Local Governance Programme SHARIQUE

Strengthening Local Governance in Bangladesh

Goal and Vision

SHARIQUE means “partnership” in Bangla. The Local Governance Programme contributes to the empowerment of local citizens to make and implement inclusive, gender sensitive and pro-poor collective choices about their lives and livelihoods through more democratic, transparent, inclusive and effective local government systems.

The rationale is that good local governance leads to equitable local development for all members of society as they are encouraged to participate in decision-making processes.

SHARIQUE, which started in 2006, is a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In September 2013 the third Phase of the project started which will last until August 2016.

Expected Outcomes

  • National level: Through various mechanisms and channels the national government, local government institutions, donors and development actors benefit from SHARIQUE’s demonstration and pilot practices in good governance through informed ‘practice to policy’ stream and dialogue.
  • Local level (demand side): Local government institutions, in particular Union Parishads and Upazila Parishads as well as line agencies in the SHARIQUE project area implement their mandates in a more effective, transparent, accountable and inclusive manner.
  • Local level (supply side): Women and men, in particular poor and disadvantaged, make use of better services in the SHARIQUE intervention areas.

Implementation Strategy and Area

  • SHARIQUE is working with both the demand and supply side, i.e. with local government actors and citizens. A key principle of the project is to make governance work for the poor, women and marginal groups.
  • SHARIQUE works in the districts of Rajshahi, Sunamganj, Chapai Nawabganj and Khulna with 207 Union Parishads (UP) and 29 Upazila Parishads (UZP). It also addresses about 1,900 community groups with about 50,000 members.
  • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation is implementing the Programme together with the Institute of Governance Studies IGS, BRAC University. Additionally, SHARIQUE is engaging with local NGOs in various themes and activities.

Main Activities

  • Local Governance Self-Assessments by community groups and UP, which lead to actions for improving local governance functioning.
  • Capacity building support to UP and UZP in planning and budgeting, tax revenue generation, administrative and financial management, reaching the extreme poor with services, communication and public information disclosure, female leadership.
  • Budget support to UP and UZP.
  • Supporting community groups to understand their rights and how to access these (e.g. right to information, participation in UP planning processes, supervision of UP and UZP projects, access to safety-net programmes etc).
  • Participatory gender analysis with UP, UZP, Standing Committees and civil society leaders leading to actions to improve gender equity.
  • Advocacy related activities at regional and national level drawing on the field experiences.

Some Results Achieved till today

  • 130 UP increased their capability of managing public affairs and resources in a more participatory, inclusive, transparent and accountable way, and a good majority of them succeeded to institutionalise these good practices.
  • 130 UP follow a participatory and bottom-up methodology to formulate and review annual plans and budgets.
  • Tax collection increased by 130% compared to 2009.
  • Citizens in 130 UP have the opportunity to get updated through information boards, consultation and a variety of meetings, to which they are now regularly invited.
  • Significant impact was achieved in applying the Right to Information Act. Approximately 3,000 local public officials, over 25,000 community members and activists and a range of national and international NGOs were trained in the application and promotion of the RTI Act. In the past two years 420 applications for request to information and claim of rights were filed by citizens in the SHARIQUE area.
  • Women councilors have now more voices in the local government council meetings and become gradually more successful in getting their opinions considered.
  • On average 70% of the rational demands of extreme poor citizens were considered by local authorities in the annual ward planning meetings in the targeted 130 UP. In addition, on average 26% of the UP’s annual budgets in 2011-2012 were allocated for projects benefiting only the extreme poor.
  • Over 1200 networks of citizens’ groups (ward platforms) mobilized themselves to support awareness about rights, social inclusion and development of civil engagement in 130 UP.

Project News & Events

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has been awarded by SDC with the implementation of SHARIQUE Phase III. On November 6, 2013 the NGO Affairs Bureau office in Dhaka approved the Programme. The inception phase will last until the end of February 2014 and will then be followed by a two and a half years implementation phase.

Sharique Banner

Chairman of Matikata Union Parishad (UP) in Rajshahi district standing in front of income and expenditure statement disclosure board of his UP.
“Before starting working with SHARIQUE in 2007, there was little communication between the UP and citizens. Now through a shared vision we are trying to improve the services provided by the UP. We want to make it a model UP that others look up to. Citizens now trust their UP and we from the UP body are committed to serving our citizens in a transparent and accountable manner. Also, we are proactively disclosing necessary information to our citizens.”

Md. Nurul Islam
Chairman, Matikata UP