Over the period of a decade and half in Bangladesh, DASCOH has pioneered several development approaches, applied them in practice and demonstrated a ‘good practice’ model for the government, NGOs, community based organizations (CBOs) and civil society. It has gained considerable competency in program planning and management in general and community management in particular. Its overarching development approach – promotion of self-help in anything it does for and with the poor communities and achieve their self-reliance has been replicated by several other organizations in Bangladesh. Application of self-help approach in promotion of safe water and hygiene from the mid nineties has revolutionized the entire water and sanitation sector in Bangladesh as demonstrated by the fact of almost universal on-going use and maintenance of water and sanitation systems even after a decade, an outcome considered non-achievable in Bangladesh. While the partnership with the local NGOs was preferred over local government for promotion of water, sanitation and other primary health care programs, DASCOH has proved that both approaches work as long as common understanding is developed and commitment is demonstrated on the agreed outcomes. In fact, local governments proved and would continue to be immensely valuable partners most notably, due to their wider development agendas and potentiality to address multi-faceted issues through coherent management of resources. Placing trust on the local government systems and strengthening these legitimate institutions’ capacity to deliver services be it water sanitation, general health or poverty alleviation programs as per national policies and plans rather than creating parallel systems to deliver services promoted transparency and enhanced accountability and good governance. The approach to support Union Parishads (UPs) in contracting out to private service providers for infrastructure development, with involvement of standing committees and community representatives, is innovative and unique in the context of Bangladesh.
Over the period of more than a decade, DASCOH implemented projects on safe water, sanitation, health, local governance and disaster management and served more than a million people in Rajshahi and Chapai Nawabganj and other districts of Bangladesh. It also developed the capacity of the NGOs by way of coaching and helping to develop and implement the systems and processes for effective service delivery. The snow-ball effect of its approaches is also witnessed after termination of so called projects. For instance, although construction of subsidized ‘project’ latrines was discontinued, however, partnership with CBOs resulted in installation of 7,527 self financed latrines in the program area over a period of two years. Lauding the impact of DASCOH’s support on the performance of Union Parishads in their confidential assessment directly provided to an independent assessor, many UPs reported that ‘tax collection increased dramatically after training support from DASCOH’. Another UP said, despite being on UP Parishad for more than 5 years, we have no clarity on our roles and responsibilities until DASCOH provided training to us. ‘We will benefit significantly if DASCOH seconds a full time staff to UP’ requested a few UPs.