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Governance Advocacy Forum

Governance Advocacy Forum (GAF) is a renowned platform at national level established in 2007 that aims to promote democratic decentralization and local self government through campaign and policy advocacy. At present, the forum consists of 36 national and international non-government organizations, networks, local government platforms, concerned institutions and civil society representatives working towards local government reforms in Bangladesh. WAVE Foundation coordinates and provides secretarial support to the Forum.

EVOLUTION
At the end of 2006, WAVE Foundation and Governance Coalition-GC (NGOs alliance that are involved in direct program implementation, it is coordinated and facilitated by WAVE Foundation) organized a country wide campaign program on `Strong Local Government and it continued till mid 2007. In June 2007, the past Caretaker Government formed a seven members committee titled Sthaneeo Sarkar Protishthan Gotisheel O Shaktishalikaran Committee (The Committee for Accelerating and Strengthening Local Government Institutions) to review the then local government acts and recommend necessary amendments to guide an effective reformation of the entire local government system with a view to building efficient local government institutions. To complement and supplement the initiatives of the government, WAVE Foundation and GC invited organizations working on local government to jointly (a) identify and suggest required reform agenda based on grassroots reality; (b) analyze and finalize the recommendations for LG reform and (c) recommend strategies to ensure proper implementation of the reform. A total of 27 civil society organizations and institutions responded to the call for a broad based support towards promoting strong local government and decentralization in Bangladesh. These organizations decided to organize a National Convention with the slogan Strong Local Government Must be Established for Good Governance to finalize a set of recommendations developing through bottom-up discussions and assisting the Government in its local government institutional reform initiative. Accordingly, the national convention was held in July 2007 and finalized 40 points recommendations, submitted those to the committee and most of the recommendations were included in the committee report. Since then the 27 organizations were advancing their advocacy initiatives towards local government reforms together and in 2008, all the organizations unanimously decided to name the new platform as Governance Advocacy Forum (GAF). As part of continual engagement along with deepening its experience in promoting local government reform, at the end of 2009 the forum started Democratic Decentralization & Local Self Government Campaign and has continually been undertaking different initiatives to take this issue forward.

GOAL
To establish democratic decentralization and local self government system in line with the Constitution of Bangladesh.

OBJECTIVES
To formulate and implement democratic decentralization policy by the Government.
To strengthen all local government structures and making them functional as per the constitution and established local self government system.
To undertake campaign and advocacy initiatives on decentralization and local government related other issues.

ISSUES
Local Government Acts
Democratic Decentralization Policy
Local Government Financing and Budget
Local Government Commission

INITIATIVES UNDERTAKEN
Since its inception GAF has been undertaking a series of events like sharing meeting, seminar, press conference, roundtable, countrywide human chain, etc. for promoting democratic decentralization and local self government. Following are the major initiatives undertaken by GAF so far:
Countrywide campaign on Strong Local Government in 2006 and 2007.
Strong Local Government National Convention 2007 demanding establishment of decentralized and strong local government. The Convention finalized 40 point recommendations and submitted to Sthaneeo Sarkar Protishthan Gotisheel O Shaktishalikaran Committee formed by the former government.
Draft proposal and concept developed on formation of a `Local Government Commission and submitted to the former caretaker government.
Advocacy and campaign for incorporation of Democratic Decentralization and Local Self Government issues in the electoral manifestos of different political parties before 9th national parliament election in 2008.
Reviewed different Local Government Acts on 2009 and initiated campaign.
Democratic Decentralization National Convention 2010 held and a proposal of Democratic Decentralization Policy accepted there.
Continual Campaign and advocacy from 2010 in favor of the National Democratic Decentralization Policy proposal, local self government and Local Government Commission.
Reviewed and updated the Democratic Decentralization Policy proposal and formally handover the proposal to the Ministry of LGRD&Co-operative of GoB.
Review allocation for local government in national budget, organize pre/post budget events for sharing recommendations, react on emerging local government issues, etc.

ACHIEVEMENTS
Most of the 40 point recommendations of national convention were incorporated fully or partially in the ordinances of past caretaker government.
Local Government Commission was formed and activated by the former caretaker government (subsequently dissolved by the present government).
Jurisdictions of Village Court (UP activity) are expanded.
The Gram Sarkar Act is abolished (It was one of the demands).
Activities of Union Parishad Standing Committees are defined.
Provision for 2 Vice-chairmen (1 male and 1 female) in Upazila Parishad has been incorporated in Upazilla Parishad Act.
Integrated City Corporation Act has been formulated.
Major political parties were agreed to the demands of Democratic Decentralization and Local Self Government and incorporated those issues in their 2008 electoral manifestoes.
Upazila Parishad election was held successfully during the period of new government came into power in 2009.
Some provisions of the Local Government Acts 2009 are better and progressive.
GAF succeed in mobilizing public opinion on Democratic Decentralization Policy and Local Self-Government system; people from different segments are raising the issue together. A good number of policy makers express solidarity with the issue and contributing to uplift the execution of the demand.

CURRENT INITIATIVES
Implementing a campaign titled Campaign for Democratic Decentralization Policy of Bangladesh. The aim of the campaign is to mobilize opinion of mass people and concerned stakeholders in support of a national decentralization policy and also influence the state undertaking proper initiatives towards formulation of democratic decentralization policy.
Expressing reactions on any emerging governance issue related to decentralization and local government.
Review allocation for local government in national budget and organize pre/post budget events.




MEMBERS OF GAF

ActionAid Bangladesh, Ain-O-Salish Kendra, Angikar Samaj Bikash Kendra, Advancing Public Interest Trust (APIT), Bangladesh Union Parisad Forum, Bangladesh Nari Progoti Sangha (BNPS), BRAC, CARE Bangladesh, Democracywatch, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka, Gender & Development Alliance, Governance Coalition, Imamuddin Ahmed Democracy Learning (IDL) Trust, INCIDIN Bangladesh, Institute for Environment & Development (IED), Integrated Rural Development Centre (IRDC), Intercooperation, Jatio Nirbachan Porjabakhan Parishad (JANIPOP), Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB), Nagorik Uddyog, Nari Uddyog Kendra (NUK), Orchita Integrated Development Society, Population Services & Training Centre (PSTC), PRIP Trust, RDRS Bangladesh, SAP-Bangladesh, Save The Children-UK, SHEILD, Shushashoner Jonno Procharavijan (SUPRO), Upazila Parishad Association of Bangladesh (UzPAB), Village Education Resource Centre (VERC), Voices for Interactive Choice & Empowerment (VOICE), VSO Bangladesh and WAVE Foundation.

To know more updates please visit:
http://www.gafbd.org/