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Assessment of the Social Action Projects of "Platforms for Dialogue (P4D)" Programme of the British Council in Bangladesh

The British Council in Bangladesh is implementing a three-year programme titled “Platforms for Dialogue (P4D): Strengthening Inclusion and Participation in Decision Making and Accountability Mechanism in Bangladesh” in partnership with the Cabinet Division of the Government of Bangladesh funded by the European Union (EU). Its aim is to harness, promote and affect collaborative dialogue between civil society and government of Bangladesh (GoB), ensuring the most marginalized groups in society participate. 

Overall Objective of P4D is to strengthen democratic ownership and improve accountability mechanisms in Bangladesh. Specific Objective of P4D is to promote a more enabling environment for the effective engagement and participation of the citizen and civil society in decision making and oversight. P4D’s activities are divided across three Result Areas, which collectively enable it to engage, capacity build and convene citizens, civil society and government at the district, divisional and national level.

To achieve its objectives, P4D is (a) providing knowledge and resources for civil society organizations to enable them engage meaningfully in discussions or decision making processes with the government and other stakeholders, (b) enhancing civil servant’s capacity on engagement and inclusive decision making, and (c) creating local, regional and national level forums/opportunities where CSOs and government representatives debate and discuss policy issues in a constructive and inclusive environment. Different social accountability policies and tools like Citizen’s Charter, Grievance Redress System, National Integrity Strategy and the Right to Information act are used to enhance two-way communication. 

One of the important components of P4D is its Social Action Program (SAP). It is being implemented in 21 districts. Some of the issues around which social action projects are currently being implemented include child marriage, poor quality education (at both primary and secondary), poor services of community clinics, drug addiction, and lack of citizens’ participation in local government (Union Parishad) planning process. To scale up its impact during year 3 of programme implementation, The British Council in Bangladesh is keen on undertaking a study on Social Action Project of its P4D programme and requested BIDS to carry out the study.  

Objectives and Issues:

Given the above the current study intends to look into the issues being implemented under the social action projects of P4D more closely in order to draw lessons and prepare issue briefs. The themes that have been taken into consideration for current study under the social action projects include:

• Child marriage,

• Quality of education,

• Services of community clinics, 

• Drug addiction,

• Citizens’ participation in local government planning process, and

• Citizens’ awareness regarding the social accountability tools.

Research Questions:

The study proposes to seek answers to the following research questions under each of the themes identified above:

1. What is the problem statement?

2. Why is it important in both regional and national contexts?

3. What are the trends and current scenarios regarding the themes under consideration?

4. What are the current policies and state of its implementation related to the themes?

5. What are the experiences of P4D in undertaking the social actions on each of the themes?

6. What have we achieved so far and what are the challenges lie ahead?

7. What lessons have we learned and what needs to be done at local, regional and national levels by the government as well as other stakeholders? 

Methodological Approach:

The study proposes to adopt a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Under quantitative approach, data will mainly be collected from various secondary sources. 

Under qualitative approach, the study will employ the following methods:

• Meetings with project related officials at local as well as central levels;

• Undertaking focus group discussions (FGDs);

• Undertaking key-informants interviews (KIIs); and 

• Carrying out some selected case studies to document extreme cases. 

Out of a total of 21 districts where the social action activities are currently being implemented, the study proposes to select 14 districts purposively (i.e., the first phase districts). 

Collaborating Institute: P4D Programme of the British Council in Bangladesh

Funding Agency: European Union through the British Council

Principal Investigator/Study Director: Zulfiqar Ali, SRF, BIDS

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