Unnayan Shamannay denotes coordination of developmental activities, not in the narrow sense, but in the wider context of all the aspects of a living society and human race ¾ reckoning with all the quantifiable and qualitative actions a society carries out. The members of Unnayan Shamannay have been striving to invigorate and further strengthen private sector initiatives for socioeconomic and cultural development of Bangladesh through a concerted grassroots approach.
It is an innovative non-profit research organization of resourceful professionals working in the arena of research and development. It is engaged in quantitative and qualitative research work, training, communication and advocacy, cultural learning and developmental activities. The organization was incorporated in July 1994 under the Companies Act, 1913 (section 26) with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies under the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh (The Registration number is C-345 (02)/94).
Unnayan Shamannay was conceived in the light of a felt need for an alternative socio-cultural trend, a trend that encompasses the struggle for survival thriving on the creative talent of the people. This trend does not seek to depict the country as poverty-ridden. Rather it seeks to uphold the country as a free and resilient entity, demonstrating creativity and innovation that is inherent in its rich cultural legacy. It attempts to delve into this ingenious force, establish a linkage of the well-endowed heritage to the present and understand the future trend of development in a finer context.
Since inception, Unnayan Shamannay has been involved with the UN organizations in the capacity of research and development. It has recently completed a study commissioned by UNDP titled “Sirajganj Local Governance Development Project: Documentation of Innovation”. Unnayan Shamannay has published People’s Report on Bangladesh’s Environment of Bangladesh for the year 2001 and 2002-03 under its auspices of its long term project titled “Environmental Documentation and Dissemination from People’s Perspective (EDP)” which was a component of Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP) initiated Jointly by UNDP and Government of Bangladesh. It is now preparing the third report for the year 2003-04. All these reports have used both quantitative and qualitative methods. The sponsors and other stakeholders have highly appreciated the impact evaluation study on rural electrification conducted by Unnayan Shamannay in 1996. The study with wide coverage tried to incorporate both quantitative and qualitative approaches while evaluating the socioeconomic impact of rural electrification. A year later, it carried out another study on economic and financial impact of electricity outages and willingness to pay and affordability for services. Unnayan Shamannay did another qualitative study on local level planning for UNDP, Dhaka and earned a lot of appreciation from the UN organization. Most recently, it has completed a study on “Making Infrastructure Work for the Poor: A Joint Programme of Government of Japan-UNDP” (July 2005). Government of Japan and UNDP sponsored the study jointly. Under the project an evaluation of micro infrastructure projects was carried out to identify its impact on poverty reduction and human security enhancement. This study included in-depth field and literature based study of SLGDP.
Unnayan Shamannay has completed a number socio-economic surveys including a few sponsored by World Bank. World Bank sponsored studies included World Bank client survey (2004) and the electricity outage study (2000). These were important survey based studies. Another FGD based study conducted by chairman of Unnayan Shamannay, DrAtiur Rahman titled “Civic Participation in sub-national Budgeting in Bangladesh” was sponsored by World Bank Institute. Unnayan Shamannay facilitated the study. Besides, Unnayan Shamannay has completed a number of survey and FGD based studies for major international and national agencies.
Recently, it has completed a few such studies to capture perception of various marginalized groups (e.g. the disabled, children and ethnic poor) on poverty for inclusion into the on-going PRSP document. These include ‘Drafting Pro-Poor Strategy for Drinking Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygine Sector in Bangladesh’ sponsored by Unit for Policy Implementation (UPI), Local Government Division, Government of Bangladesh and “Inclusion of Disability Issues in PRSP in Bangladesh” supported by Action on Disability and Development (ADD). In both these studies the views of the extreme poor have been collected through qualitative methods to help them influence the pro-poor strategies of final PRSP of Bangladesh. Besides, Unnayan Shamannay has conducted many other studies focusing on people’s perception and choices (Please refer to section-II).
It is also collaborating with a local consultancy firm (HB consultants) in conduction a large survey covering ten thousand sample units to monitor performance of a few micro-credit institutions Under Follow Up Monitoring and Evaluation System Study of PKSF (Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation).
Unnayan Shamannay also imparts training on quantitative and qualitative research and facilitates in designing programme documents. Unnayan Shamannay has also been running successfully a specialized advocacy and communications subsidiary named Shamunnay (meaning leap forward) for many years. Shamunnay has gained reputation for organizing pre and post budget campaigns in the forms of round tables, radio and TV talk shows, preparation and distribution of booklets. Thousands of copies of the booklet Budget Made Easy (Budget Sahij Path) have been recently distributed among primary and secondary stakeholders contributing significantly towards expanding the space for better economic governance in Bangladesh.