DHAKA, Oct 23 – Non-government organisations (NGOs), together with the international donor agencies, have been playing a vital role in the development of Bangladesh. The officials here maintain that NGOs are the development partners of the government. On the other hand, the NGOs maintain that the government is actively participating in motivating the donors to help the NGOs in implementing various projects.In the interior areas of the country, where the poor and distressed people live, NGOs, with support from the donor agencies, act as the harbingers of development. A visit to some of these areas in the Sirajganj district in northern Bangladesh by this correspondent during the past few days revealed this. This is more evident particularly in the area of disaster management in the disaster-prone regions of the country.
Researcher Sajjad Zohir said, in one of his papers (‘NGO Sector in Bangladesh – An Overview’) that the social development scene in Bangladesh is characterised by a strong presence of NGOs. The NGOs emerged following the 1971 Liberation War to help the communities in distress as part of post-war rehabilitation. Afterwards, with assistance from foreign donor agencies, they expanded their activities to deliver a variety of services, including microcredit, essential healthcare, informal education, women’s empowerment and rights advocacy.
Zohir also maintains that most of the NGOs engage in group-formation and provide financial services to group members. Some also engage in providing social services in areas like health, education, water and sanitation, training and skill development and generating awareness. Some others also work as economic agents by providing marketing support to the beneficiaries, or, as provider of wage employment.
John K Davis of the Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy Murdoch University, Western Australia, who also studied the NGOs’ role in Bangladesh, wrote in an article (‘NGOs and Development in Bangladesh: Whose Sustainability Counts?): “Bangladeshi NGOs found many opportunities for partnership with the growing international community of development NGOs, and Northern/Western government Development Agencies. During the 1990s the NGO sector in Bangladesh grew rapidly. NGOs developed business strategies to both provide outlet for beneficiaries’ produce and to deliver goods and services to their ‘target groups’ … Some NGOs are now the largest providers of a range of services in Bangladesh, and their role with respect to the poor, business and government has become increasingly subject to debate.”
An Asian Development Bank report (Overview of NGOs and Civil Society Bangladesh) said: “From relief and rehabilitation, microcredit loan programs, and education to strategies of water-treatment, NGOs have found a niche for themselves in the gap between society and state, seeking to promote the people’s welfare through grassroots initiatives and development programs.
“In a country with large numbers underemployed and unemployed, NGOs also provide much-needed job opportunities, stimulating small enterprise development, and inspiring and equipping people from a traditionally agricultural society to pursue non-farm livelihoods.”
The ADB further said that few countries have witnessed the dramatic growth of NGOs as much as Bangladesh, which currently has a total of 26,000 NGOs registered with the NGO Affairs Bureau. As a result of the legal vacuum in which vulnerable groups are unable to enforce their rights, NGOs in Bangladesh have taken on an increasingly broad role in addressing legal and political issues beyond their traditional focus, such as strengthening economic and social programmes, said the ADB in its report.
Many international agencies like the UNDP, UK Government’s Department for International Development, International Monetary Fund, Japan International Cooperation Agency, World Bank, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, Food and Agricultural Organisations of the United Nations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organisation, Centre for Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific, USAID, ADB, Local Fund Management Office of Canadian High Commission, German Technical Cooperation, among others, are also the development partners of Bangladesh. Some of them are donor agencies, too, for this country.
Source : http://www.assamtribune.com