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Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre started running the project ‘Service Improvement through Collective Response’, funded by Manusher Jonno Foundation, only a short time ago, yet the impact is already being seen. The project is based in Chowhali and focuses on improving the services provided by Government Institutions through empowering the people. BDPC has provided several orientations at ward level to the Adhikar Groups (2 groups in each ward consisting of 20 members in each group) regarding their rights on the services provided by the Government. Not only have the orientations built awareness but they have also helped the people to understand how to access government services and the initiatives that should be taken if they are deprived of their rights. One of the added advantages of the orientation programmes is the presence of officials from different sectors (health, education and agriculture) who help the beneficiaries understand their rights and motivate them to achieve them.

The orientation programme that was held on 25- 12-13 in Khashkawlia Union, Ward 1, Chowhali has been one of the most successful ones due to its impact. The Upazila Agriculture Officer was present during the session to advise on farming and inform the beneficiaries about the services that are being provided under the Agriculture sector. This also provided an opportunity for all the farmers to tell him their queries face-to-face. A few of the common questions were regarding the market price of the fertilizers and the availability of fertilizers for the farmers.

The Agriculture Officer informed the farmers that the amount of fertilizer that has been allocated for Khashkawlia Union will meet the demand of the farmers. More importantly a fixed price for the fertilizer has been set by the Government and the dealers are bound to follow this. The price of each sack of urea is tk. 785. This price excludes the travel expense. It has been also been instructed by the Government that each dealer will have made a profit of tk.5 from each sack of urea. Considering the factors mentioned above, the price of fertilizer in Khashkawlia Union of Chowhali District has been fixed to tk. 800 (includes travel expense and profit). Two of the farmers, also members of the Adhikar Group, complained that the dealers are charging extra tk. 100 from them. The Agriculture Officer immediately decided to take action on the matter and asked the farmers to take him to the dealers who are selling the fertilizers at a high price.

After the orientation, The Agriculture Officer was taken to the dealer where he inquired about the price of the fertilizer. The dealer informed him that each sack is sold at tk.850. When the dealer was asked why he was selling the fertilizer at high prices, despite government regulations, he started to make many excuses. The Agriculture Officer ignored his excuses and strictly ordered him to hang the correct price of the fertilizer outside his shop. He also mentioned if he does not do so or if he continues to sell the fertilizers at a higher price serious action will be taken against him. The farmers were provided with the cell phone number of the Agriculture Officer to aid them in following up of the matter.

Since then, the dealer has hung the price of the fertilizer on a banner outside his shop. This has ensured fair pricing and has established the rights of the people. The farmers are extremely happy with the quick implementation of their demand and feel empowered. This has set an example in the area. Not only has it raised the level of confidence in people but also brought justice to them.






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