Date: May 2022
Author(s): Shuvra Chowdhury and Naomi Hossain
Publication type: Working Paper
Published by: Institute of Development Studies
This Working Paper reports on the mechanisms and processes through which the Bangladeshi government listened to citizens’ needs, and citizens held government accountable for its policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. It explores both official and governmental mechanisms, and non-state and informal mechanisms.
The paper sets out the political context within which accountability and responsiveness mechanisms have been operating in Bangladesh, and the range of governmental innovations with respect to citizen participation, transparency, and accountability that have happened despite a closure of civic space. These mechanisms can be expected to have affected the quality and success of the government’s Covid-19 response, but there is as yet little evidence of how they operated during the pandemic.
The study found that despite the official imperative to control the narrative on Covid-19, media coverage and technocratic and evidence-based analysis and advocacy played some role in influencing government action. Overall, the government demonstrated some willingness to listen to citizens’ concerns, because such information is seen as essential for improving the performance of public policies. Yet this willingness came up against the limits of the government’s tolerance for scrutiny and open critique of its policies.