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Bangladesh to Digitally Map Entire Garment Sector in Effort to Ensure Responsible Sourcing

In the continued effort to improve conditions in its garment sector, Bangladesh has undertaken an initiative to digitally map all of its apparel factories.

The project, dubbed Digital RMG Factory Mapping in Bangladesh (DRFM-B), marks a major move for the sourcing country in creating 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, according to a statement from 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 in the statement. “We believe it will empower stakeholders across the industry, including workers, factory authority, brands, government, and civil society organizations to create positive changes and strengthen the effectiveness of improvements already underway.”

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 make sure the information remains current and correct, verification will also be crowdsourced from the public.

“This project will send a strong signal to all stakeholders that transformative change is happening within the ready-made garment sector,” DRFM-B project manager Parveen S. Huda, said. “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 through informed decision-making.”

The idea, according to the C&A Foundation, is that greater visibility into the country’s garment sector could help stave off disasters like Rana Plaza, which killed more than 1,100 workers and did a number on Bangladesh’s reputation as a sourcing country.

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“DRFM-B is driven by the fundamental belief that transparency and traceability lead to long-term industry advancements and improved working conditions,” said Naureen Chowdhury, C&A Foundation program manager for supply chain innovation and transformation. “By funding this project, we aim to increase industry accountability to transform fashion into a force for good.”

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.