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CARE-BD joining the collective voice for Char People at “1st National Char Convention 2015”
June 8, 2015
With the event’s Bengali slogan ‘Charanchale Chorieya Poruk Unnayaner Alo (Let there be light of development in Char Region)’, CARE Bangladesh’s active participation and involvement in 1st Char Convention 2015 was influenced by the aim to end all discrimination and determine a consolidated way forward out of poverty for char dwellers.
The 1st National Char Convention successfully took place at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh on 6th June while it brought together government, national policy makers, donors, INGOs, national and local NGOs, researchers, academics, development activists and CBO representatives. The objective of the convention was to create a collective voice to influence the attention of policy makers and mobilize resources to char areas; make the government more responsible for providing services to the chars; declare the National Char Convention Declaration as ‘The Char Peoples’ Demand Charters’ (based on different issue-based studies). The day long convention was inaugurated by Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Honorable Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The Declaration from the convention was presented by Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled, Chairperson, and 1st Char Convention National Committee.
The char areas of Bangladesh are considered as among the most isolated, deprived regions in the country. Many char households live in extreme poverty and lack basic services such as education, health and support to agricultural development. Such scenario holds char households from achieving sustainable livelihoods, food security and health. In past few years the government has extended some services to char households, while some international and national development organizations have prioritized char regions for development interventions. A coordinated effort across all sectors in bringing sustainable development to the chars is however, still lacking. As the moderator of the session “Agriculture and Livelihood”, Anowarul Huq- Director Extreme Rural Poverty from CARE stated “Lets commit and work together to create access to basic services and infrastructure for our 60 million Char dwellers”
Besides presenting two technical papers on ‘Social Protection’ and ‘Climate Change and Food Security’ CARE BD shared its Char intervention and impact in different sessions toward 1500 participants (Around half of the participants were Char dwellers) coming from more than 80 organizations/institutes. This unprecedented national event aimed to bring attention of government and policy makers on the plight of char households. CARE’s contribution in Char regions was appreciated by the Chief Guest (Honorable Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament)- “NGO Programs like USAID funded SHOUHARDO II program of CARE, DIFD funded CLP are making the real difference in the lives of char people” as she quoted.

During the convention, fourteen study-based papers were presented at six technical sessions where Saifuddin Ahmed, Advocacy Manager, CARE Bangladesh presented a policy ask in the session of ‘National Policy & Strategy’ on “Towards an inclusive Social Protection in Bangladesh”. In the paper it was discussed that the Government of Bangladesh has embarked upon the formulation of a comprehensive National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) that streamlines and strengthens the existing safety net programs with a view to achieving better result, and to broaden the scope of social protection from the more narrow safety net concept to include employment policies and social insurance to address the emerging needs of a middle income country by 2021 and forward.

CARE also presented another paper in the session on Climate Change and Disaster Management. Palash Mondal- Team Leader was the keynote presenter on ‘Rainfall, food security and human mobility-case study’ where Dr. Muhammad Hasan Mahmud- Honorable Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment and Forest was present as chief guest.

The chief guest of the session, Dr. Abdur Razzak, MP, Honorable Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh Parliament, put CARE’s example of changing food security situation. As he mentioned, CARE Bangladesh is one of the pioneers, who brought positive changes in the food security scenario with their interventions, as people are now undoubtedly taking at least two meals a day.

The convention ended with the ‘Declaration of the Demands of Char People’ to the policy makers so government can take special strategy for the people living in chars. Among these 39 demands of Char people- Quality Education, Health service, safe water and sanitation, climate change, Agro Service, Social Protection are few key areas where CARE would like to intervene and contribute in the long run.

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