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March 22, 2022 Centre for Peace and Justice

Center for Peace and Justice (CPJ), BRAC University convened the third Policy Clinic with a learning sharing session on the project titled ‘Voices from the Margins and Building evidence for inclusive policy responses to Covid 19 in Bangladesh’ today at CIRDAP auditorium to validate the findings of the project and formulate alternative policy recommendations.

A policy clinic is an innovative method in which experts verify the evidence obtained from research and prioritises policy responses. According to the plan of this research project, this was the last of the three policy clinics which will was held on 21 March, 2022.

The key findings from the 3rd round survey was presented by Mrinmoy Samadder, Senior Researcher, and Nahida Akter and Hossain Mohammed Omar Khayum, Research Associates, CPJ. Policy Clinic engaged the participants from multidisciplinary background including academics, researchers, public health experts, bureaucrats, rights activists, journalists, and community leaders, in a policy exercise that inspired rich discussion and insights. Participants also identified critical policy gaps through interactive sessions. During the learnings sharing session the team shared the research experience with the participants.

Dr. Mohammad Mushtuq Husain – Adviser, IEDCR, said the state and the government has responsibilities towards the marginalized people infected with contagious diseases. This information and findings from CPJ research will help in formulating necessary policy for them.

Syed Tayabul Bashar – Chairperson, Save and Serve Foundation, remarked, “This is a very comprehensive data-set that has been provided by CPJ. We need to consider how we can accommodate this conversation into the policy level. We also need ensure that local, pubic representatives are involved in vaccine deployment and information dissemination mechanisms. This is equally true of religious leaders, who hold significant social influence and are often the drivers of important messages. We also need to improve and increase the scope of the research and involve more students to increase our efforts.”

Debashish Kundu – Associate Professor, University of Dhaka, said, “We need to consider the poor non-slum dwellers, and include them into the research process. We need to assess the impact of and prevalence of violence against women among ethnic communities from the hill tracts. Civil Society organisations and other volunteer organisations could consolidate their efforts to develop a network – this will likely optimise and maximise the provision of aid and support to all.”

Mizanur Rahman – Director, BARD, mentioned “The research could further explore the interplay between education and access to livelihoods, among other features.”

Taufiqu Joarder – International Consultant, WHO, and Vice-Chairperson, Public Health Foundation, emphasised, “Education has suffered the most from COVID-19. We need to address the limitations of general aid provision, and seek alternatives.”

Salma Mahbub – General Secretary, Bangladesh Society for Change and Advocacy Network, specified “Persons with Disabilities have suffered the most in terms of losing livelihoods. Their employment opportunities have been affected the most. The social safety nets promised to them, have not yet been established. We must bring this to the forefront before the new budget is discussed.”

Abdul Majid Pramanik – Joint Director, Rural Development Academy, mentioned that “People living in the ‘Char’ areas have seen an increase in child marriages. They are unwilling to take the vaccines as it requires them to travel to the mainland to receive the doses. These issues need to be considered at all policy making levels.”

ZuamLian Amlai – General Secretary, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said that “Remote and distant areas do not benefit from government aid, we need to consider how to ensure that aid adequately reaches those regions.”

Nitol Chakma – Activist, mentioned “We need to be culturally sensitive in order to ensure that our messages are adequately conveyed.”

The Policy Clinic was Chaired by Manzoor Hasan OBE, Executive Director, CPJ, Brac University and moderated by Dr. M Shahidul Islam, Research Fellow, CPJ, Brac University. The research ‘Voices from the Margins and Inclusive Policy Responses to Covid-19 Pandemic’ is funded by Covid Collective Platform of Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex and FCDO, UK.