations for the policy processes which will provide the most useful insights into what works and what does not
  • Understand the current portfolio of DP support
  • Review the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the selected policy processes in Bangladesh:
  • Local governance
  • Education policy
  • Minority land rights
  • Food security (mini review)

Other case studies were conducted in Mozambique and Uganda.

  • Analyse and draw lessons learned from the country case studies
  • Situate findings within the debate on civil society engagement
  • Identify cross cutting findings and conclusions
  • Present findings to broad group of DPs
July-November 2011 December 2011-March 2012 May-September, 2012
Main methods
  • In country participatory workshops with CSO representatives
  • Interviews with key informants in country
  • Workshops with University students and media
  • Meetings and interviews with DP representatives
  • Secondary data review
  • Review of policy processes in each country
  • Interviews and focus group discussions with stakeholders
  • Observation of civil society engagement in action
  • Review of project proposals, strategies and evaluations
  • Findings validation workshop
  • Sharing findings with DPs in country
  • International sharing workshop in Kampala
  • Interaction with ICSOs e.g. BetterAid, Open Forum
  • Meta-analysis
  • Inception Report
  • Bangladesh Country Report
  • Synthesis Report
  • International presentation of the findings

2.3 The case study approach

A case study approach is used to assess policy processes to provide a more holistic understanding of the collective and diverse roles played by different actors within a particular process. The selection of policy processes for the case studies involved a careful consultative procedure based on the relevance of the policy process for the country and DPs as well as diversity of CS action involved in order to provide the best possible basis for learning lessons.

It is important to note that the cases were selected to help identify lessons learned regarding civil society effectiveness in policy dialogue within the policy themes as a whole rather than to examine the specific support of the commissioning DPs. The policy processes comprise a mix of CS action, only some of which is directly related to the specific programmes of the commissioning DPs. The lessons learned therefore cut across all forms of support and cannot be attributed to specific DP action. It is also important to recognise that they are not representative of the ’universe’ of CS action which is extremely broad and diverse.

Phase 2 Case studies (policy processes) were selected through a consultative process in Dhaka with the following criteria in mind:

  • Range of CSOs involved (to understand the diversity of CSOs and to ensure at least some of those policy processes finally selected would include ’less usual’ CSOs such as Trade Unions, faith based groups, professional associations and diaspora groups)
  • range of CS action (to review the diversity of action from formal to informal (invited and claimed) so that this range could be captured in at least some of the case studies)
  • the level at which CS action takes place (to ensure that at least some of the case studies included local, national and international experience and which involved action outside the capital)
  • types of funding modalities (to be able to choose at least some case studies which would allow review of the benefits and constraints of different modes of funding)
  • inclusion of CSOs currently funded by the DP reference group
  • the relevance of the policy process (to people living in poverty and to the particular country context) i.e. policy processes which are of key importance to development and where CSOs have played a role
  • effectiveness of the policy process (outcomes achieved bearing in mind that much could also be learned from mixed or poor achievements)
  • availability of documentation on the policy process.

The details of this selection process can be found in the Bangladesh Scoping Study Report. A typology of the CSOs participating in the study is provided in Annex G of this report.

2.4 Information sources

For each policy process, a variety of sources of information were identified as follows:

  • The key CSOs (regarded as ’movers and shakers’) as well as others operating in the same context which had not engaged (documentation review of project proposals, evaluations etc, interviews and observation)
  • sources of funding and support (DPs, fund managers, INGOs) for engagement in policy dialogue (documentation review of policies, disbursements and evaluations etc., interviews)
  • the key government participants to policy dialogue in the selected policy process areas (interviews)
  • research institutions, ’think tanks’ and CS activists (interviews).

2.5 Evaluation tools

In order to facilitate a comparison of the analysis done in the case studies and to ensure more analytical rather than descriptive reports the team used common analytical frameworks.

Evaluation Framework: The Case Studies were undertaken using a common Evaluation Framework (see Annex C) comprising 18 evaluation questions derived from the ToR. The framework detailed specific evidence which would be required to answer the questions. Over 60 face to face interviews were conducted in the Bangladesh Case Study using the evaluation questions as guidelines as well as sharing and debating the theory of change and policy process analysis charts. These included meetings with CSOs, activists, government staff, politicians and locally elected representatives as well as donors active in the thematic areas. Workshops and FGDs were held with a variety of formal and informal CSOs and media representatives (see Annex D for details).

Appreciative enquiry principles (see Annex H) were used in interviews and focus group discussions (FGD) to establish achievements and success in the different policy processes. This helped participants recognise that change had happened even in some cases where external factors seemed to be insurmountable hindrances and where there were high levels of frustration at the lack of progress.

The policy dialogue cycle tool depicted in Figure 1 (Chapter 1) was used to help locate entry points for CS action.

The Power Cube: Another key analytical tool used in the study is the Power Cube which provides a framework to analyse how power operates in the spaces and places for engagement. The diagram below provides a graphic representation of the different manifestations of power. The concept of closed, invited and claimed spaces have been explained above. The visibility of power is categorised as i. visible (i.e. the formal rules, structures and procedures which govern engagement), ii. hidden (i.e. the actual influence those engaging have over others within the engagement space) and iii. invisible (i.e. the power dynamics assumed by participants from their socialisation and societal norms). The conceptual framework helped in the analysis of power relations, levels of operation and understanding of spaces for CS engagement. (See also Annex H).

Figure 2 The Power Cube

Figure 2 The Power Cube

Source: Gaventa, 2003

Field observations were carried out and included observation of a variety of CS-state engagements (see Annex D for the list of persons who participated in the study).

2.6 Theory of Change as a conceptual framework for the Case Studies

The study took an evaluative approach based on Theory of Change (ToC). ToC is a based on programme theory and is an approach which seeks to understand processes of change beyond the measurement of results to include more explicit reflection on the assumptions behind technocratic causal frameworks. In particular it examines the context, actors and processes of change to support learning about what constitutes effective strategies. Developing ToCs for civil society engagement in policy dialogue work has proved especially challenging as the complex nature and dynamics of both civil society action and its engagement with the State is not amenable to linear logic. The array of formal and informal, consensual and dissenting voices as well as the wide range of different incentives for and interests of policy dialogue stakeholders provides a complex web of interactions where causal relationships are hard to distinguish.

ToC is supposed to provide a flexible framework for critical and adaptive thinking rather than a product.[11] There are many interpretations and visual representations of ToC available in recent literature but the fundamental principles are similar and include the need to understand i. the context, ii. the actors, iii. the desired-for change and iv. the linked events/processes leading to change.

Evaluation and attribution

Establishing attribution is the most challenging element of any study on policy influencing. Policy and practice change is a result of highly complex interacting forces and actors.

Different constellations of actors engage and disengage, work continuously over long periods of time or exploit moments of opportunity and undertake a wide variety of activities to influence change. Tipping points can be reached in a multitude of different ways.

The case studies used ToCs to capture the different elements contributing to change in policy and practice. These helped to ensure that the multiplicity of actions and actors were taken into account when trying to establish attribution and provided a focus for discussion among different actors regarding their relative contributions. However, they also served to highlight how linear and short-term models of change may lead to exaggeration of success as the contribution of others before and in parallel are generally overlooked. This alerted the team to the need for cautious interpretation of reported success in interviews, project reports and evaluations of individual organisations.

As well as examining impact level outcomes, the teams purposefully examined process outcomes as legitimate markers of achievement. These include legislation, creation of new or expanded participatory space and official platforms for civil society engagement, behaviour and attitude change of service providers and duty bearers.

Scope of work

The evaluation inevitably was limited in scope by practical considerations. While having the advantage of examining the complete cycle of policy dialogue it nevertheless was limited by selection of just a few policy processes. All three case studies looked at elements of governance which provided cross-cutting information for comparative purposes.

The time horizon suggested in the ToR was policy dialogue in the last five years. While this provides information on CSOs currently active and, in particular the ’movers and shakers’ identified in the ToR (3.1) it may have constrained the need to view the long-term perspective of change. Many of the achievements have not resulted from recent engagement but from longer term ’drip-drip’ actions as well as incremental changes in the enabling environment. This limitation has been mitigated somewhat by the fact that all team members have long-term experience of the country context, civil society participation and CS action.

Validity of findings

Recognising the complex and often politically charged environment in which policy dialogue takes place, the team was cautious about attribution and accepting accounts of processes at face value. They exercised care to triangulate findings in a number of ways:

  • Purposeful inclusion of a range of CSOs in each policy process, including ’movers and shakers’ as well as those apparently less active
  • interviews with Government (supply-side), key informants not connected with CSOs (independent view) and DPs
  • document review (especially during Phase 1) including websites, newspaper clippings, YouTube
  • exposure to civil society engagement in action (meetings, debates, public hearings, TV Talk Shows etc.)
  • verification workshops with mixed participants representing different stakeholder groups to confirm and extend study findings
  • circulation of draft country reports to a variety of stakeholders for comment and further development.

The research team was able to draw on their own recent assignments to supplement this study including:

  • End of Programme Evaluation of CAMPE (January-February 2012)
  • Advisory preparation of Aparajita project (empowering women elected representatives) (May-August, 2011)
  • Evaluation of DFID’s Support to Civil Society (February 2011)
  • Mid-term Review of Transparency International, Bangladesh (November/ December 2011)
  • Research on Mobilising Resources for Women’s Rights undertaken as part of the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Consortium (2010-11).

Where possible different points of view are provided in the text in order to provide balanced accounts.

2.7 Country specific limitations – Bangladesh

The Opposition Party called a national Rally on March 12th to which the ruling party responded to by effectively closing travel in and out of Dhaka for the preceding days and calling their own supporters to rally the following day. This resulted in cancellation of the planned trip to Chapainawabganj to observe a live Open Budget Meeting and inhibited movement in Dhaka.

SDC organised a major review of it local governance portfolio coincident with this study. This resulted in their unavailability as well as confusion among study participants about which study we were under and was burdensome to the same respondents. CIDA was closing its fiscal year at the end of March and was busy meeting many urgent deadlines making it difficult to meet on the CHT and food security issues although we did interact on education. All DPs shared with us that headquarters demands for paper work and hosting various delegations, missions and evaluations have increased and that they are increasingly under stress and unable to participate as they would like in local processes.

The Directorate of Primary Education and the various donors involved in the third Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP III) were busy with field visits and preparatory work for the May Joint Annual Review Mission. This made it difficult to meet the relevant persons in both Government and donor agencies. One of the key CSO players in the Primary Education sector (CAMPE) was preoccupied by its ’end of project review’ and negotiations with DPs for its next phase of project funding, making it difficult to have enough time with them.

The distance from CHT to Dhaka meant that although CSO representatives were interested to participate in the Dhaka workshops it would have involved three days of travel. The Parliamentary Standing Committee for local governance was not available during the period of the study.

[11] Review of the Use of Theory of Change in International Development, Isabel Vogel, April 2012.

3 Brief overview of the policy processes

This chapter provides summaries of the four policy processes included in the country study. The full case study detail is provided as a supplement to this report.

3.1 Summary of Case Study 1: Primary Education

Policy dialogue issues

Policy dialogue around primary education in Bangladesh focuses on the two areas of (a) formulation of the National Education Policy (2010) and (b) formulation, implementation and monitoring of the primary education sector-wide approach; Primary Education Development Programme II (2004-10) and III (2011-16). There is a constitutional mandate for ’education for all’ and undisputed cross-party agreement regarding the key importance of primary education and a shared view with civil society that this is an essential public good. The increasing involvement of CSOs in shaping the policies and practice has taken place against a backdrop of shared responsibility for primary education between the state and non-government sector and a growing mutual respect.

Spaces for engagement

The Jomtein World Conference in 1990 where Bangladesh lent its signature to the commitment to ’Education for All’ resulted in the first coordinated action of CSOs to claim space by publishing an annual report on the state of education (Education Watch Reports) to monitor national progress and hold Government to account on this commitment. This was the first time that CSOs engaged beyond their role as education providers within the Government’s education programme which had been official since the early 90s.

The success of these Education Watch activities and other advocacy efforts led to CSO demands to be consulted during the planning phase of PEDP II. Considerable effort was put into building both political and social capital by the largest CSO coalition, CAMPE and others which finally led to being offered official invited space as participants in the Joint Annual review Mission of this SWAp in 2004. Since this other invited spaces have opened up in the development of the National Education Policy and the successor to PEDP II. However, there remain closed spaces on issues such as madrasa education and consolidated legislation on education.

Enabling environment

The Government of Bangladesh has signed a number of international commitments (e.g. Jomtien, Dakar, MDGs) which provide a strong basis for civil society to hold the Government to account. The universal view of primary education as a public good provides for strong cross-party political will and consistent budget allocations with relatively few contentious issues.

CSOs have worked hard to develop good working relations with Government and as co-providers have a special role to play. This contributes to mutual respect which enhances opportunities for engagement in policy dialogue although the results are not always credited to CSOs. This relationship has taken over 20 years to develop and was often confrontational in the past. The perceived competition for resources continues, as do the arrogant attitudes among both government and non-government education providers. These continue to affect who does and who does not get included in invited spaces.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

The main coalition, CAMPE, and others working in primary education have worked hard to develop collaborative rather than confrontational relationships with Government over many years. Their joint participation in international meetings helps them to formulate and represent national interests together. CSOs purposely complement government service provision through establishment of pre-primary feeder schools, provision of schools in hard-to-reach areas or for hard-to-reach children and delivery of additional teacher training. The credibility earned through this leads to the creation of invited spaces for CSO representatives as technical experts. However, when CSOs/NGOs are sub-contractors or implementers of government programmes this can severely limit their role in policy dialogue.

During the preparation of PEDP III CSOs were invited to participate in several working groups. Since 2006, CSOs have been formally invited to participate in the Joint Annual Review Missions. But these invited spaces represent only a very small part of the engagement and potential for influence. The relationships forged over time have resulted in considerable reliance by government policy-makers on informal consultations on a regular (almost daily) basis over email, phone and visits. The advisory role played by CSOs and highly respected civil society educationalists in this way is rarely officially acknowledged and yet has been extremely influential. These are invited but essentially unofficial spaces and pose a dilemma for the assessment of value-for-money and attribution of DP-funded programmes.

The Local Consultative Group for coordination of DPs involved in education is more proactive than others and has long advocated for inclusion of Government and CSOs in their deliberations and introduced this from 2005.

The key moment for engagement on the NEP came with the much delayed 2009 national elections. Educationalists were requested to provide inputs for party manifestos. The party manifesto of the party which won the subsequent election included a commitment to develop a NEP. Following their election CSOs clamoured to present their education priorities. Drawing on earlier Education Commission recommendations, an Education Policy Formulation Committee quickly came up with a draft policy.

The Prime Minister recommended a wider consultation process which included calls for public opinion via a dedicated website as well as a series of regional consultations which included teachers and parents for the first time and took a further eight months. This whole period was supported by lively debate in the print and electronic media. One newspaper published the entire draft policy on its own initiative. Education was an issue which excited public interest and many spaces were created including voting on issues through media websites, engaging in phone-in programmes and major debates in the press. NGOs took this opportunity to promote their action research e.g. provision of mid-day meals, retaining minority children in school through mother-tongue education and flexi-school calendars e.g. for flood-prone areas.

Several specific successes have been achieved through CSO engagement; Government officially reports on NGO contribution in primary education, mandated CSOs participation in the PEDP Joint Annual Review Mission, integration of approaches to education advocated for by NGOs such as child-centred learning, teacher accountability for learning, corrective measures for disparities in access, integration of early childhood and pre-school education, school health and school feeding, inclusive education, decentralisation and improving school governance. CAMPE claims that the NEP reflects 80% of the recommendations put forward by Education Watch reports. The NEP has broad based acceptance by diverse groups including political parties, teachers associations and educationalists.

It is recognised that the real challenge comes not with the design of the PEDP III or the NEP but with their implementation. Considerable work is on-going to promote increased government budget allocations for education and particular efforts are made at advocacy at key phases of the state budget cycle which have yielded little success to date. More work is needed to build the capacity of local government standing committees on education, school management committees, parent-teachers associations and other instruments to monitor education policy and practice and hold service providers to account.

DP support

DPs have provided substantial support to the Education SWAps as well as the education programmes run by many NGOs. They also play a key role in advocating for invited space for CSO engagement. However, their support has mostly been in terms of service delivery and does not consistently support the much needed capacity building to enable CSOs to conduct evidence-based research and to actively participate in lobbying and advocacy.

3.2 Summary of Case Study 2: Local government

Policy dialogue issues

Policy dialogue around local government in Bangladesh focuses on the three areas of (a). decentralisation, (b) citizen participation and (c) terms and conditions for locally elected representatives, particularly women. The politically charged nature of (a) which threatens central (partisan) control of resources and incurs most risk to those involved in dialogue means that this has been the issue with the least achievement despite considerable efforts by civil society to engage. Aspects of (c).have been acceded (particularly with regard to women’s participation) but there remain both loopholes and deliberate interventions in legislation through which central government retains undue control. The third area (b) citizen participation (including demanding rights and entitlements, accountability and transparency) is where most positive change has been achieved and where CSOs have been most active though this is at local level where new legal provisions (which they had arguably little influence on) are being operationalised rather than at central level.

Spaces for engagement

  1. Decentralisation is an aspiration of the 1972 Constitution but despite popular demand, the recommendations of successive specially convened Commissions and considerable DP investment in strengthening of local government this has still not materialised. The lack of parliamentary will to cede control of resources crosses all political parties and results in a disconnect between election promises and actualisation of the decentralisation agenda. There are consequently few invited spaces for dialogue (although there was a window during the two year Caretaker Government when consultations were arranged with CSOs and LG experts). Tellingly, the LG Parliamentary Standing Committee is reportedly one of the least active of all Standing Committees, traditionally successive governments appoint their Party Secretary to lead the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and there is no LG Commission despite calls for this to be introduced. These demonstrate what Gaventa (2003) refers to as ’hidden power’ which thwarts this agenda.
  2. Citizen Participation The new LG Acts ( 2009 and 2010) provide a number of invited spaces for citizens (e.g. mandatory open budget meetings, annual local level planning meetings). The provenance for these is widely acknowledged to derive from over 25 years of participatory programming in infrastructure programmes funded by World Bank, Asian Development Bank, SDC, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the German Agency for International Cooperation, especially the Rural Development Programmes of the Local Government Engineering Department and water and sanitation programmes of the Department for Public Health Engineering under the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. Government’s direct experience of the success of these approaches built the needed confidence to roll these out in Acts of Parliament rather than from civil society action or pressure.
  3. Improved terms and conditions for locally elected representatives Currently the Local Government Associations (LGAs – associations of elected representatives at various levels of LG) including the Municipal Association of Bangladesh (network of mayors), Bangladesh Upazila Forum (network of Chair and Vice Chair persons of the Upazila Parishads) and the Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum (network of Union Parishad Chairpersons) use claimed spaces to lobby for changes in the terms and conditions of service. With direct support of DPs or national CSOs they bring these issues into the public domain for debate. LGAs are better placed than NGOs to promote both the decentralisation issue and the demands for improved terms and conditions as they have an inside knowledge of the workings of LG and relationships with central government, have large constituencies of elected representative members (and the mandate of their electorate) and good relationship with the media.

Women’s political participation has been a major issue taken up by NGOs and CSOs since the 80s mostly in claimed spaces. The strong women’s movement was hugely influential on development of the legislation which led to elected rather than selected reserved seats for women in LG. Through NGO women’s group formation and leadership development more women have been encouraged to contest elections and NGOs continue to support networks of women elected members.

Enabling environment

Several factors are key to change in LG. They include legislation, public and state awareness raising and changes in the way people view the electorate/representative relationship. The Right to Information Act has provided an important opportunity for citizen engagement. It was primarily a demand mobilised through CSO action. Manusher Jonnno Foundation (MJF) spearheaded a movement involving over 100 NGOs as well as academics, media and lawyers from 2005 which resulted in the enactment of the Act in 2009. The LG Acts have provided important invited spaces for citizen participation.

The lack of political will at central level to further some of these LG agenda is a hindrance to reform. The most high profile CSOs to engage in policy dialogue at national level are Transparency International and ActionAid Bangladesh. Their international stature and greater resilience to risk allows them to be quite bold in criticising the Government and challenging decentralisation and corruption issues. Local movements find themselves under constant surveillance and individuals connected to these movements find it easier to engage as individuals (exploiting their own social capital) through their personal writings and appearances in the media.

The dominance of international development banks and UNDP (which have the mandate to work through Government) in LG development is a hindrance to change particularly in regard to the decentralisation agenda.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

The LGAs, while still newly organising, are beginning to show determination to claim space and demand public and state attention. They are increasingly using the media to this end. They continue to be limited by their own capacity to formulate position papers and provide evidence-based arguments for change and the paucity of current independent research on LG reform. NGOs have been supporting these LGAs in a variety of ways and provide direct training to LG representatives particularly complementing public sector institutional training by ’on the job’ support, mentoring and a focus on changing attitudes and behaviour.

Arguably the most effective approaches to date have been undertaken by other CSOs through their programmes of voter education and citizen rights awareness-raising which create a demand for more transparent and accountable local government and local service provision. A newer focus on tax compliance is building a strong link to increasing demand for efficient and effective LG.

DP support

DP support includes funding projects to further women’s political empowerment, develop good practice among LGER and LG bodies through direct training and mentoring (including initiatives such as the Horizontal Learning Programme of peer learning between LGER) through state and NGO programme support, large scale LG programmes (including infrastructure development) with cash incentives to change behaviour and practice (e.g. World Bank/SDC funded Local Governance Support Programme (LGSP) and intentions to increase funding to LG research (SDC). They also provide non-financial support by upholding the principles of citizen participation in modern democracies, transparency and accountability in their policy dialogue.

