Updated: Aug 9
Despite wrapping up the National Dialogue events before the end of the year, P4D’s District Policy Forums (DPFs) remain active in their communities. Though P4D has not provided financial support for field-level activities since September 2022, DPFs have remained committed to keeping the platform active and have regularly arranged monthly meetings of their own volution. To continue their own plans and to support the exit strategy planned by P4D, the DPFs have reviewed their individual activity planning and progress. Additionally, many DPFs have held events promoting the Social Accountability Tools (SATs) and celebrating relevant observance days.
In Patuakhali, the DPF worked with the District Administration to host a Digital Innovation Fair which promoted public and private digital initiatives. The fair took place on 21 and 22 December at DC Square. Patuakhali DPF took part by displaying awareness-raising videos on GRS, RTI, Citizen’s Charter, and the National Integrity Strategy (NIS), promoting P4D’s Virtual Community Resource Centre (V-CRC), and showcasing the DPF’s online activities. A total of 303 visitors including 129 females stopped by the DPF’s stall.
DPFs also initiated their own celebration of Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December. To unite citizens and raise their voices against corruption, DPFs observed International Anti-Corruption Day by hosting discussion meetings, organising rallies, and creating human chains. Along with citizens of different backgrounds, senior district administration officials and other government officials also joined these events across the 12 DPFs.
Lastly, in conjunction with P4D as part of the project exit strategy, P4D organised a Preparatory Meeting for DPF Regional Workshops in January. To support relationship building among DPF and National Thematic Forum (NTF) members, increase DPF members' capacity, and address the process of combining 3 NTFs, P4D and DPF leaders planned DPF Regional Workshops to take place in February and March. A total of four DPF Regional Workshops will take place in Chattogram, Gazipur, Rangpur, and Khulna with three DPFs at each workshop.
Sixth Social Media Campaign Closes
To continue widening our project’s reach and engage more people with the Social Accountability Tools (SATs), we implemented our 6th Social Awareness-Raising Campaign on Facebook. The campaign, which focused on the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of each Social Accountability Tool, and concluded with a final section on instilling a sense of civic duty and citizen ownership of SATs, came to a close in December.
The campaign reached approximately 13.62 million unique accounts, which is 51% higher than the previous campaign. Overall, shares, conversions, and engagements decreased from the previous campaign due to various world events such as the World Cup and political turbulence. The reach results greatly improved, however, likely because of the increased budget, adapted content, and longer campaign timespan.
In total, we published 59 posts in both English and Bangla (118 total) including infographics, photo graphics, success stories, PSA videos, animation videos, and posts on the Virtual CRC. We also published four short new videos that mixed live action and animation with local CSO representatives to make the content more relevant and interesting to the target audience. Overall, the content adopted a mixed methodology of awareness raising, calls to action, and explaining how to use the policy tools. Our goal was to attract our audience’s attention through fresh and interesting content and to generate a deeper awareness of the tools among the target population (specifically in 12 DPF districts). Moreover, some of the content worked to promote awareness of P4D’s key thematic issues such as child marriage, community clinics, and quality education.
2023 P4D Calendar
P4D successfully released and distributed the new 2023 P4D desk calendar in January. The calendar features new pages that highlight women of P4D, District Policy Forums, National Thematic Forums, the press and accountability, hotline numbers, and the Social Accountability Tools. If you are interested in a copy, please contact a P4D representative in your area. Digital copies are available on the website at p4dbd.org under the Resources section.
Google Ads Campaign Completed
With P4D soon coming to a close, we wanted to make one last push to promote the SATs to the public in our project districts. While our in-person activities and social media campaign have been effective methods to reach and engage P4D beneficiaries, we decided to scale up our efforts by using a non-traditional approach, Google Ads, to spread our message. Our Google Marketing Campaign started on 31 August and concluded on 17 November 2022. After initiating the 6th Social Awareness-Raising Campaign on social media, the Google Marketing Campaign was launched to compliment the overall promotion of thematic issues and social accountability tools along with field-level activities. The campaign was divided into four parts: RTI, CC, GRS, and NIS.
Each campaign section lasted 18 days with 11 days focused on promoting static creatives and 7 days promoting our policy videos on YouTube. Our ads enticed internet users to click on our call to action, which led them to a landing page on the P4D website. There, they could browse resources on the specific SAT’s landing page including more videos, graphics, publications, blog posts, and external government websites when applicable. These pages were designed to keep users engaged and interested in learning more about the social accountability tool, and we added Google tags to capture audience behaviour which helped us retarget interested visitors with longer video ads.
We set three audience categories for targeting and retargeting in our project districts with content specifically adapted according to our target groups’ preferences and knowledge:
The intellectual class: Mostly civil society members and opinion leaders with an interest in governance policy.
