Local communities fight corruption at the (grass) roots

Transparency International is a household name in Bangladesh, thanks to one of the biggest chapters in our movement.

The efforts of Transparency International Bangladesh to engage people from all over the country have resulted in a 5,000+ strong volunteer base and tens of thousands more participating in activities and campaigns. Founded in 1996 Transparency Bangladesh now have 265 staff – more than many international NGOs. I visited them this July to discover how they achieved this incredible success.

Their priority is to mobilise a social movement against corruption, reflected in their initiatives, programmes and organisational structure. Very early on, they realised the importance of civil society participation in fighting corruption and promoting transparent, accountable and efficient governance.

Local committees throughout the country

Transparency Bangladesh engages people against corruption through local level watchdog groups, called Concerned Citizens Committees, to which they provide technical and financial support (essentially, they provide an infrastructure within which the committees can take their own direction). The dedicated people who sit on the committees motivate and mobilise other people in their community.

The committees’ biggest focus is the delivery of public services in education, health and local government. This is crucial in a country where two thirds of people say they paid a bribe to access public services, more than any in the region.

This mix of support and freedom is allowing the citizens committees to flourish. There are currently 45 operating throughout Bangladesh’s 60 provinces. Each group has up to 21 volunteers and unlimited ‘friends’. They try to make local institutions more transparent through social accountability initiatives such as citizen report cards, complaints boxes, advice and information service, face the public, mothers’ gatherings, open budgets and integrity pledges.

Expelling corruption from schools

We visited a committee in Madhupur in the north of the country which had worked with a local primary school for several years. Back then, pupils’ education was suffering due to poor facilities in the school – no furniture, leaking roofs – and drop-out rates were very high.

Although the government had committed to improving facilities through the implementation of school management committees, regulations were not enforced to hold them to account. Transparency Bangladesh worked with the school to reactivate parent-teacher meetings.

We attended one such meeting where mothers explained to us that as a result of Transparency Bangladesh’s involvement, they had become aware of the situation and began demanding more from the school management, who could then no longer provide inadequate services.

A political cartoonist who criticised the Indian government of corruption was jailed this week. Transparency International Bangladesh holds annual cartoon competitions on corruption. See some of the entries here.

Parents and pupils now knew about the availability of stipends and scholarships, and became more engaged in their children’s schooling consequently providing more support with homework and encouragement to attend, meaning grades improved and drop-out rates decreased. Parents expressed gratitude to Transparency Bangladesh for kick-starting this change and teachers proudly told us that this school had become a role model within the area. (read more development stories from the region, like how Alokdia primary school in Bangladesh cut its dropout rate with transparency here)

Bangladesh’s anti-corruption youth movement

Annual Meeting of the Youth Engagement and Support (YES) groups.

Transparency Bangladesh is also working to engage young people, running Youth Engagement and Support (YES) groups. There are now 60 YES groups, with up to 50 volunteers per group and unlimited ‘friends’. Members are made up of college and university students aged 18-25.

The YES groups use a similar approach to the citizens committees through their satellite information desks. They raise awareness of rights and understanding of corruption through street theatre, observation of important days, rallies, competitions, conferences, magazines, and study groups. Both groups hold enormous annual meetings (see photo above).

Both CCC and YES groups have strict membership criteria. All members must uphold TIB’s values in their daily lives, display a high level of integrity and be dedicated to fighting corruption. As a result, members are very proud to be associated with Transparency Bangladesh and take their responsibilities seriously, reflected in the effective functioning of the groups.

Transparency Bangladesh have built a strong and committed network of citizens who not only support the cause but take action to disseminate the message and bring about social change.  By ensuring that TIB members practice what they preach, Transparency Bangladesh maintain their excellent reputation. This reputation is the key to a number of systemic and lasting policy changes that Transparency Bangladesh have catalysed through working with the Government. Transparency International Bangladesh have positioned themselves in a way that means their voice against corruption simply cannot be ignored.

See more photos from Transparency International Bangladesh below.

Share and enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • TwitThis
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • MisterWong
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • YahooBuzz
  • Print
  • email
Maren Thompson

About Maren Thompson

Maren Thomspon is South Asia Programme Coordinator at Transparency International.

