These working papers present research and learning from the shiree/EEP programme, specifically focused on extreme poverty and projects working to eradicate it. They have been designed and researched under the umbrella of the Extreme Poverty Research Group (EPRG). The research was undertaken in late 2010 and throughout 2011. These have been newly published in October for Extreme Poverty Day 2011.
An analysis combining quantitative (CMS3) and qualitative (CMS5) data between March 2010 and March 2011 has also been completed. The report provides a picture of the state of extreme poverty among Shiree beneficiaries in this period. Click here to read the report.
The focus of the EPRG research is to promote high quality research resulting in findings that can be rapidly fed back to enhance the quality and impact of interventions.
These papers cover a wide range of issues, such as targeting the extreme poor or making productive use of khas land. Working papers 2-6 focus on the issue of “protecting the gains” or promoting sustainable graduation across the Scale-Fund NGOs. Paper 7 explores the psychological context of extreme poverty and learning from the Innovation Fund about the positive impacts of conditional cash transfers in stimulating long-term investment.
The papers have been peer reviewed by colleagues in either the Chars Livelihood Programme (CLP), Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction (UPPR) and BRAC’s Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction – Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR-TUP) programmes – all part of the DFID/UKaid extreme poverty portfolio in Bangladesh.
Briefing papers provide summaries of the longer working papers.
Working paper 1 – Targeting the Extreme Poor: Learning from shiree
Abstract: The extent and persistence of extreme poverty in Bangladesh requires focused attention and action. The extreme poor are people living below the lower half of the poverty line in Bangladesh comprising 25% of the population. However, whilst distinguishing the extreme poor from the poor is straight forward on paper using expenditure data, it is much more challenging in the field.
This paper discusses what has been learnt from the shiree experience of refining targeting techniques after an initial attempt which suffered from significant mis-targeting. It is found that over specification (one-definition) of one or more criteria or over reliance on one targeting tool can lead to targeting errors in the diverse contexts of Bangladesh. Instead, a mix of contextually specific criteria and methods had to be applied. The paper then discusses general learning from this experience, best practices and outlines an overall 6 stage model for targeting the extreme poor, of relevance to improving the targeting of NGOs, donors and government programmes.
Author: Hannah Marsden, December, 2010
Click on the link to read the Working paper 1 – Targeting the Extreme Poor – Learning from shiree
Working paper 2 - Social Safety Nets and the Extreme Poor: Learning from a participatory pro-poor governance approach
Abstract: CARE Bangladesh started the implementation of the Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra Poor (SETU) project in March 2009 in the Unions of Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Rangpur. Through solidarity building and empowering the poor and marginalised communities, the project is working to collectively address the underlying causes of extreme poverty (seen by the project as economic, social and political exclusion). This working paper shares SETU’s approach to addressing extreme poverty with a wide audience of practitioners, policy makers and academics. SETU’s participatory inclusive governance approach has broadened and deepened citizens’ influence in the decisions that affect their lives, seeing this as a right (and hence an end in itself), and also as a key strategy for “graduating” people out of conditions of extreme poverty and chronic vulnerability. The research has examined the effects of an inclusive governance approach on extremely poor people’s access to Government social safety nets and the impacts that these have on their livelihoods.
Authors: Saifuddin Ahmed and SM Abdul Bari, October , 2011
Click on the link to read the Working paper 2 – Social Safety Nets and the Extreme Poor – Learning from a participatory pro-poor governance approach
Click on the link to read the Briefing paper
Working paper 3 - Eviction and the challenges of protecting the gains: A case study of slum dwellers in Dhaka City
Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK)
Abstract: Eviction is a constant threat for urban slum dwellers, disrupting overall livelihoods, especially in Dhaka city. Since 2009, DSK has been implementing a project entitled ”Moving from extreme poverty through economic empowerment (capacity building, voice and rights) of extreme poor households.” In 2010, 2,450 households were evicted from the DSK-shiree project areas of T&T and Sattola slums. Of these, 214 targeted households of the DSK-shiree project were among those evicted. This research explored the effects of the eviction on the livelihoods of those who have returned to the slum and migrated as a result of it. It found that during the eviction, the living spaces of many slum dwellers including houses, latrines, systems of water supply, gas and electricity, and drainage and sewerage facilities were all destroyed. In addition, productive assets and household belongings were lost. Existing and future opportunities for income generation were hampered, as were many of the socio-political connections and support structures upon which households relied as sources of daily survival and livelihoods. The paper finishes with programme and policy recommendations, including a suggested compensation package and the final conclusion that: any eviction should be well planned along with concrete rehabilitation or compensation options.
