How photography is being used to increase security in rural communities

June 10, 2015

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Even though Bangladesh has made considerable progress in development over the past four decades, there are still many issues left to grapple – one major concern being safety and security. In an attempt to address some of the problems, Saferworld initiated its community security project in partnership with BRAC in 2012.

The photo of men playing cards in a local shop was captured by Jesmin Ara Nipa, a BRAC field officer in Bagerhat district. More of her photos are featured on the Saferworld photo project gallery.

The photo of men playing cards in a local shop in Bagerhat was captured by Jesmin, a BRAC field officer. More of her photos are featured on the Saferworld photo project gallery.

Even though Bangladesh has made considerable progress in development over the past four decades, there are still many issues left to grapple – one major concern being safety and security. In an attempt to address some of the problems, Saferworld initiated its community security project in partnership with BRAC in 2012.

From five districts, rural women, service providers, youth, and security-related groups were brought together and placed into community action committees (CACs). The CACs identified and prioritised five safety and security issues across the project’s working areas. Some commonly defined issues were domestic violence, salary discrimination, drug abuse, gambling, political violence and sexual harassment.

In 2013, after a two-day training, 25 participants were loaned cameras to document issues of safety in their communities. The aim was to portray some outcomes of the community security project over time. These photos can tell the story of communities and their concerns. Anamol Hoq, senior sector specialist in BRAC’s community empowerment programme (CEP) explained, “This way the problems that continue to plague many communities cannot be ignored, and the people who are affected can tell their own story.”

Jesmin Ara Nipa is a BRAC field officer in Bagerhat district. Working with the project since the very beginning, Jesmin has received training in conflict sensitivity, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and analysing problems and solutions. She has conducted focus groups with communities in Bagerhat to identify safety and security concerns. Collaborating closely with CACs and youth groups, she helps them find solutions to the problems. “Now I take photographs and record what the CACs have been doing frequently,” she said. “Though I still think I can do more to show the changes that are happening.”

At first, community members were unsettled by the presence of the cameras, intermittently capturing images of insecurity-related incidences. “They didn’t like, for instance, that women were given cameras or that it was a breach of their privacy,” explained Mr Hoq. But eventually, when the people realised this was aiming to create safer communities, it became more acceptable. This was mainly due to the project’s backing from CEP’s CACs, youth groups, local officials and other influential community members. “We have seen that the communities recognise that this is a way to get their story told,” said Mr Hoq. “It can help to make people more accountable for their actions.”

The video below from Saferworld further demonstrates the impact of the community security project. 

 To view more photos from the project visit the Saferworld gallery here

 

Anushka Zafar is a senior officer at BRAC Communications. 

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