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News & events

Dhaka event sheds light on safety and security issues in Bangladesh

17 June 2015

A joint policy event with Saferworld's partner BRAC brought together a range of safety and security stakeholders in Dhaka to share learning, experiences and challenges from our community security work in Bangladesh and promote a broader discussion around security and justice.

In addition to the range of safety and security challenges Bangladesh continues to face at the local level, the current political stasis has increased instability within the country, leading to political violence and the disenfranchisement of a large portion of the population. Despite substantial development progress the lack of security and justice provision has not been addressed.

On 8 June Saferworld and BRAC brought together a range of 60 policy makers, experts and practitioners to a policy discussion in Dhaka which sought to raise awareness and promote dialogue about the conflict and security challenges facing Bangladesh and include perspectives from communities and authorities at the local level. Those attending represented national organisations, academics, media, local government authorities, think tanks, civil society and community members, along with representatives of the international community including the EU, the US state department and UNDP.

The event also sought to raise awareness about the opportunities to support bottom-up, people-centred approaches to security interventions in Bangladesh and to share outcomes, recommendations and lessons learned from Saferworld and BRAC’s community security programme. Finally participants discussed how this approach can support wider security and justice policies and programming - and learnt from each other's experiences, lessons and best practice.

Written by GM Shoeb Ahmed, Project Officer.

The event began with a session on the safety and security situation in Bangladesh where participants acknowledged the challenges of the security context. Mr Humayun Kabir, vice-president of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI), highlighted that “major security problems include that the governance systems are weak, we do not get fair justice, corruption is another challenge, which adds into the overall reason youth are depressed and turning to radicalisation". A discussion facilitated by Anna Minj, Director of the Community Empowerment Programme at BRAC, focused on the community security project, which has been operating in five districts of South-Western Bangladesh.

The event was the first to provide an opportunity for stakeholders working on or with an interest in security and safety issues to interact. Local government Union Parishad Chairman of Keshabpur, Jessore, spoke of the strengths of the community security programme in facilitating law and order committees within communities. These committees have brought local people together with their community security providers to build trust and he recommended the work be expanded into other regions. Participants also voiced support for the monitoring and evaluation tools within the community security project including the participatory photography project, and outcome harvesting which was seen as empowering the community to create a monitoring mechanism and promoting accountability of the police and local authorities.

“This event was the product of having developed strong working partnerships at local level between communities, security providers and their governments. Developing these relationships is not easy and neither are the challenges they both face. But what shone through at this meeting was the enthusiasm of the local community organisations involved, the local political leaders who took part and the possibilities that have been opened by Saferworld’s partnership with BRAC,” said Saferworld’s Head of Asia Chris Underwood. “There was a genuine enthusiasm to broaden and deepen the scope of this work and we will be working with our partners on ways in which we can continue our contribution to this vital work”.

The event also included a presentation of Saferworld’s community security video and a gallery of images from the community security project. “Both the pictures and the video represent the real situation in Bangladesh and highlight the benefits of a community-led approach,” said Md Ershad Ali, representative of civil society organisation BARCIK.

Watch the video of Saferworld's community security project in Bangladesh.

Find out more about Saferworld’s work in Bangladesh.

“There was a genuine enthusiasm to broaden and deepen the scope of this work and we will be working with our partners on ways in which we can continue our contribution to this vital work”

Chris Underwood