Dr Joe Devine and Professor Geof Wood, from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences, have returned from Bangladesh where they were helping to set up a parliamentary group to address extreme poverty.

During December and January, Dr Devine and Professor Wood made keynote presentations at five workshops held in the Bangladeshi Parliament's Oath Room.

Around 150 parliamentarians from different parties took part in the workshops, and both the Speaker of the House and Minister of Finance & Planning were also in attendance.

The aim of the workshops was to highlight the distinctive nature of extreme poverty and to draw attention to the need to generate appropriate policy responses.

The workshops are an important step towards the formation of the country's first All Party Parliamentary Group on Extreme Poverty which was announced by the Speaker in October 2009.

Dr Devine and Professor Wood support the advocacy and lesson learning tasks of a £65 million programme called Shiree, which offers support to Non-Government Organisations working with the country's extreme poor.

Dr Devine said: "Shiree has played a primary role in establishing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extreme Poverty and the next step is to find ways to make sure the Group becomes a champion for change within Parliament and in society more generally.

"Bangladesh has had considerable success in addressing the needs of the poor but now the challenge lies in devising appropriate policy responses for its very poorest citizens. This is primarily a political challenge and for this reason the work with the All Party Parliamentary group will be important."