A Network of People’s Organizations (Lokokendra)
SPED is a network of Grassroots level people’s organization - Lokokendra. The major objective of this networking is to increase cooperation and collaboration among people’s organisation for greater sharing and collective efforts. Through this approach, SPED has successfully involved different stakeholders and brought them together in the different campaign and advocacy issues.
Lokokendra is formed and function based on Reflect approach. It is a platform of the poor, excluded and marginalized people especially women who come together for their own empowerment and development. These organizations work collectively with a view to challenge existing power structure and to make a positive change in the society. Each Lokokendra has a good number of members between 25 to 120. The members of each Lokokendra gather regularly once or twice a week at their own Lokokendra and share their problems, activities and other development issues. They try to solve social or life oriented problems even they deal with the national level issues as well. Through the collective learning process, they learned about women's rights, human rights, power relations, family laws, communication techniques etc. and have proved strong influential campaigner. Every Lokokendra has a small house built by the partner organizations of Actionaid Bangladesh on a piece of land donated by the community. In some areas, Lokokendra houses were built by the people’s initiative. Usually, it is a corrugated tin shed house with more than one room. It is used for members’ meeting, training venue, and space for children. Thus, it seems that it has potentials to become ‘community center’ for multipurpose utilization and multi-group space for community development.
The members are united to make the center permanent with the aspirations of institutional sustainability. The basic contribution of this center is the regular functioning of the Lokokendra as they have a space to join, meet and share their ideas and concerns. Lokokendra members own it as their center; take care and thinking further with hope. This center made the coordination among the members much easier. SPED is directly working with them. Community people participate in the national campaign and organize events at the local level. One of the significant impacts of SPED is enhancement of women empowerment at the community level. The women who are engaged in Lokokendras are in a leadership role.
Actionaid Bangladesh and its partner organisations contribute in Lokokendra formation process in the respective area. Society for Participatory Education and Development (SPED) provides assistance to these people’s organisations in their capacity building and the process of sustainability. It helps Lokokendra in the way to continue their development initiatives as well. SPED promotes participatory liberating education since 1997 and strives to realize the rights, leadership enhancement, ensuring the quality of lives and livelihoods and empowerment of the disadvantaged people. At present SPED is working with 38 Lokokendras on Budget and Tax Governance under Fiscal Governance Project. Lokokendras are implementing the field level activities of the project while SPED is providing technical and financial assistance.
Development initiatives of Lokokendra (LK)
Lokokendra is a sustainable organisation of the disadvantaged people of the grass-root level. The core objective of this organisation is to alleviate poverty and deprivation through establishing rights and entitlements. Lokokendras make all out efforts to acquire empowerment of the marginalized people through leadership enhancement. It has been taking the initiative to create space for the public representative of the poor section in the Union Parishad. In this course, 51 LK members contested in 2011 and 20 of them were elected as UP Members. They lead the development programs of respective Union Parishad very competently. Another 26 members are taking part in the upcoming UP election of 2016. Youth boys and girls are also involved as volunteer members in different development activities run by the Lokokendras. They are provided skill training on leadership and development issues. At present SPED is working with 38 Lokokendras on Budget and Tax Governance under Fiscal Governance Project. Lokokendras are implementing the field level activities of the project while SPED is providing technical and financial assistance. Some of the important development initiatives taken by the Lokokendras are as follows:
Awareness Raising: Lokokendra (LK) organises different awareness raising activities. These includes awareness on prevention of violence against women, children and youths, health service, antenatal & postnatal care, infant & child care, reproductive health care, birth registration, child education and adult literacy for self-determination etc.
Building Solidarity Network through day observations: Currently following days are being observed by Lokokendra:
Asia Reflect Day, International mother language day, Independence day, Victory day, World Rural Women’s day, AIDS day, International Human Rights day, World Food day, Income Tax day, VAT day and some other relevant days.
Promotion of Human Rights: Lokokendra attempts to improve human rights situation especially among the grassroots women, children and youths through creating responsiveness of the community and duty bearers. These people’s organisations are involved in different movements like education rights, Right to Food, decentralization of budget etc.
Campaign for Budget and Tax governance: Dialogue on budget and tax governance issues, advocacy campaign with local government (Union Parishad), creating a culture of accountability among the service providing institutions, facilitating dissemination of the Citizen’s Charter, Organising Social Audit, Public Hearing and People’s Budge Village Convention etc.
Online Campaign: Sharing ideas, success stories and messages through online media like cell phone, email, facebook and website.
Skill development initiatives: Organising training on Budget and Tax, Leadership development, Lokokendra management, Training on Income Generating Activities. Lokokendra also strives to establish linkage with Government and Non-government organisations for skill development and other services.
Income Generating Activities: Generally Lokokendra generates own fund from following sources:
Sewing Machine distribution among the members, vegetable gardening, nursery establishment and management, tree plantation, poultry farming, duck rearing, fish farming, taking leased lands, providing training facility at Lokokendra.
Leadership enhancement of disadvantaged women and youths: One of the instruments of leadership enhancement is to take part in the Union Parishad election by the LK members. Other mechanisms adapted by Lokokendra are an attachment with local committees and development forums, providing assistance in different social activities from the front.