3.3 Summary of Case Study 3: Minority land rights

Policy dialogue issues

The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is a remote hill area in southeast Bangladesh inhabited by groups with languages, culture and religion different from the Bengali majority of the plains. A failure to recognise their special status following the War of Independence led to a five year insurgency which finally ended with the CHT Peace Accord (1997) which paved the way for resumption and service provision and development activities. Fifteen years after this Accord, critical elements such as the settlement of land disputes, demilitarisation of the area and the devolution of authority to local institutions remain partially or wholly unimplemented

Policy dialogue around minority land rights in Bangladesh focuses on the two areas of (a) discriminatory land laws and (b) land grabbing. The state of legal pluralism in the CHT has led to the co-existence of three different land laws (those which apply to the whole country, those specific to the CHT and Adivasi people and customary laws of the Adivasi people. There is no established precedence resulting in disputed ownership between households, communities and the State. This has been further confounded by the submergence of 40% of the cultivable land for the Kaptai Dam in the 1960s, the distribution of freeholds and leaseholds for commercial purposes (timber, rubber, horticulture etc.) in the 1970s and 1980s and the sanctioned settlement of nearly half a million Bengali settlers. Displacement of Adivasi peoples continues to be perpetrated by the army (reports of harassment to force people from their homesteads), the Department of Forestry acquisition of Adivasi land and powerful elites.

Spaces for engagement

The two main CSOs which represent Adivasi issues (Parbata Chattagram Jana Songhati Samiti (PCJSS) and the Headmen Association participate in invited spaces at local government level as well as in consultations with the CHT Commission comprising representatives of national and international civil society. The CHT Ministry formed in 1998 under the Prime Minister’s Office has very limited authority and power and the Advisory Committee set up for consultative purposes is inactive. The Government was supposed to hand over the regularisation of the land from the Land Ministry to the CHT Ministry but has failed to do so. A Peace Accord Implementation Committee (PAIC) first constituted in 1998 and re-constituted in 2009 includes invited space for CHT representatives but is currently non-functional. The CHT Land Commission headed by a High Court Judge was mandated to settle land disputes and has authority to cancel leases awarded to non-tribal and non-local people. This Commission, like the PAIC is also inactive mainly because it failed to get the support of the Adivasi people. Despite many provisions for functional space none of them are working satisfactorily.

This leaves only claimed space activity. In country, the Hill Women Federation (HWF) comprising young women and college students and Parbata Chatra Parishad (PCP) also comprising students operate as youth activist wings of PCJSS. Campaigns and rallies are organised but although productive in the CHT have had little impact on galvanising the interest of the general population. Although the national media has been supportive it too has failed to make this a mainstream issue. International advocacy (claimed space) is more active with demonstrations, blogs and signature campaigns.

Enabling environment

Legislation has failed to create an environment conducive to CSO engagement on these issues. There are many vested interests linked to maintaining the status quo in the CHT. The current Government makes public supportive statements but fears losing the votes of settlers if it makes decisions in favour of the Adivasi interests. The Opposition is against the tenets of the Peace Accord. The Government has taken a stance to stall on decision making as the most politically expedient option.

The recent clamp down on activities of NGOs in the CHT is worrying to the CSOs in the country. Many have been threatened with withdrawal of approval by the Government’s regulatory body, the NGO Affairs Bureau if they are perceived to be involved in any activities which can be construed as political.

The land rights issues remain marginalised by the remoteness of the area, the lack of popular interest in the issues and the Government’s unwillingness to confront difficult issues and upset vested interest groups. It remains for the international community to highlight and pursue the issues.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

The lack of an enabling environment has severe limitations on possible achievement of CSO engagement on these issues. The government provisions for engagement are nonfunctional curtailing and frustrating efforts by the Adivasi movements and organisations.

There has been limited success with test land cases supported by legal aid groups but insufficient progress and supportive research and documentation. There is more internet-based advocacy than evident in the three other case studies which may be testament to the limited conventional space available for marginalised issue-raising and the need to undertake ’risky’ advocacy under cover of anonymity. The risks associated with confronting the vested interest groups has led to minimal activity even amongst the many CSOs and NGOs operating in CHT. Their function is often reduced to service provision even where they would like to be more pro-active in advocacy.

DP support

DPs have provided substantial financial support to the UNDP CHT Facility which in turn supports development interventions in the CHT. This is intended as an efficiency measure but has reduced the opportunities for DPs to engage directly with the issues. UNDP’s special relationship with Government prevents them from being explicitly critical. Considering the impasse in action on the land rights issues and the importance of the role of the international community in furthering the rights of the Adivasi peoples, an increased involvement of DPs could be opportune. DPs can act as a bridge between the Adivasi people and Government and also help them to prepare their positions and seek appropriate support for their campaigns for justice better.

3.4 Summary of Case Study 4: Food security

The Bangladesh National Food Policy Plan of Action (2008-15) approved in 2010 focuses on four main dimensions: (a) food availability, (b) access to food (physical and social), (c) economic access, and (d) utilisation of food for nutrition. There was some CSO engagement in the development of the policy but considering the seriousness of the issue when one third of the population Bangladesh still lives in extreme poverty.

Policy dialogue issues

The study team identified four critical issues around which there is limited CSO engagement. These are (a) encroachment of agricultural lands, (b) promotion of indigenous and sustainable land use technology, (c) distribution of land to landless farmers and (d) food prices. Every year 1,000 sq. km of agricultural land is being lost to non-food production activities (e.g. tobacco), construction (of houses, roads, brickfield) and for industrial purposes. In addition river erosion reduces many sq. km of cultivable land and saline water intrusion hampers food production in large swathes of coastal lands. The shrimp industry is gobbling up huge areas of rice paddy land. The arguments for promoting traditional varieties of agricultural products and against high input hybrid and genetically-modified (GM) crops are promoted by a few lone voices. Many CSOs continue to press for the distribution of government land to the landless. Food aid affects food prices in the local market as do the fickle international markets and it is these issues which get sparse CSO attention from time to time.

Spaces for engagement

The invited space for policy dialogue on food related matters is very limited. A single organisation, Association for Land Reform and Development, has become de facto the organisation invited by Government on food security. Land rather than food is its main area of interest and its 260 member CSOs are engaged primarily with the issue of distribution of land to the landless rather than wider food related issues.

There is disparate and scattered claimed space action undertaken by a range of CSOs. They undertake a limited amount of action research and generally low profile advocacy. Some organise farmer groups. The media is the most active in claiming space by highlighting issues. The one area where there is constant civil society agitation is food prices but demonstrations are less often by CSOs and more often spontaneous in nature.

Enabling environment

Food security is highly politically charged. The current Government was said to have won the election based on its pledge to keep rice prices down. International agencies dominate any non-government spaces and debate is limited by a number of vested interests.

While the lack of central space for dialogue is not surprising, the lack of organisation of farmers is. Much investment has been made into developing farmers groups in the past e.g. integrated pest management groups, cooperatives and collectives but they do not have a recognised central voice and no means to amplify their voices upwards, so their concerns are rarely heard.

Effectiveness of CSO activity

As in the case of the minority land rights the lack of an enabling environment has severe limitations on possible achievement of CSO engagement on these issues. There is little will to engage civil society on issues which are complex and political. The small voices which do champion some of the issues noted above are mostly considered as ’trouble makers’. There is risk involved in engaging in what are often very controversial issues.

ALRD has finally forged a trusted and respectful relationship with Government which has been built after years of confrontation and struggle around highly contested land disputes. However, it is now being expected to fulfil a role for which is it poorly equipped. Its expertise is not food security but its involvement ’ticks the CS consultation box’.

DP support

DPs have provided substantial financial support to production and food distribution schemes and channel support to UN agencies but often have little direct involvement. The advocacy around some of these issues is rarely been resourced through DP support and has relied on indigenous activism or the support of international CSOs (e.g. Action-Aid). How can such activism be nurtured and supported so that the current closed spaces for policy dialogue are opened up to public scrutiny?

4 Key aspects of an enabling environment

4.1 Introduction

The term ’civil society’ in Bangladesh has relatively recently taken root. Formerly translated as shushil samaj which carries connotations of privilege and intellect (which does not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the population), it is now more commonly referred to as ’nagorik samaj’ which implies citizenry. Bangladesh, with a population of over 150 million, is often described as having a vibrant civil society but this is increasingly contested based on the understanding of the word ’vibrant’. Bangladesh has the largest number of NGOs in the world (over 2,000 are registered under the NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB) and an estimated further 300,000 associations and societies are registered under various other registration laws)[12] but most of these are active in direct service or welfare provision and as such contribute substantially to development. Where the understanding of vibrancy includes the notion of active involvement in policy dialogue then only a very small percentage are involved and around a rather narrow set of themes.

There are, however, growing numbers of unregistered campaigning networks and citizen groups and evidence of a re-engagement in the movement spirit after a couple of decades of domination of the scene by service provision NGOs[13] (the exception being the women’s movement, cultural movements and professional associations which gathered momentum during this period). Over the last five years there has been a noticeable shift in the common understanding of civil society beyond NGOs not only to include these non-formal CSOs but also media, professional associations, trade unions and faith based organisations. But with these, there remain concerns based on their perceived motivations (commercial, political and religious). Political parties may be theoretically considered as part of civil society but not in practice. The following chapter identifies some of the key external factors which hinder and enable CSO activity with a special emphasis on the changes in the last five years.

4.2 Legal and political environment

Bangladesh benefits from having a progressive Constitution (1972) although many of the provisions are not adhered to. It provides for freedom of operation for NGOs and they flourished in the years post-independence and especially with external donor funding following the restoration of democracy in 1990. While many citizen groups choose to operate as informal unregistered entities in order to avoid the burden of bureaucracy and surveillance and to preserve their independence, many register under the numerous and confusing registration facilities in order to confirm legitimacy and organisational identity.[14] The multiple means of registration results in scattered information and data and compromises oversight and support. However, District Commissioner approval must be sought before starting operations at local level which suggests that sub-national data may be more reliable. Furthermore, District, Upazila and (now) Union-level Coordinating Committees are mandated by law and these development committees not only serve to monitor NGO activity but also contribute to building relations between government organisation and NGOs.

NGOs which get funding from foreign donors must register every five years with the NGOAB. They are required to provide information about each proposed project and are subject to annual audits. Their submissions also require approval from the Home Ministry as well as the Ministry most closely connected to the activities proposed, which may result in some hindrance[15] where their action may be perceived as critical of Government (particularly apparent in local government and rights work). NGOs are also subject to random visits by National Security Intelligence tasked with ensuring there is no ’anti state activity’. There is evidence that some working on human rights and openly critical of the Government have experienced harassment and have been denied project permission. The Government finds the watchdog activities of CSOs threatening and political parties relentlessly seek to influence and co-opt these.[16] The NGOAB is under resourced and overstretched so its activities which are supposed to include support to the sector are reduced to a control role and the process of registration can be very slow. A new Societies Registration and Control Ordinance (2011) is under consideration and there are concerns that this may limit NGO freedom.

There is no statutory requirement for CSOs accountability to their constituents and although their constitutions require Boards and Annual General Meetings, these are often tokenistic. The NGOAB focuses on NGO financial affairs and necessary government approvals and concerns itself less with their governance. Consequently accountability of funded NGOs is primarily to their donors. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB)’s 2007 NGO Accountability Report noted several deficiencies in NGO governance including: i. the lack of accountability to the population and client groups without opportunities for complaint and little space to influence, ii. lack of transparency in use of funds, iii. centralised decision making and weak Board oversight, iv. weak management and financial competencies and v. corruption in seeking government contracts.

Bangladesh suffers from confrontational style partisan politics and history indicates that each election ushers in a new parliament which systematically overturns or curbs legislation made by its predecessor. The two-year period of non-political Caretaker Government (2007to end 2008) saw a number of initiatives to operationalise key public interest oversight mechanisms (which had been provided for in the Constitution but not actualised). However, since resumption of political government, these have either been disempowered through resource restrictions, undermined by further amendments or have ceased functioning altogether. Over the last two government periods, the Opposition has taken to boycotting Parliament sessions leaving ruling parties to dominate legislative proceedings and undermining Parliament’s role to check Government. Moves to establish All Party Parliamentary Groups have seen limited success.

The Constitution provides for parliamentary democracy but genuine representational politics remains aspirational. It is only evident around election times. Patron client relationships prevail in all tiers of elected Government. Voter behaviour has tended to coalesce around these relationships and past loyalties rather than around issues, although the last local elections (2011) and recent Municipal and City Corporation elections suggest a shift in attitude towards fairness, trust and accountability as key determinants for voting preference. Bangladesh is ranked 134 out of 178 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. A continuous ’blame game’ plays out between elected representatives and bureaucrats over the control and misuse of resources. However, there are a number of donor funded projects and movements for good governance currently operating which deliberately seek to build an understanding of the advantages of increasing accountability to the electorate. This and a change in the type of people contesting elections away from the Dhaka based landed elite has led to signs of closer connection between them and their electorate with many spending more time in their constituencies and becoming more accessible.

The highly centralised form of governance operating in Bangladesh is considered a major hindrance for effective delivery of services to citizens and for meaningful engagement to influence and monitor service delivery. Only 2% of the national budget is allocated for local government services. All government offices have their headquarters in Dhaka and all 29 civil service cadres are controlled from the capital. This means that decisions as local as recruitment of primary school teachers or local road improvement as are all made centrally.

The Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009 provides a significant breakthrough in terms of accountability and transparency. Pressure for this provision was largely spearheaded by coordinated CSO and media action using the India RTI Act as a model. The RTI gives oversight authority to the Information Commission and intends to simplify procedures for citizens to seek information from Government and non-government service providers. However, compliance is still being tested. Requests for information have to be official and take time, information is not well documented, archived and accessible and few offices have appointed the required information focal points.

Although there are promising signs that citizens are beginning to be aware of and using avenues for engagement with Government beyond the ballot box, a recent survey of youth showed that 76% believed they have little influence over government decisions and were unaware of their capacity to influence.[17] The observed positive albeit small change is attributed to the work of rights based NGOs, mobilisation activities of social movements, new local government legislation which has opened up invited spaces but mostly to the efforts of the media which has been referred to as the ’bulldog of the people’.

The provision of new invited spaces, particularly at local level, has led to a shift from confrontation and contestation expressed through claimed spaces to a more collaborative approach of working with Government for mutual benefit. Nevertheless the use of the space is in its infancy and strategies of engagement in both invited and claimed spaces are unsophisticated (tabling of multi-point demands, rallies, human chains and gherao[18] rather than evidence-based lobbying and strategic influencing).

4.3 Economic and social environment

There continues to be widespread poverty in Bangladesh and as a consequence there are considerable funds in Bangladesh for service delivery NGOs providing for basic needs. There is less attention to those promoting mobilisation, accountability and advocacy. Based on interviews with DPs the growing emphasis on numbers (targets) among donors has contributed to this preference for service provision over purely rights-based programmes (which enjoyed support in the first part of the decade), not least of all because of concerns about attribution and the combined issues of a preference for conventional economic returns on investment and inadequate instruments to measure results (process and behaviour change). Although this does not apply to all the DPs, when required to collaborate in jointly funded programmes, the targets-focus becomes difficult to resist. Two funding intermediaries provided evidence of moving from funding rights based work (their raison d’être) to service delivery to satisfy their donor’s desire for numbers.

Whilst CS engagement efforts are considered by the CSOs to be resource-light and donors claim that this activity is essential, paradoxically their access to funds is shrinking. CIDA and Danida have both recently closed their windows for small project funding and the changed priorities of these and other DPs have resulted in peremptory closure of funding even for well-respected and effective CSOs. The desire to contain transaction costs (more with less) has further limited fund availability by increasing the size of available grants (often beyond the absorptive capacity of these types of NGOs) and reducing the numbers of grantees. There is more competition for conventional DP funds which continue to be largely project or contract type arrangements. These privilege large over small, established over emerging, scale-up over innovation, Dhaka-based over local organisations and those which are effective professional ’bidders’. CSOs outside of the NGO sector such as movements, Trade Unions and non-formal volunteer based organisations as well as ones considered high risk such as political parties, some activist groups and faith based groups are largely excluded from conventional donor funding and depend on membership fees or individual or interest based philanthropy.

Some CSOs have successfully tapped Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of local and international private sector companies and international civil society Trusts and Foundations but increased efforts for resource mobilisation and diversification carry high opportunity costs. CSR tends to favour support for service delivery and welfare grants over support to advocacy.[19] National corporations and get tax relief on donations provided to the social sector but this policy requires application for this special status.

The tax status of CSOs remains confusing. The Tax Act 1984 indicates that ’income that is applied for charitable or religious purposes is generally exempt from income tax’ but the subsequent Finance Act 1999 implies that they are required to pay tax on all earned income. The lack of clarity and inconsistency in applying the law enables case by case tax exemption and some pay tax on earnings on training, consultancy etc and others do not.

This can be negotiated by the NGOs which have the means to employ tax lawyers. The National Revenue Board has given tax exemption in the past to some larger NGOs.

The media has diversified and expanded significantly in the last five years. There has been a mushrooming of private TV channels (now 18 with a further 10 pending in the pipeline) which operate through satellite or cable networks. Audiences are growing and these TV stations are increasingly catering for the public appetite for current events programmes and Talk Shows in particular. These purposively seek to be platforms for debate across political parties and generally include eminent civil society representatives. Some invite audience participation through telephone or SMS or online polls. Nevertheless TV channels providing 24 hour news coverage are vulnerable to periodic shut downs by the Government[20] and the increasingly popular Talk Shows receive threats if they are perceived to air ’provocative statements’.

Community radio licenses were granted for the first time in 2010. There are over 30 online news outlets and several internet based radio stations. Local cable TV has been used to air live Union Parishad meetings and an Open Budget Meeting to increase participation and local accountability.

Freedom House[21] ranked Bangladesh media as ’partly free’ in 2011. Media staff report some intimidation by National Security Intelligence, party activists and police. The Government may still use national security legislation and sedition laws to restrict activities. The Special Powers Act (1974) allows detention for up to 90 days without trial and journalists say it has been used against journalists critical of the Government. The National Broadcasting Policy is currently under review and contains some elements of concern such as proposals to keep national figures beyond criticism so compromising the increasing trend of holding them to account.

Mobile phone network covers 98% of the country and the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission data shows that there are over 80 million active mobile phone subscribers in September 2011. It cannot, however, be claimed that this equates to 50% penetration as multiple SIM card ownership is widespread.[22] The highly competitive market among the six operating companies has resulted in mobile phones and calls being among the cheapest in the world. Bangladesh has become a hub of innovative mobile based services for development. As well as the more conventional provision of SMS information by Government, NGOs and telephone providers, users are also inputting current data on development, corruption, and good practice.[23] Internet penetration is estimated at 0.6% but with the increased use of mobile phones to connect to the internet, this is likely to be an under-estimate. Under the current Government’s Digital Bangladesh initiative, all 4,520 Union Parishads have computers and internet access for public use.

Internet based social networking is widespread but surprisingly there is little evidence of internet based activism in the four thematic areas of the present study. It was only active for the CHT land rights issues and may result from activists having less access to other platforms for debate as well as international interest in the issue.

Bangladesh has a strong history of voluntarism and philanthropy but these were seriously threatened by the massive NGO penetration of the 1980s and 1990s. Recently there is a re-emergence of voluntarism through both formal (organisation-based) and non-formal means. In both, it is youth and retired persons who are particularly active. The former stems from the under-exploited desire for contemporary youth[24] to become involved in community service and activism. These upsurges of interest are regarded as resulting from increased disenchantment with partisan politics, an emerging confidence in ’people power’ and use of new communication technology.

Academic freedom is largely respected but politically sensitive topics are discouraged. There is, however, remarkably little independent research activity and highly publicly regarded Think Tanks and Research bodies are very few in number. There is criticism that they capture invited civil society space and are remote from the pulse of mainstream opinion. Products of the Dhaka elite and their use of ’high’ Bangla, English and academic language further fuels these criticisms. They are few in numbers and get asked to speak publicly on a range of issues leading to questions of privileging opinion over evidence.

Bangladesh is regarded as a high power distance[25] country and is still patriarchal. However, there are signs of change. Women have been appointed to Cabinet positions and for the first time a woman has been selected as Deputy Speaker. Fifty-seven women parliamentarians have been appointed to parliamentary standing committees. Women contest general seats in local government as well as reserved seats with some success.

Civil society space in national dialogue continues to be dominated by a few ’well known faces’, often representing family dynasties and often Dhaka centric. Age and academic provenance command respect and confer status. The language of dialogue tends to exclude the main population. There are efforts to change this and websites and documents are more frequently translated into Bangla than in the past. These power issues make it difficult for young and unknown people to actively take part in policy dialogue and underscores the importance of social and political capital accumulation to enable meaningful participation.

Political parties and politicians are increasingly accessible but remain hard to influence. They are key actors in setting policy directions and debating and approving legislation. Increasingly CSOs are recognising this and directing their advocacy efforts towards them rather than just the Government and bureaucracy. While there have been positive experiences of engaging with them on issues through caucuses, study tours and international workshops, translating that into action inside the parties and in Parliament is another story.

The DFID commissioned study on their engagement with civil society (2011) noted polarised views regarding NGOs’ role in civil society. Youth and business persons expressed concerns about NGOs lack of independence, vested interests and questioned their assumption that they legitimately represented people’s voices. The study concluded, ’Whether these are justified opinions or not are not the issue but NGOs’ effectiveness (in policy dialogue) will be compromised if there is not a wide constituency of support and sphere of influence.’

