Understanding wellbeing in developing countries to enhance poverty-reduction projects
Dr Sarah White is leading Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways, a three-year international research partnership generating evidence about the relationships between poverty and wellbeing in developing countries.
The DFID-ESRC funded project involves collaboration with Brunel University (UK), the GB Pant Social Science Institute (Allahabad, India), as well as Non-Governmental Organisations Oxfam Hong Kong, Hodi (Zambia) and Chaupal (India).
The research team are developing a model to assess wellbeing that could help development projects evaluate their work’s impact on people’s quality of life so they can develop more effective poverty-reduction projects.
Data is being collected from 700 people in rural communities in Zambia and India across two years. This is being used to explore how they understand and experience wellbeing and how this connects to their pathways into, within and out of poverty.
The research has developed and is testing a multidimensional model of wellbeing that includes both subjective and objective perspectives. Work with Non-Governmental Organisations will adapt that model for use in monitoring and evaluating development practice.
Benefits of measuring wellbeing
Dr White believes that measuring wellbeing at a local level can make a real difference.
“A focus on wellbeing asks what people would like, what they aspire to. This isn't just a matter of changing the words: meetings to discuss wellbeing bring a new energy and excitement into what have been rather tired, problem-focused discussions.
“It can also encourage a more 'joined up', holistic approach to policy, and lead to asking how programmes are implemented and the terms of interaction between staff and the people they serve. This draws attention to the need to consider the quality, not just the quantity, of what is provided and the process of implementation, not just the end results.”