National Workshop on the CARTA Program Concludes in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh (June 15, 2015) – A workshop on “Improving Development Outcomes through Citizen Engagement,’ to review the lessons learned through the Citizen Action for Results, Transparency and Accountability (CARTA) Program, concluded today at the Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hosted by the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF), in cooperation with the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) and the World Bank, brought together more than 100 participants from government officials, donors, non-governmental organizations, and relevant stakeholders to reflect on their experiences on the impact and the potential use of social accountability.

Over the past four years, the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) has collaboratively managed the CARTA program with the Manusher Jonno Foundation in Bangladesh and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation in Nepal. The program built the capacity of local CSOs to monitor the implementation of World Bank supported projects. It marks the first time a major development financed participatory monitoring and evaluation managed by a third-party. Since 2011, 12 sub-grants have been awarded, 6 each in Bangladesh and Nepal, for a total of US$1.29 million to support 11 World Bank financed projects in infrastructure, health, education and local government. The sub-projects differed in scope, but all focused on empowering beneficiaries to demand greater transparency and accountability in resource use, delivery of services and grievance resolution.

“CARTA’s value added was to begin to build a body of knowledge on good practices of social accountability,” said Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of MJF. “There have been elements of citizen engagement in many World Bank projects for many years now, but CARTA allowed us to evaluate social accountability tools in a more scientific way so as to inform the design of future projects.”

Dr. Salman Zaidi, Acting Country Director for Bangladesh of the World Bank also welcomed the participants. The workshop featured dynamic speeches from Mr. Monwar Ali, Additional Chief Engineer of the Department of Public Health Engineering, one of the Project Implementing Agencies involved with the CARTA Program and Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Advisor to the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Other local and national government representatives identified areas where progress was made in terms of citizen engagement through CARTA and where there may be entry points for further activities. The speakers gave recommendations for the future engagement and explored opportunities to mainstream social accountability and citizen engagement approaches moving forward.

“This was the first time the concept of third party monitoring was introduced in Bangladesh,” said Mr. Takayuki Kawakami, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh. “When starting something new, you’re bound to have complications. Our purpose here is to discuss these difficulties and work through them in the spirit of democracy.”

Implementing CSOs attended the workshop, including the Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Center (BDPC), Democracy Watch, Agrogoti Sangstha, RDRS Bangladesh, the Resource Integration Center (RIC) and the Population Service and Training Center (PSTC), as well as numerous beneficiaries of the CARTA program from around the country. Eighteen speakers addressed the impact of engaging citizens in monitoring the delivery of selected World Bank projects from the grassroots. Sky-Samaj, Samuhik Abhiyan, the Vijaya Development Resource Center (VDRC), and Friends Service Council Nepal (FCSN), were also in attendance to share their experiences with implementing social accountability tools through the CARTA program in Nepal. Other donor and government representatives attended from the European Union, the United National Development Programme (UNDP), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh.

“We are collectively trying to achieve one thing,” explained Anam at the conclusion of the workshop, “to improve the lives of the most vulnerable by ensuring the resources to do so go where they are intended.”