© Helvetas / Alim

Supporting communities to raise their voice

© Helvetas / Alim

In the coastal area of Bangladesh Helvetas works with civil society to strengthen the participation of women and the most disadvantaged groups in the development and implementation of more just climate adaptation and gender responsive policies.

  • Project Name
    EVOLVE: Enhance Voice for the Inclusion of the Vulnerable and their Empowerment
  • Project Phase
    2022 to 2025
  • Funding
    Co-funded by EU and Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
  • Thematic focus
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

The southwest coastal region of Bangladesh is one of the country’s most disaster-prone areas. In particular, Bagerhat and Khulna districts are experiencing severe climate related events such as cyclones, storms, tidal floods, and increasing salinity of soil and water sources, that put life and livelihoods of local communities at great risk. Local governments, specifically Union Parishads (UP) have the competencies to take action, while populations are entitled by law to be informed (Right to Information Act 2009) and have the right to influence how public funds are allocated through the Open budget meetings (The Local Government Act 2009). But communities are often unaware of UP-development strategies, plans and budgets and local governments are ill-equipped to foster people’s participation.

© Helvetas / Arafat
Training on Gender responsive budgeting © Helvetas / Arafat
© Helvetas / Arafat
CSO Training at Chandpai Union © Helvetas / Arafat

Through the EVOLVE project, Helvetas supports two partner organizations (Center for Natural Resource Studies,Development Organisation of the Rural Poor) to engage with 28 UP level CSOs in Bagerhat and Khulna districts, focusing on women-centered ones , 6 CSO networks and 28 UPs. The CSOs include concerned citizens that are organized in ward platforms and committees, youth clubs, local CBOs, operating in 252 wards, as well as local service providers and trader associations which have experience in citizen friendly participatory resource planning and budgeting. In addition, EVOLVE will reinforce the capacities of about 364 Union Parishad Development Coordination Committee (UDCC) and committee members (336 UP Members from standing committees and additional 28 UP Chairpersons). 60 public officials and 18 elected leaders from 6 Upazilas (Sub-district) will partake in the public service planning and implementation interventions.

Capacity development, multi-stakeholders’ discussions, policy dialogues, public hearings, activation of civic spaces (Ward Shava, Open Budget Meeting), exchange visits and knowledge sharing are the foundations of this project.CSOs and their network will be supported in advancing women's and disadvantaged group’s voices at the local level to the national level for climate smart and gender responsive action.