DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE DOMAIN

This domain guides our development initiatives with priorities and strategies in promoting and fostering democratic governance and decentralization. We believe Democracy is pivotal to promoting sustainable development, where accountability mechanism with people’s participation is a process of governance.

The Goal of Democratic Governance Domain:

Improve quality of people’s lives with prior focus on the poor and marginalized by obtaining access to rights and services, promoting institutional responsiveness and democratic practice.

In line with the thematic premise and strategies we intervene with a two facet approach. In one facet, we promote democratic decentralization and develop interface between public service institutions and the people at the local level.  Similarly, at the local level, we work with local government institutions to enhance the system of governance by promoting participation of people from respective constituencies. Here, social advocacy is another phenomenal tasks we carry out for protecting rights of specific vulnerable groups and communities who are discriminated or deprived of justice in any particular issue, such as  social safety net, products price discrimination, health, education, agriculture services etc. In this juncture, we tend to educate and empower targeted population with the knowledge and examples of democratic norms, practice, accountability, transparency, responsiveness and rule of law.

In another facet, we facilitate policy advocacy. In the policy advocacy, we work to peruse people’s agenda for review, reformation and enactment of new policy. In the process of policy advocacy we conduct research, alliance building, networking, campaign and lobbing. We participate in the regional and global advocacy platforms as well.

This domain allows us to facilitate responsiveness of public service institutions, responsiveness of LGIs, local governance, democratic decentralization and strong local government, right to food and nutrition, so on.

Strategies of the Democratic Governance Domain:

Foster democratic practice in governance for ensuring responsiveness towards rights and needs of the people in delivering public services and facilitate social & policy advocacy with people’s agenda.

Programs and Projects under this Domain

Democratic Decentralization & Responsive Governance Program (DDLG)

Bangladesh inherited the colonial pattern of local government as a consequence of British rule for nearly 200 years. With the partition of Bengal and India in August 1947, the region became East Pakistan as a part of the newly formed state of Pakistan following the Radcliffe Award. During the British and Pakistani periods, different changes were made to the local government structure. Even after independence, several structural changes in the local government bodies were affected under different regimes. Since decentralization is still a dream to be realized, one may raise the question of the real intentions of the different regimes behind such initiatives. The history of local government in Bangladesh is full of rhetoric and devoid of commitment. Local governments are not as empowered as they should be due to the highly centralized character of governance in the country. If one looks at the rural local government structure as the counterpart to central state, one could see that in Bangladesh, the center still retains the power to exercise its control over the rural institutions of local governance. Covered by the explicit ‘democratic’ gloss of most local government reforms, in practice, the politicization of the management of local government affairs has been a systematic phenomenon.  
LG leaders in Bangladesh are not fully empowered to carry out their work. Management systems are typically weak and broad-based while community participation in LG decision-making is usually limited. LG is one of the most important but sensitive items in policy- and budget-making arenas. Most of Bangladesh’s local governments are highly dependent on a historically centralized national government system. Interestingly, less than one percent of Bangladesh’s GDP funds 85 percent of LG development expenditures. Undeniably, LG bodies are heavily dependent on direct grants from the central government and shared tax revenue with the land department. Frequent changes in decentralization policy are politically motivated. Popular changes are usually made by the government with an objective in mind to create political loyalty, and to build a strong political base at the local level by putting party men in various positions. Furthermore, before formulating decentralization initiatives, public opinion is rarely ever solicited. WAVE’s Democratic Decentralization and Responsive Governance-DDRG Program is working towards mobilizing mass people’s opinion and concerned stakeholders in favor of a national decentralization policy and influence the state to endorse the policy. We are currently implementing three projects under DDRG Program stated below:
The campaign aims to mobilize opinion of mass people and concerned stakeholders in support of a national decentralization policy and influence the state to endorse the policy. WAVE organized ‘Democratic Decentralization National Convention’ in 2010 demanding the execution of democratic decentralization in light of our constitution and proposed a draft Democratic Decentralization Policy. As continual effort, WAVE carries out multifaceted activities through its network to review and finalize the proposed Decentralization Policy. Under the campaign, organization coordinates network and alliance, involve LG representatives, policy makers, political leaders, civil society members, media personnel, youth and other stakeholders and conduct continuous lobbying with concerned Parliamentary Standing Committee and policy makers.
With the thematic program component: ‘Strengthening Public Institutions’ the project is being implemented. The project goal is poor, marginalized and vulnerable people enjoy better quality of life in a well-governed institutional environment. Major problems addressed through this project are: Quality and availability and responsiveness of the SDIs on social safety net, health, education and agriculture service; Initiative to support in raising the poor people’s voice to demand better public services and to assess the performance of public services or delivery system; and Advancing poor people’s agencies and platforms and to making the Local Government Institutions (LGIs) and the Service Delivery Institutions (SDIs) more accountable and responsive. The project also aims at building poor people’s platform at Union, Upazila and District level Loak Morcha (People’s Alliance) as citizen support group (CSG) and linking them with national platform i.e. Governance Advocacy Forum (GAF) in terms of ensuring a strong and representative vertical network for advancing the rights of the poor people especially women as micro-macro linkage. With the support of Manusher Jonno Foundation and UKAID this project is implemented in Sreepur and Mohammadpur Upazila under Magura District.

