The bad smell of garbage, waste-blocked sewerage, roads full of potholes and rampant power outage only can explain the civic life of Sunibir slum dwellers at Adabor area in the capital city of Dhaka.
Several appeals to the civic body to improve the condition of roads and sewerage were made, but it fell on deaf ears. Joshna, a Sunibir resident and youth in her twenties has been suffering for years since she started living here. She was looking for an end to all the sufferings. But her voice was unheard and no measures proved to be effective.
It was all until December 2017, when Joshna along with 20 others, participated in an orientation on Right to Information Act (RTIA) and its benefits, organized by MRDI. There she came to know how the authority can be made accountable by using the RTIA.
After the orientation she filed information request to the DNCC authority. She was denied but did not give up. She appealed to the higher authority of DNCC and getting no response, filed complaint to the Information Commission (IC).
The authority then provided all the information even before any hearing. They told her in a statement that due to budget constraint Sunibir area could not be included for any development activity.
DNCC has now initiated repairing potholes around Sunibir with their departmental equipment’s. They also committed that in the fiscal year 2018-19 that area would be enlisted in their development planning.
This is one of the several success stories made by the RTI Change makers. MRDI identified eight young women from 2 slums of Dhaka North and South City Corporations with an objective to develop them as change makers using RTI tool in their community. They are now working door-to-door to dig out problems of their slums and use RTIA to solve them. They are inspiring and supporting women to seek information from the authorities applying the RTI Act. MRDI provided a three day in-depth training to these young women to develop their capacity on understanding RTIA 2009, the procedure of filing application, appeal, complaint and extend support to community women on access to information when needed. The change makers have also developed a peer group of twenty women in each slum to disseminate knowledge on the RTI Act and encourage them to apply it. By now, the change makers and peer group members have filed a good number of RTI applications to different authorities.