Bangladesh Parliament and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh on Tuesday virtually launched the country’s first data platform, web and mobile based application ‘My Constituency’ for Members of Parliament (MP) to measure the progress of SDGs.
The data platform will support the MPs in tracking the development progress of their respective constituencies and identifying the areas for inclusive development planning to improve the lives of underserved people. The platform also envisions strengthening interaction with the citizens.UNDP is currently supporting over 60 parliaments around the world, and it has had a long and productive partnership with the Parliament of Bangladesh since 1997, through a series of projects, which included the initiation of an international network of parliamentarians for climate justice, policy advisory support to the Speaker’s office, as well as ICT support for MPs’ offices and secretariat staff, said the UNDP on Tuesday.
Upon renewal of UNDP’s MoU with the parliament in 2019, the organisation set out to strengthen the capacities of MPs and the Parliament Secretariat, support MPs with better access to evidence-based data and organisational development. The data platform was a priority activity, supported by a2i project of UNDP and the Government of Bangladesh.
Accurate, reliable and timely data is key to measuring progress in the Sustainable Development Goals. Members of Parliament have to handle a plethora of responsibilities for the good of their constituencies, such as enacting legislation, adopting budgets, and ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of SDGs. My Constituency app gives the MPs better access to quality data for evidence-based decision making and development planning for their constituencies.
This platform was created with a focus on human development data. Its main objectives are to help MPs track the progress of their area, identify pockets for development planning and strengthen interaction with citizens.
Addressing as the chief guest, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said, “Parliamentarians are the voices of the people and their involvement [in realising the SDGs] is necessary for the good of the people.” “We must remember that the clock is ticking — there is only a decade left to reach the SDGs. Meanwhile, there is a global change due to the pandemic, which makes it difficult to keep the economy on track while also ensuring that we stay on the right path for the SDGs. This app was born out of the question — how can we best use the parliamentary strength and cooperation that UNDP provides,” she said.
“It will give a whole picture of the constituency, and help MPs identify existing challenges to make evidence-based decisions. Ultimately, it facilitates and accelerates good decision-making, and is open to future improvements. Surely this is a constructive tool for realising the SDGs, but we must not be complacent as it is important to constantly come up with the next step for reaching the goals,” said the Speaker.Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for ICT, recalled an orientation programme organised with UNDP’s support for first-time MPs during his first stint as a parliamentarian. “I attended the programme and so I know how useful UNDP’s work is. This app will reflect the citizen’s needs and help MPs act accordingly.”
Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, in his welcome speech said, “UNDP is one of the largest organisations in the world in terms of working with parliaments. This time, our work on this app supports the core operations for parliaments, which are agents of change. The platform will allow MPs to see which parts of their constituency are lagging and act accordingly.”
Charles Chauvel, team leader for Inclusive Political Processes Governance and Peacebuilding under the Bureau of Policy and Programme Support of UNDP, said, “Spirit of innovation and adaptation of necessary tools are needed for development in the country. The level of talent and dedication in Bangladesh is commendable. “
In the later part of the programme, Anir Chowdhury, Policy Adviser, a2i, presented the data platform while Deputy Speaker, Fazle Rabbi Miah moderated the question and answer session.
Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan, Senior Secretary of the Parliament Secretariat, Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator of SDG Affairs at the PMO, Md Kamal Hossain, Secretary (Coordination & Reforms) of Cabinet Division, Mohammad Tajul Islam, Director General, BBS, Radwan Mujib Siddiq, Trustee of CRI, and Mozammel Haque, Policy Specialist of UNDP, among others, were present at the event.