13 May 2004
Good governance at the local level is key to poverty reduction and improvement of the quality of life of poor people in developing countries. Governments can play a vital and proactive role by ensuring that good governance is guided by an ethic of effective implementation.
These points were highlighted at a workshop on good governance held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 18-22 April 2004. Funded by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation, the workshop was attended by participants from the Asia region and organised by the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP).
The participants noted that good governance was a continuous process to bring necessary changes in the development of a country to create a win-win situation for all the stakeholders in national development like government and opposition, civil society, non-governmental organisations, businesspeople and donors. The workshop also highlighted that with grassroots level identification of target groups, organisation and participatory planning, local government organisations can bring their services to the poorer sections of society, particularly in rural areas.
Workshop participants were introduced to some innovative rural development interventions by the Bangladesh Government. These included the Comprehensive Village Development Programme, participatory rural development projects and micro-credit projects which have become models for replication throughout the country.
In his opening speech, Abul Mannan Bhuiyan, Bangladesh's Minister for Local Government and Rural Development and Co-operatives, said, "The resultant impact of these village development programmes has been considerable social betterment and reductions in poverty levels. Ultimately, better governance comes from changing attitudes and practices of government, opposition, civil society, NGOs and donors, which is a tough and gradual process even in the best of circumstances. In the short and medium terms there will be both winners and losers. In the long term there are only winners."
In his welcome address, CIRDAP Director-General Dr Mya Maung said, "Good governance is the key to success, not only in achieving higher growth rates, but also to provide dignity, equity and quality to the human life. In this workshop we are considering good governance for reducing poverty, providing access to the quality services, and above all to achieve reasonably high standards in quality life and human development."
The workshop brought together experts from CIRDAP and Commonwealth member countries for the sharing of cross-country experience and the development of guidelines for good governance. Attending the workshop were participants from Commonwealth Asian countries including Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, as well as the UK and several non-Commonwealth countries.