NEWSLETTER VOLUME 5, FEBRUARY-APRIL 2020

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PLATFORMS FOR DIALOGUE QUARTERLY HIGHLIGHTS

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Advocacy Trainings for CSO Members: Improving CSO Resilience

Advocacy is one of the most important skills Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) can master. Understanding how to connect with other, like-minded, CSOs and government bodies helps CSOs further the impact of their work and ensures that they become an integral part of good governance in any society. Throughout the project, Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) has been working with 63 CSOs in 21 districts to build capacity at the local level through technical support trainings. As part of our work to promote CSO Quality Standards, we developed and delivered an advocacy strategy course to enable CSOs to better address local issues, empower their organisations, and foster partnership with similar organisations. 

The training programme was developed in house in order to be relevant to the local context of our partner organisations, focused on broadening knowledge, improving skills, and developing the
sensitivity of the CSO leaders to address local issues using advocacy strategy. Two trainings were held so representatives from all 21 project districts and each partner CSO leader could attend. Altogether, 63 Partner CSO leaders, 2 MAP members, and 19 District Facilitators joined. The trainings were held over two weeks, from February 16-17 and 24-26, 2020 in Dhaka.

Partnership Training with UP Secretaries

To improve dialogue between civil society and government, and as a complement to the Advocacy Training held for CSO members, P4D designed and implemented a Partnership Training for Union Parishad Secretaries and CSO members. The P4D guide, ‘Partnerships for Impact: A Guide for Partnering with Civil Society, Business, and Government Groups’, was designed to help government officials engage in constructive conversations with CSOs and foster stronger relationships with local organisations.

The training, implemented in collaboration with the Research and Development Collective (RDC), was structured to develop participants’ understanding of partnership including what a partnership approach means, key principles of partnership, types of partnerships, and the benefits and challenges of partnership. The training also focused on developing an understanding of the broader aspects of the three sectors – public sector, civil society, and private sector, as well as improving the understanding of partnership building modalities and mechanisms in Bangladesh. 

The training, which took place in Dhaka at the end of February, provided UP Secretaries and CSO members with the right tools to better engage each other in a democratic and participatory manner. In total, 110 participants including CSO representatives, UP Secretaries and regional P4D staff joined the training in two groups.

 

PaSA in Mymensingh and Sylhet
Continuing our work from late January, Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) completed the final two workshops on Partnership for Social Accountability (PaSA). The workshops, held in Mymensingh on February 5-6 and in Sylhet on February 12-13, brought together CSO, NGO, and Multi-Actor Partnership (MAP) members as well as representatives from the Cabinet Division and the British Council to discuss social accountability tools, partnership modalities, and key thematic issues. At both workshops, participants were invited to learn about and discuss important topics affecting their communities, such as drug addiction, child marriage, quality education, participation in local government, rural health service/community clinics, and social accountability tools.

During all PaSA workshops, constructive conversations about promoting CSO quality standards to improve service delivery, accountability, and advocacy as well as ways to overcome difficulties related to thematic issues were discussed, giving local organisations tangible ways to address these issues on their own. By using these workshops as a collaborative space to share experiences, stories, challenges, and successes, participants left with recommendations, relevant solutions, and tools to make positive changes in their communities. Many of the takeaways from the discussions at our PaSA events have helped shape our Partnership for Impact Guide, so CSOs can refer to these lessons as they grow.

CSO Partners and MAPs Support their Communities during Covid-19

Throughout Bangladesh, communities are experiencing unprecedented hardships due to the restrictions caused by Coronavirus-19. In a swift response, many of our partner CSOs and MAPs launched their own initiatives to support their most vulnerable community members. In late March and April, they have raised awareness of COVID-19 in their communities, provided hygienic supplies to many households, donated food to those in need, and much more. In total, they have collectively helped roughly 550,000 people across Bangladesh cope with changes to ensure public health and safety. Even when we’re physically apart, we are staying connected.

After three years of working with the Cabinet Division and our CSO partners, Platforms for Dialogue has created a strong foundation for Bangladeshis to take full advantage of Social Accountability Tools. To showcase these tools to a broader audience, we launched a Social Accountability Tools Campaign on social media in April. While many of our partners are aware of these tools, many Bangladeshis still don’t know what they are, how they work, or why they’re important. To address this, we will be sharing new content to educate our audience on the Citizen’s Charter, Right to Information, Grievance Redress System, and National Integrity Strategy over the coming months.

