1. Introduction Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), a non-government Non-political and non-profit voluntary organization was founded in February, 1978 at the initiation of some dedicated residents in Dhaka who was imbued with the ideas of consumerism, a movement that already took shape in many advanced countries in Europe and America. Primarily started as a social group to protect consumers from commodity adulteration and artificial price-hike it has gradually widened its scope to establish and safeguard consumers’ rights and interests in social, economic, health and environmental issues.
CAB was registered with the Department of Social Services, Government of Bangladesh vide reg. No DHA-01247 dated 14 March 1983 and with the NGO Affairs Bureau vide reg. No. DSS/FDO/R-197 dated 2 March 1986. CAB is also a full member of Consumers International. It is funded by membership fees and by grants from donors. Organization Profile: Organization Name: CAB (Consumers Association of Bangladesh) Member no: 761 Joining date: 15 Mar 1981
Region: Asia Pacific Address: 8/6, Segunbagicha, Dhaka- 1000 Location: Bangladesh Type of Work: Campaigning and/or lobbying, Consumer Advice, Consumer Legislation, Dispute Resolution, Networking, Product Testing, Publishing, Research/Policy analysis. It has 500 regular and 100 associate members. Its mission is to empower Consumers with the knowledge and skills for the effective protection of their rights and interests.
The major areas of CAB activities are: Consumer Information & Education, Surveillances & Monitoring on market prices and quality of essential commodities and utility services, consumer’s complaints handlings, campaign for safe foods and commodities, ethical drug promotion and safe environment, studies & research on consumer issues and problems, Advocacy and lobby with the government and policy makers for enactment of Consumer Protection Law. 2. Objectives of CAB: The major objectives of CAB are to: 1. make consumers aware of their rights and responsibilities; 2. romote consumer education, aiming at raising awareness of consumers against exploitation, and providing them with technical knowledge and support for real protection; 3. focus on consumers’ problems and develop a spirit of mutual co-operation and understanding among different groups, associations, institutions, NGOs and government agencies functioning in the interests of the welfare of the people; 4. exchange information and knowledge of various actions about consumer protection with national and international organizations; 5. organize and set-up consumers associations and groups at the districts and thana level 6.
Undertake research studies on consumer issues and problems. 7. Generate awareness among the consumers about their internationally recognized rights and responsibilities as consumers 8. Promote consumer education aiming at empowering consumers with the knowledge and skills on protection of their rights. 9. Enable consumers to organize themselves in establishing and protecting their rights and interests through organized action. 10. Arrange for testing of products and commodities to make the market places safer and consumer friendly. 11.
Provide mediation and legal support to the aggrieved consumers related to violation of their rights and interests involved in the purchase and use of commodities and services. 12. Foster and develop contacts and liaison with the national and international organizations having similar objectives. 13. Publish educational materials and feed consumers with information and knowledge on consumerism, consumer issues and problems. 3. Achievements: CAB activities in consumer education include mainly the publication of a monthly bulletin in Bangla titled Consumers’ Voice to provide consumers with information of various consumer issues and problem.
CAB also publishes a quarterly bulletin in English, which it distributes to different organizations at home and abroad. In addition, it occasionally publishes pamphlets, folders, and leaflets on various consumer issues and problems and regularly prepares features and press releases for dissemination through the mass media. CAB regularly monitors the market prices of essential commodities and services to show the actual price situation in the market and keep prices within the purchasing power of general consumers.
It runs a market monitoring cell, which regularly conducts market surveys and supplies relevant information to consumers through national dailies. CAB launched a ‘Dirty Dozen Campaign’ against 12 most harmful pesticides. Earlier, there were no guidelines on the marketing of pesticides and it is because of the pressure created by CAB that the government had to formulate guidelines on the marketing of pesticides and publish them through a gazette notification. CAB also carried out studies on household insecticides and labeling of pesticides on packets.
The organization was very vocal and active in creating demand for formulating a National Drug Policy (NDP) and played an active role in the process of enactment of the NDP in 1982. Since then, CAB has been regularly monitoring the implementation of NDP and organizing promotional activities, especially relating to issues of inadequacy and poor services in the delivery of public health care. CAB started an anti-tobacco campaign in 1981. CAB is active in lobbying with the government for banning smoking in selected public places. CAB is also monitoring the implementation of the Breast Milk Substitute Ordinance enacted in 1984.
