Updated: Mar 14
Grievance redressal is recognised worldwide as an important indicator of an institution’s proficiency, efficiency, and trustworthiness. At the government level, grievance redressal is a governance related management process that helps ensure better public service for citizens. In Bangladesh, the government has instituted the use of the Grievance Redress System (GRS), which is a platform for aggrieved parties to appeal to relevant authorities if they are dissatisfied with a public service. The role of GRS is very important in making administrations accountable to citizens, improving the quality of services, and strengthening good governance.
Through Platforms for Dialogue's (P4D) partnerships with government training institutions, government officials have been trained on GRS software and on how to address complaints efficiently and professionally. We have also provided trainings for Civil Society Organisations (CSO) on GRS to teach citizens at the local level how they can access this tool and help ensure better service delivery in their community in the future. Additionally, our Community Resource Centres (CRCs) have welcomed citizens to use their computers and helped them use the online GRS platform. Stories shared by our partners demonstrates the effectiveness of GRS and its positive impact on the community.
‘Mister’, uniquely named after the English honorific for man, leads the CSO Unique Welfare Organisation, which is located on the banks of Brahmaputra River in the Guthail village of Jamalpur District. The first story told by the people working with the youth group was that they had saved a village from government acquisition for a dam.
Mister says it happened because one of his volunteers was approached by a group of people after a GRS campaign with P4D.
They learned about the government’s Grievance Redress System from one of our Social Action Projects (SAP). We helped them file the application after the military wanted to build a dam over their land and the authorities acted on it quickly. We saved their homes.
says Fahad Hossain, who led the campaign for GRS awareness.
This is just one of the success stories from the Unique Welfare Organisation, which was launched in 2010 when a group of 32 high school graduates decided they would work for the well-being of the people of their Union Council, which had long been afflicted by floods and the negligence of the government’s trickle-down policies.
The founders have all grown up to be successful businessmen, farmers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiastic social workers, which has allowed the Unique Welfare Organisation to be a center for conversations and a democratic institute working for the community.
Since its inception, the Unique Welfare Organisation has been extensively involved in relief programmes in the flood-prone Islampur Union, where the monsoon brings misery for thousands as rising water levels invade their homes. The organisation also supports meritorious students with yearly stipends and arranges funding for orphans living in mosques and madrasahs.
As a registered organisation with the Social Services Department, the youth group has also worked with international organisations like Islamic Relief in the past to distribute blankets, food, and essential commodities among marginalised communities. Since becoming a strategic partner of P4D, members have utilised their experience to focus on Social Action Projects (SAPs) designed to promote good governance tools like the Right to Information, Grievance Redress System, National Integrity Strategy and Citizen’s Charters.
The organisation’s SAP on the Grievance Redress System (GRS) was perhaps the most successful as it was able to directly help a group of people, namely Jolukha, Sahar Ali, Hira Sarker, Sharifuddin, Morsheda, Rafiqul, and Sharmina save their houses from forcible acquisition.
I have three grandkids who live with me, and if my house were to be taken from me, all of us would have been on the streets.
said an emotional Morsheda while talking about how the P4D project helped them.
Other than GRS, Unique Welfare Organisation has also worked on accountability of the local Union Council offices, quality of education, and reducing corruption in social safety net programmes. Mister says the experience of working with P4D has given them the tools to carry on their good work.
“You know what they used to say after the Liberation War? They said, ‘We gave back the weapons, but not the training’. That’s exactly what I say about the P4D programme. Everyone learned from it and we will use this knowledge in the future.”
The Government of Bangladesh's Vision 2021 focuses on the development and promotion of systems to curb corruption and establish good governance. The establishment of the Grievance Redress System is a governing force for all ministries and public offices to achieve these goals. It is essential that GRS administrators keep their social and moral commitments at the heart of their work, as the ultimate responsibility lies with the civil servants receiving the complaints and their capacity to tend to each support request. If the people responsible for addressing complaints are not sensitive and do not fulfill their jobs effectively, the system will fail. With trainings, capacity development, and supportive interventions, P4D is focusing on ensuring public servants perform their job duties with compassion and integrity.