Social capital is one of the basic factors of production and development, yet it is discussed less adequately. Most care is given to the physical factors of production whereas social capital is the human bond in a community. This is relationship between human beings and so cannot been seen with visual organ. Building and developing social capital should get due attention now in our country and beyond. A study on this topic was presented at an international conference about ‘Strengthening Social Solidarity, Community Resilience & Global Connectedness’ on April 4, 2021.
The WSWD 2021: 4th International Conference was jointly organized by CSWPD (Community Social Work Practice & Development) Foundation and The People’s University of Bangladesh (PUB) from 3 to 6 April this year. This year’s online conference was joined by social workers, researchers, academicians and thinkers from various institutional and social work backgrounds from Bangladesh and many countries around the world. As many as 150 speakers, 96 of whom were international, talked at the conference and shared their experiences and insights there.
Social Worker M. Habibur Rahman, Convener of WSWD 2021 & Founding President of CSWPD, says, “We desire to see a sound, livable and sustainable community with assessment, exploration and understanding problems through strengths justification of every member. We love to transform our existing community resilient and self-reliant through empowering people of all walks of life. We are promising to establish global community level platform with a motive of ‘Share and Care’ of the community peoples’ thoughts and grievances for suitable and sustainable resolution …” (Editor’s Note, Community Talks Newsletter, vol. I, issue I, Jan-Apr 2021)
Shajahan Bhuiya, a social thinker and vice-chairman of CDIP (Centre for Development Innovation and Practices, an NGO), and I had a presentation of the jointly prepared study paper entitled ‘Social capital building support by NGOs for empowerment, integration and social development of the poor and excluded.’ The session was chaired by Poonam Gulalia, PhD, Fieldwork Coordinator, School of Social Work, TISS, with Engr. Md. Shakil Khan, Vice President, Amra Sobai Foundation, as the Session Guest.
The study paper on social capital building pointed to the fact that NGO-MFIs in Bangladesh play a very important role in this through forming groups as collateral for guarantee against their credits because group members are benefited from such social capital. We studied three cases from some CDIP samities at Bondar thana of Narayanganj.
In an interview, Munni Begum, 45, a member of the Sonakanda Samity at Madonganj, Narayanganj, said, “We are like family members in the Samity. … Love and the relationship amongst us is a big capital.” Samity is an asset to her.
Momtaz Begum, another member of the same group (Samity) said in the interview, “Samity is a resource for us. When I fall ill, all members of the group visit my house, pray for my recovery and give me courage. This relationship among the members is very much valuable.”
Forty-five years old Rehena Khatun is a member of the Farzikanda Samity in Narayanganj. She said, “I could not have a meal a day. Now three meals are cooked everyday in my house because of the credit I received from the organization.”
This study paper concludes, “social capital building support by NGOs contributes toward empowerment of the poor and excluded in the social periphery in order to enable them to integrate into the mainstream of society for sustainable social development.” And so it “should be used as a vaccine against social disunity, alienation and helplessness of the poor, marginalized and excluded people.”
It is very important to pay more attention to building and upgrading of social capital during this COVID-19 pandemic and also in the post-pandemic days ahead in order to ensure sustainable social development in our country.
The writer is Editor of Biggan O Sangskriti, a little mag.