Table 2 Summary of key enabling environment for each selected theme
Key factor Local government Primary education CHT land rights Food security
Political will Despite rhetoric (e.g. in manifestos & five-yearplan) little at central level. Growing at local level Education is a public good so consensus across parties that it is a priority which must be addressed Current Government is supportive of the Peace Accord 1997 but seems to prefer to remain in-decisive because of the various vested interests in the CHT Government drafted Food Policy and invited selected NGOs (e.g. ALRD )for comments
Invited space opportunities Extremely limited at central level. Legislated for at local level and showing early signs of operationali-
Invited spaces have been provided as a result of consistent claims. CAMPE and other networks now have established invited space Invited spaces present as a result of the Peace Accord but felt to be somewhat tokenistic as decisions not made Discussion on food security includes CSOs which are involved in service provision but is closed to alternative views
Claimed space opportunities Limited action-considered risky. Insufficient coalition building. LGAs beginning to develop skills/capacity CTG and post Government have provided opportunities for CSO to claim space. Active local and national level advocacy CHT CSOs have to use these to get their position known-rallies and international support and compared to the other themes much internet advocacy Lots of public protest about food price rises

Very little, isolated protests on GM and HYV crops, use of land for non-food crops, adulteration of food etc
Public interest Growing Present and increasingly at school level with parents and teachers The issues are still not taken up by mainstream population. It is a marginal issue with interest from human rights CSOs only Food prices a major concern
Media interest Growing but considered difficult Supportive and proactive media Media covers the issues quite well Media leads on highlighting many issues (few isolated CSO voices)
Research and studies Very limited Some more needed. Regular Education Watch Reports helped to establish a benchmark Insufficient – and the existing research is academic-need for it to be simplified Very minimal
Legitimacy of CSOs[26] Building this slowly but in infancy Established for larger and older organisations, However poor performance and corruption among some contracted implementing NGOs has tarnished the overall CSO reputation CHT CSOs command legitimacy in CHT and in invited spaces but not so well known outside of these arenas The CSOs vocal on food security are mostly those involved in provision, speaking on behalf of their beneficiaries CSOs with alternative views e.g. anti-GM crops are isolated

[12] NGOAB records accessed on CSOs are registered under six other offices of government: Department of Social Welfare, Department of Cooperatives, Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, Micro-credit Regulatory Authority, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Department of Youth Development and there is no definitive number but estimates are reputedly quoted as between 250,000 and 300,000.

[13] Especially micro-finance.

[14] As noted in Footnote 13, there are seven different ways in which CSOs can register.

[15] CSOs that are critical of government policies are sometimes branded as anti-state and are harassed in many ways, including the blocking of disbursement of foreign funds, delays of project approval, and even cancellation of registration (NGO Law Monitor – Bangladesh. During this study several CSOs spoke of this kind of harassment and surveillance and spot visits e.g. the approval of one project supporting LGAs had been delayed by over a year. In May 2012, the Government announced that it was contemplatng cancelling the registration of 10 national and international NGOs which are said to be engaged in unauthorised activities in the CHT area. The CHT Ministry has ’blacklisted them for carrying out suspicious activities’.

[16] CSOs told us during the course of the study that party activists regularly pay visits to watchdog groups or more covertly undertake surveillance of their activities.

[17] British Council Bangladesh: The Next Generation’ (2010).

[18] A Bangla term to describe holding officials in their offices by surrounding the building in order to make a protest.

[19] Although advertising support in CSO publications, sponsorship of events and CSR inspired subsidised rates e.g. for TV promotion, media supplements etc are increasingly tapped.

[20] E.g. TV channels airing live broadcasts of the Opposition Rally on March 12th, 2012 were shut down by Government for 24 hours.

[21] Freedom House is a US-based CSO which supports democratic change, monitors freedom and advocates for democracy and human rights round the world. It produces annual ratings of countries based on the freedoms they experience.

[22] BBC claims there are actually 70 million users (personal communication).

[23] The Horizontal learning Programme encourages LGER to share good practice via SMS, Shiree (DFID funded Economic Empowerment of the Poorest programme) has recently launched a change monitoring system collecting monthly data from beneficiary households through mobile phone. The Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programs’ ’Let the Children Speak’ programme encourages children to upload photos they have taken of problems they face on to a public web portal.

[24] British Council commissioned the study with more than 2,100 men and women aged 15-34 years including rural, urban and across socio economic strata including employed, unemployed, household workers and students. It found that 95% of youth are willing and able to be involved in social work (including activism) but only 31% of urban youth and a disappointing 6% of rural youth actually participate. Full study ’ The Youth of Bangladesh; status, aspirations and attitude study’ 2010 can be accessed from

[25] High power distance refers to an element of the analytical framework developed by Hofstede which describes the extent to which people defer to authority and perceived.

[26] Included as an external factor as this is the CSOs legitimacy as perceived by civil society and state. While CSOs may try to ensure this, ultimately it is dependent on a number of factors many outside the control of the CSO. For example, views of NGOs among ordinary citizens include that they are involved in business, are self-serving and corrupt. This is a difficult image to slough off.

5 Policy dialogue

In the context of the present evaluation, policy dialogue relates to the involvement of CSOs and their influence on the Government’s agenda in development and implementation of policies and strategies at national and local level. The ToR suggests policy dialogue covers both policy development and implementation at both national and local level and it is foreseen that it may take place through official platforms (direct) or indirectly. The ToR states that policy dialogue is to be seen as the process, and influence as the result. In the following chapter, we discuss how policy dialogue is perceived in the Bangladesh context, whether it is effective, transparent and inclusive, and whether there is de facto space for CSO to effectively engage in policy dialogue.

5.1 Understanding of ’policy dialogue’ in the Bangladesh context

“Policy dialogue” is a term which is not used much in Bangladesh except to refer to invited formal, controlled (and elitist) spaces such as the Bangladesh Development Forum[27] for which a carefully selected small number of well-known economic and development Think Tank personalities are screened and invited. These CSO “representatives” have no say in setting the agenda or framing the discussions.

However when the phrase ’citizen engagement’ is used there is a much broader understanding concomitant with the intention expressed in the ToR. This phrase and its Bangla translation accommodate the more messy non-linear and organic processes of policy influence rather than the events interpretation of policy dialogue. The processes of engagement are regarded as important as the outcomes. However there is a current emphasis on policy dialogue events (rather than processes) and a perceived need for like-minded solidarity to achieve change. It is rare to find processes where debate and dissent are considered strategically important ways to consolidate positions as forces for change.[28]

Policy influence may involve a mix of informal and formal means, spontaneous and orchestrated events as well as serendipity that results in change. Bangladesh has a history of claimed space citizen action inspired by successful movements of the past (The Language Movement, Freedom Fighters and Women’s Movement). As a result of development programmes since the 1970s, the principles of people’s participation have been consistently promoted. The Cooperative movement was exceptionally strong during the 1970s and 1980s and people’s organisations and federations have long been part of the fabric of organisational activity especially in rural areas. However, many were formed as conduits for organising project benefits (e.g. water users groups, farmer field schools, Water and sanitation committees, local contracting societies, micro-credit groups, literacy groups, income generating groups, nutrition groups) rather than means to exercise voice and demand accountability. Despite later project intentions to build these capabilities, the reality was in many cases that after withdrawal of project support these entities failed to sustain. The voice and accountability aspirations were thwarted by insufficient recognition of the time and effort required to build these capabilities and understanding that as these were not the motivations to engage in associational activity, people were not necessarily interested in this as a priority. It is now more commonly accepted that building a rights orientation and capacity to demand entitlements let alone engage in influencing policy and practice takes a minimum of seven to ten years of mentoring and support and needs to target those who want to be involved in organisation-based voluntarism.[29] The rights based approach was enthusiastically adopted by many NGOs more than a decade ago but the realisation in terms of groups of citizens exercising their own agency is only just bearing fruit with isolated examples of successful outcomes.

Government’s inclusion of participatory processes within their mode of current operation was primarily driven by Development Banks and bilateral donor conditionality and insistence during the 1980s and 1990s.[30] Participatory Poverty Assessments and investment in large infrastructure (roads and water) development projects in particular mandated citizen involvement and set the precedent for the current government policies.

Effectiveness of policy dialogue

Effectiveness of policy dialogue is difficult to judge. In some situations ’being there’ (i.e. included) is sufficient to assure that CS voice is being given space or excesses of state are being curtailed. Most CSOs operating with DP funds are required to provide some sort of results-based management framework for what they intend to achieve. Their performance against these objectives is then used to assess effectiveness. As discussed in Chapter 2, attribution in policy influencing is extremely difficult to prove. It also noted that linear and short-term models of change may lead to exaggeration of success as the contribution of others before and in parallel are generally overlooked. Development outcomes are generally couched in terms of permanent change in behaviour and attitudes which facilitates improved service delivery geared to reducing inequalities and inequities. This suggests steps beyond legislation, policy formulation and improved creation of new or expanded participatory space and official platforms for civil society engagement to translating these into improved service provision for people living in poverty. However, the implementation of improved practice is long-term and process milestones (such as new legislation) are also valid indicators of effectiveness.

CSOs have been effective in primary education policy dialogue and significant outcomes have been achieved (see case study), only small gains confined largely to local-level advocacy have been achieved by CSOs in local governance and the efforts of CSOs to influence CHT land rights and food security remain ineffectual. The importance of political will is strongly evident here. Quality primary education is both a high citizen demand affecting most families and a political aspiration. The Government’s reliance on the NGO and private sector to meet education goals (Government is fully responsible for only 48% of primary education) contributes to their (at times reluctant) acceptance of their inclusion in policy dialogue. Functioning and equitable local government is an increasing public demand but is hindered by the absence of political will to accede control over resources. Furthermore the perceived intellectual complexities of decentralisation and devolution and lack of understanding of how decentralised systems work in other countries are barriers to citizen engagement on these topics. Various vested interests conspire to prevent open and effective dialogue on CHT land rights and food security and it is typified by an impasse.

The education policy dialogue arena is relatively transparent but it needs to be recognised that there is also considerable ’behind the scenes’ influencing and the best CSOs (e.g. CAMPE, the Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM)) are adept at working with Government and building on the social capital accumulated over years of collaboration to make change happen. The nature of behavioural change results in ownership of change and it is hard to attribute this to the ’drip drip’ efforts of individual champions of change or CSO action and is therefore not transparent in the accepted sense. This work goes on largely without resources and is consequently under-reported. As far as inclusion is concerned, invited CSO participation in primary education has often been promoted by donors and has until recently not involved important CSO actors such as Teacher Associations, Parent Teacher Associations, School Management Committees, Associations of Elected Representatives or Student Councils. The views of poor and marginalised groups on education are less often considered.[31] Furthermore as in all the thematic areas, policy dialogue is concentrated in Dhaka and travel time and costs are often prohibitive for those outside Dhaka. CAMPE makes efforts to facilitate regional and district platforms through more than 1300 network members but amplification of voice upwards is not as effective as it could be. Policy influence, although better than in the other themes, is also somewhat ’scatter gun’ and insufficiently and unsystematically evidence-based.

There is little transparency in national level LG policy dialogue which is essentially still largely closed space despite the efforts of CSOs including the LGAs. There are, however, many examples of successful local level policy dialogue where NGOs and local level watchdog or citizen groups have been active. These include fairer distribution of safety net provisions, increased local tax collection, more transparent decision making through open budget meetings, better service provision from schools, health centres and agricultural extension but it is hard to gauge how wide spread these changes and to what extent these examples are anecdotal. Despite the increased efforts at ensuring transparency at local level inclusion is still an issue, not only in local level policy dialogue but also in who benefits. Shiree[32] collects live data from extreme poor households through mobile telephony. This constantly streamed data suggests that the majority of those entitled to social safety nets are still not getting them.[33] The processes of participatory planning and budgeting are aimed toward greater transparency but are vulnerable to lip service or being co-opted unless monitoring and safeguard measures are put in place.

Exclusion is at the core of the problems of CHT land rights and opportunities for policy dialogue are few and fragile. Engagement within the CHT is minimal and outsiders are usually accompanied by police throughout their stay (on the pretence of protecting their security but actually to monitor activities) making open discussion and engagement problematic. The inaccessibility of the CHT and restrictions placed on free movement severely affect opportunities for policy dialogue. The discrimination faced by CHT CSOs and their insufficiently developed alliances with Bengali supporters beyond human rights organisations severely limits progress with their agenda.

The issues of inclusion in invited space for local government policy dialogue are of great concern as civil society space is co-opted for political and vested interest ends. As a result of tacit self-acceptance of discrimination and the avoidance of associational space (often through fear of it being politicised), the marginalised and poor rarely participate and their opinions are under-represented. This is a manifestation of Gaventa’s internalised hidden power (where people do not feel it is their place to participate).

Spaces for CSO to engage in policy dialogue

Spaces for CS engagement in policy dialogue are invited or claimed. There are more invited spaces for national level education policy dialogue than the other themes because of it represents a shared concern, involves Government and NGO service delivery and is less controversial than the other themes. One of the few active parliamentary standing committees is the one for education. CSOs were invited to engage around formulation of the Education Policy and the Sector-Wide Approaches (SWAps). As well as formal invited spaces, they are informally asked to help formulate policy, assist with directives and provide research and advice by government departments directly. By contrast policy dialogue around local government reform rarely involves CSOs and only occasionally invites renowned experts to advise on policy.

However, one area where CSOs claimed/created space, which is highly significant for all other thematic areas, especially LG, was in the formulation and eventual insistence on the promulgation of the Right to Information Act 2009. CSOs organised lawyers, campaigned to raise awareness and steered the process. This was a consolidated effort spearheaded by MJF and benefited from the experience in India in 2009. The single focus of RTI legislation galvanised action from a diverse range of CSOs.

At local level the invited spaces for both education and local government are enshrined in new LG legislation (2010). Participatory planning and budgeting is mandatory at ward level and Union Parishad and Upazila standing committees are supposed to be functional. Primary schools are mandated to have school management committees with participation of parents and community and encouraged to have parent teachers associations and mothers clubs as well as conforming to the recent mandate from the Directorate of Primary Education to have elected Student Councils. However, these provisions have generally been either non-functional, dysfunctional, under-utilised and/or may have been co-opted. But it is to these spaces which CSOs have been turning their attention in the last few years in order to increase accountability and transparency and where some success is being achieved. However, despite this, the Reality Check reports (2007-11) indicate that it is more common that people do not complain about services because they have no information about where or how to complain, fear jeopardising future access to services by complaining, do not think they will be taken seriously and do not think it is their right to raise complaints against ’boro lok’ (higher status persons). And of the 1,000 or so participants in these studies only a handful, including local service providers had ever contributed ideas or been involved in planning or influencing activities.

Before the creation of these invited spaces, people resorted to protest (confrontational claimed space) in the form of gheroas[34] and protest marches, sometimes leading to violent consequences (e.g. land rights movement of the 80s, minimum wage protests in 2010). Local injustice is still more likely to spark these kinds of responses which continue to carry the possibility of violent clashes.[35] Rallies, road blockades, human chains and, less often, hunger strikes continue to be common ways to raise issues in the public domain.

More measured claimed space is achieved through the growing number of local citizen watchdog committees (particularly around education, health, environment and corruption), often but by no means exclusively facilitated through NGO interventions. CSOs regularly host Round Table discussions and have strong collaboration with print and electronic media. There are effective networks in education which achieve critical mass for public and government attention but the networks in LG are still in infancy and struggle for public recognition. CHT land rights activism is extremely constrained but benefits from networking among local and international human rights organisations. Food security claimed space is minimal and ineffectual except around issues of food prices where people regularly mount street protests. Public Interest Litigation (PIL), or the threat of, has recently become a means of claimed space engagement e.g. two successful PIL in education and two pending PIL cases in LG. PIL has not been used in CHT land rights or food security but about ten test land cases have been pursued by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) on behalf of Adivasi plaintiffs.

[27] Which is chaired by the Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government and the Local Consultative Group of donors.

[28] A consultation arranged by Nijera Kori on the draft shrimp policy which brought together Members of Parliament (MPs), government officials, human rights organisations, NGOs and farmers and residents of the areas affected by commercial shrimp cultivation is a rare example of this.

[29] Conversations with CSO staff, review of end of programme evaluations in particular Samata evaluation 2007.

[30] E.g. Rural Development Projects carried out by the Local Government Engineering Department. Participatory Poverty Assessment, 1999 supported by World Bank, Sida and DFID.

[31] The Sida commissioned Reality Check studies designed to amplify poor people’s voices around primary education (and primary healthcare), while appreciated and reference in some quarters have had very little influence on policy dialogue. DAM’s ’Amplifying People’s Voices’ 2011 was another rare but laudable effort to include grass root opinion.

[32] A fund manager programme of DFID channelling funds to NGOs working for extreme poor.

[33] Live data viewed on March 22, 2012 showed only 18% said they received safety net provisions this month.

[34] Bangla term for a particular type of protest where officials are surrounded in their offices and prevented from leaving the building.

[35] E.g. in March 2012 there were a number of media reports of health facilities being ransacked by people protesting negligent treatment.

6 CSO strategies on policy dialogue

6.1 Types of CSO strategies on policy dialogue

Adopting the typology of CSO engagement in policy dialogue provided by CIDA during the Inception period of the study (Checklist 2 Inception Report, 2011 reproduced in Annex B), Annex G provides a comparison of the strategies adopted in the four different thematic areas.

To summarise the table in Annex G, there are two main strategies of direct engagement and indirect (i.e. preparation for) engagement and both are regarded as necessary for successful outcomes. Direct engagement may be formal:

  • Advocacy and campaigning in the public domain with the intention of building public and parliamentary support for change
  • participation in mostly state provided invited spaces
  • provision of evidence and studies to support policy dialogue positions
  • monitoring and holding to account on new policy provisions.

It may also be informal:

  • Behind the scenes (informal lobbying)
  • networking and coalition building
  • demonstration and protest.

Indirect strategies are aimed at the enabling environment for engagement by preparing dialogue participants for engagement and creating a conducive relationship for policy dialogue:

  • Information, education and training (CS and CSOs)
  • training government.

Analysis of the different approaches adopted in the four case studies following elements are key:

  1. Nature of the issue: a clear public good such as provision of quality education enjoys cross-party, public and international support and provision of invited spaces as well as open discussion in the media facilitates exposure and debate on issues. More recently citizen participation in local government has achieved similar wide support. However, controversial or marginal issues such as decentralisation, minority land rights and displacement of food production are forced to play out in informal spheres.
  2. Provision and use of formal invited spaces does not necessarily translate into better engagement outcomes. Formal invited spaces may not function as desired and can be co-opted, tokenistic or mechanistic (with little contestation and debate). As the education coalition CAMPE has demonstrated, despite achieving formal invited space status, its main influence and successful strategies lie in its ’behind the scenes’ advice. The collaborative relationship it has forged with Government means it is called on to discuss more controversial and difficult issues out of the public domain. Provisions for invited spaces will not be productive if the participants are the wrong ones (e.g. ALRD invited to represent CS on food security), co-opted (e.g. cherry-picked citizens invited onto local mandated LG committees) or where there is no requirement (strong demand) for action (e.g. CHT committee). Vigilance in monitoring the effectiveness of invited spaces (who participates, what is decided) needs to complement their provision.
  3. Research and evidence gathering is key to making cases to inform policy dialogue but remains particularly weak across all the cases (even the more developed education case).
  4. The cases also indicate that, particularly with controversial issues or issues which may be perceived as critical of Government, alliance building with a range of stakeholders is an important strategy. For example, CAMPE has demonstrated that including Teachers Unions and private sector as well as parent groups, while more challenging, helps to find areas of common interest around which to jointly campaign and is more likely to force government response which purely like-minded coalition demands may not. Strategic inclusion of lawyers is key but often under-utilised.(e.g. only in 2012 has CAMPE considered this and found that even the threat of public interest litigation yielded instant government attention).
  5. Use of the media is an essential element of indirect engagement and is increasingly shaping public opinion and sometimes demanding direct action. However, it is still a strategy which is under-exploited and unsophisticated.
  6. The nature of leadership is key: CAMPE is a home grown coalition which has weathered turbulent times and gradually built respect on all sides and can use this to facilitate and broker dialogue. The purposeful acquiescence of leadership in local government to the professional associations by NGOs which championed issues previously appears to be a sensible strategy. The professional associations understand the context for the issues as well as the negotiation (policy dialogue) context. It has been argued that international leadership is required to force the impasse on the CHT land issues.

6.2 Legitimacy and accountability

Legitimacy is generally regarded in relation to the organisation having some form of acceptance by others.[36] Pratt (2009) notes that ’this could mean a constituency (through, for example, memberships); or a means of validating the work of the NGO through participatory means of evaluation, participation in governance (board), or other feedback mechanisms’. The issue focuses on the extent to which the CSO represents the views of its members, clients, target groups. It also encompasses the issue of the perceptions of other stakeholders and the extent to which they respect them and include them as authoritative and authorised voices.

The legitimacy of the key CSO players in education has been established as evidenced by their inclusion in state invited spaces as well as in forums such as international coalitions and national debates. There is now an attempt to broaden the scope of the recognized actors to include the teachers unions and this has been partially successful. The largest coalition, CAMPE claims that it is a “constituency driven organisation”.

