Final Evaluation of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project - Phase II

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Evaluation Plan:
2017-2021, Bangladesh
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
12/2021
Completion Date:
12/2021
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
133,740

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Title Final Evaluation of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project - Phase II
Atlas Project Number: 00082279
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2021, Bangladesh
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2021
Planned End Date: 12/2021
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 2.2.3 Capacities, functions and financing of rule of law and national human rights institutions and systems strengthened to expand access to justice and combat discrimination, with a focus on women and other marginalised groups
SDG Goal
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
SDG Target
  • 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
Evaluation Budget(US $): 133,740
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 133,740
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Martin Mattsson Principal Investigator martin.mattsson@yale.edu
Mushfiq Mobarak Associate Investigator ahmed.mobarak@yale.edu
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: BANGLADESH
Lessons
1.

The project provided Village Court Assistants (VCAs) has reinforced the effort to activate the Village Court in the rural setting. They played a significant role in receiving complaints, completing the necessary registers and forms, recording proceedings, and providing the data required for M&E as well as outreach and awareness in the local community. As the UP secretary is the only one responsible at the UP level except for a few Assistant Accountants cum Computer Operator (AACO), the VCA had a persuasive role to lead the VC activities.


2.

Involvement of women in the decision-making process of VC is still minimal though the VC has demonstrated significant value for women in terms of access to justice rather than the formal system. It is evident that relatively a few women are nominated to be members of the VC, and even when they are (owing to the legal need that one female needs to be present in instances involving children or women), their presence and participation are limited.


3.

The financial jurisdiction of the Village Court makes a bar to take a significant number of applications from the applicants. A gap in policy framework hindered the case referral as Police cannot refer the case to the Village Court directly. Also, regularizing the Village Court is challenging as there is no reward and/or penalty option. Family issues are the most common disputes in rural areas which are not considered in VC.


Findings
1.

Awareness among rural people in project areas of the Village Courts and its function has gone up from 9% in 2017 [Baseline] to 90% in 2021


2.

Village courts comply with VC procedures and UPs maintain all VC forms and register with high quality [Baseline (2017):0; Final Evaluation (2021-Project areas): 98%; Final Evaluation (2021-on project areas: 0%)]


3.

UP officials were more knowledgeable about the VCs and they spent more time on resolving disputes through the VC system


4.

Village courts are efficient, fast and accessible for everyone:

  • Village courts resolved over 82% of reported case taking only 25 days [(Baseline (2017): 42 days, Final Evaluation (2021): 25 days.
  • Enforcement rate of VC’s decision is over 95% [Baseline (2017) :80%; Final Evaluation, 2021: 95%.
  • Court users spent 233 takas (US$ 2.7) as courts fees, conveyance and food/snacks cost on an average to get service [(Baseline (2017): 3,064 BDT; Final Evaluation, 2021: 233 BDT]
  • 91% service recipients expressed their satisfaction with VC services and its decisions

5.

Women are increasingly participating in VC’s. The project initiatives encouraged petitioners and respondents to nominate women as VC panel members.

  • Representation of women in village court’s decision-making process has been increased from 2% [Baseline] to 15% [2021].
  • Women justice seeker has increased from 20% [Baseline] to 29% [Final Evaluation, 2021].

6.

More than 50% of the users of VCs live below the World Bank poverty line which also indicates that AVCB program helps increase affordable access to the poor.


7.

UP representatives perceived that shortage of manpower, inadequate training facilities and lack of awareness about VC among local people are the main weakness of village courts.


8.

The rate of disputes with a monetary value was reduced to fifty percent and the average value of the dispute was reduced to BDT 183,000 in the endline from BDT 272,000 in the Baseline. This is indicative of the fact that a large portion of the disputes may not be resolved in VCs due to a case value limit of BDT 75,000.


Recommendations
1

A country-wide scale-up can be initiated to uplift the justice situation and sustainable VC.

2

The VC Act 2006 need to be amended based on the consultation with different stakeholder.

3

To keep continue the village court service after the end of the project, human resources need to be ensured at UP level to assist UP to run village courts with proper documentation.

4

Capacity building and awareness-raising activities need to be strengthened to increase the use of village courts.

1. Recommendation:

A country-wide scale-up can be initiated to uplift the justice situation and sustainable VC.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/01/29]

Agreed. 

