What is UBINIG
UBINIG is the abbreviation of its Bengali name Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona (ঊন্নয়ন বিকল্পের নীতিনির্ধারণী গবেষণা). In English it means Policy Research for Development Alternative.
Starting as a small study circle in 1984 UBING grew over the years into a policy research organization, and now directly connected with both rural and urban communities to work on various issues that affect people's lives and livelihoods. We work with farmers, workers, weavers, fishers, artisans and crafts persons, commmunity health providers, rural entrepreneurs and other rural communities.
UBINIG is a legally registered research and consultancy organization. We work on issues of interests that are directly relevant and affect people's lives and livelihoods, particularly those at the margin of the society. We work collectively, share our thoughts collectively and therefore the accomplishments are also shared in a collective manner.
UBINIG is a community led and community based organisation
UBINIG's research and policy advocacy is grounded upon community led and community based activities. This is the unique feature of the organisation. We articulate the needs and aspirations of the communities for whom we work with certain distictive principles.
Communities are not merely “objects” of research. Our activities are also our efforts to be the part of community and experience the problems as the community would see and seek solutions. We share with the community members the same collective hopes, desires and concerns and address the contradictions, antagonisms, dreams and realities from collective perspectives.
Community research is a form of constitutive social activity enhancing community's understanding of both collective and individual objectives and their relations including rights and responsibilities to solve day to day problems of life and livelihoods. Community is not merely an 'other' of research.
Enhancing community's capacity to identify the problems they face in real life situation guides us in our work. The task we see is to unfold the creativity inherent in the knowledge practices of the community enabling them to solve the problem themselves. In bangla, such engagement is known as creating conditions for the 'samaj' to arrive and take lead in communiy affairs. The ‘samaj’ literally means community's self awareness as a collective and the capacity to act as an organic whole. This approach reinforces the moral commitment to act responsibly in solving collective concerns. Such exercise enables every person to develop equallly and harmoniosly with others and are entitled to the benefits achieved by all.
The decisive issue in the production of knowledge is who indeed is the producer of the knowledge and hoy authority is decided and what is the class and gender effect of our work. We take class and gender perspectives seriously in our methodology, analysis and conclusions. Creative imaginations and secarch for alternative perspectives is the key strategy in all our activities. Capturing the complexity of real life situations is always the major challenge for any community activity
We do not mechanically separate research from community development, ideas from implementation. We advocate the ideas coming out of our research works and take efforts to imlement whever necessery. Therefore, we are engaged in various grass root activities, programmes and projects. These activities are elements of our living and constitutive interaction with the community. Communiy activities strengthen the empirical foundation of community led investigation and analysis and create conditions for community consensus on issues of collective concern.
The range of activities is broad. Such as, handloom weaving, craft and creativity of the rural population, ecological agriculture, cultural activities, health, strengthening local and indigenous knowledge, empowering women, working with workers, running one and only Feminist Book Store (Narigrantha Prabartana in Bangladesh, marketing support to weavers and craft makers, publications, editing and publishing fortnightly chintaa, etc.
Combining Grass Root Activities and Policy Advocacy
UBINIG is unique in its ability in combining community activities with policy implications.
The approach of UBINIG toward social processes of change is based on two interrelated practices at two different levels of operation. These are (1) activities at the grass root level; this is the determining aspects of our community existence and (2) the policy level activities to change the paradigm, agenda, content and direction of the mainstream policy that affects the lives of the people.
We generate our visions and determine direction of our work from the wealth of grassroots experience. On the other hand, the activities at the policy level open up opportunities for dialogue and positive change.
The activities related to policy activities also help us to map the gaps in information and analysis necessery for effective policy decsions. We can also identify the areas where we can meaningfully engage with the government as well as national and international agencies, including multilateral bodies.
A Glimpse of the Past
At the practical level of works, UBINIG one of our initial involvement in rural areas was in Tangail with handloom weavers in order to find effective ways to revitalizing rural economic activity. Handloom weaving has immense potentiality to be a base for rural industrialization and the handloom sector is the most strategic site to activate and animate rural industrialization bringing positive transformation of the rural economy. The possibility to ground rural industry upon the agrarian economy immensely attracted our attention. We did a thorough study of the sector in 1986 to identify the potentialities in more concrete terms and started to organize weavers. Soon we realized that the handloom sector can play an alternative route to development instead of the export oriented industrial model persued by the government and the bilateral and muiltilteral development agencies. The yarn policy of the government was detrimental to the handloom sector and virtually wiped out many efficient pockets of handloom weavers accelerating the processes of pauperization and social discontent. The industrial activity of the villages has been systematically dis-articulated from the agricultural activity having far reaching development implication. The economic processes set into motion eroded the basis for village based communities who could profitably remain engaged in agriculture and industry at the same time. These are the critical time for us to understand the necessity to work in both industrial and rural activities and envisioning 'development' as a category artulating both agriculture and industry.
The concern we felt was also intensely linked with ecology and environment. The handloom sector is based on renewable energy. The industrialization process based on large scale textile and spinning industries uses fossil fuel. A phase we could better design for positive environmental and ecological gains.
UBINIG's involvement is now extends both to agriculture and the weaving. Starting from Tangail we are now active in many districts of Bangladesh.
The biodiversity-based ecological farming system called Nayakrishi Andolon is UBINIG's major startegic activity since 1990. At present there are over 300,000 farming households involved in Nayakrishi Andolon who do not use any chemicals such as pesticides or fertlizer; The Nayakrishi farming practices do no use of deep tubewells, yet they have been able to regenerate over 2000 varieties of rice, and diverse varieties of vegetables, fruits spices and other crops. etc. Nayakrishi is a very successful mobilisation of farmers in over 20 districts. Women are natural leaders and very active in this movement.
The major issues of UBINIG include
- AGRICULTURE & FOOD SOVEREIGNTY
- ENVIRONMENT, ECOLOGY & CLIMATE CHANGE
- INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE PRACTICES
- HEALTH, NUTRITION & RURAL HEALTH PROVIDERS
- EDUCATION & AWARENESS
- REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
- MIGRATION, TRAFFICKING & VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
- TRADE UNION EDUCATION & WORKER'S RIGHTS
The way UBINIG works
- RESEARCH, INVESTIGATION, FIELD INFORMATION
- ORGANISING RURAL COMMUNITIES INCLUDING FARMERS, WEAVERS, DAI MAs
- EXCHANGE PROGRAMMES
- STUDY CIRCLES, WORKSHOPS, SEMINARS
- CAMPAIGN & ADVOCACY
- PUBLICATION & DISSEMINATION: PRINT, DIGITAL, VIDEO, PHOTOGRAPHY