The activist class: The grass-roots activists working to ensure fair implementation of the policies such as government officials, NGO workers, and CSO volunteers.
The general public: The general population across P4D project districts.
All content was targeted to people 18 and over within these categories, except for the GRS and Citizen’s Charter campaigns which were targeted to people 30 and older.
The campaign focused on achieving maximum viewable impressions in P4D’s 12 project districts. Our goal was to further educate people about the Social Accountability Tools and the three thematic issues our project is working on: ending child marriage, improving access to community clinics, and improving the quality of education.
We speculated achieving 35 million viewable impressions; however, we surpassed this by over 5.5 million.
Despite being the project’s first attempt at search engine advertising, our strategy to target a wider audience and retarget those who showed more interest in the content proved to be very successful. We also focused on facilitating deep learning for the activist and intellectual segment of our target group, which was measured by the amount of time and actions (called events) they took on the landing pages. Based on the metrics, the RTI section of the campaign held the audience’s attention for a longer period compared to the other policy tools, however, the NIS campaign section saw the highest number of unique visitors and the highest number of page events.
This campaign, while successful, also created a great opportunity to develop a search engine advertising for development strategy which could be useful and beneficial to awareness-raising campaigns for similar projects in the future. Citizen adoption of new policies and governance tools is often slow, even in the most developed democracies. Using modern advertising tools could prove to be very effective in speeding up this process, especially for the Government of Bangladesh, which is working to develop quickly and sustainably, better engage civil society, and encourage citizens to understand their rights.
DPF Activities Visual Report Shared with Field Partners
Since the creation of District Policy Forums (DPFs), we have been tracking their progress and documenting their stories. A new publication titled, “The Power of Dialogue,” tells each DPF’s story on their foundational steps, community interventions, and advocacy work holding public hearings and attending budget meetings. Each DPF focused on one of the key thematic issues: preventing child marriage, improving community clinics, or improving the quality of education. By focusing on one of these key issues, they were each able to implement impactful social action projects, which are told in the pages of this book. The visual report was produced in English and Bangla, and copies have been distributed to our beneficiaries and stakeholders. To see a digital copy, please visit the Resources section of our website at p4dbd.org.
Success Stories from the Field
Overcoming Hardships: How a Person with Disability Improved his Community in Jashore
Prokash Chandra Moholader, a Multi-Actor Partnership (MAP) member from Jashore, is known in his community as an advocacy leader. Since benefitting from using the Citizen’s Charter, he’s been working at the policy level to improve the quality of life for people in his community by promoting social accountability tools, preventing child marriage, and improving the environment to mitigate climate change. Despite having a disability, he has connected CSOs, citizens, and local government officials by helping to develop a culture of collaborative working practices, and he continues to work to improve policy development and implementation at the local and national levels. With his team, he gradually formed an effective network with Payra Union Parishad and Abhaynagar Upazilla Administration to streamline their efforts.
Last year, Prokash implemented a tree plantation social action project (SAP) with 50 people from his community. He even involved the Upazilla Agriculture Officer in the online SAP training (conducted via smartphone) and facilitated the whole initiative, even with Covid-19 pandemic limitations.
After the training, participants planted at least one of eight kinds of trees around their household (Haribhanga- a mango breed, Lemon, Jarul-Timber, Coconut, Nut, Guava, Kul, and Nim). Prokash also participated in a panel discussion on Climate Change and COP26 organised by the Alliance Française in Dhaka. Because of his SAP contributions, he has built a strong network with the local government in Pyra Union, Abhaynagar. Since graduating with his master's degree, he has been an advocacy leader in his community, and as a result, he was offered a part-time job at the local Land Office.
While working with Platforms for Dialogue, he has flourished in many ways. Prokash has now realised how working towards building a better society can contribute positively to his life and reduces hardships for himself and his community. He is optimistic about having a better future for his family now, and he is motivated to encourage people to participate in community development and use social accountability tools.
Expediting Administrative Fixes: Kushtia DPF Intervenes to Help Local Woman Correct her NID
Incorrect information on National Identity Documents (NID) is a common issue for Bangladeshi citizens. Robina Khatun, a resident from Kushtia, needed a NID correction, but after several visits to government offices, she still couldn’t resolve her problem. The DPF (District Policy Forum) Secretary in Kushtia suggested that she attend a public hearing to raise the issue and see if she could get the help she needed.
After sharing her problem at the DPF-supported public hearing, the ADM (Additional District Magistrate) recommended that she visit the local election office which could solve her problem. There, the Election Officer immediately resolved the issue. Incidentally, her problem had already been resolved, but because of a server failure, she had not received any notice from the government. After her visit to the Election Office, the official assured Robina that she would receive an updated NID shortly. Thanks to the DPF, she was able to solve her problem and get clear direction on how to move forward.
