Steps towards Sustainable People’s Institution
Nabolok facilitates the formation of people’s institutions at different levels, starting from primary groups, various occupational and action groups, etc with representation and leadership from primary groups. Realizing the need to voice and unite the Primary Groups within one Union and a Federation of all the Primary Groups in each Union has been developed, so that they can raise a strong voice in favor of poor peoples’ rights, Nabolok implemented this process in all the six unions in Fakirhat, 10 unions in Rampal Upazila and all 4 unions in Bagerhat Sadar Upazila which are all in the working areas of Nabolok. This strategy worked successfully. The apparent strength of the Union Federation persuaded the rural power elite to agree to the formation of a Union-based Gono Unnayan Committee (People’s Development Committee); the Committee which gave equal representation to all classes of people became the forums where the poor could voice their needs and demands. Though the Union Parishads represents the people, they are still governed by the bureaucrats both at the upazila and district levels. As such, peoples’ pressing demands alone is not strong enough to move the UP’s towards democratic distribution of local resources. Nabolok realized this weakness and accordingly, formed Union Federation in the union level and upazila Federation in the upazila level. The upazila Federations became capable of interacting as a platform to negotiate with the government officials at upazila and district levels.
Primary Group/Self help Group
The poor communities of our country face two vital sets of problems. One is the assurance of the fundamental needs, such as gainful employment, which will, in turn, provide food, clothing, shelter, treatment and education. The other set consists of the structural and administrative problems: wrong application of laws, corruption, dowry, suppression of the weak including women, etc, or in other words, equitable access to justice sometimes the prevailing good laws are not effective enough. To make conscious and raise voice for their own rights, Nabolok integrated community people in people’s organization.
Village Development Committee
Before forming Union Federations of Primary Groups, Nabolok tried out the experiment on a smaller scale, by forming a federation of all primary groups in one large village or two or three small hamlets, & named them “Gram Unnayan Committee” (Village Development Committee) to solve simple & urgent raised local problems by these Committees.
In spite of having Village Development Committee, the structural problems, such as ineffective laws regarding family relationships and distribution of state services and local resources, are in need of a stronger voice. It is for this purpose that we created Union Federations of Primary Groups. These federations represent a vote bank, and the Chairperson and members of the Union Parishad, who are elected, are constrained to listen to this united, and thus stronger, voice of the poor.
UF formed by bringing together all the Union Federations within an Upazila to ensure communication and networking with government and other non-government organizations so that the primary groups sufficiently gain access to government officials at Upazila level. Even without exerting any pressure on the Union Parishads (and the vested interests that control the Union Parishads), the mere possibility of such pressure being applied, is making the UP leaders amenable to suggestions for a more equitable delivery of state services & common resources.
Gonno Unnayan Committee
Long period of inaction by the Union Parishads had alienated the trust of the common people, constraining them to turn to the courts for justice. This causes a huge loss of their time and money. To break this situation, a committee named Gono Unnayan Committee (GUC) has been formed in each Union, which works as a fair arbiter of the ongoing problems of the society/union. Moreover it goes a long way to obtain fair justice, as contending parties being in their local area without the interference of the bureaucratic system. To overcome these difficulties a committee with some respected local members, has been formed, which aims at even handed justice. For this Nabolok has formed 10 GUC in 10 unions in Rampal Upazilla of Bagerhat district. Also the members of the primary groups geared towards attaining group cohesiveness, consciousness about collective responsibilities & increased understanding of undertaking need-based employment & income generating activities. Such employment & income generating activities help as building blocks towards attaining their self-reliance & emancipation from the dependency ties with the local power structure. In this manner, the people became capable of realizing their rights by pressurizing the power elite both from above & below. The benefit that results from federating is enhancing the strength of the poor people who are members of the primary groups. Together, they become united & capable of influencing the decisions of the LEBs for easy access to local resources & state services. These institutions have empowered them to solve most of their problems. The benefit that results from federating is enhancing the strength of the poor people who are members of the primary groups. Together, they are united and thus capable of influencing the decisions of the LEBs for easy access to local resources & state services empowering them to solve most of their problems