Organization - Ethnic Community Development Organization (ECDO)

Ethnic Community Development Organization (ECDO)
Basic Information
English Ethnic Community Development Organization (ECDO)
Local language
Country Bangladesh
Category Research Institute UNESCO-Accredited NGO Indigenous Peoples Development Organization
Domain Performing Arts
Social Practices, Rituals and Festive Events
Traditional Craftsmanship
Function Research
Education and Training
Advocacy at different levels
Established year 2002

ECDO’s objective is to ensure the realization of equality and empowerment amongst indigenous people and to eliminate the discrimination against these communities from the mainstream society.


ECDO is a non-government and not-for-profit voluntary organization working for the development of different indigenous communities in Sylhet Division, the North Eastern corner of Bangladesh. Indigenous people represent 1.5 percent of the Sylhet Division’s population, and are scattered and disunited in preserving their traditional and cultural practices. They are economically backward and have minimal scope to improve their socio-economic condition. In most cases they are disadvantaged due to fundamental and basic problems such as lack of access to safe water and sanitation, health facilities, education and opportunities of employment.

Our Mission                                            

ECDO’s mission is to assist indigenous communities in working for a positive and sustainable change for those deprived of rights and opportunities by implementing both service delivery and rights based approaches. ECDO implements its activities in a fully participatory and bottom-up approach with an emphasis on empowerment from within indigenous communities.

Our Vision

ECDO envisages a society where empowered, educated, aware and culturally diverse indigenous groups are able to ensure their own human development free from discrimination, poverty and exploitation.

Legal Status

  • Registered (Syl-853/2003) under the Social Service Act 1961, Ministry of Social Welfare and Government of Bangladesh, dated 24.09.2003
  • Registered (Reg. No-2385) under the Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Rules 1978, NGO Affairs Bureau of Bangladesh, renewed until 20.08.2018
  • Enlisted from District Youth Development authority under Ministry of Youth and Sports (Syl-197/2008, dated on 05.05.2008)
  • ECDO is also registered to PADOR (European Commission)

Membership and affiliations:

  • An UN ECOSOC Special Consultative Status Organization since 2016
  • ECDO is an adhoc observer organization of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an UN specialized organization since 2010
  • Member, Committee of Concerned Citizens (CCC), Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Sylhet, Bangladesh
  • Member, Susashoner Jonno Nagorik (SUJON) District Committee Sylhet, Sylhet, Bangladesh
  • Steering Committee Member, National Coalition for Indigenous Peoples Bangladesh (NCIPB)

Member, Divisional Skills Development Advisory Committee, Sylhet Division

Major Activities

The indigenous communities in Bangladesh are affected by geographical isolation. ECDO works closely with the communities. This includes promotion, linkages and ventures to connect them to the mainstream.  The following section provides details of the activities:

Activities on Hand Woven Art of Manipuri Textile

Traditional Manipuri handloom is losing its glory over time due to absenting promotion from government side and multiple deprivations. As a result, members of the indigenous Manipuri community are becoming marginalized and poorer. Simultaneously, a strong component of diverse and distinct cultural heritage of Bangladesh is becoming endangered. It can be mentioned that hundred percent artisans and weavers are female in Manipuri community. Having in-depth analysis, ECDO has initiated a pilot project to build capacity and introducing the innovation of the Manipuri women since October 2014. ECDO retrieving the original handloom textile products in the market. The result is very much inspiring despite having revealed some new challenges and learnings. The project has been supported by Oxfam, a renowned international development agency. Based upon the previous result and learnings, this project has been developed to extend support and action. The key activities comprise: on job hand holding training on heritage based innovative design, color combination, original cotton weaving, improving and control quality and accessing into finance and market. Specialty of the Manipuri handloom textile is its elegant distinct motif and color that is completely handmade without touch of machine. Now ECDO is marketing these products with name of MOIRANG Manipuri hand loom brand and right now it becomes very popular among fashion conscious women.  ECDO is trying to implement this program as a social business and non-profit manner.  At present near about two hundred Manipuri women are involved in this program.

Educational Activities

There are 2 main components to our education program:

Manipuri Language Centre (MLC)

ECDO has set up 3 Manipuri Language centres in Moulavi Bazar district to preserve and promote Manipuri language and culture among Bangladeshi Manipuri people. As, almost all Manipuri people in Bangladesh cannot write in Manipuri language, most of them can speak in the same. In these centers Manipuri children are learning the language and scripts under support from a Norwegian development agency.

  • Educational Aids Distribution
  • Most indigenous people live well below the poverty line. Research identified the lack of basic educative tools, such as pen and paper, as one of the chief contributors to the high drop-out rate of children in primary education. Since 2004, we have been providing free educational materials to the indigenous children. Till date, we have helped over 1000 children across 4 indigenous communities.
  • Education Support Centers

One of the main problems was the lack of motivation and literacy of guardians which meant that children were not encouraged to attend school or able to gain help in completing their homework. To compound this problem, teaching was delivered in Bangla, which is not the mother tongue for most indigenous children. In January 2006, we implemented a pilot project of 4 Education Support Centers (ESCs) in 2 Khasi Punjee (Mokam Punjee and Jaintapur). The pilot project was developed following numerous focus group discussions and meetings with community members, using a participatory approach to design a strategy to deal with education problems. The Support Centre is open from 7am- 9am every day (except on weekends) to help children complete their homework. It is run by locally recruited teachers from the indigenous communities.

Human Rights

Indigenous people find it far more difficult to enjoy their fundamental rights than the mainstream groups, as their traditional laws, values and customs have been eroded by the influence and rapid onslaught of mainstream culture. These issues have been further exacerbated by a lack of government recognition and specific legal mechanisms to protect against such discrimination. In 2013, ECDO set precedence by organizing the first public hearing on human rights’ violations which was held in Sylhet City under Strengthening the Voice of Human Rights’ Defenders to Protect Rights & Entitlements of Ethnic Minorities’ project with support from European Union and Oxfam. ECDO also formed a Human Rights Defender (HRD) forum in Sylhet to protect human rights of the indigenous people and other marginalized groups. This forum consists of 25 members including male and female and these members are selected from different sectors like academics, laws, civil society, students etc. ECDO already provided training to these HRD forum members and now they are working very actively on indigenous people’s rights issue.

All of our projects and activities that relate to human rights are supported by Civil Society Organizations, including political leaders, media, academics, local government officials and indigenous leaders.

Research & Publications

As an indigenous people’s organization ECDO is involved with different research and publication activities related to indigenous people. We involved different researchers and academicians in these activities. As a part of these activities ECDO publishes an annual journal to cover ethnic affairs, which was first published on the occasion of World Indigenous Day, August 9th 2005. The Annual Review of Ethnic Affairs is an interdisciplinary research journal for the discussion of a wide range of development issues on indigenous and ethnic people. The collection of contributions from academics, researchers and human rights activists aims to further our understanding about indigenous, ethnic minority and tribal people’s lives. Besides, ECDO publishes State of the Rural Manipuris in Bangladesh: a research base publication on the lives of the Bangladeshi Manipuri people.

Contact Information (Organization)
Address 17 Urmi (1st floor), West Shibgonj, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Tel +88 (0821) 760240
E-mail ,

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