A new initiative to improve transparency in the Bangladeshi garment manufacturing industry by mapping out every clothing factory in the country launches today.
The project, called “Digital RMG Factory Mapping in Bangladesh” (DRFM-B), will collect data on the factories and disclose it in a publicly available online map.
The map will show each factory’s location, number of employees, product types, certifications, trade union affiliations and export countries.
It comes after Bangladesh – which is still in the shadow of the Rana Plaza disaster – hit the headlines again earlier this year after authorities took a hard-line approach to workers and trade union officials who were protesting against low pay and poor working conditions in garment factories.
The DRFM-B project will be undertaken by Bangladesh-based BRAC University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, in partnership with trade union Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). It will be funded by the C&A Foundation.
Field workers from BRAC University will visit every factory in Bangladesh over the next year to plot them on a map and collect the data. Verification will be crowdsourced from the public to ensure the information remains up to date and accurate.
The BGMEA will help the field workers gain access to the factories.
The project will kick off on 29 July in Dhaka with an event hosted by the partner organisations and the Bangladeshi Ministry of Labour. The map will go live in mid-2018, initially showing factories in Dhaka. The final version, showing all 20 Bangladeshi garment-producing districts, is expected to be completed by mid-2021.
“This project will send a strong signal to all stakeholders that transformative change is happening within the ready-made garment sector,” said Parveen Huda, project manager for DRFM-B.
Siddiqur Rahman, president of the BGMEA, added: “We believe [this initiative] will empower stakeholders across the industry, including workers, factory authority, brands, government, and civil society organisations to create positive changes and strengthen the effectiveness of improvements already under way.”