'Strengthening local governance and increasing the peoples’ participation is a top priority from our honourable prime minister'
Phase IV of Sharique, a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) mandated local governance program being implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, was inaugurated on Tuesday.
The inauguration took place at an inception meeting for the latest phase of the project, held at Amari Hotel in Dhaka.
Having been first established in 2006, the Sharique program aims to contribute to the empowerment of local citizens to make inclusive, gender sensitive choices, as well as to enhance the capacity of Union Parishads to deliver more accountable, responsive and capable local governance.
Speaking at the inauguration of phase IV as the chief guest, Local Government Division Secretary Abdul Malek said: “Strengthening local governance and increasing the peoples’ participation is a top priority from our honourable prime minister. She has revived a 135 year old local government institution called the district council (Zila Parishad). Union Parishads have platforms like Ward-Shabha, Open Budget Meetings for the peoples’ spontaneous participation, which allow the citizens to hold the local leaders accountable.”
He added that such measures for strong local governance as well as financial and technical support were crucial to achieving Bangladesh’s vision of becoming a middle income country in the near future.
Furthermore, Sharique Team leader David Morley said: “The project has developed a strong reputation for developing and testing methods, tools and mechanisms during its journey and has published a number of modules and a compendium of LG related laws for the benefit of local governance practitioners, government officials, and local government institutions.”
Swedish Ambassador to Bangladesh HE René Holenstein said his country considers Bangladesh as one of its priority countries in terms of long-term development cooperation efforts.
Meanwhile, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Country Director of Bangladesh Kaspar Grossenbacher said phase IV of Sharique would be adapted based on information gleaned during the earlier phases.
Various representatives from among senior government officials, academics, researchers, donor agencies, civil society and NGOs attended the meeting.