Access to Justice Program

Responsiveness of public service institutions and human rights are mutually reinforcing. The true test of “good” governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights through its various institutions: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The targets under SDG 16 highlight several concepts that may be viewed as institutional principles: effectiveness, transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, inclusiveness of decision-making processes, access to information, non-discrimination of laws and policies. Despite significant progress in various economic and social indicators, Bangladesh is yet far away from ensuring rights of its people through responsive public institutions. Particularly promotion of rights of the marginalized and poor community, women, children and youth, enhancing their access to public service institutions and formulation of pro-people policy are critical for inclusive development. Access to Justice Program intends to promote rights of the people through responsive public service delivery institutions. To that end, WAVE Foundation coordinates various networks and alliances to implement and organize different activities under its `Access to Justice Program’. It uses micro level experiences for macro level policy reform advocacy. Organization has successfully involved different stakeholders and brought them together for pursuing different campaign and advocacy issues. Currently, WAVE implements two projects under this program;
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to improving access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalized groups in Bangladesh through establishing village courts in project targeted (1080) unions of Bangladesh. The specific objectives of the new phase are to make local authorities more responsive to local justice needs and offer appropriate legal services in the form of well-functioning village courts and to empower local people, especially women, the poor and vulnerable groups to seek remedies for injustices and to resolve their disputes at the local level in an expeditious, transparent and affordable manner. The project activities focus on Promote and protect human rights security through devising a human rights-based approach in programming and delivery system; Strengthen local government institutions to the responsive to local needs and other approaches legal service through well-functioning Village Courts. The Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives have initiated the `Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Phase II Projects’ with the partnership of UNDP and European Union (EU). This Project is implemented by WAVE Foundation in 248 Unions at 29 Upazillas in 6 districts named Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Patuakhali, Barguna and Bhola under the Khulna and Barisal division.
The overall objective of the project is to promote sustainable community mediation at local level. The specific objectives are to develop a sustainable model of community mediation and to campaign and advocate for replication of the sustainable model of community mediation and legal recognition. In order to achieve the overall and specific objectives, the project raises community awareness on legal and human rights, raises awareness of the community and relevant stakeholders on the necessity of quality and sustainable community mediation for accessing justice by the poor and marginalized including the women. The project is implemented in 15 unions of 3 Upazillas under Meherpur, Madaripur and Pirojpur districts in consortium with two national NGOs namely Madaripur Legal Aid Association and Nagorik Uddyog. UKAID through Maxwell Stamp PLC & CLS support the project.
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