Creating demand for
Strengthening Democratic Local Governance (SDLG) in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, new reforms provide opportunities for citizens to become involved in local government. However, the population has demonstrated low participation and involvement. There is a need to encourage participation in local government in order to increase the agency and influence of citizens in localities throughout the country, particularly among youth and women.
Applying social media marketing approaches, we developed a campaign that leveraged citizen journalism, social and traditional news media, mass media, and engagement of civil society groups to create demand for good governance. We:
Partnered with Bangladesh-based experts to identify barriers to local participation, such as lacking awareness and low value of engagement.
Created a media feedback loop to amplify citizen voices.
Trained community members, particularly youth and student groups, in “citizen journalism” approaches to document issues of concern in their communities.
Developed social media profiles for local officials, which served as channels for citizen journalists to disseminate their reports and discuss issues.
Provided a platform for mass media to discover and amplify citizen reports.
Branded the initiative through a mass-media campaign titled “We Are the Government” which conveyed the benefits and opportunities of participating in local government.
Bolstered support for the formation of Citizens in Governance (CIG) groups.
Provided CIGs with tools to achieve engagement targets while conveying benefits of participation.
Our approach was designed to create a sustainable feedback loop of citizen participation and government response. The results followed suit. Because of the SLDG program, citizens didn’t just become more aware of government programs–they actively supported them. Citizens began to pay taxes more reliably, demonstrating that they understood taxes as an investment in valuable government services. As a result, unions (small administrative units) saw a 98% increase in revenues, which directly contributed to the implementation of 925 new community projects. Confidence in government also grew: nearly 100% of citizens reported believing that their feedback was considered in local government processes. Citizen satisfaction with local officials also rose by 20%. Communication of value, outlets for citizen discussion, and increased government accountability led to this mutually beneficial result.