Bangladesh act to improve factory conditions

Bangladesh, the world’s second largest garment producing country will digitally map its entire garment industry to bring transparency to the supply chain in an effort to stop abuses.

The project – Digital RMG Factory Mapping in Bangladesh (DRFM-B) – aims to create a more transparent garment sector.

The mapping will be managed and implemented by Dhaka’s BRAC University Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, with strategic partners including the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the C&A Foundation.

“This transparency initiative would significantly complement our ongoing efforts towards enhanced, more risk-averse supply chains,” BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said. “We believe it will empower stakeholders across the industry, including workers, factory authority, brands, government, and civil society organisations to create positive changes.”workers

Project managers are expected to collect comprehensive data on the country’s factories—including names, locations, amount of workers, product types, export countries, certification and brand customers, among other things—and disclose this information in a publicly available online map.

To ensure that information remains current and correct, verification will also be crowdsourced from the public.

Retailers have faced criticism for failing to improve working conditions in their supply chains. Long hours, low pay, poor safety standards and not being allowed to form trade unions are common complaints from garment workers.

Locating sub-contracting suppliers has been the biggest challenge for retailers, with many big manufacturers not transparent about the lower ends of their supply chain.

“The digital mapping project is part of efforts to change that”. Project head Parveen S. Huda said.

“This project will send a strong signal to all stakeholders that transformative change is happening within the ready-made garment sector,” He added. “Through its mapping and relationship building, DRFM-B will fuel Bangladesh’s garment industry advancements, inspire shared responsibility, responsible sourcing, collective action, and builds upon pre-existing improvement efforts.”

The digital factory map is expected to go live in mid-2018 beginning with factories in Dhaka, and the remaining garment-producing districts in Bangladesh are expected to be available on the map by mid-2021.