Ensuring Rights for All: Kishoreganj CSO Teaches Citizens How to Curb Corruption
Updated: Aug 1, 2021
Civil Society Organization (CSO) Meghborshon Samaj Kallyan Shangstha has been advocatig for social welfare since its inception in 2009. The youth organisation, led by Aminul Huqe Manik, has been especially active in its efforts to eradicate child labour in Karimganj, a sub district of Kishoreganj.
“One of our first projects was to eradicate child labour. We scouted every commercial operation in the union and found 200 child labourers. We enrolled all the children in the local pre-school, and we threatened their employers with legal action,” says Manik. The young CSO leader with other members of Meghborshon Samaj Kallyan Shangstha have virtually stopped child labour in Karimganj Upazila. Their vigilance has had astounding results. “Go visit the market. You will not see a single child working there. People know us for that.”
The organisation has also previously worked with The Hunger Project to fight against malnutrition in Kishoreganj, and they regularly arrange free health camps for locals in partnership with doctors and philanthropists. The organisation also has a relief fund, which they use to distribute free blankets to those in need during the winter.
In addition to their work protecting children’s rights, reducing malnutrition, and supporting the underprivileged, Meghborshon Samaj Kallyan Shangstha has been enlisted as a strategic partner for the EU- funded P4D programme, which is being implemented by the British Council in partnership with the government’s Cabinet Division. As part of the CSO’s Social Action Projects (SAPs) with P4D, the youth group has conducted anti-drug campaigns in schools, held local authorities accountable for the lack of basic services, and coordinated with community clinics to ensure better healthcare.
“As a result of the SAP on government accountability, 150 households were able to talk to the Union Chairman directly and express their concerns,” says Md Abu Bahar, who led the project. He added that people were not even aware of what the responsibilities of the Union Council were. “The citizens were able to discuss the condition of the roads, pavements and water supply, and the chairman promised that these problems would be solved.”
Another SAP volunteer, Mazarul Islam, mentioned that the social action projects have helped the organisation educate many local people on policy tools that can assist them to access their rights and public services.
“While conducting the anti-drug campaign in schools, we taught hundreds of students how to file Right to Information (RTI) applications. I told them that having access to public information would help curb corruption in the community.”
Mazarul also pointed out that people were eager to change the system, but they did not know-how. Equipped with an understanding of RTI and other social accountability tools, they now have the resources to stay engaged with local leaders and decision-makers. Manik, the CSO leader, added that the P4D SAPs have helped his organisation reach more people, and as a result, community members are learning about policy instruments and using them to establish good governance.
Manik said that local youth created the organisation so that they can contribute to building a better community.
“We were just a voluntary organisation. Now both the beneficiaries and the volunteers are aware of the policy instruments because of P4D’s initiatives. This will help us all in the long run.”
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Platforms for Dialogue and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.