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University of Bath

New policy responses to extreme poverty in Bangladesh: what difference does it make?

This project investigates the impacts of new Government policy to eradicate extreme poverty in Bangladesh.

Recognising the gap between poverty and extreme poverty

For the first time in its history, the Government of Bangladesh has included a specific commitment in its 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2021) to address extreme poverty. Previously the Government had never explicitly acknowledged a distinction between poverty and extreme poverty, and had never recognised the need for a specific policy response.

Between 2008 and 2015, colleagues at Bath – led by Professor Joe Devine - conducted extensive research into extreme poverty dynamics in Bangladesh. One of the explicit aims of the research was to influence government policy and commitment to extreme poverty reduction. Key findings of the research can be found in two edited books: Extreme Poverty, Growth, and Inequality in Bangladesh and Aiding Resilience among the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh

The inclusion of special measures to address extreme poverty is closely aligned with the Government of Bangladesh’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 - the eradication of extreme poverty. The country has made considerable progress in eradicating both poverty and extreme poverty, and indications suggest its current progress against SDG1 is positive.

Researching policy impacts

The 7th Five Year Plan is currently at its half way point and therefore mature enough to see if the special measures have resulted in new policy developments or commitments that have resulted in reductions in extreme poverty.

In order to track progress, we propose a series of linked research activities.

Analysis of secondary data

We will analyse available secondary data in order to ascertain whether or not the inclusion of special measures in the 7th Five Year Plan has resulted in additional policy responses to extreme poverty. This will include:

  • an analysis of government budgetary allocations for extreme poverty and Annual Development Plans

  • overviews of extreme poverty and social protection programmes

  • a review of key government policy statements on extreme poverty


We will conduct between 15 to 20 semi structured interviews with relevant stakeholders, purposely sampled on the basis of their experience or responsibility in terms of extreme poverty policy formulation and implementation. This will include key policy makers, representatives from both the donor community and civil society.

Micro surveys

We will opportunistically look for and analyse data from micro surveys that are available and fit for purpose.

Project outputs and impact

The research is intended to contribute to the reduction of extreme poverty (SDG1) in Bangladesh. It builds very directly on previous research at Bath that had several impacts including:

  • auditable improvements in the wellbeing of extremely poor people
  • strengthening of organisational capacity to engage with extreme poverty dynamics
  • policy advocacy focusing on extreme poverty

This specific proposal focuses on policy advocacy focusing on extreme poverty impact. The underlying premise is that greater policy focus and commitment to extreme poverty will result in greater and more sustainable reductions in extreme poverty. For this reason, the immediate focus on policy is a direct pathway to improve extreme poor people’s lives.

Our data and analysis will offer a unique opportunity to engage with the country’s leading policy makers, and therefore an opportunity to influence policy responses to extreme poverty.

The research will result in:

  • two publications

  • two conference presentations

  • local social media exchange

  • partnership building bringing together two academic institutions and collaboration with key policy makers, donor representatives, and other think tanks in Bangladesh

Project team