Saturday, November 13, 2010

UNDP offers support for digitisation

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is ready to support digitisation of Bangladesh's land records, population registration and criminal data, its top official said in Dhaka yesterday.

The UN unit would also assist Bangladesh to formulate its climate change risk adaptation and management mechanism, stated Helen Clark, the UNDP administrator.

Former New Zealand premier made the remarks after a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith at his official residence.

"We have discussed how we can support the digitisation process as part of modernisation of the state apparatus," she told reporters after the meeting with the finance minister.

Ms Clark, the third-highest ranked UN official after the secretary general and deputy secretary general, is in the capital to join the nationwide launching of information service centres.

"I think for the steps to be really effective we need access to records in a timely fashion. The citizens should have access to the archives. It also helps the transparency agenda," she said.

The UNDP is looking forward to support the country with a capacity to formulate strategies, said Clark, adding this would integrate development and climate change risk adaptation and mitigation.

Finance Minister Muhith said they have requested the UN body to play the role of a coordinator among donors to implement the government's digitisation programmes.

"We can ask the donors for a coordinator in the whole programme. I have requested them to take up the role. We will finalise the issue after discussion with others. The UNDP has also agreed to coordinate," said the minister.

The UN agency also aims to ensure a win-win situation for the people involved in the fight against climate change. “We look for win-win for the community like we saw in Char Kukri Mukri yesterday (Thursday), where ladies are earning from growing the mangrove, which is also going to protect the charland," mentioned Clark.

"It is win-win for tackling poverty efforts and also for getting better environment protection. These kinds of things can be scaled up nationwide," she added, referring to her visit to Charfashion upazila in Bhola district. She spoke to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from there through a video-conference after the opening of information services centres.

Muhith told journalists that the government is going to conduct population registry after the census due for March next year. "The UNDP has already worked in various capacities such as preparing voter identification card. So I think they can play a role in conducting the population registration process."

The minister observed that access to information is not the only aspect of land digitisation. "There are many other issues involved… The UNDP can help us formalise that. They can also help us in the areas of financing and identifying possible outputs."

The major portion of global climate change fund should come as grants, so that it could be helpful for the countries like Bangladesh, pleaded Muhith.

"We did not get any money from any sources for effluent treatment plants in the leather sector. But it is very important for climate change. If the donors had any grants, then we could have facilitated more," he added.

The minister did not expect the criminal record digitisation to start very soon. "The concept is not clear yet. The police department is not thinking in the way that we are on."

The issue of transfer of technology between the project teams working in Bangladesh was also discussed. "We have our own project teams and the UNDP has theirs, but there is no transfer of technology. The technology is destroyed once their project team departs," he added.

"We don't know how to assimilate the two, but we discussed the problem, so we need to do something about it."

The meeting also featured issues of climate change and migration, the minister said.

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