VOICE is a rights-based, activist organization working mainly on the issues of food sovereignty, aid effectiveness, economic justice, and the right to information and communication, both in Bangladesh and on a global scale. By building a broader constituency of alternative voices to the ‘mainstream development discourse’ through research and public education, VOICE is taking a stand against unjust and undemocratic practices.
Staff Correspondent, 10 July 2008
Overseas funding agencies and countries providing aid have not always shown due discretion in judging the quality of projects and spending mechanisms of recipients including Bangladesh, admitted two donor representatives on Wednesday.
At a multi-stakeholder consultation on ‘Aid Effectiveness’ in Dhaka, they said the voice of Bangladeshis had not been reflected in development planning and formulating policy documents such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, especially in the absence of a functional parliament.
[VOICE, Dhaka, 19 June 2008]
Speakers in a meeting strongly criticized the Long Term Strategic Framework (LTSF) for 2008-2020 of Asian Development Bank for its anti-poor stand showing blanket biasness toward private sector led development. The meeting was organized by a research organization ‘Voice’ in the Supro conference room on 19 June 2008. Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of Voice moderated the meeting while it was attended by civil society organizations, trade unionists, farmers’ organizations, NGOs, students, activist groups and civil society actors.
Farjana Akter, programme coordinator of Voice presented the key note speech terming the long term strategy as anti-poor. She said that the ADB is far behind its commitment to reduce poverty, rather its involvement with corporate sector makes the poverty situation worsen in the region.
Rights activists want
collective stand against ADB's role
[Staff Correspondent, http://www.newagebd.com/2008/jun/20/nat.html,
20 June 2008]
Development activists and
rights campaigners strongly criticised the Long Term Strategic Framework for
2008-2020 of Asian Development Bank for its anti-poor stand showing blanket
bias toward private sector-led development, says a press release.
They were speaking at a
discussion sponsored by Voice, a research organisation, at the SUPRO conference
room in Dhaka Thursday.
The private sector
domination in the development process would concentrate on their own profit
leaving behind the agenda of poverty reduction, which would ultimately worsen
the poverty situation, they warned.
VOICE published 5 briefing reports (4 in English and 1 in Bengali) on the topic of the ADB in Bangladesh especially for the National Consultation.
1. The ADB in Bangladesh: ‘Country Strategy and Programme’: A Corporate Bias
by Tanim Ahmed
Journalist Tanim Ahmed dissects the 4-year development plan proposed by the ADB, exposing the Bank’s clear corporate bias behind its claims of poverty reduction. Through trenchant analysis of their Bangladesh policy, Ahmed summarizes frankly their intentions in the poverty, governance, private sector, agriculture and natural resources, transport, energy and health sectors.
2. Water for Sale? Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority: A project financed by ADB for Privatization
by Tanim Ahmed
In this paper Tanim Ahmed delivers a detailed assessment of the ADB’s proposed privatisation of the water distribution system, starting with a well-constructed history of recent events in water rights. Ahmed breaks down the agenda behind their proposal, including conditionalities and their recommendations to DWASA.
MADRID, Spain - By IFI Water Watch
Civil society organizations from Asia urge their leaders attending the 41st Governors’ Meeting to reject the pro-privatization and anti-poor Strategy 2020- the new long-term strategic framework of the Asian Development
Bank- which is part of the agenda of the meetings in Madrid, Spain, from May 3-6. Contrary to its corporate vision of ‘An Asia and Pacific Free of Poverty’, the Strategy 2020, which replaces the long-term strategic framework 2000-2015, will actually lead to increased poverty, debt, hunger and environmental plunder in the region.
The strategy aims to create a business-friendly environment and increase public-private partnerships to at least 30% of total activities by 2020. The strategy also aims to scale up private sector development and private sector operations to 50% by 2020 in core areas such as environment, finance sector development, regional cooperation and integration, education, and infrastructure (including water, sanitation and waste management).
Madrid, Spain, 3 May 2008 - Ahmed Swapan Mahmud
The Annual General Meeting of the Asian Development Bank's is currently being held from 3rd to 6th May 2008 in Madrid, Spain. The Bank has failed to meet its poverty reduction targets for more than four decades, leaving millions of poor in developing countries.
The Bank is emphasizing private sector development, to which it is allocating 50 per cent of its budget without considering the social protection and human security of the poor. Economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration are now the priority areas, while the lending agency continues to ignore public service support.
