Concern Worldwide is partnering with Bangladeshi parliamentarians to make sure the issues which affect the country’s most vulnerable and poorest citizens are being dealt with. The aid agency is working with two All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG’s) comprising 30 members of the Bangladeshi parliament who will prioritise the issues which affect two groups of people that are severely disadvantaged.
Concern working with two groups of people
The two groups include people who live in the disadvantaged haor regions, which are wetland areas that are particularly prone to extreme seasonal flooding. The other group consists of urban pavement dwellers. Both groups are marginalised as a result of extreme poverty which means they are under-represented by the political system. Concern is trying to ensure that the issues affecting both groups of people gain visibility politically and the agency says it is reaping positive results.
The haor region can be submerged under water for nearly half the year, which means that agriculture is adversely affected. It also means that people who live there don’t have access to basic social services or communications, as a result they are in need of help. The political advocacy work undertaken by Concern has meant there has been funding of essential maintenance work to dams and embankments in advance of seasonal flash flooding.
Concern has also successfully lobbied for pavement dwellers to be officially recognised in significant national policy papers such as the “ City Corporation Ordinance”. When the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development formally approves the inclusion of the term pavement dweller, it will ensure they get access to vital social services they so badly need.
Advocacy for the disadvantaged
The two parliamentary groups have published two books which highlight the plight of urban pavement dwellers and the people of haor. The books offer recommendations as to how the members of parliament might address the issues that are at stake. Concern is presently looking to extend the partnership for an additional three years as it seeks to build on the great work already done.