35 million ‘invisible’ poor: understanding poverty in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, around 56 million people still live in poverty of which 35 million live in extreme poverty.
The Centre for Development Studies – a centre of expertise
Our Centre for Development Studies (CDS) is a centre of expertise on poverty and wellbeing, and is internationally renowned for its work in Bangladesh. For over 3 decades now, staff at CDS have been involved in action research and policy advocacy in Bangladesh aimed at improving the lives of the country’s most disadvantaged and poorest.
Recent work by Dr Joe Devine and Prof Geof Wood, in collaboration with Harewelle International Ltd, a leading UK-based international consultancy firm, builds on and extends the application of CDS’ expertise in poverty reduction strategies.
There is evidence of impact throughout this work. There are client level impacts, which usually mean marked improvements in the lives of individuals and households. For example, ‘The Water Sellers’ project where 6,000 companies were established by the landless to sell water to farmers through the provision of irrigation equipment. In 2007, an independent assessment found that almost all of the 432,000 members of the organisation reported improved income and food security. Interactions with parliamentarians have directly led to the formation of Bangladesh’s first All Party Parliamentary Group on extreme poverty. Improved policies will impact the livelihoods of the extreme poor well beyond the life of particular projects.
Economic Empowerment of the Poorest - a new initiative
Dr Devine and Prof Wood are now involved in a new DFID-supported initiative called Economic Empowerment of the Poorest. The programme has a grant of £65 million and was designed to address the livelihood needs of the poorest 10 per cent of the country’s population. The programme supports a variety of tested interventions, and also experiments with innovative approaches and projects.
Permanent engagement – informed by research and knowledge
The poverty landscape in Bangladesh has changed over the years, and being able to engage with this changing scenario requires continuous innovation and adaptation, informed by research and knowledge. This is a case where research seeks impact immediately as well as over time.