We are also launching the Public Service Announcements (PSAs) we have designed with the help of the Cabinet Division for each Social Accountability Tool on our Facebook page and website. Through the videos and the campaign, our goal is that more and more citizens will learn about these Social Accountability Tools and be able to use these tools to positively impact their quality of life and improve public service delivery in Bangladesh. Visit our Facebook page or website to see more.

Programme Trainings for Government Officials

Strategic Communication Training for Local Journalists on Social Accountability Tools, Ensuring Transparency, and Better Service Delivery

The role of journalists is an essential component of an accountable and transparent government. In January and February, Platforms for Dialogue partnered with the National Institute of Mass Communication (NIMC) to design and deliver capacity building workshops for local journalists to be able to report on Social Accountability Tools. During this period, the NIMC conducted 9 trainings with 225 journalists from 25 news media outlets on how they can improve the quality of news articles in order to ensure government accountability and transparency at district and Upazila levels. 

The training covered the Citizen’s Charter (CC), Right to Information (RTI), National Integrity Strategy (NIS), and Grievance Redress System (GRS) and included writing skills on columns, articles, and case stories related to these tools. Most importantly, all participants learned why and how each tool impacts and improves good governance practices.

 

Giving Government Officials the Training they Need to Promote Social Accountability Tools

Last Autumn, Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) partnered with the National Institute of Local Government (NILG) to design and deliver six workshops to sensitise Government Officials on social accountability tools. During September and October, the NILG trained 1,000 Government Officials from various autonomous government bodies in the Dhaka area on how they can improve the quality of service delivery and ensure good governance in their organisations by using social accountability tools.

The training covered the Citizen’s Charter (CC), Right to Information (RTI), National Integrity Strategy (NIS), Grievance Redress System (GRS), and the Annual Performance Agreement (APA). During each session, the participants learned the definition, concept and background, related procedures, and government officials’ roles for the use of each tool. Most importantly, all participants learned why and how each tool impacts and improves good governance practices. The lead facilitators for the workshops were Dr. Md. Mushfiqur Rahman, Joint Secretary Cabinet Division and Mr. Md. Golam Yahia (Additional Secretary), Director (Training), NILG.

Consultation, Facilitation, and Management Techniques for Senior Government Officials

Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) partnered with the Bangladesh Civil Service Administration Academy (BCSAA) to design and deliver two 2-day trainings on Management Techniques for Senior Government Officials to improve service delivery to citizens. After conducting a 3-day Training of Trainers in November of 2019, the BCSAA conducted two technical courses for 83 senior government officials in January and February.

The skills-based training covered practices of consultation, facilitation, and management techniques that can be used across various government departments to ensure improved service delivery for citizens. Since then, there has been a noticeable change in the mindset and behaviours of the officials who partook in the trainings. These officials have actively shared their new skills with their colleagues and have begun assisting their respective departments to properly execute consultative management processes.

Annual Performance Management (APM) Training for Government Officials

In partnership with the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC), Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) designed and delivered seven training courses to build capacity of ICT Officers on the Annual Performance Management (APM) Tool. Annual Performance Agreement (APA) is essentially a record of understanding between the Cabinet Secretary representing the Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Secretary of the concerned Ministry/Division representing the Minister. Government Performance Management System has been introduced with the purpose of promoting greater transparency and accountability in Government organizations, utilizing  resources properly, and increasing institutional efficiency.

In February and March, following a 2-day Training of Trainers, the BPATC trained 350 government officials, of which 90 were female and 260 were male, focusing on how they can improve the quality of performance management of government departments at district and upazila levels using the APM tool. The training was a skills-based course and focused on developing the necessary skills to properly prepare the Annual Performance Agreement and evaluate performance. P4D’s priority has been to build capacity on “mandatory requirements” as defined each year by the Cabinet Division for all public agencies to help unify efforts and improve performance management across public institutions.

Grievance Redress System (GRS) Software Training with REVE Systems

The Grievance Redress System is an essential accountability tool to ensure public service satisfaction and improve public services when they fail. In February and March, Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) partnered with the REVE Systems to conduct two, 2-day training courses on GRS Software Operation. After a training of trainers, REVE Systems worked with 43 GRS Focal Persons and GRS System Analysts to train them on the operational skills required to ensure quality management of GRS in government departments. The training not only covered the technical aspects of how to manage and troubleshoot the system but also gave government officials the training needed to understand the social implications of the GRS as a tool to help both citizens access public services properly and help the government enhance public services.

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