A high-level tripartite meeting was held on 25th of November 2021 with a major agenda on deciding the agency-wise funding arrangement among LGD, EU, and UNDP for country-wide scale-up of AVCB Project activities. Honourable Minister, MoLGRD&C presided over the meeting, and Senior Secretary, LGD, Head of Cooperation, European Union in Bangladesh, and Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh attended the meeting. In the meeting, LGD, European Union, and UNDP have agreed and committed to country-wide scale-up and contribute to the five-year final phase of the AVCB Project. Meanwhile, a formulation mission has been deployed to design the project.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Prepare necessary Project documents (Financial Agreement- between ERD and EU, Contribution Agreement -between UNDP and EU, ProDoc -among ERD, LGD and UNDP and TAPP by planning division) and get it approved.
[Added: 2022/01/29] [Last Updated: 2022/04/24]
UNDP, EU and LGD 2022/07 Initiated Drafted necessary project documents (Financial Agreement, ProDoc and TAPP). History
Organize Tripartite Meeting among the EU, LGD, and UNDP to finalize the result tree, budget, activities, and LFA as well as agency wise contribution.
[Added: 2022/01/29] [Last Updated: 2022/03/23]
UNDP, EU and LGD 2022/03 No Longer Applicable [Justification: The 7th PSC meeting was held on 31 January 2021 in presence of EU, LGD and UNDP’s personnel instead of a tripartite meeting. The PSC made the decision on the future programme for countrywide scaling up and developing project documents for the five-year final phase of the AVCB project in the meeting. In addition, the PSC agreed with the total budget for the project, activities and agency wise contribution in the PSC meeting.]
History
Complete recruitment of PMU staff
[Added: 2022/01/29]
UNDP and LGD 2022/06 Not Initiated
Commence implementation of Country-wide scale-up project
[Added: 2022/01/29]
UNDP, EU and LGD 2022/07 Not Initiated
2. Recommendation:

The VC Act 2006 need to be amended based on the consultation with different stakeholder.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/01/29]

Agreed. 

AVCB II project has been providing support to the LGD to amend the VC Act, 2006. Meanwhile, the project has conducted a series of stakeholders consultations at the local and national levels and drafted an amendment proposal incorporating recommendations of consultations, and submitted it to the LGD. LGD has forwarded it to the Cabinet Division for verification. The proposal is under review process by the Technical Committee of the Cabinet Division.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Facilitate Cabinet Division to complete review/ assessment by Technical Committee.
[Added: 2022/01/29] [Last Updated: 2022/04/24]
LGD, and UNDP 2022/08 Initiated The technical committee has completed the review of the submitted amendment proposal. History
Carry out policy advocacy with the concerned stakeholders to expedite the formalities for amending the VC Act, 2006
[Added: 2022/01/29]
LGD, and UNDP 2022/06 Not Initiated
3. Recommendation:

To keep continue the village court service after the end of the project, human resources need to be ensured at UP level to assist UP to run village courts with proper documentation.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/01/29]

Agreed. 

Ensuring Human resources at the UP level is the responsibility of LGD where the project has no control. However, the AVCB-II project has been supporting and providing technical assistance to LGD to ensure the recruitment of human resources (Accountant Assistant-cum-Computer Operator- AACO) at the UP level to assist UP for the effective functioning of village courts. Till December 2021, around 1,500 AACOs have been recruited, and recruitment of around 800 AACOs (eight Hundred) is under process. Many districts could not complete recruitment due to writ petitions filed in the High Court against the recruitment process. The pending review petitions lying before the Appellate Division (the highest tier court) for final hearing have recently appeared in the cause list and have been short-listed for hearing.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Advocacy with LGD to ensure recruitment of AACOs in all UPs of Bangladesh.
[Added: 2022/01/29]
UNDP and LGD 2022/12 Initiated
Monitor the status of AACO’s recruitment and share with LGD to take necessary measures
[Added: 2022/01/29]
UNDP and LGD 2022/12 Initiated
4. Recommendation:

Capacity building and awareness-raising activities need to be strengthened to increase the use of village courts.

Management Response: [Added: 2022/01/29]

Agreed.
Under the country-wide scale-up of the AVCB Project (July 2022-June 2027), the project will strengthen the capacity of VC’s service providers and increase awareness of service recipients and other relevant stakeholders to increase the use of village courts.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Strengthen the capacity of duty bearers of VCs at national and local levels to ensure Village Courts function fairly and effectively.
[Added: 2022/01/29]
UNDP and LGD 2026/06 Not Initiated
Increase awareness of the local population on VCs and its function to improve access to justice/ dispute resolution.
[Added: 2022/01/29]
UNDP and LGD 2026/06 Not Initiated

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