District Policy Forum (DPF) Formation and Orientation Workshop Completed
After successful completion of local level (Upazila/Union) interventions, Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) has scaled up activities at the district level in Bagerhat, Bandarban, Brahmanbaria, Jamalpur, Kishoreganj, Kushtia, Nilphamari, Natore, Panchagarh, Patuakhali, Munshiganj, and Moulvibazar.
In March, the project organised orientation workshops in all 12 districts for the District Policy Forum members for a total of 240 participants. After the workshops, District Policy Forums were formed in each district with representatives from district-based NGOs, P4D CSO partners, representatives from Multi-Actors Partnership Groups, and prominent civil society members. All who joined showed great interest in working on local issues, promoting social accountability tools, and facilitating dialogue between citizens and policymakers.
Despite the need to ensure social distancing, P4D is committed to promoting a more enabling environment for effective engagement and participation of citizens and civil society in decision-making and oversight on all levels. To that end, it is essential to bring together interested civil society actors and build their capacity for articulating and representing citizens’ interests, acting as a catalyst, and effectively using social accountability tools, including the Citizen’s Charter (CC), Right to Information (RTI), Grievance Redress System (GRS), and National Integrity Strategy (NIS). While our activities have pivoted and we are adapting to the new working restrictions, our commitment is unwavering.
As part of our work providing capacity building for civil society actors, we are organising online foundation training for the District Policy Forum members in May-June 2021 so that they can perform their role more effectively. After the training, the project will provide technical, logistical, and necessary support to the DPFs on advocacy, dialogue facilitation, civic engagement, and promotion of social accountability tools.
Training MAP Members on Social Accountability Tools
P4D organised 6 training sessions on Social Accountability Tools for Multi-Actor Partnership (MAP) group members in April 2021. The training sessions were conducted online with 180 MAP members (134 were male and 46 were female) from our 21 project districts. 136 of the participants were under the age of 35, making the trainings highly engaging for youth. The training was very interactive and useful for the senior government officials as well. They got valuable feedback directly from the community on the government’s Social Accountability Tools, especially Citizen’s Charters and the Grievance Redress System.
The training was delivered by Md. Golam Faruque, PhD, Additional Secretary, Cabinet Division & Project Director-P4D Project, Ms Ayesha Akther, Joint Secretary, Cabinet Division & Deputy Project Director-P4D Project, and Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Division & Assistant Project Director- P4D Project.
Women’s Day Campaign: Improving Women’s Representation in P4D’s Online Community
This year, in our celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, we focused our efforts on a two-week campaign to showcase women’s impacts through the P4D project and highlight how using the key social accountability tools can engender women’s empowerment. The overarching goal of the campaign was to promote women’s rights and encourage women to engage in democratic processes in Bangladesh, as well as to improve equal gender representation among our social media followers. While we targeted our core demographic, in alignment with previous campaigns, we added another layer to specifically target women from our project districts. This led to remarkable results.
The boosted posts reached an astounding 1.93 million unique users during the 14-day period our campaign ran on Facebook. Compared to our longer, more complex campaigns in 2020, P4D has not achieved this amount of reach in just 14 days, until now. Furthermore, 135,703 individuals engaged with our content through likes, comments, and clicks. Also noteworthy is the fact that because of this campaign, P4D currently has roughly 22,000 followers, now with nearly half of them identifying as female due directly to the women's campaign. This is a major accomplishment that will not only support our efforts to reach more women through our upcoming campaigns but can translate to increased participation from women in our project activities moving forward, even if they’re online.
Third Social Media Campaign Begins
Following Bangladesh’s 50th Independence Day celebration, we began to implement our third Social Marketing Campaign (SMC) on the key Social Accountability Tools (SATs). Starting with the Right to Information Act, 2009, we will spend the following three months sharing content on the 4 key SATs explaining what they are, how citizens can use them, and why they are important for our democracy. Continuing from our previous campaign in the Fall of 2020, we are designing edutainment-focused content with our SAT characters. While some of the content in the current campaign was previously published, reinforcing the messages will help our followers, old and new, gain a deeper understanding of accountability and transparency policies. The campaign will continue with sections on the Citizen’s Charter, the Grievance Redress System, and finally with the National Integrity Strategy. The campaign is set to conclude in early June when we will pause scheduled and promoted content to develop new content for our fourth campaign in the Fall of 2021.
Lessons Learned: Social Media Campaign Takeaways from 2020 and How P4D is Adapting Moving Forward
In 2020, P4D ran two online Social Marketing Campaigns (SMCs) to promote the four key Social Accountability Tools (SATs). During those campaigns, we highlighted each SAT, educating our followers and our target audience through boosted posts on Facebook on what each tool is, how to use it, and why each tool is important. In order to better prepare for future campaigns in 2021 and 2022, we put together a brief report on the lessons learned from the Spring and Fall campaigns of 2020 and how to best adjust our strategy for future campaigns. The following outlines the main takeaways:
Spring Campaign Takeaways:
Photo posts with Single Person Images and Group Images perform better and improve reach and engagement as opposed to posts with more text and icons.
