The UISC Blog (uiscbd.ning.com) started in July 2010 by A2I Programme in the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh supported by UNDP. You can find the answers of five questions about UISC blog. Why did A2I start the UISC Blog? Is it something new than any other blogs, how? How have the government officials been involved in this blog and how it is transforming their mindset? How has it become a sustainable popular grassroots blog? What changes has this blog made in the service delivery process?
The decision of UISC establishment by LGD (Local Government Division) was the important contexts of UISC blog creation. This context can help you to get answers of these questions.
In the beginning of 2010, LGD planned to set-up the Union Information and Service Center (UISC) in all (4501) union parishad under the 4P model. Two local young entrepreneurs (1 man and 1women) will run the UISC as model explained. The model comes from the pilot ‘CeC’ completed in 2008 by A2I. LGD’s goal was to ensure the services at people’s doorsteps. But a major question raised in A2I in early 2010 that was when at a time 9002 entrepreneurs will start operation 4501 UISCs then the different issues will come to them; like, problems, solutions, skills, e-Leadership, recognition, monitoring and supervision. How will these issues be addressed quickly within this existing administration mechanism? In this context, A2I planned to develop an e-Platform where all entrepreneurs will be able share their all issues, will discuss their problems and will find the solutions of problems in participatory way. At the same time, as a single platform, this will be used by citizens, service providers and policy makers in together on quality service, timely service delivery, service demand creation, grassroots policy dialogue, accountability, transparency and social networking among entrepreneurs and district administration officials. UISC Blog was that e-Platform.
Two strong sides exist in the UISC blog. One, its focus is in service, service delivery process; its goal is to assist ensuring the services at people’s doorsteps. Two, this is the first blog in the world as far we know that more than 85% members are from the grassroots. At present the number of members of UISC blog is more than 13,000 - including all entrepreneurs, union parishad secretaries & chairmen, officials from district administration (all deputy commissioners, all additional deputy commissioners, all upazila executive officers and others), all divisional commissioners, officials from the different Ministries (Ministers, Secretaries, Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, Director Generals), UISC’s Service Partners, Public Representatives and Journalists. The members have posted more than one lac blog in last two years.
Within one and half year the UISC Blog has been a success story. It achieved the huge popularity among entrepreneurs and it becomes a business part of their daily life. The blog achieved the e-Asia award 2011 as a popular grassroots blog. Many entrepreneurs who use the Facebook they comment that the UISC Blog is stronger tool then Facebook for them and this blog is very effective sharing hub for entrepreneurs where they can discuss together the problems, solutions, recognition and e-Leadership. The question is, how did this story possible to achieve?
There are major six factors for this story. The 1st one, the blog has been a participatory problem-solution platform for entrepreneurs. In every month, more than 3,000 problems addresses in this blog. Problems are in four types - UISC operational, marketing, troubleshooting and administrative. The entrepreneurs get 80% solutions from this blog through interaction of both entrepreneurs and district administration which saves huge public money and time. The 2nd one, UISC blog has become the complaint and response box for grassroots people. This blog is working as a pressure tool for transparency and accountability for different Ministries. Because one single blog post about service delivery means all entrepreneurs and district administration will follow them up. So, they do not have any way to avoid to response this blog post which demand for the quality service.
The 3rd one, the bureaucratic hegemony started breaking in service delivery process by the government officials especially in the district administration. The problem-solution interaction is the main point of discussioon in the UISC blog between district administration and entrepreneurs which has been really useful to address this issue. The service providers learnt from this interaction that, it is a process, not a short-cut way of service delivery. Cabinet division has institutionalized this learning process through adding it as an agenda ‘what is the blog performance in service delivery processes’ in the divisional commissioner’s monthly meeting at Cabinet.
The 4th one, the UISC blog has been a very effective tool for the entrepreneurs to become as the charismatic leader at grassroots. For any special success case from any entrepreneur which published in the blog that gives the new attention and new heroic focus among all entrepreneurs. These successful entrepreneurs are always requested to explain how they have achieved this success through many existing challengees. The 5th one, the blog helps to expand quickly countrywide any innovative initiative from the entrepreneurs. Service demand creation initiative is a good example. The 6th one, this blog is a space for the grassroots e-dialogue. Service delivery related many issue base discussion runs in this blog for policy decision.
This experience of the UISC Blog opened some brightest possibilities for the Bangladesh government. The departmental blog is one of them. It is a new idea. Different service focused directorates like DGHS (Director General of Health Service), DSS (Directorate of Social Service) have been ready now to start blog for their staffs (from union to ministry level) the same what UISC blog is doing. Their interest has created the new context of development the departmental blog in different ministries. The National Blog Framework coordinated by A2I and where all departmental blogs will be plugged-in. The challenge is there to identify the effective moderator’s panel for the departmental blogs for social interaction. Possibility is a blog can transform the mindset of the government officials as an effective pressure tool for service delivery. But challenge is there to run an effective dialogue among service delivery access points, service providers and policy makers. Possibility is that a blog can be an e-Training platform. Demand driven content development is the challenge there.
In conclusion, I want to share another significant possibility which is very closest part of my personal mission. As the moderator of the UISC Blog I find inspiration in every moment for its catalytic role. This is something different in my life which is helping me to see the new dream for new changes. Especially when I see the changes - in service delivery process ‘becoming easy’, in mindset transformation of the service providers ‘not people, the service will go to the people’, in practice of the entrepreneurs ‘UISC blog is the daily incentive issue’, and finally in LGIs through which ‘ensuring the services at people’s doorsteps’ – that is the great inspiration for me for the real innovation.
Moderator, UISC Blog
A2I Programme, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh
28th September 2012