MAP Members in Munshiganj Work to Improve Community Clinic Services
Community clinics are vital to supporting community health. However, without the proper infrastructure, these clinics become susceptible to deterioration or can cause risk to community members. To improve accessibility, functioning, and quality of service, several Multi Actor Partnership (MAP) members in Munshiganj are working with their local community clinics to improve community clinic services through infrastructural renovations and equipment procurement.
In Ichapura, Sirajdikhan, our MAP members helped renovate the clinic entrance and repair the sewage system around the community clinic. Community members also procured new electric fans and blood pressure measuring machines to ensure better service quality. With the MAP’s oversight, the clinic management committee has been paying electric bills and other expenses regularly, and the MAP members have engaged community stakeholders to ensure proper service and maintenance.
The Malkhanagar MAP also provided support to their local community clinic by installing a tube well at the clinic. They are also working to improve the waiting room for the patients to make it safer and more comfortable. Finally, the MAP members have planned and monitored regular clinic cleaning, to ensure proper sanitation practices.
In collaboration with the MAP groups, civil society members in Munshiganj are trying to standardise community clinic services. Together, they are supporting better health services and imbuing community ownership of their local clinics.
Strategic Communications Training for National Media Professionals
Following the start of the third phase of activities, the National Institute of Mass Communication (NIMC) held a workshop for national media professionals on 16 January. A panel of 20 experts from the media sector, government agencies, and civil society participated in the workshop.
Two additional training workshops on strategic communications for good governance for national media professionals were organised in January. The first 3-day training tailored for print media professionals was held from the 24th to the 26th of January and the second training for electronic media professionals began on the 30th of January. A total of 60 national-level media professionals participated in the training workshops, of which 23 were female media professionals. The remaining training will be completed in February.
Communications Strategy on Social Accountability Tools
An actionable communications strategy for the government to promote social accountability tools is key to ensuring project sustainability. The Cabinet Division in collaboration with the NIMC formed a twelve-member Strategic Communications Working Group (SCWG) in November. Concurrently, P4D collaborated with Government Communication Services International (GCSI) of the UK Cabinet Office to provide capacity-building support to the SCWG and facilitate the development of a communications strategy.
The initial interaction between GCSI and the SCWG started with the launch of a two-and-a-half-week online communications course. GCSI started the online training for the SCWG on 28 January, which will continue until 13 February. A pre-course survey was also conducted by GCSI with the participants, and an induction meeting between SCWG and GCSI was held on 31 January where the participants familiarised themselves with each other and the upcoming course topics. The in-country strategy development workshop will be held from 16-18 February. The final strategy will then be presented to relevant stakeholders and handed over to the Cabinet Division for implementation.
3rd Party Monitoring Tools Survey, Workshop, and Validation with CD
Following the initial meeting between the Cabinet Division, P4D, and Participatory Management Initiative for Development (PMID) in early November 2022, the PMID developed a survey questionnaire to collect baseline data for the third-party monitoring tool. Following the validation workshop and discussion on 22 November 2022, which was presided over by the Secretary of Coordination and Reform, the questionnaire was updated, reviewed by the Cabinet Division, and finalised in December. PMID organised an enumerator training from 1-3 January 2023, and field-level data collection began on 5 January 2023.
BPATC Completed Research on SATs
The BPATC completed their research on five accountability tools in December 2022 and submitted their reports for review to the Cabinet Division. P4D Project Director and Deputy Project Director, Ms Ayesha Akther and Mr Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, respectively, are now in the process of completing the review and finalising the research reports.
National Dialogues on Community Clinics and Quality Education
Following P4D’s first successful National Dialogue (ND) on Child Marriage, the project coordinated two more National Dialogues in November. On 21 and 26 November, National Thematic Forum (NTF) members from 12 project districts, senior government officials, and key stakeholders from the European Union Delegation, Cabinet Division, and British Council were brought together to discuss issues concerning community clinics and the quality of education, respectively, in Dhaka. 200 additional NTF participants from 21 project districts joined each event online.
At the ND on Community Clinics, Md Shamsul Arefin, Secretary, Coordination & Reforms, Cabinet Division chaired the event, Mr Khandker Anwarul Islam, the Honourable Cabinet Secretary joined as Chief Guest, Mr Maurizio Cian, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh joined as the Special Guest, and Ms Ayesha Akther, Joint Secretary, Cabinet Division & PD-P4D Project and Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet & DPD-P4D Project moderated the event. Md Kamal Hossain, Senior Secretary, Technical & Madrasah Education Division, Ministry of Education, Fatima Yasmin, Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, Sharifa Khan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, Dr Md. Anwar Hossain Howlader, Secretary, Health Services Division, and Md. Saiful Hassan Badal, Secretary, of Medical Education & Family Welfare Division, MoHFW also participated as special guests.