Authors: Md. Adbul Baten, Md. Mustak Ahmed and Tofail Md. Alamgir Azad, Ph.D., October, 2011
Click on the link to read the Working paper 3 – Eviction and the challenges of protecting the gains – A case study of slum dwellers in Dhaka City
Click on the link to read the DSK Briefing paper
Working paper 4 - Extreme Poor Adivasis and the Problem of Accessing Social Safety Nets
Abstract: Under the auspices of AMADER Project, this study was conducted in two unions of the high Barind area in Naogaon District in Bangladesh. Efforts were made to explore the factors behind the extremely poor Adivasis’ (meaning indigenous people) scarce access to government-funded social safety nets. Quantitative analysis reveals that the number of recipients of SSNs is small in the two studied Unions – Shapahar and Goala – standing at 3 at out of 74 deserving Beneficiary Households (BHHs) and 4 out of 65 deserving BHHs respectively.
Three key problems define Adivasis’ exclusion from SSNs– their exclusion from information, the fact that they are not considered politically important, and the on-going cultural labelling of Adivasis as ‘underserving poor’. With the view to identifying solutions to improve the SSN coverage of the extremely poor Adivasis, recommendations have been drawn from the interviews with gate-keepers and informants.
Author: Zakir Hossain, October, 2011
Click on the link to read the Working paper 4 – Extreme Poor Adivasis and the Problem of Accessing Social Safety Nets
Click here to read the NETZ Briefing paper
This paper was recently presented at the Conference “Scaling up Social Protection in Bangladesh. Providing Ladders out of Poverty and Social Safety Nets” organised through the UNDP, the World Food Programme, Australian Aid, UKAID, The University of Manchester, and the Government of Bangladesh.
Click on the link to read the NETZ UNDP Conference presentation
Working paper 5 - Vulnerabilities and Resilience among Extreme Poor People: the South West Coastal Region of Bangladesh
Save the Children
Abstract: The South-West coastal region of Bangladesh has unique environmental characteristics. It is extremely vulnerable to natural and climate change-related disasters such as floods, cyclones, tornadoes, tidal surges, storm surges, river bank and coastal erosion. Cyclone Sidr, struck the coastline of Bangladesh in 2007, and cyclone Aila hit the region on 25 May 2009. Another storm resulted in a huge tidal surge in October 2010. The water level rose by 1 foot after the tidal surge and destroyed the embankments and other structures in 14 Upazilas. People in this area are vulnerable to cyclones, tidal surge and river erosion along with salinized water and soil. Extreme poor people are suffering the most because of their exposure to, and dependence on, natural resources for their lives and livelihoods.
Since 2009, Save the Children UK has been implementing its Household Economic and Food Security (HEFS) project in six Upazilas. This study explored why the HEFS model – based on assets, diversified livelihoods plus awareness training – was insufficient to prevent the damage to assets and livelihoods. How can implementors build on successful examples of resilience in order to prevent damage to the livelihoods of SCUK beneficiaries in the future and enable long-term adaptation to climate change?
The findings reveal that tidal surges made the extreme poor more vulnerable by destroying or damaging the few assets they owned. The majority of beneficiaries tried to apply their own ex-ante resilience strategies but these were inadequate in the face of increasing severity or scale of climate-related disaster events. Vulnerabilities vary across households, as do households’ abilities to prevent, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of disaster and climate change. The paper finishes with project recommendations and identifies local and national specific advocacy issues.