It was established in 1990 through the joint collaboration of 17 national NGOs leading in education. These organisations together (along with five additional organisations and an individual, bringing the total to 21), form the CAMPE council which is the highest decision making body. In order to facilitate sectoral coordination it was decided in 1997 to open up membership. As of 2010 there were 2013 Affiliate Members from which three members are chosen on the basis of certain criteria, to be represented on the Council. In addition there are 1,300 partner organisations across the country. Members pay a nominal membership fee, participate in AGM and elect the three representatives to the Council. Partners, however, are the recipients of services provided by CAMPE.[37] The Council is made up of reputed individuals and organisations from NGOs, former government high official and academia, which give it credibility, access and legitimacy. Collectively they make up the largest NGO contribution to education services in the primary education sector.

As noted in the last external review of CAMPE “Recently it has laudably moved from the safety of working exclusively with a ’like-minded’ agenda to provision of platforms for different voices (e.g. Teachers Associations, parents, students) and debate as well as exploring means for more direct action such as public interest litigation. It is therefore moving more towards provision of space for public action rather than relying on its own direct action and this needs to be appreciated as an important shift.”[38]

Council members are periodically elected by member NGOs ensuring that CAMPE’s policy making body is transparent and accountable to its constituency. The Council is comparatively active in policy making and guiding overall strategic direction and does not engage itself in operational aspects of CAMPE. There are critiques of how open the Council is to newer and different views. There was a deliberate attempt while founding the organisation to protect it “from the excesses of democracy” so that it could retain the character of a professional coalition with decision-making being in the hands of a select group.

Formally, accountability of the individual NGOs is to their executive committees and general bodies with no formal means of ensuring accountability to the group members. There is generally strong accountability to the DPs for the use of funds and some to the Government, as registering authority and also for use of funds in certain cases.

The area of downwards accountability to students, teachers, School Management Committees (SMC), PTA and other community bodies is weaker and less formalised. While identification of priorities and strategies are vetted with the community and various interest groups they will not be able to demand accountability of the NGOs. CAMPE is also faced with the challenge of how best to identify and respond to the priorities and needs at the community level so that it can speak for that level as well as for the national level.

At central level it is recognised that NGOs involved in local government (LG) advocacy work have very little leverage and unlike in education do not represent a large constituency. They now prefer to support LGAs which have the legitimacy of potentially 100,000 LGER (and their electorate, counted in the millions) and networks of district level Citizen Forums which have acquired local level legitimacy. A future intention is to harness these efforts and those of more fluid issue-based movements to become a stronger pressure group for change at central level.

At local level, LG active NGOs are mostly taking a catalytic/facilitating role to encourage the emergence and development of citizen forums which channel the voice of citizen themselves. This approach has probably been promoted by the fact that NGOs active in LG tend to be those which have taken a strongly rights-based orientation to their work and are less likely to be involved in service provision. The citizen forums are generally considered to derive their legitimacy from the fact that they comprise respected community leaders, activists and social workers.[39] The composition of these forums does need careful surveillance as some target-driven NGOs will cut short the period needed to make the right selection and provide sufficient nurturing. However, CSOs shared with us that co-option and infiltration by vested interests (economic or political) are other problems which undermine the forums’ legitimacy. Accountability is strongly linked to the motivations of citizen forum members to volunteer. Social recognition requires them to prove that they are fighting for local causes.

For the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) Land Rights, both PCJSS and Headmen Association (HA) have legitimacy and are recognized by the CHT Adivasi Peoples, Central Government and LG Bodies and occupy invited spaces provided by the Government. They get wide publicity of their public statements by the media. They are accountable to their own members although in both cases leadership is based on inheritance (sons of headmen become headmen) or kinship (the current chairperson of PCJSS brother of the previous chairperson).

For food security the Association of Land Reform and Development (ALRD) is the only network body representing NGOs. Its focus is land issues but these include how land use relates to food security. It operates with the usual NGO accountability to the NGO Affairs Bureau and its Board. Other NGOs involved in food security activism do this in addition to their core work often under the guise of (action) research.

[36] Pratt, Brian ’Legitimacy and Transparency for NGOs, INTRAC August 2009.

[37] Source Annual Report CAMPE 2010, page 88.

[38] External Review of CAMPE, February, 2012, page 4.

[39] Conversations with members of Citizen Forums and their constituents as well as eligibility criteria published by organisations such as Rupantar, Transparency International for their Citizen Forum membership.

7 Development Partner strategies

7.1 Types of DP strategies

In interviews, DPs in Bangladesh told the study team that they are keen to support the involvement of civil society in policy dialogue. There are several reasons for this; Bangladesh is still a relatively undeveloped democracy and raw partisan politics often precludes thorough consultation with civil society; the State is often seen as somewhat ’out of touch’; civil society organisations by virtue of their work and constituencies are well placed to champion the voices of the marginalised and excluded. Their experience, research and innovations, they feel, need to be considered in government policy making. Ultimately the expectation from DP support to CSO engagement is for policy to become more pro-poor and better tailored to the needs of citizens and extends the principle of crafting development assistance which aligns not just with Bangladesh Government but reflects the aspirations and needs of ordinary citizens. It is also to ensure that civil society better monitors the services provided by Government and especially plays a watchdog role regarding development aid assistance.

DPs respond to many of the strategies which CSOs adopt to raise awareness, gather evidence, build coalitions, campaign, lobby and advocate for change. They have also put effort into building capacity e.g. of independent and investigative journalism and creating and utilising spaces for direct dialogue (sometimes through aid conditionality e.g. World Bank Participatory Poverty Assessments and mandatory citizen consultations). They are less adept at supporting risky thematic areas, CSOs beyond conventional NGOs, diverse voices and confrontational tactics. These are nevertheless key to change in some circumstances, especially where political will is limited.

DPs have been experimenting with different strategies of support in recognition that the conventional project strategies are not always appropriate for policy dialogue work. The following table provides an overview of the different approaches but is not necessarily exhaustive.

Table 3 Types of DP support strategies
Type ofsupport Examples Comment
1. Core funding Steps Towards Development (Sida) – LG (women)

(ALRD Danida)
The CSOs involved feel that this modality provides relative flexibility which is crucial to respond to key moments in policy dialogue. They appreciate that such a modality is built on trust and respect and that it has been negotiated around outcomes. In particular the understanding shown by Finance (Sida) towards funding of Steps as a movement with an outcomes orientation rather than a project without puts orientation has been exceptional. Danida wanted to provide ALRD with programme funding but the NGOAB raised objections and so it was signed as a typical project nevertheless it has a more flexible outcome orientation which ALRD appreciates.
2. Joint donor project funding Transparency International Bangladesh (SDC, Sida, Danida and others) – LG The endorsement provided by many donors provides TIB with a sound backing and relatively less vulnerable financing base. But this is still a project with some un-helpful numeric indicators and less flexible budget than required for this kind of work. Donors claim that they do not see the numbers as the result but as progress indicators towards outcomes and expects more in terms of interpretation of ’why’ rather than a focus on the numbers. But TIB differs in this interpretation and feels pressured to produce numbers which it feels are not representing the work it performs. Donors also see that this multi-donor arrangement give more flexibility to TIB to engage in policy advocacy than traditional projects. Donors still need individualised attention.
3. Bilateral project funding Rupantar (SDC) – LG

Aparajita (SDC) – LG

Massline Media (SDC) – LG

Projects bound by project documents and log frames. SDC has a reputation for accompaniment and flexibility to support innovation and process type projects. The Aparajita project is an attempt at Innovation bringing four NGOs together to work under one project umbrella but unfortunately individual financing arrangements had to be made which may undermine cohesivity.

SDC accepts perception studies as robust tools for measuring achievement rather than the un-helpful numerics adopted by some other donors but its finance system is rigid and budgets are activity-driven not outcome-led. Possibly because of recent experiences of corruption with partners, CSOs tell us that financial controls have become extremely strict (e.g. difficult to change budget lines) and not helpful for process, innovative, behaviour change projects. CAMPE appreciated the inclusion of a 15% ’un earmarked fund’ which recognised the responsive and unpredictable nature of its work.

CSOs say that possibly SDC is over committing itself in LG and staff are over stretched and cannot give the partnership the attention they used to. SDC is planning to recruit more staff to manage their LG portfolio.

Change of SDC priorities resulted inCAMPE fund termination this year.
4. Small project windows Danida Human Rights and Good Governance (closed 2010 but supported 35 NGOs with dedicated Policy Support Units (PSUs)

CIDA Gender Fund (closed 2010 but supported 30 NGOs with a dedicated PSU)
CSOs working in policy dialogue are particularly affected by the closure of these (and other) small project funding windows. Their work is relatively resource light, often innovative and responsive to emerging needs which mean less bureaucratic and lengthy financing arrangements suit them well. The MJF and the Innovation Fund window of Shiree were established to replace these kinds of donor intensive funding modalities. However a review of MJF’s portfolio indicates that over time they too are privileging bigger grants with less transaction costs (see DFID, 2011). MJF has an Enabling Fund which provides some flexibility to fund small initiatives but considers this inadequate to address the need for non-project responses. SDCis discussing whether a LG component can be included in Shiree as a complementary activity (including the Innovation Fund which gives small flexible funds).
5. Contracts Strengthening Democratic Local Governance (USAID) – LG

NGO contracts under NLTA and LIC arrangements complements to WB funded LGSP (WB contracts funded by SDC/Danida) – LG
Many NGOs in LG are critical of the contractual arrangements which define events which have to be carried out (e.g. workshop, rally, fair, social audit) rather than appreciating the complexity of behaviour change outcomes of processes of policy dialogue. They are also concerned about the ’expert-driven’ design which may not match ground realities and may be ’one size fits all’ and constrains local innovation, creativity and activism. Increasingly CSOs choose not to avail these opportunities and those that do tell us it is often ’for survival’ They recognise that they share concern for the same end result as their contractors but do not agree on underlying ideologies and approaches.
5. Own designed projects Sharique through Swiss INGO (SDC) – LG

Promoting Democratic and Decentralised Governance (Danida) – LG
These programmes are designed in house (albeit with consultancy support) and then implemented through a project window. As projects they also are constrained by the project limitations and contracting rules. Since policy dialogue depends on social and political capital formation & takes time to affect results, these time-bound interventions are limited. Danida says that they have accommodated this in the design of Promoting Democratic and Decentralised Governance (PDDG) but nevertheless it is a three year programme. Sharique was competitively tendered. The ban on more than two terms of contracting impacts on continuity.
6. Funding through inter-mediaries SDC provides funds for the NLTA and LIC components of LGSP – LG

Danida and CIDA provide funds to CHT Facility managed by UNDP

CIDA funds through Aga Khan Foundation

Some support to CSOs has also come through MJF (local accountability of schools with DAM)
Development Bank and UN projects are Government led and where there are concerns about CSO activity then it is very difficult to include. Contracting rules may be contrary to CSO objectives and not appropriate for policy dialogue (seeabove).

DPs may not be too concerned about having a voice in some cases but where they are, this is vulnerable to marginalisation and it needs constant advocacy to ensure inclusion e.g. on policy advisory committees. LCG-LG is dominated by Government, World Bank and UNDP so discussion on CSO engagement is often limited.
7. Innovation & research Funds Planned LG Research Challenge Fund for 2013 (SDC) – LG and a UP Challenge Fund for innovation (although UPs will apply, some will be in partnership with CSOs)

Political Economy of LG research & decentralisation (SDC)

CIDA has a Knowledge Fund which can be used to fund issues such as democratic governance, participation and civil society (<CAD 500,000)
These are important pots of money but are often not well publicised and remain rather inaccessible for CSOs. SDC’s plan to establish a Challenge Fund for LG research is noteworthy and can be anticipated to meet some of the short fallin research in LG and may open this up to actors beyond the usual suspects.
8. Home country funding Regional Research Fund (LG and decentralisation chapter S. Asia) SDC– LG (2008-12)

Canadian Partnership Branch broker srelationship between Canadian organisation and local partners, provides grants (with some co-funding) for the Canadian organisation taking the lead on design and implementation of the programme,
These funds are often not well publicised and depend on contacts to secure.
9. Flexible funds SDC has a small action credit line up to 200,000 Swiss Francs per project which can be used for pilots (can be signed off by the Ambassador with simple concept note) e.g. used to commission TV programmes on LG. Some 80 interventions have benefited

Canada Fund managed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs will provide small grants (<CAD 50,000) around human rights and democracy, emerging issues, election related issues.

Sida has a ’Strategic Fund’ (5-10 million Swedish Kroner) for innovative initiatives– this was used for CAMPE’s Education Watch and Reality Checks. It can also re-allocate unused budgets up to SEK 50 million with Ambassador approval

Danida has 8 million Danish Kroner in ’unallocated funds’ to meet emerging opportunities within existing interventions.
These funds are no doubt very useful but CSOs cannot apply for them and they are at the discretion and promotion of the DP. This requires CSOs to build on-going relationships, particularly at ambassador level.
Other support
1. Government relation building All DPs and their ambassadors engage in promotion of issues with Government of Bangladesh (GoB) as well as intervention when projects and partners face problems with GoB The Local Consultative sub Groups (LCGs e.g. the Education LCG) served to bring together GOB and CSOs This is an important supporting role but one which CSOs are rarely informed about. Since it is has direct bearing on promoting policy dialogue and could help to provide of more invited spaces, it might be helpful is opportunities for CSOs to inform/advise Embassies of issues could be formalized.

DPs also have a role in facilitating access of CSOs to government departments, programmes and committees. This has worked particularly well in primary education.
2. Technical support DPs have funds to procure direct TA support for CSOs outside of project windows

At times the relevant DP staff had the technical competence to contribute to discussions and decisions in Education
This facility is used when DP’s CSO partners need special assistance e.g. M and E, Finance and accounting.

The support DFID provided previously in preparing “knowledge products”was appreciated.

The importance of having sectoral specialists in the DP offices was highlighted in the discussions in PE and LG.
3. International technical links SDC has helped to broker Hirondelle Foundation support for MMC and is brokering links between Nari Rajshata (Indian women’s movement) with Aparajita These can be very valuable to organisations, particularly learning from practitioners.

CAMPE and Action Aid Bangladesh links with Education International, the Commonwealth Education Fund, InternationalTeachers Unions and the International Campaign for Education have provided valuable strategies and technical inputs.
4. Placement of Young Professionals Sida placed a volunteer with Rupantar to develop TIE – PE

AusAID can help place Youth Ambassadors
Another valuable contribution and potentially especially so for policy dialogue related research and advocacy, where skills from developed countries can be shared (e.g. internet-based advocacy).

7.2 Relevance of DP support

One of the key complaints among CSOs is that DP funding support is determined by their priorities which are often global priorities. While these are recognised as being aligned with government priorities, the particular skew may not fit with CS reality and because many donors choose to focus on rather similar themes may result in overkill in some areas (e.g. climate change) and under-attention to other areas (e.g. decentralisation). The changing of priorities (based on geographic, security and thematic considerations) can have particularly profound effects on policy dialogue engagement which depends on social and political capital development and usually requires long time horizons to affect attitude and behavioural change.

CSOs working in policy dialogue find project and contract funding inappropriate. They lack flexibility (policy dialogue is unpredictable and there is the need to avoid duplication). These modalities often are designed to expect results too soon (social and political capital building takes time). They tend to emphasise numbers which often get conflated to inputs/outputs rather than outcomes which may involve structural, legislative, behaviour change) this is turn privileges service provision rather than process oriented approaches. The budgets are activity driven (despite the outcome rhetoric).[40] Some projects are ’expert designed’ and not necessarily contextual. Project and contract funding is not suitable for local issue-driven movements and is felt to suppress local innovation and activism. Bidding and contracting procedures promotes competition rather than collaboration and sharing (one of the essentials of good policy dialogue) and privileges ’professional bidders’ (with small, local and new actors disadvantaged) projects and contracts incur high transaction costs (particularly compared to core funding). The modality creates ’honey pot’ organisations which everyone wants to fund. There are numerous sad examples in Bangladesh of DPs deluging ’honey pots’ with funds beyond their absorptive capacity (and indeed their ideology and provenance) leading to mismanagement and sometimes corruption which has ended in the demise of the organisation.

This leads to another issue raised by CSOs, which is the need for donors to disburse large sums of money. Policy dialogue work is resource-light. Many CSOs do not want these vast sums and view them as a spoiler. DP staff are under pressure to spend and often prefer to keep the numbers of projects small for understandable reasons, but then do not support the CSOs adequately to manage these increased budgets. There is a pervasive failure to understand resource-light behaviour change programming within DP with only a few exceptions.

CSOs affirmed that where DPs develop their own projects they feel this can undermine their local activism, efforts and innovations. In these situations, DPs can be seen as competitors (SDC, MJF).

CSOs noted the critical importance of having DP staff with technical and field expertise. The nature of policy dialogue dictates that need for clear contextual, cultural understanding of how things work. The socio-psychological nature of engagement is best understood by those who have practiced in this field themselves. CSOs could identify those whom they felt were exceptionally helpful and noted how important this was to their work. The constant turnover of staff, especially foreign staff is another issue CSOs felt affected the relevance.

Despite the harmonisation agenda and instruments such as the LCG, there are significant overlaps, duplications and gaps in LG and PE policy dialogue.

CSOs felt that DPs have now become more demanding and controlling. While it is considered right and fair for them to demand international standards of financial accountability, CSOs felt less comfortable with the way they interfere in the organisation. They repeated to us that if they are accountable for results, why should DPs require excessive detail on how they achieved this or burden them with inordinate demands. They were particularly referring to the requirements to have staff policies, transport policies, gender policies communication policies etc. which incur high transaction costs and divert them from their core business. Many policy dialogue organisations are too small to need this wide array of policies. This is seen also as part of the trend to be ’less like partners’. CSOs indicated they feel less trusted, less respected and more like contractors irrespective of the mode of financing. This feeling is further fuelled by DPs increasing insistence on their own visibility (it is an integral element of most projects and an issue for mid and end of project evaluations). The visibility element can also affect independence which may be particularly important in policy dialogue work.

We met many CSOs, especially in LG, who eschew DP support mainly because it compromises their agility, independence and is ’too much’. They are key players and need small seed money, set up costs and technical assistance. All of these endorsed the idea of public access resources as a way to meet their needs, an idea further developed in Chapter 8.

7.3 How do DPs address the enabling and constraining factors

DPs provide strong support for the need for a vibrant CS and the democratic values that they uphold. They are gradually recognising the wider range of key CS actors beyond NGOs and differentiating the roles more strategically (for example recognising that LGAs are better placed to do central level LG advocacy than NGOs and understanding the different role of issue based movements). There are more attempts to find ways of supporting this diversity than when the DAC commissioned Citizens Voice and Accountability Study was conducted in 2008. They too express frustration with the lack of flexibility, length of time needed and limited agility to support policy dialogue action which is so often related to significant moments but they are still too defensive about the existing instruments as a major overhaul of the way CS policy dialogue work is supported is required.

Despite the rhetoric of support to create a vibrant CS, some of their actions result in distortion. Privileging some CSOs over others, creating competition for resources, emphasising external agendas over indigenous ones, promoting like-mindedness rather than debate and providing monetary incentives rather than nurturing voluntarism may have serious consequences for pluralistic ideals.

The Table above notes that DP funding modalities still fail to be sufficiently flexible and responsive when trying to support CSO engagement in policy dialogue. To add value to the financial resources DPs could do more to pressure Government to honour the pledges they have made (Constitution, manifestos, Five-year Plans, Vision 2012, CHT Peace Accord etc) to open up space for citizen engagement particularly in national policy dialogue.

[40] And this is further endorsed by NGOAB approval requirements.

8 Conclusions

Both the enabling environment and the context in which policy dialogue is to take place are key determinants of both the strategies that should be adopted, and the expectations of achievement with regard to CSO engagement in policy dialogue. There are minimum requirements in the enabling environment to support CSOs including legislation which confirms freedom of speech, freedom of association and right to information, state regulation of CSOs which is facilitating rather than controlling as well as a relatively free media.

Relationships between Government and CSOs

The relationship between Government and CSOs is critical but because a ’cosy relationship’ works in one thematic area does not mean that this is the preferred strategy.

In Bangladesh there has been a history of tensions between the NGO community and Government not least because of the preferential funding of NGOs during the period of military rule. Even now, government officials cite lack of resources as the reason for any shortcomings in service provision (e.g. health and education) compared to the NGO sector which they perceive as well resourced. These tensions affect the willingness to engage and even in the education case where relations are considered to have been improved over 20 or so years, there is still wariness among government officials about taking advice from the NGO sector.[41] In other areas there is an inevitability of contest rather than collaboration e.g. decentralisation issue.

Regulatory challenges

The regulatory bodies for CSOs are better suited to those providing services than ones engaged in research and policy dialogue. The constraints requiring assurance of non-involvement in political activities can be exploited to curtail or close down NGOs which may be seen as a threat to Government. CSOs active in policy dialogue increasingly see advantages in not being registered to avoid interference, ensure independence but also in recognition that civil society action is often around short-lived issues rather than needing to be organisation based. The downside is that without registration the CSO is not eligible for mainstream funding and may not be recognised for invited spaces. The CSOs of this type argue that their resource needs are minimal (and unsuitable for the large grants made by most donors) and they must be able to operate independently (a condition which is compromised by donors increasing need for ’visibility’).

Legislative environment

The legislative environment needs to be such that irrespective of the category of CSO or the issue which they promote freedoms are guaranteed. It is not acceptable for the Government regulatory body to threaten termination of registration or delay registration simply because they feel challenged. The lack of an ombudsman body and opportunities to publicise Government’s authoritarian actions (e.g. with regard to CHT CSOs and many of those working in LG) is a major constraint to pluralism.

