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The main areas of SEHD's work are: research and investigative reporting, journalist training, seminars and other public events, advocacy, promotion of organic farming and promotion of Adivasi culture.
Research and Investigative Reporting
Research and investigative reporting are central elements of SEHD’s work. It takes an action-oriented approach involving the media, professionals from a range of backgrounds, and activists. SEHD’s investigations aim to explain complex human rights issues and their relationship with environmental problems. SEHD’s work has highlighted the problems faced by indigenous people in Bangladesh, sex workers and tea plantation workers. SEHD’s research has also addressed the environmental problems associated with commercial and industrial plantations and forestry, energy issues, coastal erosion and climate change. The output of SEHD’s research and investigations —books, reports and documentary films— has been essential information and knowledge tools for journalists, academics, community leaders, and activists.
SEHD provides training to journalists from newspapers, magazines, radio and television as well as individuals representing different ethnic communities, civil society organizations, and activists. Through training and public events, SEHD shares its skills, knowledge and ideas thus inspiring advocacy and awareness raising about important issues within the broader community.
Seminars, Cultural Programs, and Other Public events
In addition to its training programs, SEHD regularly organizes seminars, roundtable conferences, film festivals, Adivasi cultural festivals, photography exhibitions, study tours, and other public events. Issues and concerns of community and national interest that have been voiced through SEHD events include the exploitation of forests and forest people, the problems associated with commercial plantations, the devastating effects of aid and loans on Bangladesh’s environment, Adivasi issues in Bangladesh, and problems facing other excluded groups. In addition to seminars, SEHD organizes cultural events, programs for school children and university students, screenings of its documentary films and book launches.
SEHD is involved in direct and indirect lobbying and advocacy at different levels. It targets international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the Asian Development Bank and World Bank as well as government institutions that formulate policies and implementation mechanisms. SEHD also targets the general public of Bangladesh and those communities that are the victims of wrong policies. In the past, SEHD has conducted effective advocacy work to raise awareness and understanding of the problems associated with the plantation economy and its effects on local communities and ecologies, indigenous peoples’ access to local resources, shrimp aquaculture, ecological farming, threat of coal mining, the rights of tea plantation workers, sex workers and climate change issues.
Promotion of Organic Farming
In 2009, SEHD set up an organic farm in Rajghati, a small indigenous Garo village in the Modhupur sal forest in Tangail District (in the North-central region of Bangladesh). Rajghati has 28 families, all Garos, who in the past were completely dependent on the surrounding forest, but now there is no forest remaining. SEHD has been working closely with villagers to introduce and encourage organic farming techniques. A group of villagers, mainly women, have been given training in organic farming skills such as making compost and setting up a bio-gas plant. The practice of organic farming will be gradually expanded into other forest villages once a successful model is achieved.
SEHD has also been establishing a knowledge and learning center among the local communities in the Modhupur sal forest area that teaches about organic farming practices, natural history, indigenous culture, ecology and innovative ideas.
Promotion of Adivasi Culture
The Adivasis, or ethnic communities of Bangladesh, demonstrate unique cultures, traditions and knowledge. Adivasi people and their cultures are typically neglected and marginalized. In many instances, the people have lost their identities and languages, which has severe consequences for their social, political, economic and cultural life. SEHD, for many years, has organized cultural exchange programs and festivals for the Adivasi communities across Bangladesh, providing them with the opportunity to interact with the rest of the community. The media response to the cultural festivals has been enormous and this has contributed to the increased visibility of the Adivasis in Bangladesh. SEHD has also published books and hosted seminars to advocate for the rights of Adivasi people. Through different means SEHD continues to promote cultures of the indigenous and marginalized communities.