Authors: Prokriti Nokrek and Arafat Alam, October, 2011
Click on the link to read the Working paper 5 – Vulnerabilities and Resilience among Extreme Poor People – the South West Coastal Region of Bangladesh
Click on the link to read SCUK Briefing paper
Working paper 6 - Making Productive Use of Khas land: Experiences of Extreme Poor Households
Abstract: Accessing khas land can help poor households diversify their incomes and facilitate a process of asset building alongside reducing the risks which threaten their livelihoods. However, for the extremely poor, fulfilling the right to government-provided khas land and further, making sustainable production from it, is a difficult and challenging task. The Uttaran/shiree supported project “SEMPTI” has provided support to extremely poor households in the southwestern districts of Khulna and Satkhira through; 1) the provision of khasland (on a temporary and permanent basis) and, 2) income generating assistance, with the overarching aim of graduating beneficiary householders from their situation of extreme poverty.
This study investigated three key aspects influencing negotiations for the purpose of understanding how the gains were made from the khas land by extremely poor households. Overall, the study has come to the conclusion that social structures within which extremely poor households function, constrain them in various ways. In most of the cases, a lack of capacities in terms of having inadequate knowledge, skills, negotiation and bargaining power, and access to government agencies for services, limit them in overcoming these constraining forces. The low productive practices of extremely poor households coupled with the difficult and isolated locations of their land are manifestations of their relative powerlessness. The paper finishes with a number of important suggestions for project-level improvement, spanning IGA training and distribution and working with female-headed households. On a wider policy level, khas land identification and distribution should be considered as a development imperative by the government. In this context there is scope for rural development policies and farmer development projects to include components for the development of khas land receiving households. While land needs to be transferred, simultaneous assistance is also needed to make the land productive. The role of UNOs needs to be expanded so that they fulfil their responsibilities set out in the 1997 policy on khas land identification and distribution.
Authors: Sonia Kabir and Korban Ali with cooperation from Shahidul Islam and Abdul Khaleque, October, 2011
Click on the link to read the Working paper 6 – Making Productive Use of Khas land – Experiences of Extreme Poor Households
Click on the link to read the Uttaran Briefing paper
Working paper 7 - Short-term needs and long-term aspirations of the extreme poor: Irrational behaviour, agency and cash transfers in Bangladesh
This paper is based on an investigation with the Green Hill IMPACT project in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Abstract: The extreme poor in Bangladesh suffer from a particularly severe form of multidimensional poverty. Despite opportunities for investment – which could ensure future subsistence and graduation from poverty – made available by things like microfinance, the extreme poor continue to under-invest in long-term income-generating activities, instead prioritising the satisfaction of immediate needs. While the evolving debate on multidimensional poverty has helped to unpack the structural causes behind these decisions, very little literature has sought to understand the decision process itself.
In this paper, it is argued that low investment and the prioritisation of the present is due to the psychological context of life in extreme poverty, which frustrates ambitions and causes the future to be heavily discounted. This psychological impact of extreme poverty, which results in seemingly irrational decision-making, could be seen as an overarching and under-emphasised dimension of poverty itself.
Using a case study of a successful conditional cash transfer project in Bangladesh, it is proposed that this psychological context must be addressed in order to enable behavioural change and achieve lasting impact. The findings add evidence to the ongoing debate on needs, investment, and irrational preferences, and suggest that providing households with demand-driven cash transfers can enable the extreme poor to respond to multidimensional poverty on their own terms. Much as motivational and psychological theories have suggested, these demand-driven CCTs can reduce the typically high discount rates of the extreme poor by satisfying priority needs first, making investment for the future more likely.