, , , , , , , , , ,

21 Responses to Local communities fight corruption at the (grass) roots

  1. Julie Dixon 24 September 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Fascinating stuff Maren! Will speak to people at school to see if there is any way we could raise the profile of the organisation here. I’m sure it would fit in with our Social Educaction Programme.

  2. Doutzen 23 September 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Exactly sea level is rising not diclening. Although all the three participants has highlighted advent severe problem Bangladesh is going to encounter due to climate change but it would have been perhaps relevant if they would have also mentioned how to address the problem. I think major players who are responsible for this should commit to take steps to deal with it.

  3. Florentino Ebo 31 December 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Surprisingly revealing many thanks, I do think your readers may well want further blog posts such as this carry on the fantastic perform.


  4. Rozanne Odonnell 4 January 2014 at 2:49 am #

    This site can be a stroll-by means of for all of the info you wanted about this and didn�t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and also you�ll definitely uncover it.

  5. Rozanne Odonnell 4 January 2014 at 2:49 am #

    This site can be a stroll-by means of for all of the info you wanted about this and didn�t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and also you�ll definitely uncover it.

  6. glass window replacement atlanta 4 January 2014 at 5:40 am #

    new construction windows prices


  7. Victor Paongo 5 January 2014 at 9:04 am #

    The subsequent time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I do know it was my option to learn, however I truly thought youd have one thing fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you could repair if you werent too busy in search of attention.

  8. Suzette Licea 5 January 2014 at 11:34 am #

    There are some fascinating deadlines in this article but I don�t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as well

  9. Felecia Laliberte 6 January 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Can I simply say what a aid to seek out somebody who truly is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know how one can carry a problem to mild and make it important. Extra individuals have to learn this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant consider youre no more widespread since you undoubtedly have the gift.

  10. reiki: the healing touch first & second degree manual 9 January 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    reiki insurance us


  11. Nadene Bottenfield 10 January 2014 at 9:09 am #

    This website online is really a walk-via for the entire data you wished about this and didn�t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you�ll positively discover it.

  12. vimax detox washing machine reviews india 19 February 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    vimax pills review yahoo axis


  13. Cathrine Spender 13 March 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    On the other hand, the blog readers need no such inducement, since they visit your site each time you publish a new posting


  14. male enhancements fruits for diabetics 29 March 2014 at 1:04 am #

    vimax enlargement diet pills uk


  15. Marian Koenigsman 9 April 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful info specifically the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.


  16. Davina Branaman 24 April 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    We stumbled over here from a different web page and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking at your web page repeatedly.



  1. Bangladesh: citizens doubt performance of politicians | space for transparency - 19 October 2012

    [...] and went straight to the primary source: citizens. (read about our work with local communities here) We held 44 group discussions where a total of 600 participants were asked to discuss their [...]

  2. Fighting corruption with bumper stickers and public toilets: ambient accountability | space for transparency - 2 November 2012

    [...] try to make “accountability” happen by training citizens to audit local government or monitor elections, often using social media to report and [...]

  3. What do you think of our blog? | space for transparency - 5 November 2012

    [...] reports like the Corruption Perceptions Index. But our independent chapters carry out inspiring grass roots work in over 100 countries around the world, and we want to share this, [...]

  4. Corruption and the fate of the people who make your clothes | space for transparency - 7 December 2012

    [...] the rest of the time? Have you looked at your clothes and checked out where they are made? Perhaps Bangladesh or Sri Lanka or [...]

  5. Anti-corruption day in Bangladesh | space for transparency - 10 December 2012

    [...] Committees of Concerned Citizens  in 45 regions across Bangladesh and members of our youth group YES organised rallies, seminars and roundtables, information fairs, human chains, cartoon exhibitions, street theatres, anti-corruption oath-taking and various other outreach activities which were attended by tens of thousands of people including public officials and representatives, professionals, civil society, media, business and the other people. The large majority of the participants were the young generation including students of schools, colleges and universities. A human chain was held in front of the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka campus on Sunday, 9 December. The human chain called upon the government to raise awareness among people against corruption which was a dream of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and to ensure good governance and equal rights of all by effectively curbing the menace. [...]

Leave a Reply