After welcome remarks and opening speeches, Dr S. M. Zahedul Islam Chowdhury, a BIDS researcher, presented a position paper on behalf of the NTF titled Improving Service at Community Clinics. The paper identified common issues, posited practical solutions to the problems facing community clinics in Bangladesh, and put forth recommendations for different stakeholders on how they could contribute to improving services at community clinics. This was followed by open discussion, where all participants were invited to speak and share their views on the issues raised.
Consensus was reached among civil society members and government officials that the involvement of local community members needs to improve, clinic monitoring requires more oversight, and imbuing a sense of responsibility and improving capacity for health care providers is necessary to improve the quality of care at community clinics. Infrastructure improvements and unhygienic practices were also frequently mentioned as essential issues to address.
At the ND on Quality Education, Md Shamsul Arefin, Secretary, Coordination & Reforms, Cabinet Division chaired the event and Mr Khandker Anwarul Islam, the Honourable Cabinet Secretary joined as Chief Guest. Mr Md. Kamal Hossain, Senior Secretary, Madrasa Education Board, Ministry of Education, Mr Farid Ahmed, Secretary, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, and Mr Md. Abu Bakr Siddique, Secretary, Secondary and Higher Education Division, Ministry of Education, joined as Special Guests. Ms Fani Farmaki joined as an additional Special Guest from the EUD, and Ms Ayesha Akther, Joint Secretary, Cabinet Division & PD-P4D Project and Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet & DPD-P4D Project moderated the event.
With the assistance of Rizwana Islam, (Research Fellow BIDS) Dr Zulfiqar Ali, BIDS Senior Research Fellow, presented a position paper titled Improving Quality Education at Primary and Secondary Levels on behalf of the National Thematic Forum. The presentation covered the key pitfalls of the primary and secondary educational system in Bangladesh, identified probable causes, and outlined possible solutions for key stakeholders. Dr Ali said that while the Government of Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in achieving school enrollment at both primary and secondary levels, there is a strong perception that the quality of education declined significantly in comparison to previous years.
Poverty, poor teacher performance, safety and security, curriculum and learning materials, weak assessment systems and the burden of public examinations, expanding private coaching centres and guidebooks, dysfunctional School Management Committees (SMCs), weak monitoring and enforcement of rules and regulations, and inadequate support for students with disabilities were just some of the issues raised during the dialogue event. Participants enthusiastically discussed possible solutions including strengthening the SMCs and involving parents in school affairs, developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system, regulating private tutoring, regular updating of academic curricula, reviewing teachers’ recruitment and training practices, ensuring access to quality education for all, promoting inclusive education, reviewing the Student Assessment System, strengthening teachers’ ICT capacity to activate Digital Labs, and rebuilding school WASH facilities focusing on inclusion. Participants were so enthusiastic in fact, that many senior officials called for more dialogue events to address education reforms at technical institutions and universities as well.
Both events were deemed a success as many participants left with newly formed relationships, renewed vigour to address these pressing social issues, and a sense that senior policymakers had taken local concerns about these issues seriously. Though P4D is coming to a close this year, we hope that National Dialogues become part of Bangladesh’s political and policy framework and continue long into the future.
Reflection Session with NTFs on National Dialogues
Following the three National Dialogues, P4D arranged a virtual reflection workshop on 2 December for National Thematic Forum members. The President, Secretary, and other available core group members from P4D’s 12 DPFs participated in the workshop and shared their feedback. In summary, NTF members are happy that they had the opportunity to raise their voices and discuss district-level problems with senior government officials. Many noted how satisfying it was that senior government officials accepted them wholeheartedly and provided helpful guidance.
Ehsana Chowdhury, a DPF member from Moulvibazar said, “we attended the National Dialogue, listened to senior government officials, and raised and discussed our district-level problems with them. They listened to our words attentively, gave us direction, and encouraged us to continue our work. We were grateful for the opportunity to participate because usually, they are far beyond our reach. It exceeded our expectations.” Some participants felt that some improvements could also be made by extending the dialogues to a full day or multiple days, and for those who joined the National Dialogues virtually, they felt that connectivity improvements would make the experience more beneficial for those who could not attend in person.
Overall, participants were optimistic about the future prospects of addressing local-level issues with national-level support. The vast majority of DPFs have committed to continuing their work beyond P4D, and they hope more events like the National Dialogues that took place in 2022 will take place in the near future.
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.