ADB’s strategy for 2020 puts the private sector in control over a country, leaving public services open for the multinational corporations. Also, the Bank has put pressure on the government to cut down spending on public services, and has been advocating for blanket privatization and commercialization while the poor suffer the worst due to reduced state responsibility. Whom does the ADB serve? The corporate bias of ADB ensures private sector making profit over life, while millions of poor suffer from malnutrition and lack of proper access to land, water, and common resources.
VOICE is urgently seeking two qualified individuals to fill the posts of ICT Researcher and Accountant. Read more details below.
URGENT – ICT RESEARCHER REQUIRED
VOICE, a research and advocacy group based in Dhaka, is urgently
seeking a researcher with experience and interest in ICT-related
development issues to collect information and publish a report on the
topic(s) of Internet Censorship and Mobile Telephony.
- Have a good command of written English
- Be comfortable using computers to conduct research and create reports
- Possess excellent data collection and analysis skills
- Possess good basic knowledge about either censorship issues, or mobile telephones
- Have some experience in writing about technology
- Be committed to a minimum work period of 1 year
- Work well independently and under pressure
Less-qualified applicants will be considered if they display enthusiasm
and self-motivation to learn about the research topic. We will provide
some guidance and resources, but the candidate should expect to work
mostly on their own. Commensurate salary, good working environment.
URGENT – ACCOUNTANT REQUIRED
A National Consultation was held on April 26, 2008 at the National Press Club in Dhaka titled “Hear the Unheard: A Reality Check on the ADB’s Operations in Bangladesh: Impacts of Policies and Projects on People’s Life and National Economy,” as part of an advocacy campaign to raise awareness on the issue of the ADB in Bangladesh, just a week before the ADB Annual General Meeting in Madrid at the beginning of next month.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, led off by presenting the keynote paper, and also moderated the seminar. Md. Shamsoddoha, Secretary of EJWG, Kazi Javed Khaled Pasha from Coastal Development Partnership in Khulna, and Tauhid Ibne Farid of ActionAid Bangladesh, also presented brief speeches on their experiences with ADB projects and policies. Asgar Ali Sabri, Arup Rahee, Md. Hilaluddin, Zakir Hossain, Arshad Siddique, Zakir Kibria, and Prodip Kumar Roy also participated in the discussion.
A panel discussion, led by Professor Anu Mohammad, Department of Economics at Jahangirnagar University, Mr. Hasanul Haq Inu, President of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Mr. Saiful Haque, General Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Bangladesh, and Mrs. Shirin Akter, President of Karmajibi Nari also took place.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Staff Correspondent - New Age
Speakers at a discussion on Saturday observed that the projects of the Asian Development Bank have neither brought about economic growth nor reduced poverty in Bangladesh, but have rather increased the suffering of the people.
Addressing the meeting on ‘A reality check on the ADB’s operations in Bangladesh, impact of policies and projects on people’s life and national economy’, they also demanded cancellation of the immunity given to this regional bank.
Research-based organisation Voice organised the discussion at the National Press Club.
‘Not only the ADB, but also the other global lending agencies and multi-national companies should be made accountable for their activities in the country,’ Professor Anu Mohammad of Jahangirnagar University told the audience.
He said that the country was facing two types of dangers — one relating to development and the other to poverty reduction — which he said was the outcome of the wrong policies of the global lending agencies and profit-mongering multinational companies working in Bangladesh.
Due to the conspiracy of these companies, said Anu Mohammad, most of the public sector industries have been ruined in the last two decades.
A meeting was organized by VOICE and Borendra Unnayan Procesta (BUP), a local NGO on `Peoples Right to Information: IFI’s accountability’ on 17 March 2008 at the Rajshahi Gender Development Resource Centre (GDRC). The meeting was attended by NGO activists, journalists and different professional groups. Fayezullah Chowdhury, Executive Director of BUP, acted as a moderator and Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive Director of VOICE, presented as a key speaker at the meeting.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud asserted that people have a rightst to access information and our present government has agreed about this issue in order to disseminate information. Financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and World Trade Organization (WTO) are not accountable to disseminate all information to the people. People have not even have the right to file a case against them. People in Rajshahi are not informed about the strategies of the projects implemented in their locality. People have no participation in the design of projects, which are made by consultants.