Understanding Social Accountability at Rural Local Governance in Bangladesh and the Way Forward: In the Case of Union Parishad

Miskat Jahan *

Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno, USA and Department of Public Administration, Comilla University, Cumilla–3506, Bangladesh.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


In the 21st Century social accountability has become one of the preconditions to create a more transparent and representative government and aid public institutions in meeting the expectations of the population through empowering citizens which is necessary for effective and sustainable development. Social accountability of the elected representatives at the rural level may help the government increase service quality, empower rural citizens, and promote good governance. At present Bangladesh, mostly known as the “Development Surprise”, has leaped towards lower middle-income country status from a poor developing one within four decades of its decisive victory. In this stage of growth and development, the persistence of social accountability at the rural local government would ensure the attainment of sustainable development through ensuring demand-based service delivery. Against this backdrop, this paper intends to explore the present status of social accountability mechanisms at the Union Parishad which is the lowest tier of rural local governance in Bangladesh. Based on the analysis, several recommendations for the way forward have been summarized. Secondary data analysis and empirical knowledge have been exerted which would refer to a clear view of the current status of social accountability at the grass root level. The first section mentions the importance of social accountability at the union level based on theoretical analysis. Existing mechanisms to ensure social accountability at Union Parishad have been delineated in the second section. The third section develops a compact understanding of the current status of social accountability at the Union Parishad level. The fourth section will share a discussion of the findings, recommendations, and conclusion. This study finds that the lack of interest among Union Parishad Functionaries, avoidance by citizens, irregularities in committee formation, irregular meetings, lack of resources, clientelism and Govt. supervision, etc. have made the social accountability mechanisms at the rural local government ineffective and fruitless. The political willingness of the Government, GO-NGO collaboration, allocation of resources to rural local government, awareness raising among citizens, educating citizens politically, and ensuring proper training for the officials in the Union Parishad can play an important role to revive social accountability through deliberative forums and committees in the rural local government.

Keywords: Social accountability, sustainable development, good governance, demand-based service delivery, rural local governance, Shava

How to Cite

Jahan , M. (2023). Understanding Social Accountability at Rural Local Governance in Bangladesh and the Way Forward: In the Case of Union Parishad. South Asian Journal of Social Studies and Economics, 17(4), 36–45. https://doi.org/10.9734/sajsse/2023/v17i4644


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