Working Paper

Working Paper

[ADRN Working Paper] Pandemic Crisis and Democratic Governance in Bangladesh: An Analysis

  • 2021-05-03
  • Rezwan-Ul-Alam

ISBN  979-11-6617-119-2 95340

Editor’s note

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bangladeshi government took various measures such as the development of a guideline, directives, and committees for COVID-19 management and the provision of stimulus packages. Nevertheless, not only did the said measures not reach vulnerable and minority communities, but the government also undermined democratic principles through both legal and extra-legal measures. Rezwan-ul-Alam, the Director of the Knowledge Management team at Manusher Jonno Foundation, states that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the linkage between public health outcomes and democracy, human rights, and governance in Bangladesh. The author explains that several cases were filed against journalists and local media that exposed corruption scandals in the health sector –an apparent manifestation of the infringements on the freedom of speech. Furthermore, the distribution of both financial and food support was mired by allegations of corruption and mismanagement. It is important to build the foundations for a more rights-based, effective, and accountable democratic governance to combat future possibilities of a national emergency.



※ The following are excerpts from the article. For the full text, please check the attached file at the top of this page.



Like many countries around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered multi-dimensional challenges for Bangladesh.[2] This working paper examines the various challenges that are faced by the government and other non-state actors like non-government organizations (NGOs), media and businesses. It also explores the linkages among public health outcomes, human rights, and governance to assess Bangladesh’s democratic governance situation.




The following are the three objectives of this analysis:

a) To examine the government’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst covering specific aspects: health, economic, social, and political response;

b) To analyze the role of NGOs, media, and private sectors to understand the overall public sentiment towards the authorities’ actions in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic; and

c) To recommend both policy and programmatic solutions to build public confidence in the state’s capacity in managing novel shocks in the future. ■



[1] Throughout the year, ADRN members will publish a total of three versions of the Pandemic Crisis and Democratic Governance in Asia Research to include any changes and updates in order to present timely information. The first and second parts will be publicized as a working paper and the third will be publicized as a special report. This working paper is part I of the research project.

[2]  A total of 7950 people died and more than half a million infected as per official figure, dated 21 January 2021. Accessed on January 21, 2021



  • Rezwan-ul-Alam is the Director of the Knowledge Management team at Manusher Jonno Foundation, Bangladesh. He has a solid working experience of 23 years at different positions in Advocacy, Communication, Partnership and Media relations in a number of organizations (TIB, World Bank, UNICEF, Bangladesh Government and media). He holds a PhD in Journalism from City University, London.
  • Typeset by Jinkyung Baek, Director of the Research Department
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