Community Development through Social Dialogue: Work of a CSO
As the effects of climate change worsen throughout Bangladesh, Md Golam Mostafa, founder of Prokash Manabik Unnayan Sangstha (PMUS), is working to buffer the impacts on his community. Established in 2000, PMUS is focusing its efforts on improving the welfare of the people of Varara Union, Pabna Sadar Upazila through climate change mitigation and social welfare programming.
“Our Upazila is a flood-prone area, and the people suffer a lot because of this. I wanted to do something to help them improve their standard of living,” said Golam Mostafa.
A college teacher by profession, Golam Mostafa began to help the people of Varara become independent through micro-credit programmes, savings initiatives, cattle farming, sewing, agriculture trainings, and erosion mitigation. “We are a small organisation; however, we’re always determined to do our best in order to help our people,” said Golam Mostafa.
Some initiatives that PMUS runs in the community include tree plantation projects to protect the land from erosion during floods, the distribution of deep tube-wells for safe drinking waters, and teaching community members about taking sanitation precautions for improved hygiene and health.
Nearly a decade after it was founded, PMUS was selected as one of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to partner with Platforms For Dialogue, a European Union-funded project implemented by the British Council with the cooperation of the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh.
In coordination with P4D, PMUS runs three Social Action Projects (SAPs)– promoting the Right to Information, providing agricultural trainings, and raising awareness against sexual harassment.
The Right to Information SAP also incorporates the Grievance Redress System (GRS), so people learn that not only can they petition the government for public information, but they can also file a formal complaint if they are denied a public at any government office.
PMUS holds meetings on the Right to Information are held at schools or colleges, and they integrate quiz competitions, workshops, and dynamic meetings to make the awareness campaign more interactive and successful. People are taught about RTI and GRS at large gatherings because “people of all walks of life, literate or illiterate, go to public offices to receive services. They all need to know about this,” said Golam Mostafa.
Under the Right to Information project, people are also taught about the Citizen’s Charter; another social accountability tool P4D is working to promote.
PMUS members gathered together to conduct their regular meeting.
“Now, the people of our locality know what the Citizen’s Charter is, and they actually follow the charter whenever they go to the Union Parishad Office,” said Golam Mostafa. Learning about these social accountability tools has helped many citizens in this region learn how to access public services and ensure accountable service delivery.
The second SAP that PMUS is focusing on facilitates meetings between government officers and farmers on agricultural issues. Golam Mostafa stated that,
“many of the farmers did not know how they could reach the officers to get necessary information, advocacy, or any other type of help before our campaign. We are trying to lift these barriers between the government officers and the farmers.”