DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh on Friday won the 2020 UN Public Service Award in the category of “developing a transparent and accountable public service” for its e-mutation initiative to digitize the processing of land rights records. 

The initiative was “an outstanding achievement” that “demonstrated excellence in serving the public interest,” Liu Zhenmin, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said in a letter to Dhaka’s permanent UN representative.

The initiative is a “significant contribution to the improvement of public administration” in Bangladesh and will “serve as an inspiration and encouragement for others working for the public service,” he said, according to a foreign ministry statement.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs confers the Public Service Award each June 23 for innovative initiatives in the public sector.

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, it replaced this year’s event with a plan to initiate numerous outreach activities to showcase the winning initiatives online, including over UN social media channels.

Every year, about 2.2 million land dispute cases are filed in Bangladesh. These tend to be time and effort-consuming, and officials have been accused of corruption.

“People have to provide a good number of documents and prove in support of their claim to hand over or take the ‘record of rights’ of land in the country. But, the digitalization has brought a tremendous change in the process,” said Nilufa Yesmin, a senior government official.

People can now receive service from their homes by using the online applications that reduce time and effort, she told Anadolu Agency.

The apps were developed by the Access to Information (A2I) program initiated by the prime ministry, working with the Land Reform Board.

Nilufa Yesmin, also a national consultant for e-filing practices at A2I, said land rights records were a very complex issue in the country for service providers and seekers.

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