CSO working arrangements

This case study has shown how the understanding of civil society has widened beyond NGOs and has given space to the emergence of diverse organisations including ones which purposely refrain from getting NGO Affairs Bureau approval in order to be able to work relatively freely. As the definition embraces professional organisations, Trade Unions, faith-based organisations, movements and the media it is becoming a norm for strategies for engagement to include this diversity. These diverse groups may not form coalitions but may come together from time to time to debate and support shared agendas. This newer form of networking rather than the conventional networks of like-minded groups needs to find support.

CSO effectiveness

The acceptance of the issue around which policy dialogue is taking place as a shared common good is a key determinant of the level of perceived CSO effectiveness.

The primary education case study demonstrates the most effective engagement of the four case studies and this is attributed to the fact that it is a public good, that NGOs make a significant contribution in service provision and there is critical mass in terms of CS voice comprising not only the NGO service providers but CSOs such as Teachers Associations, and increasingly, parent teachers associations and student voice. The supportive cross party parliamentary position, endorsement of international education declarations and strong donor presence through the SWAP make for invited spaces to be relatively available for policy dialogue around education. Government was not always so positive and the last decades were fraught with tensions, stand-offs and refusal to engage. The gains now enjoyed are the result of more than 20 years of social and political capital accumulation and the determination and passion of the leading networks. CAMPE in particular weathered ups and downs but ultimately survived because of the combined support of the leading education-focused NGOs and the motivation inspired by the founders around non formal education.

Particular strategies only work in the right context

The LG case demonstrates the unpredictability of lobbying and engagement. Only since the enactment of the recent LG Acts has civil society invited space become a legal requirement. The provenance of these progressive provisions is widely regarded as less to do with civil society pressure and more because of Government’s own experience of the benefits through nearly 30 years of participatory action within large scale local infrastructure projects. There is a prevailing feeling that making concessions to participation at the most local level has been an easier process for Government than acceding control of central resources. Whatever the political motives, these local level spaces are very significant and most CSO action is concentrated on making these work. In contrast to the primary education case study, as a result of years of voter education, rights based work and more recently capacity building of LG and their associations, the main weight of policy dialogue engagement is at local rather than central level. In primary education the achievements in influencing the Education Policy and the SWAps, while built on experience of the many local NGO service providers, happened at central level. The shift to local level focus will happen next with the realisation that efforts to implement the policy and ensure compliance will require concentration on more local level advocacy. These cases show that strategies are necessarily different depending on where achievements can be made; education has focused at central level and needs to become localised whereas the LG situation is the reverse.

Challenges in CSOs claiming space

There is often a disconnect between Government stated intentions (e.g. manifestos, Five-year Plans etc.) and reality. Thus, for example invited spaces for LG, CHT land rights and food security are limited. For CHT land rights the CSOs feel these spaces are tokenistic as the issues remain at an impasse. In all three themes there are vested interests which resist more open dialogue. The frustration concerning the lack of invited space and inability to undertake informal lobbying (so fruitful in primary education) leads CSOs to take claimed space action. But here they lack sophistication. Their voices are drowned out by a crowded space of similar actions (rallies, round tables, human chains etc.) where the issues are often subordinated in the media to the disruption caused or the personalities involved. Strategic lobbying and advocacy is constrained by weak evidence gathering and limited capacity as well as the risks perceived in being seen to be critical of Government.

Donor funding modalities

The current donor funding modalities are on the whole inappropriate for supporting a vibrant civil society capable of engaging in policy dialogue at all levels and in a range of formal and informal spaces. Strategies for engagement vary widely depending on the context and there is a need for both long-term support and highly responsive and flexible support for key moments (i.e. tipping points) which cannot always be predicted. Even where core funding is available which CSOs feel gives them the most flexibility to respond to key advocacy moments and spaces, it is still time bound and often too large and burdened with unrealistic expectations and inappropriate instruments to measure change. The funding modalities insufficiently address the need for secured long-term support required for the long haul building of social and political capital which eventually yields results in terms of legitimacy of the organisation and its capabilities to engage. The changing of donor priorities is particularly problematic. The lessons learned in Chapter 9 provide alternatives which may meet the needs of the diverse range of CSOs needed to influence government decisions and hold them to account.

As noted in Chapter 4, the prevailing imperative of DPs to contain transaction costs (more with less) has limited funding flexibility to fund advocacy and research type CSO by increasing the size of available grants and reducing the numbers of grantees. The funds available tend to privilege large over small, established over emerging, scale-up over innovation, Dhaka based over local organisations and those which are effective professional ’bidders’ or known entities (referred to as DP darlings). CSOs outside of the NGO sector such as movements, Trade Unions and non-formal volunteer based organisations as well as ones considered high risk such as political parties, some activist groups and faith based groups are largely excluded from conventional donor funding and depend on membership fees or individual or interest based philanthropy.

Assessing what works and what does not

The ToC for engagement in policy dialogue need further research. Questions of cause and effect are still unclear. For example, are confrontational approaches more effective than collaborative ones (or appropriate in some situations and not others)? Is dissent an important element to force better elaboration of positions and more rigorous evidence-collection? If so what is the right mix of support to like-minded coalitions and support to a mix of diverse voices? Are drip-drip approaches more effective than spontaneous outbursts of public discontent? Perhaps in some cases and not others. CAMPE feels that the relationship it has built with Government over many years allows it to be more influential but primary education is a thematic area where everyone is supportive of positive change but the case study notes that DPs complain that they are not critical enough. Perhaps other areas such as local government reform will not budge unless there is contestation. There is no ’one size fits all’ and DP support need to recognise the importance of context and the nature of the policy dialogue. Development aid needs to ensure that the CS engagement benefits from the dynamism emerging from diverse actors being included and newly emerging voices.

[41] E.g. BRAC is responsible for a major portion of primary school provision but a row initially ensued when it was suggested that they should provide training to government teachers.

9 Lessons learned

The following lessons learned were shared with the CSOs who attended the Reflection on Findings Workshop on March 18th, 2012 and the DPs on March 25th. Their inputs were incorporated into the formulation of these lessons.

1. Better way of measuring results of policy dialogue

There is an urgent need to develop better articulated indicators and better instruments to measure both the process and outcomes of CSO engagement in policy dialogue. Whilst these remain vague and inappropriate this kind of work is will continue to be undervalued and will be vulnerable to unfair comparison with service provision projects where impact measures are more straightforward. CSOs are often aware that there are examples of better measurement tools but have not had the resources to identify, develop and customise these for their needs. This is a key area to technical assistance development (and should be linked to Lesson 5).

2. Better underlying principles

The issues noted in Chapter 7 relating to how DP assistance can distort the development of vibrant civil society need to be taken seriously and discussed openly so that a common code of practice can be developed among donors and CSOs to guide CSO action around voice and accountability. Some donors seem to be unaware that while they share an understanding of what they intend to achieve in policy dialogue their underlying ideologies and approaches may be diverse and contradictory.

3. Better funding modalities

DPs already recognise that their funding mechanisms do not necessarily meet the demands of CSO engagement in policy dialogue and their efforts to find alternatives need to be encouraged. These can include the establishment of Trust Funds for particular vital public good institutions involved in policy dialogue or supportive research, support for Foundations, block grants to International civil society Foundations for onward support to local CSOs as well as the options explained more fully in Lesson 4 and Lesson 5. Consideration can be made to ring fence funds within the large SWAP programmes for civil society engagement (including participation in planning, monitoring and preparing independent reports and position papers a ’voice and accountability window’) It also needs to be recognised that much of the policy dialogue work is just that; ’dialogue’; explaining, informing, convincing people through informal means a well as networking and strategising. These actions need to have salary apportionments to budget lines which in turn will require formal reporting and justification of time but most importantly ensures that these processes are fully reported. DPs need to recognise that the skills set required for central level advocacy may require concomitant salaries.

4. Funding policy dialogue themes holistically

Taking a thematic approach to this study rather than an organisation based approach as was done in the DAC commissioned Citizen Voice and Accountability Study (2008), has highlighted the importance of the right mix of skills and actors to affect change. Just as donor work in consortia, the idea of CSOs working in thematic implementation consortia defined by programme support could be considered. The right strategic mix of actors should be supported under a single umbrella to ensure collaboration and synergy so often absent from the silo approach to funding that currently exists. These consortia would include the range of CSOs needed to make change happen e.g. research, grass roots activists, lobbying groups, legal services, media, IT services. This would privilege good knowledge management and strategic advocacy. While current project designs may intend for this to happen it often fail to realise these aspirations as project implementers become inward looking.

5. Resources for All

Consideration may be given to a possible funding window which provides a more level playing field as it seeks to provide public access information, resources and support. This will allow growth of a diverse civil society. It responds to the need for CSOs of different types including short-term issue-based movements, volunteer groups, small and local groups to access resources without becoming NGOs and applying for grants and project support. The support can take many forms:

Funding directories (local, philanthropy, private sector, diaspora etc.), finance and accounting manuals, tax clarification, planning and evaluation tools, generic gender and human resource policies, advocacy and lobbying guidelines and a whole range of other ’How to Manuals’ as well as essential sector information (research, studies, training manuals etc.) which could be publicly available (e.g. online). Organisations could also benefit from bulk-bought services such as accounting and auditing, insurance services, tax advice, web-site development and hosting. Recognising that there is a disconnect between the supply of volunteers and the demand for their services, virtual skills banks could be developed to link those with skills and a available time to offer to organisations through online networks. The idea is not unlike Third Sector facilities available in the UK.

6. Independent research

There is an urgent need for high quality independent research in all of the thematic areas covered by this case study and probably in other areas too. What exists is tends to be scattered and may also be linked with interests (e.g. connecting to new or continuing funds or needs to prove achievements) rather than genuinely independent. Policy dialogue must have better links to independently generated evidence. SDC’s plan to establish a LG Research Challenge Fund is a step in the right direction. Possible funding of Third Sector studies and specific course in advocacy and citizen engagement within Universities could also be considered.

7. Overhaul of the regulatory arrangements for CSOs

Among CSOs there is considerable support for the notion of transforming the current complex and scattered regulatory functions of the NGO Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Social Welfare, Cooperatives, Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, and Ministry of Youth Development under a single umbrella somewhat like the Charities Commission in UK. It is recognised that efforts have been made before but lacked the concerted support of the donor community. As well as providing a better service to CSOs a more credible commission/accreditation body would be tasked with raising the public image of CSOs and conferring legitimacy. A careful step by step approach to supporting the revamp of CS registration would be required which would include legislation to create a government department which cannot be influenced by political government or by the sector it is intended to regulate.

8. Global bridges

Just as embassies create links between business interests between their home country and host country civil society links could be given more focus. This would be a valuable way to support the development of civil society and provide mutual exposure to issues as well as to possibilities for technical transfer.

9. Development Partners openness to CS scrutiny

As DPs promote transparency and accountability between civil society and Government, they could also consider ways to enhance their engagement with CSOs beyond funding partnerships and websites. Their policies, programmes and priorities and achievement claims could be open for scrutiny and collaborative dialogue.

10. CSO own Code of Conduct and self-regulation

The CSO community is like any other sector in Bangladesh and has its own ’bad apples’. TIB’s review of NGO governance (2007) revealed much that NGOs should be concerned about. Those involved in policy dialogue need to be especially vigilant of behaviour which can undermine collective advocacy efforts and which can be used to discredit these. Consideration needs to be given to the development of a code of practice (perhaps like the Integrity Pledge TIB has introduced for service providers) to raise an awareness of issues of legitimacy, accountability and ethics.

Annex A Terms of Reference

Joint donor evaluation of Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue DRAFT ToR for Country Case Study Bangladesh

1.1 Objective

The purpose of the case studies is to provide an in-depth analysis of how CSOs engage in policy dialogue, what outcomes they have achieved and what factors have contributed to them.

1.2 Scope

The main focus of the evaluation is the effectiveness of CSOs in policy dialogue. More specifically, the evaluation focuses on three key issues:

  • CSO effectiveness: What are the ways in which CSO engagement in (country) policy dialogue is most effective – and what does this mean for how this can be facilitated in the future?[42]
  • Enabling and disabling conditions: What are the enablers and barriers to CSO engagement (at country level) – and how could they be addressed?
  • DP policies and strategies: How can DPs most effectively support and facilitate (directly and indirectly) increased civil society engagement at country level?

Based on the identification of a long-list of policy processes and discussions during the Scoping Exercise in Bangladesh, four policy processes have been selected by the Evaluation Management Group for the case study:

1.3 Sources of information and approach

Local Governance Education Minority Rights Food Security (mini case study)
a) Stakeholder to be consulted

- CSOs
See detailed table included in inception report See detailed table included in inception report See detailed table included in inception report ActionAid International
- others Responsible agency for the current government Digital Bangladesh initiative which seeks ,among other things, to engage citizens online

Local Government Division.
Ministry of Education, PEDP 3

Workshop with constituents such as teachers associations and parent teacher associations
National Human Rights Commission World Food Programme


Ministry of Food and Disaster management

International Food Policy research Institute
b) Other sources of information Local Government directives and recent amendments to Local Government Act

Donor programme documents

Documentation of best practice

Minutes and reports of local government professional associations

Media reports
Government policy documents

Government programme documents and Five-year plan

Donor programme documents

Donor sector policy documents

Donor background research reports

Shadow policy produced by CSOs

Position papers presented by CSOs

Results of informal networking

Public interest litigation

Reports of Round Tables, workshops, consultations

Case studies prepared by CSOs or donors

Research reports by bodies such as the Education Watch, universities, research

Newspaper reports

Position paper prepared by CSOs

Reports of workshops, round tables, consultations

Constitution of Bangladesh and Chittagong Hill Tract Peace Accord

Media coverage

Limited CSO involvement – position papers
c) Cross checking Plan to get views of local level civil society and test out some descriptions of processes by ’participant observation ’e.g. joining watchdog committees, school management committees, Union Parishad standing committees etc in action preferably through our own initiatives and not facilitated by concerned CSOs

Feedback on findings at the end of the case study period with those involved in the scoping study. The team suggests using Skype to engage small groups and avoid the traffic issues. This may also allow to include people who are outside of Bangladesh as key people are often travelling outside Dhaka/abroad

There will be some of findings on cross checking of enabling and disabling conditions by the fact that the team is looking at three different policy dialogue/influencing issues and a diverse range of CSOs and CS action beyond the usual suspects
d) Practicalities: how this can be done within the available time and resource Labour division: All Bangladesh team members are highly familiar with the context and the specific policy areas. All have their networks of contacts on the themes and feel fairly confident that this could work. They also have knowledge of each other’s themes which can provide useful insights. We all have experience across these areas and can provide important links and insights

The plan is that each team member takes one policy area. Thomas takes minority rights (with a particular focus on land issues), Maheen takes primary education (with particular focus on the education policy 2010 and the Primary Education SWAp (2011) and Dee takes LG (with a particular focus on the adoption of participatory process in LG which has now been enshrined in recent government ordinances as well as the increasing opportunities for LG to influence policy and practice through their own professional associations as part of CS)

Food security will be treated as a mini case study as it is both hugely important and yet, curiously, appears to have little CSO involvement in policy dialogue. CSOs are active in service delivery but rarely in advocacy. We want to ask why? Maheen, Thomas and Dee will put our combined efforts into trying to understand this

1.4 Activities and responsibilities

The process for the case studies includes the following activities:

  • Preparation and document review; (document findings on results in template provided)
  • Select key stakeholders and informants to be interviewed
  • Individual interviews – based on Evaluation Framework, interview guidelines and reporting matrices
  • Field visits which will include local level FGD, process analysis
  • Verification workshops with CSOs involved in the selected policy processes
  • Team reflections and analysis
  • Debriefing with involved DPs

The division of tasks and responsibilities within the team will be as follows:

Team leader (Dee) Overall responsibility for the study including i. study management, ii. liaising with DPs iii leading the analysis and iv. report completion

Facilitate team briefings, reflection and analysis

Facilitate Dhaka level feedback workshops

Responsible for Case Study 1: Local Governance (public participation)

Joint responsible for mini case study: Food Security (why limited CSO participation?)
Team member (Maheen) Responsible for Case Study 2: Primary Education (Education Policy and PEDP3)

Joint responsible for mini case study: Food Security (why limited CSO participation?)

Coordinate logistics for joint activities
Team member (Thomas) Responsible for Case Study 3: Minority Rights (land issues)

Joint responsible for mini case study: Food Security (why limited CSO participation?)

For each of the policy processes, the team members will:

  • Conduct documents review and preparatory interviews, to identify policy changes and attempts at policy change and key actors
  • Identify CSOs for case studies (but keeping an awareness of CS action outside of CSO action)
  • Identify additional stakeholders and informants from among government, INGOs, media, academia, Trade/Professional Unions and Associations, individual key informants etc.
  • Join team meeting to tentatively formulate the specific theories of change (rationale) which has guided the different actors in engaging in policy dialogue
  • With point of departure in Evaluation Framework for the Case Study phase (Annex 1) undertake interviews, focus groups and collect information/data related to the policy processes
  • Conduct community and/or institutional visits to crosscheck information, as feasible and appropriate
  • Join team meetings to analyse the available information and data by applying the instruments presented in the toolbox below
  • Organise verification workshop which includes a wider group of stakeholders (e.g. INGOs, media, academia, donors, individual key informants)
  • Join final debriefing/presentation with participating donors.

[42] The term “CSO effectiveness” emphasises the effectiveness of CSOs as development actors (see OECD 2010, Civil society effectiveness).

Annex B Methodology and Conceptual Framework

Evaluation of civil society engagement in policy dialogue – conceptual framework to guide case study approach and analysis

The purpose of this paper is to present the key conceptual elements for this evaluation, the linkages between them and how they will be approached through the case study. The paper will serve as guidance for country teams during the main study phase.

1. Overview

This evaluation revolves around three key questions:

  • CSO effectiveness: What are the ways in which CSO engagement in (country) policy dialogue is most effective – and what does this mean for how this can be facilitated in the future?
  • Enabling and disabling conditions: What are the enablers and barriers to CSO engagement (at country level) – and how could they be addressed?
  • DP policies and strategies: How can DPs most effectively support and facilitate (directly and indirectly) increased civil society engagement at country level?

In order to answer these questions, the evaluation will have to develop an in-depth understanding of what CSO strategies for engagement in policy dialogue are, what outcomes they have achieved and what factors have contributed to their success or failure. In addition it has to review how DPs have supported CSO engagement in policy dialogue and how relevant and responsive their support of CSO was within the country context. In-depth analysis of policy processes and CSO engagement in them will be done through case studies.

The case studies will look at the links CSO effectiveness in policy dialogue, the enabling and disabling factors and the role that DP support has played. The three main conceptual elements for this evaluation and the specific concepts that will be used to analyse them are shown in the figure below.

Figure 3 Overview of key concepts and linkages for this evaluation

Figure 3 Overview of key concepts and linkages for this evaluation

The key concepts that have been studied during inception include:

  • Types of CSO strategies to engage in policy dialogue
  • Policy dialogue and what it means within a given context
  • The enabling environment and how it defines the space for policy dialogue.

The key linkages which will be investigated through case studies during the main phase include:

  • Key enabling and disabling factors and how they affect CSO choice of strategies
  • Policy dialogue: How CSOs access and use the space for policy dialogue, and
  • What entry points they use into policy cycle?
  • What are the successes and failures of CSO engagement in policy dialogue?
  • What are the (process) outcomes with regard to policy change?

In addition the figure contains several variables that influence CSO strategies and their outcomes on policy dialogue. They will be an important part of the explanatory models describing how CSOs have influenced policy change (Theory of Change, see below).

Below we present the key concepts for this evaluation, and then explain how we will investigate the linkages between them through the case studies. Since most of the evidence for this evaluation will be collected through case studies of different policy areas set in the contexts of three different countries we will use checklists and standardised reporting formats to analyse and present the key concepts for this evaluation. This approach will support comparative analysis during the synthesis stage. We therefore developed detailed typologies and checklists for analysis of the key concepts which will help us to identify common features across case studies.

The evaluation will look at DP support from different angles: From a general perspective, whether DP policies and strategies (in principle) support effective CSO engagement in policy dialogue; and from a country perspective, whether DP support practices enable (or perhaps prevent) a more effective role of CSOs – thus becoming part of the enabling and disabling factors. The latter will be done as part of the case studies. Analysis of DP policies and strategies at HQ level will be done through an institutional assessment tool (7 Cs) which is presented separately.[43]

2. Key concepts

2.1 CSO strategies to engage in policy dialogue

Based on suggestions from CIDA during inception and other sources[44] we have developed a typology of CSO engagement in policy dialogue. The typology contains a number of strategies, which CSOs use to – directly or indirectly – influence policy makers. This includes highly visible strategies, like advocacy, campaigning and demonstrations, but also less-visible strategies, such as networking and evidence-based studies. Policy dialogue is often perceived as direct engagement between CSO and government only, but there are other ways (particularly highlighted by Northern CSO consulted during inception) through which CSO contribute to policy processes, for example through training, education, community mobilisation and projects that are piloting innovative practices. Donors often tend to focus on the formalised dialogue, which is more visible to them, but country stakeholders emphasised that it is often the informal forms of dialogue that are effective. This evaluation understands that there are different ways of engaging in policy dialogue. In order to be able to assess the effectiveness we need to understand (and structure) the diversity. Checklist 1 thus shows the different forms of CSO engagement, clustered into four main types.

Checklist 1 CSO strategies for engagement in policy dialogue
Types of CSO strategies in policy dialogue
(as used during scoping studies)
Questions for case study analysis
Direct & formalised dialogue

Advocacy campaigns

Participation in sector or PRSP planning

Support social accountability

Evidence-based studies and research

Direct & informal dialogue

Ad-hoc communication at central level

Ad-hoc communication at local level

Insider lobbying

Protests and demonstrations

Policy analysis and debate

Indirect contribution to dialogue

Information, education and training

Projects piloting innovative practices

Community mobilisation for feedback and advocacy

No dialogue

Community mobilisation for policy implementation (no feedback mechanisms included)

Service delivery
How effective are these strategies on their own and in combination to achieve outcomes on policy change, given the existing enabling and disabling conditions?

