grantees » Shamim Arfeen

Shamim  Arfeen, Bangladesh

The Southwest coastal region of Bangladesh is geographically vulnerable, with a high frequency of natural disasters like storms, cyclones, and high tidal surges which are made worse by the adverse impact of climate change. When it comes to development, this region is usually ignored by policy makers. Under such circumstances, and in order to address these  problems, a group of young, energetic and socially committed enthusiasts led by Shamim Arfeen got together and formed AOSED (An Organization for Socio-Economic Development) in 1999. “Since 2000, under my leadership as a development activist, we implemented activities that are helpful to improve the life and livelihood of the marginalized people in the vulnerable southwest coastal region, whose gradual development always inspires me. We face many challenges during this process, like extreme poverty, lack of awareness on various issues of the community people, remote areas; natural and general resources illegally occupied by influential people, lack of policy implementation and policy gaps”.   

With the support of the JWH Initiative Shamim enriched his capacity and leadership skills. His wish was to develop himself as an efficient social activist on environmental conservation and people’s access to common and natural resources. “I feel more confidence on achieved strategies and techniques”, he said after the completion of his activities that included executive training and leadership development courses. This experience greatly benefited his organization, as well: “Under my leadership, AOSED has taken a joint initiative to organize the Coastal Water Convention 2011 for providing a way out to solve water crisis in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh.[…]  It was a big event which is the first one ever organised in this coastal region on water issues.” He also conducted a study on water scarcity and vulnerability of women in the southwest region of Bangladesh. With this activity, not only he developed his research skills, but also gained a valuable insight into gender issues.

Shamim has some ambitious plans for the future. He wants to develop AOSED as a pro-environment and pro-people organization, with a national and international recognition, that will ensure improved livelihood options in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh. He also plans to conduct lobbying activities with the policy actors to establish people’s rights, organise the network and the events. As for Shamim’s opinion about the qualities for successful leadership, he said “good leaders often switch instinctively between styles, according to the people they lead and the work that needs to be done. Establish trust – that’s key to this process – and remember to balance the needs of the organization against the needs of the team.”