The Cox's Bazar CSO NGO Forum (CCNF), a network of 50 local and national NGOs working in Cox's Bazar, has demanded effective participation of local government bodies, especially the Union Parishads of Cox's Bazar, in managing the Rohingya crisis.
In a virtual seminar organised on Thursday on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, the speakers said the local people's representatives are the first to support the people in any disaster, so the involvement of local organisations and representatives is essential in formulating the programme, reads a press release.
Md Mujibul Haque Munir of the Coast Foundation who presented a keynote address in the webinar said when the Rohingyas took shelter in Cox's Bazar, the local people's representatives, especially the Union Council chairmen and members, stood beside them along with the local residents.
"Being closest to the people, the local people's representatives understand the needs of the people best," he added.
Abu Morshed Chowdhury, executive director of PHALS, who moderated the session, said Cox's Bazar is already a vulnerable area due to natural causes including climate change.
"Many projects have been undertaken for the development of Cox's Bazar, including huge shelter projects. The success of these initiatives largely depends on the effective management of the Rohingya crisis. And in this case the involvement of local people's representatives, local government is important," he added.
Dr Tofail Ahmed, a local government expert, said the Union Parishad can play a direct and strong role in any disaster or humanitarian crisis but there still are some structural weaknesses in the Union Parishads and some changes in the national policy framework are needed to overcome this weakness.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of Coast Foundation, said effective localisation of humanitarian and development assistance to Rohingya management must be ensured.
"It also needs to ensure accountability at the local level. The role of local NGOs, as well as local government institutions in the effective use of financial assistance and sustainable resolution of the crisis, is undeniable," he added.
Rajapalang Union Parishad member Helal Uddin said, "We do not have a clear idea of the amount of allocation for the locals and what kind of projects are coming. While local NGOs involve us in their programmes, international organisations are not engaging us in that way."
Hnila Union Parishad Member Morzina Akhter said that the local representatives can play a more active role if their views are taken into account while taking action in their respective areas.