Key information

Providing training services to help strengthen the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).

Prior to 2009, the framework to protect the rights of consumers was predominantly weak in Bangladesh due to limited market surveillance activities coupled with low awareness of consumer rights. Consumer interests were covered to product standards for health and safety purposes but lacked consumer representation in standardisation activities by consumer organisations.The vulnerable state of consumer protection was further compromised with scattered pieces of legislation that afforded little or no protection to consumers in Bangladesh.


CI support

These weaknesses were recognised, and with the support from the BQSP Project implemented by UNIDO and funded by EU-NORAD, CI carried out an assessment in 2006 on the status and work of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) in relation to promoting consumer protection measures, participating in standards development, use of standards in market surveillance and comparative testing. Based on the assessment, CI proposed to work with CAB through a strategic plan to support CAB's sustainability by developing a comprehensive market surveillance program for the protection and betterment of consumers in Bangladesh.

Training on Product Labeling UNIDO 3rd Mission

Training

In response to CI's proposal, UNIDO subcontracted CI for a two-year project from September 2008 till June 2010 to support CAB. CI conducted training, research and facilitated planning activities to capacitate CAB to be a sustainable organisation capable of carrying out a continued market surveillance programme that included complaints handling, increased use of standards and comparative testing.


Consumer protection law

CI also advocated a consumer law that would provide enable a consumer protection environment. CI provided support for CAB's advocacy towards the adoption and effective implementation of a wide-ranging Consumer Protection Act in Bangladesh. The Consumer Rights Protection Act was passed on 6 April 2009 by the government of Bangladesh.

Other accomplishments of the project include:

  • Reconstituting the Advisory Panel of CAB that currently oversees the strategic direction of CAB for its long term sustainability
  • Strengthening CAB's market surveillance program by training CAB staffs and its divisional officers on protocols of comparative testing. A total of four products-Paracetamol tablets, adult milk powder, mustard-seed oil and bottled water samples were collected by CAB and tested with the results and analysis published in CAB's newsletter. In addition, a two-day national training on labelling laws was conducted for CAB officers throughout the country to carry out a national level survey in relation to food labelling in 38 districts on bread, soft drinks and soy bean oil with the results published in CAB's newsletter.
  • Developing a fundraising strategy for CAB and carrying out national level training on management including implementation of institutional strategies, programme management, information systems, programme financial control and complaints handling procedures to process and collate consumer complaints. In addition, training on knowledge management on key consumer issues for increased consumer protection and consumer representation at the district/divisional level was carried out in a pilot initiative in Khulna and Chittagong.
  • Strengthening CAB's capacity to advocate for the Consumer Rights Protection Act (CRPA) through dialogues with the Minister of and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Commerce; assisted CAB in organising a high level Consumer Policy Conference bringing together a wide range of civil society groups to focus on consumer protection legislation, product safety issues and consumer redress mechanisms in Bangladesh; conducted 5 divisional level workshops targetting grassroots in Sylhet, Rajshahi, Barisal, Chittagong and Khulna to raise awareness on CRPA as well as a multi-stakeholder national consultation with relevant NGOs to develop a Memorandum raising concerns of CRPA - its lack of implementation and areas for improvement; assisted CAB to develop pamphlets, pocket booklets and pictorial booklet in Bangla for wide dissemination on CRPA, its functions , benefits and responsibilities.

CI is convinced that CAB with its increased level of expertise and skills will continue to play a lead role in standards setting and compliance in Bangladesh while protecting the rights and interests of consumers across the country especially the poor, illiterate and low-middle class consumers.

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