Infographics have a relatively higher organic reach for our audience who are targeted based on the post messaging being relevant to their profile. However, new viewers are less likely to engage with infographics.
Informal videos have a lower reach than formal videos. People like to see a formatted video that is well organised with a particular message. Formal videos are more educational, so viewers may watch more in order to receive information on how to benefit from the service being described.
Long videos are less likely to be viewed in full by our audience. Viewer retention dramatically decreases after 45 seconds of any video. In order to increase viewer retention, videos should remain under 2 minutes.
In the Fall campaign, we adjusted some of our content, based on our learning from the Spring, and found that overall, the campaign performed nominally better. This was in part due to new SAT characters that we introduced in our infographics and videos, as well as changes we made to our content design. We eliminated text-heavy graphics and focused on using our animated characters, images of people, and video content. Specific lessons include the following:
Fall Campaign Takeaways:
Photo graphics work better in bringing both organic and sponsored reach and engagement.
Infographics with an animated character and content that aligns with the video storyline are more likely to engage followers and reach a larger audience.
Our videos are receiving excellent Reach, Engagement, Conversion, and Advocacy targets (R.E.C.A.). People are learning about the SATs from the animated characters now, and these videos are creating a consistent brand value for the SATs.
Facebook provides many engagement tools now such as a poll option in video, profile picture frame, hashtags, and more. During this campaign, we only used the relevant ones to engage our audience, however, some of the tools are still in beta testing and have limitations.
The successes of our online SMCs have given us clear feedback on the type of content our audience enjoys and engages with. In order to continue improving our R.E.C.A. in future campaigns, we will focus on the content that has provided the highest metrics. Videos, especially short ones, are the most effective way to keep attention online. Colourful, edutaining graphics (such as photo graphics or graphic-focused infographics) are also highly engaging. In order to reach a larger audience, and hence, increase R.E.C.A. overall, we also need to run page like ads to increase our organic reach. As we begin to roll out our 3rd SMC, the first one of 2021, we are following the lessons learned in our 2020 campaigns and hope to see further R.E.C.A. as we continue monitoring our progress.
P4D Masks: How We’re Working Towards Safe In-Person Activities
Early in the year, as some in-person activities resumed, our team made great efforts to
ensure that all safety precautions were carefully implemented. Beginning with risk assessments and careful venue selection, our team saw health safety as our number one priority before moving forward with any in-person events. Our Regional Coordinators, District Facilitators, and CSO partners participated in safety trainings and maintained proper social distancing. Furthermore, to build back morale while working socially distanced, we designed, manufactured, and distributed quality P4D face masks to our field staff and volunteers. Our local partners were also instrumental in helping our communities promote the use of face coverings, and some went so far as to involve District level surgeons to help increase public awareness and orient P4D participants on health guidelines.
As we maneuver the changing policies and guidelines, P4D is taking every measure to ensure the safety of our partners and participants. While our in-person activities are now paused, we will continue to follow health guidelines and policies with extreme caution as conditions change.
Virtual IGSA: Chattogram and Rajshahi
At the end of April, P4D successfully organised the first two Virtual Inclusive Governance and Social Accountability (V-IGSA) Workshops. The inaugural events took place online in partnership with the Cabinet Division. The first V-IGSA took place on 22 April with 65 participants from Chattogram. The event was chaired by Mr. A B M Azad ndc, Divisional Commissioner, Chattogram, and Mr. Md. Kamal Hossain, Secretary, Coordination and Reforms (C&R), Cabinet Division, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh joined the event as the Chief Guest. The second event took place on 28 April for 63 participants from Rajshahi, with Chief Guest Mr. Md. Kamal Hossain, Secretary, Coordination and Reforms (C&R), Cabinet Division. Dr. Md. Humayun Kabir, Divisional Commissioner, Rajshahi chaired the workshop.
Both events covered presentations on the key Social Accountability Tools, specifically focusing on the Citizen’s Charters and the Grievance Redress System. Combined, 128 participants joined the virtual events, which have received positive feedback from both the Cabinet Division and British Council’s Director of Programmes -Bangladesh, Jessica Magson. Based on the success of these two V-IGSAs, we plan to propose similar events for P4D project Districts that have yet to hold an IGSA workshop.
NIMC Completes Final Strategic Journalist Trainings
The NIMC has completed its final trainings on ‘Strategic Communication to ensure Good Governance’ for journalists in Bandarban. The 2-day virtual training took place from 25-26 January with Twenty-five journalists. Through this initiative with P4D, a total of 500 local Journalists in 21 districts have received training on Social Accountability Tools and Strategic Communications. This capacity building support was provided with an expectation to make the journalists aware and equipped in preparing an array of news items covering social accountability as a pathway to good governance.