Relevant evaluation questions: EQ6, EQ11,

The case studies will cover different types of dialogue, both formal and informal.

We therefore used this typology to guide the selection of policy areas where different types of dialogue. For example, the Mozambique study selected “Budget Planning and Monitoring” as a policy area, where for direct and formal dialogue, and “Dissemination of the law on violence against women” as a case for direct and informal dialogue.

The case studies will revisit the typology in order to determine which strategies (on their own or in combination) have been effective in influencing policy dialogue, given the existing enabling and disabling conditions.

2.2 Policy dialogue

Policy dialogue is a broad concept which different stakeholders understand and interpret in different ways. For foreign governments and donors policy dialogue often refers to the (formal) dialogue at government level. For country stakeholders, policy dialogue both refers to dialogue between government and civil society and within civil society. The Uganda scoping study thus distinguishes between “vertical” and “horizontal” dialogue.

It is important to understand the process nature of policy dialogue. Policy dialogue involves ongoing negotiation of ideas, relations and power; thus, it is a process for establishing legitimacy (as pointed out by the Uganda study), for mutual learning and for influencing. The process nature of policy dialogue also means that it extends beyond “policy making” into implementation, review and revision of policies. The ToR for this evaluation thus demands a study of policy dialogue throughout policy development and implementation.

In the context of this evaluation dialogue is understood as a way of influencing policy processes. In order to conceptualise how policy processes work and what the entry points for influencing are the evaluation uses the policy cycle tool. The policy cycle tool describes the phases of policy development and implementation at iterative process (see figure below). Effective CSO strategies use various entry points into the policy cycle to influence policy processes.

Figure 4 Possible CSO entry points into policy cycle tool

Figure 4 Possible CSO entry points into policy cycle tool

2.3 Enabling environment for CSO effectiveness

For “civil society to flourish it requires a favourable enabling environment, which depends upon the actions and policies of all development actors – donors, governments and CSOs themselves.”[45] The scoping study have conducted a systematic review of dimensions the defining the enabling environment in the context of case study countries, based on documents review and using Checklist 2 below.

Checklist 2 Enabling environment[46]
Elements of an enabling environment
(as used for scoping studies)
Questions for analysis of case studies
Legal and judicial system and related mechanisms through which CSOs or their constituencies can seek legal recourse

parliamentary system and opportunities for CSO to build alliances with members of parliament

Power and power relations (between CSO and Government; relations between CSOs and citizens, CSOs and other CSOs and the private sector)

to promote philanthropy and corporate social responsibility

Mechanisms to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights to expression, peaceful assembly and association, and access to information

CSO-specific policies such as CSO legislation and taxation regulations including charitable status provisions

Regulations and norms promoting CSO transparencyand accountability to their constituencies

Access to funding (and role of donors); ability to mobilise resources (financial, skills, people, in kind contributions)

Ethnic and social issues, economic structures
Whether certain aspects of the enabling framework can explain the success or failure of CSO strategies. (EQ15)?

How elements of the enabling framework define the space for policy dialogue.

To what extent DP strategies address critical aspects of the enabling framework in order to support an effective CSO role in policy dialogue (EQ 16)?

What other factors have influenced CSO engagement in policy dialogue (EQ 14, EQ 15)

For the purpose of this evaluation we understand “enabling environment” as the formal conditions under which CSOs develop their strategies. More specifically, certain elements of the enabling environment will determine the space for CSOs to participate in policy dialogue. The power cube is useful to conceptualise the power relations that – as part of the enabling environment – define the space for policy dialogue. It can help to explain how CSOs have been able to access and use spaces for influence (and power), such as policy dialogue. The power cube distinguishes between invited, claimed and contested spaces for participation. The conceptual aspects (and terminology) of the power cube are useful to map the inclusiveness of spaces for CSO participation. But the nature of policy processes transcending several spaces is often difficult to capture within the categories suggested by the power cube.

2.4 Enabling and disabling conditions

After the scoping studies it was felt that the concept of enabling environment was somehow restricted to covering the formal conditions for policy dialogue only. The conclusion was that a wider concept was needed to also cover the informal conditions that facilitate or restrain CSO engagement in policy dialogue. It was suggested to use the concept of enabling and disabling conditions instead which would cover a wider range of factors, including those relating to DP support and CSO internal factors. Checklist 3 (below) provides a selection of factors which have been identified during the inception phase.

The practical way of broadening the analysis beyond the concept of environment will be to look back at the contextual factors (both formal and informal) that have shaped CSO strategies and outcomes as part of the case studies. The case studies will revisit the analysis of the enabling environment prepared during the scoping studies in order to identify the formal factors that have determined the space for engagement in policy dialogue (using Checklist 2). Furthermore, the case studies will identify any additional factors that have affected CSO strategies and outcomes (using Checklist 3).

The identification of factors that have affected CSO engagement in policy dialogue will be a major element of the case study analysis. Naturally, this part of the analysis will be done in conjunction with the analysis of CSO strategies and outcomes. Key factors will be identified through CSO focus group discussions, using participatory tools, such as SWOT or force field analysis. Based on our initial understanding from documents review and scoping studies we have identified key factors explaining CSO effectiveness in policy dialogue. Our preliminary understanding is that CSO effectiveness is determined by a number of factors, some of them are external, and others are internal. Checklist 3 presents key factors for consideration during the case studies, some of them directly linked to the “enabling conditions” (space, government attitude); others are CSO-related factors (CSO legitimacy, capacity and networks). The case studies will use these (and any additional factors identified during the study) to identify which factors are key for CSO effectiveness and integrate them into the theory of change for a given policy area.

Checklist 3 Factors explaining effective CSO engagement in policy dialogue[47]
Factors affecting CSO engagement in policy dialogue Questions for case study analysis
Factors relating to the enabling conditions: What are the key factors influencing whether CSO engage in policy dialogue (EQ 14)?

What are the main enabling and constraining factors that affect CSO engagement (EQ 15)?

To what extent have DP support strategies addressed these factors (EQ 15)?

Spaces for policy dialogue

  • Transparent, accessible and inclusive space
  • Regular and systematic opportunities for participation, covering all stages of policy process
  • Shared principles, including recognition of the value of each stakeholder group’s voice, mutual respect, inclusiveness, accessibility, clarity, transparency, responsibility and accountability


  • Attitudes and behaviour
  • Capacities, skills and knowledge
Factors relating to the policy process itself:

Policy issue and process:

  • Nature of the policy issue (e.g. how controversial)
  • Timing of policy process
  • Access to information
CSO internal factors:

CSO legitimacy, capacity and networks

  • CSO strategic clarity and focus on opportunities
  • CSO capacities, funds and knowledge
  • CSO Strategic alliances and networks
  • CSO sound evidence and analysis
  • CSO legitimacy

3. Establishing linkages through case studies

3.1 Towards a “practical” theory of change for case studies

The scoping studies have established the main conceptual building blocks; in the following, the main study will interrogate the linkages between CSO strategies on policy dialogue and policy change outcomes through a case study approach.

The purpose of the case studies will be to provide an in-depth analysis of how CSO strategies have contributed to policy outcomes. One challenge in measuring influence through policy dialogue is that organisations often claim to be influential (also to justify the support they receive) and that the evidence to support these claims often relates to low-level outcomes or even outputs. Furthermore the very nature of policy work, involving multiple interventions by numerous actors and a wide range of external factors, complicates the analysis of causality and attribution. It will therefore be critical to establish plausible links between CSO strategies and policy change. This will be done through a “practical” theory of change for each policy area, which we will develop through a participatory process involving various stakeholders and sources to enable crosschecking and verification.

The theory of change is a technique to structure our understanding how CSO strategies have contributed to policy outcomes. As a visual tool the theory of change depicts the pathways that lead from specific activities of individual CSOs to wider policy changes, thus establishing causal linkages through interactive stakeholder analysis.

Figure 5 Linking strategies to outcomes through a “practical” theory of change

Figure 5 Linking strategies to outcomes through a “practical” theory of change

A major aspect in developing the theory of change is to test the plausibility of perceptions (and claims) around policy dialogue outcomes, using a two-way approach:

Working forwards from strategy to outcomes: We review CSOs and their achievements vis-à-vis objectives and any evidence on outcomes achieved. This will be done through meta-analysis of the available data in CSO reports, using the checklist on outcome indicators above (see Checklist 2). Claims about outcomes and impacts made in the documentation can be cross-checked through interviews and focus group discussions. However, where documentation is limited, the use of other techniques, such as Appreciative Inquiry, can be used to inquire into the aspiration of CSOs and pathways towards achieving those. To triangulate CSO self-perceptions with other sources, we will conduct short “reality checks” by visiting other organisations, communities etc. as feasible and appropriate. Through participatory analysis the team will assess what issues led to identified policy changes by a process of tracing and uncovering the steps through which outcomes have been generated, exploring how and why decisions or practices were executed and what the role of the different stakeholders were in that process. This will be done through the process analysis tool.

Working backwards from impact to outcomes: This means we identify key policy changes (impacts) and identify the role that CSOs have played in it. As a first step we will review the available literature (studies, evaluations etc.) to establish wider policy changes. We will then interrogate any linkages between those changes and the outcomes that CSOs have achieved through group discussions, which involves a wider range of (CSO and non CSO) stakeholders, including representatives from government, think tanks etc. Force field analysis will be a useful tool to understand the dynamics of change and the role different actors have played in it through a process of interactive analysis.

3.2 Outcomes of policy dialogue

For the case studies it is important to break down the concept of influence into (intermediate) outcomes from specific CSO strategies that can already be observed and long-term policy changes. Intermediate (process) outcomes are important to trace CSO influence in policy dialogue. In some cases it may be possible to link policy changes, like the adoption of new policies or the implementation of policies, directly linked to CSO inputs, e.g. through provision of policy papers of proposals that have been taken up. In other cases, CSOs only had an indirect influence, e.g. through framing issues or raising awareness through media campaigns. However, in most cases it may only be possible to measure the intermediate (process) outcomes of CSO strategies that will eventually lead to more effective engagement in policy dialogue. Intermediate outcomes leading to more effective engagement of CSOs in policy dialogue include strengthened organisational capacity, strengthened alliances and strengthened base of support.

The checklist below will serve as guidance for the identification of (intermediate and policy change) outcomes through the case studies.

Checklist 4 Measuring influence – Possible outcomes of CSO engagement in policy dialogue[48]
CSO intermediate (process) outcomes CSO inputs into policy dialogue Change outcomes

Strengthened organisational capacity

  • Improved management including transparency and accountability
  • Improved capacity to communicate messages
  • Increased voice and demands for accountability
  • Increased participation in civil society-state space

Strengthened alliances

  • Increased number of partner supporting an issue
  • Improved level of collaboration
  • Improved harmonisation of efforts
  • Increased number of strategic alliances

Strengthened base of support

  • Increased public involvement in an issue
  • Changes in voter behaviour
  • Increased media coverage
  • Increased awareness of messages among specific groups
  • Increased visibility

Direct Inputs into policy dialogue

  • Research
  • “White papers”
  • Policy proposals
  • Lessons from pilots projects
  • Policy briefings
  • Watchdog function

Indirect inputs into policy dialogue

  • Setting an agenda
  • Framing issues
  • Media campaign

Policy changes

  • Policy development
  • Policy adoption
  • Policy implementation
  • Policy enforcement

Shift in social norms

  • Changes in awareness of an issue
  • Changes in perceptions
  • Changes in attitudes and values

4. The case study approach

4.1 Process for case studies

The advantage of using case studies for this evaluation is that they will enable an in-depth and contextualised analysis of complex concepts and linkages surrounding CSO engagement in policy dialogue by focussing on a specific policy area. Case studies tend to take a more open approach which allows factors and issues that are not anticipated or well understood at this stage to be explored. The evaluation will conduct two to three case studies in each country. The case study approach needs to be flexible and adaptive, based on the conceptual framework outlined above.

The case studies will make use of existing documentation to the extent possible; however, we expect that the linkages will mainly be assessed on the basis of information derived from stakeholder interviews and focus groups. Analysis therefore needs to be systematic and involve steps for crosschecking and verification.

The case study process will used nine basic steps which are illustrated in the figure below.

Figure 6 Process for case studies

Figure 6 Process for case studies

4.2 Principles for data collections

Triangulation: Time and resources for the country studies are limited. The teams will need to focus their efforts on capturing a variety of data sources on each topic and triangulate findings between different resources and perspectives to the extent possible. The main data sources that will be consulted include the following:

  • CSOs working within the policy areas: The selection of CSOs for case studies will include different types of CSOs (national, local, networks, CBOs etc.) and CSO strategies (as identified through the typology above). CSO own documents and reports will provide evidence on their strategies, the activities conducted and any results achieved. Gaps within the written documentation will need to be filled in through CSO oral accounts. Focus groups with CSOs selected as case studies will help to identify the key enabling and disabling factors that have led to their success or failure. These findings must be crosschecked through consultation of other sources, such as those listed in the following.
  • Other civil society actors engaged in the policy area: Representatives from movements, associations, self-help groups, campaigns etc. will be a valuable source for gaining additional insights on how the existing space for policy dialogue has been used by other organisations. These sources should be used to the extent possible to triangulate findings from case studies, in particular with regard to the enabling and disabling conditions. In addition, journalists and parliamentarians with a good knowledge of the policy area should be consulted as source of information and for verification of findings.
  • Members of CSO constituencies should be consulted where possible to clarify issues around case study CSO strategies, in particular with regard to questions around CSO accountability and legitimacy.
  • Independent think-tanks and experts with a specific knowledge of the policy can provide analysis into what has been achieved (outcomes) and what the key barriers have been. They may also have (independent) views on what the achievements of different types of CSOs have been. The team will identify academics and/or consultants as resources persons.
  • Government departments at central and local level with specific responsibilities within the policy area can provide (written and oral) information to verify outcomes on policy changes (e.g. budgets that have been revised; decisions that have been taken; plans that have been developed through a consultative process). The team should in particular look out for those in charge of innovative government initiatives that are likely to spearhead future policy change. In addition visits to government department might be required to cross-check CSO information on barriers resulting from government action. (Government laws and regulations contributing to the enabling and disabling conditions have already been reviewed as part of the scoping studies, but the team might identify additional documents in relation to the selected policy process.)
  • Donors and International NGOs will be consulted not only as stakeholders for this evaluation, but also as a source of information. They may have undertaken previous analysis on certain policy issues already and they probably have a good overview of who the main actors are, which can guide the selection of CSOs for case studies.
  • Media reports and websites are also an important source to consult during the preparation of case studies.

Any additional sources will be identified for specific policy areas as part of the case study preparation.

Selectivity: Because of the limited time and resources available the team needs to be selective in the way it uses different sources. Selectivity means that the team has to be conscious what the minimum amount of sources is to allow qualified findings. The implication of this is that the quality and utility of individual sources must be critically assessed and potential biases be addressed.

Spread: What the available sources are will depend on the country and policy issues. Whatever the sources are, it is important to ensure a good spread across a variety of sources, geographical, social, economic and political. Within the short time available a good spread can be achieved through careful selection of informants (during preparation), use of online communication tools (Skype) or phone interviews and use of focus groups.

Innovation: The teams should be innovative in their approach to data collection, look outside those data sources that have been well covered by previous studies and consult people, organisations and initiatives that may bring in a fresh perspective and add new insights.

Labour division: For each team, team members will spread out to cover different policy areas. There will be similar issues cutting across several policy areas (such as the enabling and disabling conditions) where team members will be able to collect data from different sources (and cross-check their findings.

4.3 Analysis, crosschecking and verification

The final analysis will bring together the various elements of the case studies, establishing a plausible link between CSO strategies, policy dialogue and outcomes. As part of the final analysis the evaluators will use analytical tools, such as power cube and policy cycle tool, to analyse the various elements that contribute to CSO effectiveness. The power cube will be used to analyse the inclusiveness of spaces for policy dialogue; the policy cycle tool to determine which entry points CSOs have used to influence policy dialogue. The analysis will be shared and further deepened during the final verification workshops, which will include a wider range of stakeholders, including representatives from government, media, INGOs, parliamentarians and academics. During the final verification and feedback workshops the team will also present their theories of change for the selected policy areas for verification by a wider group of stakeholders.

[43] The tool will also be used at the country level, but with a perspective of synthesising findings per donor at HQ level. The tool will focus on the six donors participating in this evaluation.

[44] OECD 2010: CS effectiveness and adapted from ODI 2006. Policy engagement – How CS can be more effective.

[45] OECD 2010: Civil society effectiveness.

[46] Based on Advisory Group 2008, p 17-18; Jacqueline Wood & Real Lavergne. 2008 Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness.

[47] Adapted from Jacqueline Wood and Real Lavergne. 2008. Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness
– An exploration of Experiences and Good practice,
p. 11; ODI 2006. Policy engagement
– How CS can be more effective, p. 15-16.

[48] Adapted from Jane Reisman et al. A guide to measuring advocacy and policy, Organisational Research Services, 2007.

Annex C Evaluation of Support to Civil Society Engagement in Policy Dialogue – Evaluation Framework (revised November 2011)

Evaluation questions Indicators (specific evidence required) Data sources and methods for data collection Reporting format
2. Enabling environment for CSO engagement in policy dialogue and key changes over the past five years within case study countries?

2.1 The legal, political and financial freedoms of CSOs and how they have changed over the last five years

2.2 The relationship between government and civil society in practice – including the power dynamics at play and how this has changed over the last 5 years

2.3 Key issues determining the enabling environment
Analysis of factors that contribute to CSO effectiveness in the country context

Changes of the last five years

Analysis of power relations and how these affect the space for policy dialogue

Use Checklist 3!
Country documents describing the legal and political framework for CSOs.

Existing analysis of enabling framework (from DPs, think tanks, CSOs)

CSO feedback on enablersand constraints
Country report (revised from scoping study)
Level 3 (Case studies) – CSO effectiveness
CSO strategies:

6. How do the CSOs (selected for case studies) engage in policy dialogue (within the chosen policy areas)?

6.1 What strategies are used by CSOs to achieve their objectives on policy dialogue?

6.2 What is the scope of policy dialogue? What does it cover?

6.3 To what extent do CSO use networking or cooperation with other CSO as part of their strategies? Is there an advantage in having joint NGO platforms or does this rather dilute their impact on agenda setting?

6.3 What is the intervention logic behind the CSO strategies/approach? What do they want to achieve and how?
Types of CSO strategies (see Q4) (Use Checklist 1)

Theories of change for case study CSOs (Phase 2)

Analysis of policy dialogue space as part of the case study (Phase 2)

Whether NGO networks and platforms are effective for policy dialogue
CSO strategy documents

CSO focus group discussions
Country report
Accountability and Legitimacy:

7. To what extent is CSO engagement in policy dialogue supported by their mandate?

7.1 Whose interests do CSO engaged in policy dialogue represent? How do they obtain legitimacy?

7.2 To what extent are CSOs engaging in policy dialogue accountable to their constituencies? How transparentare CSO procedures and operations? What are the feedback mechanisms?

7.3 How do CSOs obtain legitimacy to speak for the people they claim to serve or represent? To what extent are CSOs’ political demands supported by “numbers” (size of constituencies)?
Whether the CSOs’ mandate supports engagement in policy dialogue

Whether there the CSOs are accountable to their constituencies on their engagement in policy dialogue

Whether the CSOs have established feedback mechanisms with their constituencies

Whether CSOs have the “critical mass”to support their political demands

Whether CSOs present the interests of poor and marginal groups
CSO mission statements

CSO institutional visits and interviews

Cross checking through interviews with groups representing CSO constituencies

Cross checking through interviews with independent thirds (e.g. think tanks, parliamentarians)
Country report
Results (Process outcomes and policy changes):
11. How effective are the CSOs in asserting influence on government (at national and local level) through policy dialogue? How effective are CSOs in influencing policy change? How effective in holding government accountable for policy the implementation?
Extent to which policies changes occurred in selected policy areas

Evidence that CSOs have been substantially engaged in policy dialogue

Evidence that CSOs contributed to policy change in selected policy areas

Evidence that CSOs are holding government to account for the implementation of policies

Use Checklist 2!
Review of policy outcomes documented by CSO

Review of available analysis of policy processes (DP sources and evaluations; independent research and studies; media)

Stakeholder workshop (including government representatives, think tanks, parliamentarians, other relevant organisations etc.) to review policy change and contributions
Country report

Separate documentation of process outcomes and policy changes (with evidence)

Documentation of CSO workshop

Documentation of stakeholder workshop

12. How effective are the CSOs in achieving their own specific policy objectives?
Evidence that CSOs achieve their stated policy objectives

Cases where CSOs failed to achieve their objectives (and why)
Review of results documented by CSOs

CSO focus groups (workshops), using process analysis, theory of change.

