Making laws work for the poor in Bangladesh

Woman feeding her child.
A mother feeds her child at a Concern clinic in Bangladesh. Photo: Concern Worldwide
News12 November 2014Asif Imran Khan

Concern Worldwide is working with members of the Bangladesh parliament to ensure that issues affecting the country’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens are being addressed.

On the initiative of Concern, two All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) – made up of 30 MPs from the Bangladesh parliament – have been set up to prioritise issues affecting two distinctly disadvantaged groups.

These groups are urban pavement dwellers and people living in haor regions, distinctive wetland regions susceptible to extreme seasonal flooding.

Extreme poverty has left both of these groups marginalised and under-represented by the political system, without any clear policy frameworks to help address their vulnerability.

Concern is working with politicians to advocate on behalf of pavement dwellers and people in the haor regions. We’re trying to ensure that the issues that affect them are given political visibility – and we’re reaping results.

Protecting communities

The haor region can be under water for six months of the year.

This severely hampers agriculture, communication and access to basic social services, leaving people in dire need.

Concern’s political advocacy work has ensured the timely funding of essential maintenance work to embankments and dams prior to the seasonal flash flooding.

A lone boatman travels accross the Haor flood plains of North East Bangladesh.
A lone boatman travels accross the Haor flood plains. Photo: Gideon Mendel / Concern Worldwide.

Ensuring recognition

We’ve successfully lobbied for the recognition of pavement dwellers in significant national policy papers, namely “The City Corporation Ordinance”.

When formally approved by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Cooperatives, the inclusion of these simple two words will ensure pavement dwellers can get the access they so badly need to vital social services.

Advocacy for the disadvantaged

These parliamentary groups have also jointly published two books with the Bangladesh parliament.

They highlight the plight of haor people and urban pavement dwellers and provide recommendations as to how parliamentarians might address the rights issues at stake:

  • Parliamentarians Can Make the Difference: Pavement Dwellers Right to survive
  • Parliamentarians Can Make the Difference: Neglected Haor Livelihoods


We are currently looking to extend this partnership for a further three years in order to build on the great work already done.

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