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1 World Bank Group The Power of Using the Righ t to Information Act in Bangladesh: Experiences from the Ground

The Right to Information (RTI) Act in Bangladesh was passed on March 29, 2009. In order for RTI to achieve  its  potential,  and  as  international  experiences  s how,  it  is  critical  that  the  Act  is  effectively implemented.  Systematic  and  regular  use  of  the  RTI Act   by   various   stakeholders   may   contribute   to  effective  implementation.  Through  its  use,  it  will  be possible to identify areas for improvement, as well as contribute   to   the   familiarization   of   government officials with the importance of RTI. Yet using the RTI Act  requires  a  strong  demand  side  force  that  can navigate the application and appeals process. Non-governmental      organizations      (NGOs)      in Bangladesh  presently  are  working  on  strengthening the  demand  side  for  seeking  information  from  the authorities through  the RTI  Act.  And  though the  Act is  young,  it  is  being  embraced  by  people  across  the  country.  With  support  from  NGOs,  people  have started  using  the  Act  to obtain  their  entitlements under  public  schemes  that  provide  vulnerable  groups  with  health  care,  food,  education,  and  other  services. Otherwise,  all  too  often  the  benefits  from  these  schemes never reach the people that they are designed to help.

This publ ication documents the experiences of NGOs working in the field and how the RTI Act has had an impact on individuals. The result is fifteen stories of how citizens and communities have used the  RTI  Act  to  obtain  information  from  the  government  in  order  to  hold  their  local  government
bodies  to  accounts  and  improve  their  living  conditions. In  general  terms,  the  stories  highlight  the processes through which people requested, obtained and used information, as well as the immediate  impact.  Taken  together,  the  cases  are  early  testimony  of  how  RTI  has  helped  ordinary  citizens  to
claim  their  dues,  services,  and  entitlements  that  previously  had  been  denied  to  them.  Moreover,  these  stories  from  Bangladesh  suggest  that  use  of  the  RTI  Act  to  claim  entitlements  and  expose mismanagement  and  discrimination  is  fundamental  to  the  practical  realization  of  other  rights, especially socio-economic rights.

This  publication  also  highlights  the  importance  of  documenting  work  undertaken  by  NGOs. Oftentimes the achievements and impact of RTI efforts, especially at the local level do not receive enough   attention.   Due   to   this,   exercises   toward   the   documenting including   tracking   and  monitoring  of  information  requests  that  would  then  inform  the  cases efforts  by  NGOs  will  contribute to showcase in a compelling way the impact of their work. In order to also contribute to  provide  resources  for  NGOs  to  do  this,  annex  II  in  this  document  includes  a  brief  template  that  could be helpful for NGOs in the development of cases of their own.

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DATED: Tuesday, 05 May 2015 10:09
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