Crosscheck findings through stakeholder interviews/ workshop
Country report

Documentation of CSO workshop

Documentation of stakeholder workshop

13. What were the unexpected results of policy dialogue?
Evidence that CSOs have achieved results beyond their stated policy objectives Same as Q11 Same as above
Enabling and disabling factors:

14. What are the factors influencing whether CSOs engage in policy processes or not? Why are some CSOs who – given their constituency and profile could engage in policy work – not doing so?
Key factors (drivers, breakers) influencing CSO engagement in policy processes

Practices that have enabled CSO outcomes in policy dialogue
CSO workshops using toolssuch as

– power cube
– SWOT analysis
– Force field analysis

Synthesis of key factors determining outcomes of CSO engagement
Country report

Documentation of CSO workshop
Enabling and disabling factors:

15. What are the main enabling and disabling factors that affectthe relevance and effectiveness of CSOs in policy dialogue, both in general and in relation to CSOs own goals and objectives? (e.g. what role do aspects of the enabling environment, CSO capacity, resource constraints and degree of networking play?)
Analysis of enabling and constraining factors affecting CSO strategies and results

Use Checklist 4!
Same as Q 15 Country report

Using separate template on enabling factors (from scoping study
Level 4 – DP support on policy dialogue (country level)
DP support:

17. How responsive are DP strategies to the priorities of the CSOs and what role did this play in the effectiveness of CSOs?
Lessons (and examples) on responsive support; Lessons (and examples) on responsive support: what worked and what didn’t? Feedback from CSOs and other stakeholders (Country web survey) Country report

(Feedback form/survey for synthesis)
DP support:

18. What value do specific support strategies add? In particular, what value does support provided through different channels (Northern CSOs, local CSOs) add? What value does DP engagement in policy dialogue add?
Whether DP strategies support diversity of CSOs

Whether DP strategies support learning, innovation and focus on results

Whether partnerships with Northern CSOs provide opportunities for networking, dialogue and information sharing?
Feedback from CSOs and other stakeholders (Country web survey) Country report

(Feedback form/survey for synthesis)
DP support:

8. What is the relevance of DP support vis-à-vis CSO priorities on policy dialogue?

8.1 What do DP perceive as the main needs of CSOs, particularly in relation to policy dialogue?

8.2 To what extent has DP support been driven by CSO demands?

8.3 To what extent does DP support respond to changing conditions for policy dialogue? To what extent is DP support informed by sound contextual analysis?

8.4 To what extent do DPs pursue their priorities through support of CSO engagement in policy dialogue (whose agenda)? Or where relevant: do what extent do Northern CSOs pursue their agenda through cooperation with local partners (who sets the agenda)?
Whether DP support is aligned to CSO priorities (priorities evidenced through CSO internal strategies, planning and communication)

Whether DPs are responsive to CSOs demands

Evidence of DP analysis and response to changing framework conditions

Cases where CSO priorities changed in response to DP support

Whether DPs (or Northern CSOs) pursue their strategic priorities through CSO support in policy dialogue
DP and CSO interviews

(Country web survey)
Country report

(Feedback form/survey for synthesis)
DP support:

16. To what extent have DP support strategies addressed the enabling and constraining factors that CSO face?
Evidence that DP strategies have addressed those enabling and constraining factors Feedback from CSOs and other stakeholders (Country web survey) Country report

(Feedback form/survey for synthesis

Annex D List of People Met

Education Position Organisation
Muffad Choudhury Additional Secretary National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
Q.K Ahmed Deputy Chair National Education Formulation Committee
Shyamal Kanti Ghose DG Directorate of Primary Education (DPE)
M Yahya DD Programme DPE
Monidra Nath Roy Director, Planning DPE
Mahbubun Nahar Joint Secretary and Director, Planning DPE
Abdur Rouf Choudhury Director, Administration DPE and Joint Secretary
Al’Haj Momtaz Begum MP and Chair Parliamentary Education Standing Committee on primary and non-formal education
Civil Society
Rasheda K Choudhury Executive Director CAMPE, Coalition of NGOs in Education
Tasneem Akhtar Deputy Director CAMPE
Tapon Kumar Das Programme Manager
EFA Partnership and Institution Development
Mostafizur Rahman Programme Manager, Policy Advocacy and Mass Communication Unit CAMPE
Dr Manzur Ahmed Advisor Institute of Education and Development BRAC University BU-IED
Dr Erum Marium Director BU-IED
Khondaker Lutful Khaled Manager Education, Social Development and Economic Justice ActionAid Bangladesh
Dr M. Ehsanur Rahman ED Dhaka Ashania Mission (DAM)
Shafiqur Rahman Programme Director DAM
Dewan Shorabuddin Deputy Director DAM
Hamim Deputy Project Director, Unique Project DAM
Zahin Ahmed ED Friends in Village Development Bangladesh
Habibur Rahman Education Advisor Save the Children Alliance
Shafiqul Islam Director BRAC Education Programme
FGD with TeachersAssociations   Abdur Rahman Bacchu, General Secretary, Bangladesh Non-government Primary Teachers Association

Shamsul Huq Shikdar, Secretary Publicity, Bangladesh Non-government PrimaryTeachers Association

Mohd. Mahbubul Alam, Secretary General, Bangladesh Registered Primary Schools

M. Siddiqur Rahman, Upazila Samity

Jublina Begum, Bangladesh Graduate Primary Teachers Association, Dhaka

Shahnaz Begum, Bangladesh Graduate Primary Teachers Association, Dhaka

Alokdar Mohd Siraj, Upazila Committee, Gopalganj

Mohd. Alamgir Khan, Bangladesh Registered Primary Schools
Resource Persons
Roushan Jahan Researcher and Member National Education Watch Advisory Committee

Women for Women

Bangladesh Mahila Parishad
Hilary Thornton Director Verulum Associates
Tahsinah Ahmed Senior Programme Officer SDC
Bob Snider Second Secretary, Development CIDA, Canadian Embassy
Tahera Jabeen Senior Development
CIDA, Canadian Embassy
Ali Shahiduzzaman Education Advisor CIDA, Canadian Embassy
Monica Malakar Senior Programme Officer SIDA
CHT Land Rights
Nicolas Simmard Director Planning CIDA (email only)
Hossain Shaid Shumon Cluster Leader CHT Development Facility UNDP (former Danida Human Rights
& Good Governance programme officer)
Sazzad Hossain Manager CHT projects MJF
Masud Rana
Coordinator CHT Projects Shiree
Maruf Rashid Khan District Land Officer, District Land Office, Rangamati
Sukrity Ranjan Chakma National District
Coordinator CHT Rural
Dev Project Officer
CHT Rural Develpoment Project, Rangamati
M. Rahman Land Officer Rangamati Sadar Upazila
Prodip Chakma Asstt. Land Officer Rangamati Sadar Upazila
PR Chakma Former Joint Secretary Ministry of Relief & Rehabilitation
Binoy Kumar Dewan Former Advisor to President Ershad
Gautam Kumar Chakma Counselor CHT Regional Council
Shantu Larma Chairman CHT Regional Council (Chair Adivasi Council)
Nirupa Dewan Member (CHT reponsible) National Human Rights Commission
Civil society
Sujit Dewan Headman Rangamati 115 Unit Traditionally responsible for land and para-Govt. (Government pays monthly honorarium)
Suranjit Dewan Chairperson As above
B.K. Dewan Former Chairperson Headman Association
Bijoy Niketon Chakma CS leader and activist  
Buddi Shatta Chakma Member BAF
Dr. Sujit Chakma Member PCJSS
Sonjib Drong Secretary General BAF
Hana Shams Coordinator CHT Commission
Chaitali Tripura Former Chairperson HWF
Chanchona Chakma Action Chair & organising secretary HWF
Zami Chakma Member and student HWF
Nipu Chakma Member and student HWF
Nelly Bom Member  
Oishis Mong Member and student HWF
Hiram Mitra Chakma Chair PCP
Dipong Khisa Vice Chair PCP
Shupon Chakma Member and student PCP
Trijunia Chakma Member and student PCP
Mong Yai Member PCP
CHT programmes
Owishorja Chakma District Manager UNDP- Rangamati
Biplab Chakma Programme Manager UNDP-Rangamati
Benedict Rozario Executive Director Caritas
Francis Sarker Development Director Caritas
Shamsul Huda Executive Director Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD)
Rowshan Jahan Moni Deputy Director ALRD
Local governance
Sohel Ibn Ali Programme Manager Swiss Development Cooperation (Dhaka)
Mohammed Arif Hossen Khan Programme Manager
Governance Monitoring
Manusher Jonno Foundation
(CSO Fund Manager for DFID)
Shahin Kauser Deputy Programme Manager (CARTA focal point) Manusher Jonno Foundation
(CSO Fund Manager for DFID)
Ziaul Karim Programme Manager
Responsive Governance
Manusher Jonno Foundation
(CSO Fund Manager for DFID)
Shaheen Anam Executive Director Manusher Jonno Foundation (CSO Fund Manager for DFID)
Rehana Khan Programme Officer Embassy of Sweden
Montarin Mahal Aminuzzaman Senior Programme Officer Royal Danish Embassy
H. M. Nazrul Islam Senior Programme Officer Governance Royal Danish Embassy
Shamim Al Razi Secretary General Municipal Association of Bangladesh
Mahbubur Rahman Tulu President Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum
Dalar Kumar Saha Office Manager Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum
Biplab Chandra Mahanta Finance & Accounts Officer Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum
LG projects/programmes
Tirtha Sarathi Sikder Deputy National Coordinator SHARIQUE (SDC funded project)
Wazed Feroj Chief Coordinator Promoting Democratic and Decentralised
Governance (PDDG)
(Danida funded)
Mark Ellery Water and Sanitation Specialist ( Horizontal Learning Programme) The World Bank
Syed Khaled Ahsan Institutional Development Specialist & Coordinator PROLOG The World Bank
Jerome Sayre Chief of Party Strengthening Democratic
Local Governance (USAID funded)
Zarina Rahman Khan Deputy Chief of Party Strengthening Democratic
Local Governance (USAID funded)
Md Sydur Rahman Molla Programme Analyst UNDP
Tofail Ahmed Local Governance Advisor UNDP
Colin Risner Executive Director Shiree
Shazia Ahmed Head Advocacy Shiree
Swapan Guha Joint Executive Director Rupantar (CSO)
Rafiqul Islam Khokan Joint Executive Director Rupantar (CSO)
Safia Programme Director Grass roots Women Leadership Project (GWLP Phase 4 2011-2014 (SDC funded project of Rupantar)
Sutapa Bedajna Programme Director Urban Governance Project (UGP 2004-2012)
(DFID funded through MJF project of Rupantar)
FGD with 16 members from seven union level NBK groups, Khulna District Nari Bikas Kendra   Nari Bikas Kendra (Women’s Development Association), supported by Rupantar
Badiul Alum Majumdar Global Vice President & Country Director The Hunger Project
Shujan (Movement for Good Governance)
Mohsin Ali Executive Director Wave Foundation (CSO)
Governance Advocacy Forum
Asgar Ali Sabri Head Social Development and Economic Justice Sector ) ActionAid Bangladesh (INGO
Zakir Hossain Sarker   ActionAid Bangladesh (INGO)
Aamanur Rahman Senior Manager Just and Democratic Governance ActionAid Bangladesh (INGO)
FGD with 11 members
of the Forum, Khulna City, Khulna Nagorik (Citizen) Forum
  Khulna Nagorik (Citizen) Forum supported by Rupantar
Iftekharuzzaman Executive Director Transparency International Bangladesh
Mazharul Islam Head Governance
BBC MediaAction
Local Government bodies
FGD with 1 City Councillor,
1 Planning Officer,
1 Health Officer,
Khulna City
City Council Khulna City Corporation
FGD with 4 UP chairmen,
1 woman general seat member, 4 reserved seat members, 4 male UP members , 2 administrative secretaries ( total 16)
Khulna District
UP Chair , members & administration Union Parishads in Khulna District
Amarul Islam Salin UP Chairman Balamghar UP, Gaibandha
Alhajj M.G. Mostafa UP Chairman Singimari UP, Lalmonirhat
Md Hazrat Ali UP Chairman
President BUPF
Rajshahi District
Godagari UP, Rajshahi
Food security
Pius D. Costa Additional Secretary Ministry of Food ( former member & involved in Food Policy 2008)
Civil Society
Dr M.A, Sobhan Consultant Ubing
Farhat Jahan Manager – Food Secirity Porgramme ActionAid Bangladesh
Sukanta Sen Executive Director Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK)
Shankor Mrong Coordinator BARCIK
Mark Halder Executive Director Koinonia
Milton Banik Programme Coordinator Koinonia
Babaton Shingh Chief Accountant Koinonia
Juliet Baroi Porgramme Manager Koinonia
Nelson Sarker Director – Microfinance Koinonia
Shamsul Huda Executive Director Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD)
Rowshan Jahan Moni Deputy Director ALRD
Participant Observation
Local governance
ActionAid and UN Women Workshop ’
Youth Expectations of Women Elected Leaders’
March 10th 2012, Dhaka
MAB Interaction with US delegates (supported by Danish Embassy funded PDDG ) February 2nd 2012, Dhaka
’Meet the Minister’ Programme facilitated by CAMPE January 25th 2012, Dhaka
Participants in Media Workshop 17th March 2012
  Participant Media
1. Shaheen karim Daily Jugantor
2. Habibur Rahman Naya Daily Jugantor
3. Yasmin Pear Dialy Ittefak
4. Penrul Islam  
5. Hasibul Anam Daily Sun
6. Md Ahamed Ullah Daily Sun
7. Choudhury Mohd. Azizur Rahman Daily Sobuj Sylhet
8. Manjur Ahmed The Dialy Alor Sayat
9. MH Manik Muslim Times
10. Rajbangeshi Roy Daily Samakal
11. M. Ahmed
12. Foyaz Zulfikar On-line News
13. Opuleo Online News
14. S.M Shahriar  
15. Kamrul Hasan Monjur Massline Media
Typology of CSOs directly participating in the Bangladesh Case studies
Network INGO NGO Professional Association/ Union Citizen Forum Media
Primary Education
CAMPE ActionAid

Save the Children

Transparency International (Bangladesh)
Dhaka Ahsania Mission

Friends in Village Development (FIVDB)


BRAC University Institute of Education and Development (BU-IED)
Teachers Unions National Education

Watch Advisory Committee

Print media
Local Government
Horizonta lLearning Programme network

Loko Kendro

Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation

Transparency International (Bangladesh)
The Hunger Project

Wave Foundation


Democracy Watch

Nijera kori

Steps Towards Development

Prip Trust

Massline Media
Municipal Associatio nof Bangladesh

Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum
Nari Bikesh Kendra

Nagorik Forum


Print media

BBC World Service

CHT land rights
Parbata Chattagram Jana Samhiti Samiti

Hill Women Federation

Parbata Chatra Parishad

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum
United Nations Development Program: Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility

United Nations Development Program: Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility

Shiree – Chittagong Hill Tracts

Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission

Caritas Bangladesh

Association for Land & Development

Massline Media Center
National Human Rights Commission University/ College Students

Civil Society individuals

Print media
Food Security
South Asian Food Sovereignty ActionAid Bangladesh Association for Land & Development

Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge

Koinonia Bangladesh

Unnyan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona

Rangpur Dinajpur Rural


Massline Media Centre
Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (small farmers) Civil Society individuals TV

Print media
Matrix of stakeholders participating in this study
Types of stakeholder Primary education Local government CHT land rights Food security


Swedish Embassy




World Bank


Members of Local Consultative Group

Local Government

CIDA/European Commission (EC)


Manusher Jonno Foundation (DFID)



World Relief Canada (WRC)
Funding Intermediaries   Shiree

Manusher Jonno Foundation

PRIP Trust

Manusher Jonno Foundation
DP projects   Sharique (SDC)

Aparajita (SDC)

Strengthening Democratic Local Governance (USAID)

Promoting Democratic and Decentralised Governance (Danida)

Horizontal Learning Programme (World Bank)

Local Government Support Programme (World Bank/UNDP)

PROLOG (non lending technical assistance to LGSP) (SDC)

Union Parishad Governance project (UNDP, also Danida through UNDP)

Strengthening Upazila Parishad through Capacity Development Support (UNDP)
United Nations Development Program: Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility (EC/CIDA)

Empower People for Land, Water and Land Reform (Danida)

Ensure Sustainable Livelihood for the Extreme Poor of CHT (SHIREE)

Capacity Development and Chittagong Hill Tracts (MJF/DFID)
Strengthening International Food Security Network – Multi-Country (ActionAid & EC)

Agricultural Bio-Diversity Program with special focus on Food Security (Misereor)

Empower People for Land, Water and Land Reform (Danida)

Food Security Program (WRC)
INGO ActionAid

Save the Children

Transparency International (Bangladesh)
Transparency International, Bangladesh

ActionAid Bangladesh
United Nations Development Program: Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility ActionAid
NGO Dhaka Ahsania Mission


Steps Towards Development

Wave Foundation


Khan Foundation

Democracy Watch

PRIP Trust

Hunger Project
Shiree – Chittagong Hill Tracts

Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission

Caritas Bangladesh

Association for Land & Development

Mass-line Media Center
Association for Land & Development

Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge

Koinonia Bangladesh

Unnyan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona

Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service
CSO Network CAMPE (Campaign for Popular Education) Governance Advocacy Forum

SUPRO (600 local NGOs)

Election Watch
Parbata Chattagram Jana Samhiti Samiti

Hill Women Federation

Parbata Chatra Parishad

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum
South Asian Food Sovereignty
Citizen Forum National Education Watch Advisory Committee Nari Bikesh Kendra

Nagorik Forum

University/ College Students

Civil Society individuals
Civil Society individuals
Professional Association/ Union Teachers/ Unions Municipal Association of Bangladesh

Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum
National Human Rights Commission (?) Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (small farmers)
Research Body BRAC University Institute for Education and Development (BU-IED) Power Participation Research Centre Association for Land & Development Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge

Individual activists/ opinion leaders Hilary Thornton Tofail Ahmed Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma

Bijoy Niketan Chakma
Media Media workshop Media workshop

BBC Media Action
Media workshop Media workshop
Government Dept Parliamentary Education Standing Committee on primary and nonformal education

National Commission for UNESCO

Directorate for Primary Education (DPE)
Union Parishads (representatives from x3)

Khulna City Corporation
Chittagong Hill Tracts- Regional Council

Headmen Association

District Land Office- Rangamati

Rangamati Sadar Upazila Office

Chittagong Hill Tracts- Rural Development Project

Rangamati District Council
Former Additional Secretary of Food on National Food Policy
Government convened forum SWAp Joint Annual Review Mission members

National Education Formulation Committee
  National Human Rights Commission  
DP workshop participants 25th March 2012
  Organisation Participant
1. Tahera Jabeen Senior Development Advisor CIDA, Canadian Embassy
2. Monica Malakar Senior Programme Officer Sida
3. Sohel Ibn Ali Programme Manager Swiss Development Cooperation (Dhaka)
4. Mahal Aminuzzaman Senior Programme Officer Royal Danish Embassy
5. Tomas Bergenholtz First Secretary Development Cooperation Sida
6. Karin Rohlin Counsellor Embassy of Sweden
7. Ylva Sörman Nath First Secretary Embassy of Sweden
8. Zahirul Islam Programme Officer (Health) Embassy of Sweden
9. Rehana Khan Programme Officer Human Rights & Democracy Embassy of Sweden

Annex E Documents Consulted


1. General Mobile phones for development

2. Education

3. Local Governance

4. Minority Rights to Land


5. Food Security


Documents consulted

1. General:

Evaluation of Citizens Voice and Accountability, 2008 Country Case Study Bangladesh

Beauclerk, J, Brian Pratt and Ruth Judge, 2011 ’Civil Society in Action; Global Case Studies in a practice based framework, INTRAC,

Civicus, 2011 Broadening Civic Space through Voluntary Action: Lessons from 2011.

Cornwall, Andrea (Ed) 2007 Spaces for Change? The Politics of Citizen Participation in New Democratic Arenas Zed Books

Gaventa, John and Rajesh Tandon 2010 Globalising Citizens, Zed Books

Schatten, V, P. Coelho and Bettin von Liers 2010 Mobilising for Democracy, Zed Books

2. Primary Education

ActionAid Bangladesh, Rereading PEDP II: A Critical View of the Outcomes Anticipated”, December 2006

ActionAid Bangladesh, Education Rights, Reference Handbook”, December 2006

ActionAid Bangladesh, “Campaign Guide to Financing Education”, July 2011.

BRAC Annual Report 2009

BRAC Annual Report 2010

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2003/4, (Dhaka 2005)

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2005

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2006

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2007

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2008, (Dhaka 2009)

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2009

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Education Watch 2010

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Annual Report 2007

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Annual Report 2008

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Annual Report 2009

Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Annual Report 2010

Commonwealth Education Fund, Final Evaluation Report, February 2009 prepared by Eric Woods Bangladesh 2010

Commonwealth Education Fund, Final Report, May 2009

Commonwealth Education Fund (CEF), End of Project Review, Bangladesh 2008

Commonwealth Education Fund (CEF), Report Prepared for CEF Secretariat, ActionAid Bangladesh

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Annual Report 2007

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Annual Report 2008

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Annual Report 2009

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Annual Report 2010

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, “People’s Voice and Choice” Unique Project, December 2011.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Alaap Newsletter, “Our Budget. Our Thinking”, Dhaka May 2011

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Education Sector Strategy, [2009 – 15], 2009

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Programmatic Perspective Plan, 2006 – 2015,

Directorate of Primary Education, “Programme Document, Third Primary Education Programme”, October 2010.

