Bangladesh is a country of over 160 million people, most of whom live in remote rural areas. The nearest access points to public services can typically be 20-25 kilometres away - leading to large delays, prohibitive costs and multiple visits to access points. This puts tremendous strain on Bangladesh's ability to provide basic public services and quality of life to its population, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and to those furthest behind.
Through the Access to Information, 'a2i' initiative, UNDP is supporting Bangladesh to radically transform the lives of millions by making services more reliable, affordable, and available. In catalysing citizen-friendly public service innovations, UNDP helped empower Bangladeshi youth with future skills and brought the Government closer to people.
Through an integrated approach, UNDP also strengthened collaboration amongst the private sector and communities to help establish nearly 6,000 digital service centres located not more than 4 kilometres away from every citizen in the country, serving a monthly average of 6 million people with over 150 services, including land records, birth registration, banking and rural e-commerce. In addition, an online National Portal gives citizens access to 700 public services from 46,500 government offices - with support from a telephone-based helpline targeting those with low connectivity in hard to reach areas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, over 4,000 volunteer doctors have been connected to a mobile app to deliver telehealth. These efforts have radically improved service delivery and saved Bangladeshi citizens nearly 2 billion days, over $8 billion and 1 billion visits.
This initiative has helped drive the creation of a public service innovation ecosystem and delivery infrastructure that is now being adapted to other countries through South-South cooperation efforts.