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Experts: Relief should be based on vulnerable community, not total population

  • Published at 08:56 pm December 28th, 2020
Local participants at the virtual meet of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Oxfam in Bangladesh
Local participants at the virtual meet of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Oxfam in Bangladesh in partnership with Manab Mukti Sangstha (MMS), and in association with Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh on December 28, 2020 Courtesy

The observation was made at a virtual dialogue organized by CPD and Oxfam in Bangladesh in partnership with Manab Mukti Sangstha (MMS), and in association with Citizen's Platform for SDGs

Government relief to tackle the situation emerging from Covid-19 and floods is allocated at the local level based on the total population of that area.

This allocation and subsequent beneficiary selection process of these relief packages should be based on the proportion of vulnerable population, not the size of the total population.

These observations were made at a virtual dialogue, entitled “Relief support and agricultural incentives in response to Covid-19 and flood: The effectiveness of public service delivery,” jointly organized by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Oxfam in Bangladesh in partnership with Manab Mukti Sangstha (MMS), and in association with Citizens’ Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh. 

The virtual dialogue was held on Monday, according to a press release of the CPD.

The dialogue was organized as part of the project, “Enhancing the participation of community-based organizations (CBOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) in democratic governance in Bangladesh”, which is being implemented by the CPD and the Oxfam in Bangladesh, with support from the European Union. 

The project aims to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Government of Bangladesh in numerous areas.

While giving the keynote presentation, CPD’s Senior Research Associate, Muntaseer Kamal, highlighted the flood loss scene in Sirajganj and presented an assessment of the relief delivery process in the district. 

He underlined that there was insufficiency of relief support provided by the government. There was a general lack of awareness among the local people of Sirajganj regarding the Government hotline services. 

The beneficiary selection process oftentimes was not participatory due to reasons such as lack of promotion of such initiatives. 

Professor Dr Md Habibe Millat, MP, and Mr Tanvir Shakil Joy, MP, joined the dialogue as guests. 

They highlighted the fact that since Sirajganj was a highly vulnerable area due to its geographical location, the allocations for government relief supports are insufficient when compared to the needs at the local levels. 

Mr Tanvir Shakil Joy, MP stated that focus should be intensified on creating employment opportunities for the vulnerable people rather than depending solely on relief measures. Professor Dr Md Habibe Millat, MP stated that members of parliament should be involved more actively in the relief distribution process.

Around 120 community leaders, LA and LG representatives from the Chauhali upazila and Sirajganj sadar upazila joined the dialogue and made critical floor interventions. The participants from Sirajganj highlighted the insufficiency of relief support and also urged timely distribution of the relief packages.

The participants with direct grassroots experience noted that many people were yet to receive the 2500 Taka cash support despite being enlisted. It was also mentioned that the people of Sirajganj, particularly in the remote char areas, were unable to access various government hotline services due to poor telecommunication facilities.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow at CPD, moderated the session. Professor Rahman suggested that telecommunication in char areas like Sirajganj could be improved by providing government incentives to telecommunication companies to broaden their network facilities.

Mr Mohammad Soeb Iftekhar, head of Economic Inclusion and Justice, Oxfam in Bangladesh, gave the introductory remarks at the dialogue. Mr Md Habibullah Bahar, executive director, MMS gave the vote of thanks.

Citizens and representatives from community-based organizations (CBOs) from Sirajganj, government officials, academicians, development workers, NGO representatives, private sector representatives, representatives from civil society organizations, and media among others were also present at the dialogue.

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