Hossain, Naomi; Subramaniam, Ramya; Kabeer, Naila, “The Politics of Education Expansion” IDS Working Paper 167, October 2002

Ministry of Education, National Education Policy 2010, Dhaka 2010

Ministry of Education, National Skills Development Policy 2011, Dhaka 2011

Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME), Annual Sector Performance Report 2009

Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. MoPME, Annual Sector Performance Report 2010 (published in May 2011)

Policy and Operations Evaluation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, “The Two-Pronged Approach: Evaluation of Netherlands Support to Formal and Non-formal Primary Education in Bangladesh, 1999-2009”

SIDA, Reality Check Bangladesh 2009, Listening to Poor People’s Realities about Primary Healthcare and Primary Education – Year 3

SIDA, Reality Check Bangladesh 2010, Listening to Poor People’s Realities about Primary Healthcare and Primary Education – Year 4

3. Local Governance

Ahmed, Tofail, (2012) ’Decentralisation and the Local State’ Osman Gani of Agamee Prakashani especially Chapter 13, Challenges in Local Government: Outlines for Building a New Agenda

Aminuzzaman, Salahuddin M. (2011) ’An Analysis of the UP Act 2009’, UNDP

Bangladesh LG Bulletin (Quarterly Newsletter on Local Government Support Projects and Non-lending assistance for strengthening Local Governance in Bangladesh)

Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum, Training Manual ’Accountability and Transparency in UP Resource Management’ (PROGATI funded)

Bangladesh Union Parishad Forum ’Report on National Convention 2012’

Democratic Decentralisation Policy Project Planning Note (Activities) 2012 Mannusher Jonno funded project of Governance Advocacy Forum

Government of Bangladesh 2011 ’Access to Information (A2I) Our Stories of Achievements’ (May 2011)

Horizontal Learning News; A newsletter of the Union Parishad-led Horizontal Learning Programme

Horizontal Learning Note: Linking Open Budgets and Raising of Holding Tax

Horizontal Learning Note: Union Coordination Committee Meetings

Horizontal learning Program in Bangladesh: The Program Framework; Scaling Up of the HLP to ensure services for all through the replication of good practices 2011-2015.

Majumdar, Badiul Alam, (2010) ’Local Governance and Political Reform-Keys to Poverty Reduction’. Osman Gani of Agamee Prakashani

Manusher Jonno logical framework for Strengthening Local Governance for pro-poor service delivery project (COAST)

Manusher Jonno logical framework for Responsive Local Government project (Gandhi Ashram Trust)

PROLOG Six Monthly Progress report July-December 2011

Progati Project of Rupantar Purchase Order 2009-2010

Rupantar ’Improving Local Level Governance Programme’ (post Sidr) USAID funded programme of Rupantar

Rupantar GWLP project Logical Framework (Phase 4)

Rupantar Grass roots Women Leadership Phase 4

Rupantar GWLP Mid term Evaluation 2010 (Mary Hobley)

Rupantar Urban Governance Project Logical Framework (Phase 3)

Rupantar Urban Governance Project Proposal June 2010-May 2012(Phase 3)

Transparency International Bangladesh, 2011 ’Realising the MDGs by 2015: Anti-corruption in Bangladesh’

Transparency International Bangladesh, 2008 ’Concerned Citizen Committees Operating Manual’

Transparency International Bangladesh, 2010 ’YES Operating Guideline’

UNDP, 2011 Factsheet ’Upazila Parishad Governance Project’

UNDP, 2011 Factsheet ’Union Parishad Governance Project’

USAID, 2009 Success Stories ( Preventing Local Fraud, Local Leaders Influence Key legislation in Bangladesh, Strengthening Local Accountability, Transparency Changes Lives, Transparency aids the most Vulnerable.’

Wave Foundation Loak Morcha (People’s Assembly)

Wave Foundation/Governance Coalition ’Institutionalizing Coalition’

Wave Foundation Mission Vision Document of Loak Morcha

Wave Foundation Organisational Profile, March 2012.

4. Minority Rights to Land

Adnan S. and Dastidar, Rananit, 2011, Alienation of the Lands of Indigenous Peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, pp.1-180.

Gain, Philip, 2011, Survival on the Fringe- Adivasis of Bangladesh, pp.3-7.

Kapaeeng Foundation, 2011, 2009-2010, Human Rights Report on Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh.

Timm, RW Rr., 1991, The Adivasis of Bangladesh, pp.5-16.

ALRD and Kapaeeng Foundation, 2011, UNPFII’s Study on the Status of the CHT Accord of 1997 and Statements delivered at the UNPFII’s 10th session on the said Study, pp.9-28.

Annual Report, 2010, National Human Rights Commission.

Kapaeeng Foundation, 2001, Report on Regional Consultations on ILO Convention No. 107 and 169 and Indigenous Peoples Issues in Bangladesh (26 October 2008- 8 June 2011).

Mankin, Albert, 2010, Report on Participatory Development Discourse focusing Special Affairs

Division Program and NGOs Interventions for Indigenous Peoples of the Plain Land – Bangladesh.

Bleie, Tone, 2005, Tribal Peoples, Nationalism and the Human Rights Challenge- The Adivasis of Bangladesh. pp.5-66.

5. Food Security

Actionaid, 2011 Food Security Reports (Projects)

ALRD, 2010, Commercialization of Land and Land Grabbing: A Study of the State Policy in Bangladesh.

ALRD, 2010, Empowering People for Land, Water and Agrarian Reform

Barakat, Abul Dr Prof., 2011, Commercialization of Agricultural Land & Water Bodies and disempowerment of poor in Bangladesh.

BARCIK, 2011, Rural Development, Special Focus on Food Security.

BARCIK, 2011, Climate Crisis and Community Resilience, Local Solution of Global Problem.

FAO, 2011, The State of Food and Agriculture

Food Sovereignity Network in South Asia (FSNSA), 2011, Land Governance in South Asia- Issues, Conflicts and Way Forward, pp. 2-55.

INC, Misereor, Actionaid, 2009, Securing the Right to Land, A CSO Overview on access to Land in Asia.

Koinonia Bangladesh 2011 & 2010, Annual Reports.

Ministry of Food and Disaster Management, 2008 (finalized in 2010) National Food Policy Plan of Action (2008-2015)

UBINIG, 2011, Web Reports.

USAID Bangladesh, 2011, Web Reports on Food Security Programs.

Annex F Examples of Third Sector Support Services in UK

Name Funding Source Activities
Small Charities Coalition

(founded 2008)

more than 700 members
Trusts and Foundations in UK Matchmaking small charities with others to increase resources, skills and knowledge – maintains a directory of volunteer skills (individuals and employer-led volunteering) for mentoring, sharing with small charities, provides support, guidance, encouragement, advice and information for small charities e.g. communications, successful bid writing, charity legalities, resource for small charities to get voices heard with media and Government
Directory of Social Change

(founded 1975)

independent charity with vision of an independent voluntary sector at heart of social change linked to 20,000 charities
Originally Foundations and Office of Third Sector, now 98% self-earnings (website subscriptions, publications, events) Training and publications on fund raising, management, organisational development, communication, finance, law. Includes Speed Reads on subjects as diverse as team building, writing for the web, risk management, media relations independent status means it can challenge and create debate around government policy and issues which threaten independence of small charities maintains websites,,
Third Sector

80,000 subscribers
Now funded by subscriptions Third Sector Magazine is leading (weekly and online) publication for the voluntary and not for profit sector covers fund raising, finance, politics, communications, volunteering, opinion and analysis, forum for lively debate
Media Trust

Everyone should have a voice and the opportunity to be Heard.
Media Companies

Cabinet Office & other Government offices

UK Foundations
Supports organisations to enhance communications e.g. TV shorts, using celebrities, hitting headlines, linking with media

Provides free resources e.g. on public relations, digital media, marketing
Social Enterprise Coalition

The voice of social enterprise through being a progressive authoritative body that brings together all types of social enterprise in the UK
Contracts and grants from Government e.g. Departments of Health, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Communities and Local Government, The Office for Civil Society

Trusts and Foundations

Big Lottery


Membership subscriptions
Promote the benefits of social enterprise through the media, campaigning and events

Promote best practice amongst social enterprises through networks and publications

Inform the policy agenda working with key decision makers Engage in intelligent networking and providing accurate information, consultation with members and building social enterprise evidence base
National Council for Voluntary Services

founded 1919’

Giving voice and support to civil society’
14% from Office of Third Sector as core grant

Grants from other Government sources

Trusts and Foundations

Membership subscriptions (though free for small organisations)
Aims to give shared voice to voluntary organisations, helps organisations achieve highest standards of practice and effectiveness

Publications helpdesk, 568,400 members self earnings through events, training, consultancies, private donations discounted services e.g. insurance, computer soft/hardware training, publishing services

Published Engage magazine maintains a Parliamentary Office promotes idea of civil society

Annex G Typology of CSO Engagement in Policy Dialogue: Comparison of the Four Thematic Areas

Type Primary Education CHT Land Rights Local Government Food Security
Direct and formal
1. Advocacy and campaigning Very strong, visible, coordinated activities through various campaigns around issues such as quality education, inclusive education, mother language education, preprimary education. These campaigns are often sustained, although in some cases they are one-off events. CAMPE and other networks and sometimes individual organisations take the lead. The campaigns seek to involve politicians and senior government officials. Strategic use is made of the media.

There is scope to make the campaign more strategic, focused and sustained. There seems to be a plethora of events which take time, efforts and resources to organise – however is would be good to assess the value and effectiveness of the workshops and consultations compared to other methods of policy dialogue.
Advocacy and campaigning on CHT Land Rights is quite visible and strong by the two leading CSOs. They have direct and formal spaces. Advocacy by students and youth are supportive and they use indirect spaces. Main problem seems to be their limited connection/ alliance with non-Adivasis community beyond Human rights organisations Still in infancy. LGAs have been focusing their attention first on building democratic and well supported organisations but are poised for mounting advocacy campaigns – using window of 2012 before attention will be diverted to preparations for elections.

The LGAs had some early success reversing the Parliament decision to increase the role of MPs.

The campaigns need to be more strategic and evidence based. Messages need to appeal toa wider population e.g. Local decisions and local budgets serve people best
Most NGOs working in the food sector are concerned with service provision rather than advocacy. ALRD (association of NGOs on land issues) is well known and campaigns on land access for the poor and marginalized.

A handful of NGOs undertake some advocacy and research on some aspects of food security in a limited way in small spaces of their own (e.g. UBINIG, Nijera Kori, Voice) This is largely uncoordinated with limited impact. These small NGOs despite their passionate protests have very little clout and get little media attention or popular support.

Protests around food prices and adulteration of food are vocal and common
2. Invited space for policy reform and Five year Plans Committee for formulation of National Education Policy included (and was headed by) civil society personalities and organisations such as a college teachers association and several university professors. This committee, with Government approval, then invited other CSOs for consultations.

CSOs were not invited to participatein the last Sixth Five Year Planprocess.

CSOs were involved formally in the formulation process of the primary education sector programme.
CHT CSOs (especially PCJSS and HA) are invited to GoB space regarding the implementation of the Peace Accord, which include land issues. But there is a growing feeling of frustration that little is achieved. This tends to be limited to known academics at central level. LGAs have to create space (lobby for space) rather than enjoy invited space.

No APPG or functioning Parliamentary Standing Committee for LG.
No or limited spaces. Government invites ALRD from time to time to review government policy documents on food and food security.
3. Providing evidence through studies and research Regular annual Education Watch reports of high research standards provide a means of focusing on various issues and are used by both Government, donors and NGOs.

Various other CSOs produce documents on project experiences and consultation carried out at local level.

But still regarded as insufficient.
There are annual reports published describing the status of the Peace Accord and land rights issues.

Insufficient evidence building and research. Existing research may be overly legalistic and needs simplifying.

Systematic documentation of abuse and harassment would assist in building the case for land rights abuses.
Very limited. Policy preparation usually closed door as limited central political will for decentralisation. The few studies that have been undertaken are usually donor commissioned and not widely shared. Exceptions are the detailed reports from UNDP’s long running pilot in Sirajganj which tested out the use of Block grants and increased citizen participation and many Rural Development Programmes pilots under LGED (but sharing of these is extremely limited). The Horizontal Learning Programme is promoting LGER-led action research and exchange of best practices. Although NGOs are involved (and in the RDPs mentioned above) this is a contracted arrangement and not NGO-led. Despite efforts to create a HLP movement many NGOs active in LG are not aware of their work. TIB produces high quality studies and LG has become one of its key areas of focus recently. Very limited research. Isolated and only marginally shared in the public domain.
4. Monitoring & holding to account CAMPE and a few individual NGOs are members of national-level steering committees which are supposed to follow-up policy and programme implementation. Reports on progress and annual plans are submitted there. This formally could be used for holding to account but in reality the NGO formal role in the committees is limited.

At the district level and below some NGOs and the committees/ bodies they support interact with the SMCs, PTAs and are part of the Education Watch Groups which hold the local education administration to account.

Local media is also used to publicise good and bad stories of local schools and school administration – e.g. cases of sexual harassment of students and measures taken by school authorities to deal with it.
There are major changes in the landlaws required. The Peace Accord is not being fully implemented and would benefit from international pressure to press home shortcomings.

The head of PCJSS addresses media occasionally to place his position on various issues and remind the government for their role on the CHT and Land issues but there is rare response.

At the regional and local levels seminars and conferences are organised by local CSOs to which local government officials are invited to face citizens.
Two public Interest litigations suits are pending brought by concerned individuals.

No LG Commission is regarded by most participating in the studyas a problem. Even though recent Commissions set up for other purposes have yet to function properly, most feel that at least this wouldbe a step in the right direction.

DFID funded BBC-Sanglap will recommence in late 2012 and intends to create a vibrant platform for a live audience and potential 40 million TV audience to hold politicians to account. It will facilitate a state of the art blog and interactive website.

At local level, there are mushrooming numbers of citizen forums using a variety of means to hold duty bearers to account. TIB uses citizen scorecards. VERC and others are using social audit instruments. A vast number of NGOs are facilitating platforms of LG-public engagement such as Ward Shava meetings, open budget meetings, Union Coordination Committees and activating moribund LG standing committees. Public hearings and Face-to-Face meetings are also widely used. Media is integrally involved in these activities and some public meetings are aired on cable TV.
No involvement of CSOs and NGOs.
Direct and informal
1. Behind the scenes lobbying This is a very important means of influencing and has been used in Primary Education. It is based on the relationships that CSO leaders build up with government officials and policy makers, either by working together, travelling to and attending conferences together, or because of earlier social networks.

Personal networks in the urban educated middle-class are strong as this class is relatively small and has strong ties.

This means of influencing, by nature, lacks transparency and accountability is hard to ensure – the person doing the influencing has to personally ensure that it is not a personal interest issue that is being advocated for but a collective interest.

Attribution of influence is also difficult – the strength of the approach is that the policy maker is able to own the position or issue without having to acknowledge that there was any influence on her/him. The Organisations and individuals engaged in the insider lobbying will not be able to publicly claim the outcomes.
Jumma Net lobbied Japanese parliamentarians to sign a declaration in support of full implementation of the Peace Accord which was presented to the Bangladesh Prime Minister by the Japanese Ambassador. No access. Only one MP (ex Chair of MAB) is openly sympathetic to decentralisation agenda. We were told that LGD resists links with NGOs. Status and personal network strongly linked to access and most activists held at arm’s length. None as far as we could ascertain.
2. Networking and coalition building CAMPE is a very good example ofa network that represents a sector and NGOs within the sector. It has been able to reach out to small local NGOs providing education services as well as to teachers associations. Its Council represents the established (larger and experiences NGOs working in education) and they have been able to provide leadership to the other smaller NGOs. INGOs also have the scope to be represented by CAMPE and are happy to have the coalition speak on behalf of all members, especially for formal meetings and consultations. One of the major reasons for success of the CSO working in the primary education sector is the strength of the coalition. PCP, HWF and BAP networks and coalitions of Adivasis themselves increasingly active. Their link with ALRD, human rights and legal rights organisations is very important. LGAs are beginning to build critical mass and the three main ones increasingly work together (potential force of 100,000 LGER).

NGO networks limited, fragmented and ineffective but providing useful support to LGAs.

For the few Round Table discussions and conventions undertaken, organising CSOs purposely invite GoB, research and media participation but the value of these events is questionable.
ALRD network is in place on behalf of the NGOs but its main focus is land access which is only a limited part of the wider range of food security issues
3. Demonstration and massaction Teachers associations have staged various demonstrations and hunger strikes in order to highlight their demands, get media attention and public sympathy.

There are also cases of spontaneous protest (demonstrations and gherao) by parents and students around cases of abuse of authority in terms of student admission, results and also sexual harassment.

The CSOs have not taken the strategy of mass demonstrations.
PCJSS, HA, PCP, HWF and BAP organise demonstrations, rallies and campaigns involving mass participation of Adivasis and citizens who are well wishers of Adivasis join together in such programs. Adivasi days are observed by them jointly. These are spontaneous support.

ALRD, the net work of NGOs on land issue also organise public demonstrations in support of CHT issues separately with NGO members.
LGAs staged street protests and hunger strike over attempts to increase MP role in LG in 2009-10 and intend to continue these sort of protests if their demands are not met through dialogue (which they initiate).

Local ’gherao’, human chain and street protests are common to protest injustice in local service provision. These get good media coverage and often redress. These have led to a growing confidence in people power. But there is a trend developing to take more violent actions including threatening LGER, ransacking offices and facilities.
Spontaneous rallies and street marches protesting food prices are common. Demonstrations around more controversial food security and sovereignty issues are rare and have little impact. World Food Day observed each year.
Indirect contribution to dialogue
1. Information, education and training CAMPE undertakes a range of training for both NGOs and government education staff. BU-IED is mandated for the capacity development of the education sector, especially government. Most of the CSOs active in PD in education carry out various workshops, meetings, day observations, publicity and media campaigns to increase awareness of the priority issues in education and disseminate information on the status and priorities of the education sector, to the general population, government, other policy actors, the media, etc. PCP, HWF and BAP organise discussions and training on various necessary issues of Adivasis within the CHT.

Adivasi-led NGOs in CHT region supported by UNDP, Shiree, MJF and other donor organise trainings on community empowerment and confidence building, including legal awareness and legal aid by BLAST, Madaripur Legal Aid Foundation.
NGOs have been facilitating local level citizen rights awareness, supporting voter education and some have been championing the connection between tax paying and voice. Tax melas, Democracy Fairs as well as rallies and courtyard meetings have been used. TIB supports Citizen Charters. Talk shows on TV and radio have contributed greatly to opening up debate about LG role. Print media is interested in the issue, particularly corruption and name and shame tactics have produced results locally.

Movements such as Shujan and Supro champion the issue of good governance at central level raising public opinion in support of decentralisation.
ALRD organise discussions on distribution of government Khas lands for the poor and the marginalised. They also organise trainings occasionally on land regulations and land laws which support the landless people. Ubinig has farmers associated with them who pledge not to use GM crops or pesticides and fertiliser but their numbers are small.
2. Building commitment and capacity of supply side of CS-GO engagement An important aspect of the engagement of national level CSOs (both INGO as well as National NGOs) as well as individuals of CSO background, is providing technical support for curriculum design, teacher training, class room management, preparation of various guidelines, etc. For example, CAMPE provided the support to the Bureau of Non-Formal Education to carry out a mapping of NGOs working in Non-Formal Education. CAMPE functioned as the Secretariat for the exercise. Two persons from CAMPE member organisations took the operational responsibility and various committees were formed to advice the process with Government, DP and CSO involvement.

Experts with CS backgrounds have on various occasions provided technical support to Government on a consultancy basis.
Very little work is done to change the mindset of those with vested interests in the CHT. Considerable NGO activity is directed towards capacity building of LGI and helping them see the benefits of civic engagement. NGOs also help the LGIs to facilitate CS engagement by finding ways to operationalise the official platforms (ward shava meetings, open budget meetings etc). Little information/ education on the main issues.
No policy dialogue engagement
  There are a very large numberof NGOs active in providing various kinds of primary education, either outside government or funded by Government (such as non-formal primary education under the Bureau of Non-Formal Education). They are not involved in policydialogue at all. CHT based local CSOs do not participate in policy dialogue fearing losing their registration with NGOAB which prohibits political activity. Decentralisation is a resisted issue which can result in risk to CSOs which may be regarded as overtly criticising the government. Effort has been focused at local level policy dialogue where there is more support, opportunity and less risk. CSOs and NGOs largely are not engaged in policy dialogue in food security. This is quite difficult to comprehend. The study participants hint at a variety of reasons such as the clout of major interest groups e.g. Food Aid, multi-national companies (agricultural inputs and those with non food agricultural interests (e.g. tobacco companies) and Government itself. It is also regarded as a rural issue.

Annex H Appreciative Enquiry and the Power Cube

Two key instruments used in the study were i. Appreciative enquiry and ii. The power cube. This annex provides more information on these.

i. Appreciative inquiry is based on the assumption that the questions asked tend to focus our attention in a particular direction. Many methods of assessing a situation and then proposing solutions are based on a deficiency model (“What are the problems?”, “What’s wrong?”, “What needs to be fixed?”, and “what are the challenges?” Appreciative Inquiry takes an alternative approach. “asset-based approach” and starts with the belief that every organisation, individual and programme has positive aspects that can be built upon. It asks questions like “What’s working well?”, “What’s good about what you are currently doing?” The appreciative mode of inquiry often relies on interviews and discussions to qualitatively understand the organisation’ or programmes strengths by looking at its experience and its potential; the objective is to elucidate the assets and personal motivations that are its strengths.

Problem Solving Appreciative inquiry
Felt need, identification of problem(s) Appreciating, valuing the Best of What Is
Analysis of causes Envisioning what might be
Analysis of possible solutions Engaging in dialogue about what should be
Action planning (treatment) Innovating, what will be

ii. The power cube (Gaventa, 2003)

The power cube

Helps in understanding how power operates, how different interests can be marginalised from decision making and strategies needed to increase inclusion and to think through what strategies are needed to increase inclusion.

Spaces How arenas of power are created
Power The degree of visibility of power
Places The levels and places of engagement

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