CAB carries out campaigns in support of breastfeeding. CAB activities include organization of seminars, workshops, and group meetings, street processions, distribution of posters and leaflets, and publication of features in newspapers on environmental pollution and degradation as well as on safe road and transport systems. A routine activity of CAB is the formation and development of consumer for expansion of consumer movement at the division, district, thana and peripheral levels. These groups keep liaison with the national level and deal with consumer education and motivation and handle local consumer problems and issues.
CAB runs a Complaint Centre to receive complaints from consumers and extends technical and legal support to them for redress. With a view to keeping the consumers informed about the daily market situation and other consumer issues and problems CAB runs a Consumer Information Centre, which has a small library attached to it. It conducts studies on important consumer issues such as commodity prices, use of BMS in hospitals and clinics, tobacco consumption, road accidents, violation of BMS ordinance, drug abuse and the like.
It has been looking for the formulation of consumer protection laws in the country for a long time. CAB now concentrates its activities in the districts of Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Mymensingh, Gazipur, Manikganj, Bogra, Khulna and Barisal but has plans to expand the activities in other districts of the country, too. Some of the achievements of CAB are as follows: The Milk Vita Company used to mix imported powder milk with cow’s milk and then market it as the cow’s milk.
CAB exposed this malpractice, following which the company had to change its policy; CAB created considerable awareness among the people about harmful and unnecessary drugs long before the enactment of the National Drug Policy, which after being formulated, was popularized by CAB through a vigorous campaign; Since 1984, CAB has been conducting campaigns for the promotion and protection of breast feeding and has been an advocate for enactment and implementation of Bangladesh Breast Feeding Substitutes (marketing regulation) Ordinance, 1984; CAB was instrumental in the declaration of the Code of Pesticide Marketing and assisted in the creation of a committee to evaluate price situation, in the re-organization of the Bangladesh Standard Institute and publication of lists for standard certificates, and in creation of a committee to assess the adulteration position in edible oils; CAB was instrumental in the re-organization of the government’s Environmental Pollution Control Department. The anti-tobacco campaign by CAB resulted in the introduction of warning against hazardous effects of smoking in cigarette advertisements; and CAB has been recognized as representative of consumers in numerous committees (both government and non-government) formed on different issues and subjects.
CAB, however, faces a number of constraints such as inadequacy of funds, and a relatively slow response from communities and population groups that prevent consumer movement from gaining a solid ground, and a general weakness of consumers in terms of their awareness level and bargaining strength in purchases. CAB’s success, therefore, remains minimal as their programmers often go against the interest of the business community, who enjoys near monopoly and has the opportunity to organize syndicated trade. 3. 1 Research Studies: Several research and survey works on consumer’s affairs are undertaken by CAB. Information dissemination to the stake holders and to the relevant government authorities are the routine practices. It helps the decision makers to take action and make remedial future action plan for assuring the rights of consumers in the country. Survey and research on “Awareness to the sellers and consumers regarding BSTI, and the certification marks system of BSTI” in the year of 2000. •Survey and research on “Awareness and the status of Bangladesh on keeping the consumers right” in the year of 2000. •Research on “Market food and packaged food” in the year of 2003. •Survey and research on “Unpackaged food in Dhaka city” in the year of 2003. •Survey and research on “Health service: The present status of Bangladesh (1. 5 years)” in the year of 2005. •Survey and research on “Public sentiment of sellers and consumers” in the year of 2005. •Survey report on “Livelihood expenses and pricing of product” in 1982- 2007). •Yearly survey report on “Accident on road and river transport” in (2000-2004). Survey and research on “The use of indigenous medicine” in the year of 2005. 3. 2 Campaign for Safe Environment: Women and children are the worst sufferers due to increasing environmental degradation and CAB undertakes programs to promote public awareness and their participation in the environmentally sustainable development. Campaign activities in the form of seminars, workshops, group meetings, rallies and street processions, production and distribution of educational materials, writing of features, press release etc. against air and water pollution, environmental degradation and other social abuses are organized on regular basis. 3. 3 Campaign against Tobacco:
CAB has been campaigning against production and marketing of tobacco since 1981 and it is through the continued and persistent endeavors of CAB that advertisement of cigarettes in Radio and TV has been banned and health hazards warning signals on cigarette packs has been introduced. CAB is a member of the Bangladesh Anti-tobacco Alliance and has been lobbying with the government for enactment of laws putting ban on smoking in public places as well as on advertisement of cigarettes in print media. This has, however, resulted in the enactment of Bangladesh Tobacco Control Law 2005. CAB has now started lobbying with the government for effective implementation of law and organizing campaign for raising public awareness on tobacco menace to bring about tangible reduction of tobacco use in the society.
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