Authors: Christopher Maclay and Hannah Marsden, October, 2011
This paper was presented at the joint DSA and EADI Conference on “Rethinking Development in an Age of Scarcity and Uncertainty. New Values, Voices and Alliances for Increased Resilience” in York University between the 19th and 22nd of September 2011.
Click on the link to see the Presentation
Working Paper 8 - Extreme Poverty and Protecting the Gains: Lessons from Recent Research
Abstract: This paper discusses the lessons from a series of research projects themed around extreme poverty and ‘protecting the gains’. In its first phase of funding, Shiree supported six partner NGOs to scale-up ‘proven’ approaches to reducing extreme poverty through economically empowering households. Throughout the implementation of these projects, various lessons emerged, as well as one overriding issue, notably, the need to ensure or maximize the possibility for sustainable impacts to households, or to ‘protect the gains’.
In response to these experiences, a series of small research projects were undertaken between January and May 2011 and this chapter brings together some of the main messages from this research. There is clearly a lot to learn from not only scaling-up but also protecting the gains for the benefit of future extreme poverty programming. How can the potential of sustainability be understood and realised in practice? This outlines the key findings from the protecting the gains research projects. Some findings include, for example, the importance of raising knowledge of threats (such as viruses in shrimp cultivation) and increasing beneficiaries’ confidence to take steps to mitigate risks and make sizeable investments; The strong need for more ex-ante or preventative approaches to shock and disaster, demonstrated by the case of Save the Children UK (SCUK), in the South-West of Bangladesh; and the critical role of empowering key change makers in communities to become advocates for the extreme poor (highlighted by Care).
The paper also documents the main lessons identified by Scale Fund NGOs during the scale-up of models. Overall, the paper highlights that socio-economic contexts hold implications, for creating both enabling and constraining spaces, in which extreme poor households try to improve their livelihoods. Not only highlighting a variety of issues as key challenges in projects’ efforts to eradicate extreme poverty, the findings offer key recommendations for operational consideration and a variety of advocacy messages relevant to stakeholders in the wider policy space. The paper finishes with a summary of these. It also touches on what has been learnt throughout the research process, and makes some suggestions for the future research framework and activities of the EPRG. It makes a summary of the research questions coming from this phase – these revolve around land, governance, gender, children, and responding to disaster and climate change.
Author: Hannah Marsden, December 2011
Click on the link to read the Working paper 8 – Extreme Poverty and Protecting the Gains – Lessons from Recent Research
Working paper 9 - Accessing and Retaining Access to the Sandbars by the Extreme Poor: Experiences from the Practical Action Project
Abstract: A variety of means and mechanisms have been recommended to assist with the implementation of projects aimed at allowing the extreme poor to cross the lower poverty line. The Practical Action approach argues that to deal with extreme poverty, one potentially effective method is to equip households with technology that builds their capacity to use unutilized natural resources, in this case relatively less fertile sandbars or river beds. In the northwest of Bangladesh, there are vast areas of sandbars that appear in the dry season which could provide livelihood opportunities to the extreme poor. Accessing these sandbars for cropping can help extreme poor households diversify their incomes and facilitate a process of asset building alongside reducing the risks which threaten their livelihoods. It is one way of accessing a means of production.
Since 2005, Practical Action has been introducing sandpit cultivation technology suitable for use in the unfertile sandbars. It has been supporting extreme poor households in the cultivation of pumpkins under the River Erosion Project. This Shiree-supported project is a scaled-up version of a previous Practical Action project aimed at creating livelihood opportunities for those extreme poor living alongside the flood protection embankment of the Teesta and the Dhorola Rivers in four north-western districts of Bangladesh.
This study investigates the processes of negotiation undertaken to gain access to the sandbars. In so doing, the study tried to identify the main factors that facilitated successful access to sandbars by the extreme poor, and to question which approaches and methods are likely to continue to work in the future. In order to do this, the study looked specifically at the advantages and disadvantages of existing modes of access to sandbars, including free access to crop-sharing, and explored the different roles of relevant stakeholders (current and future). Key questions included: what are the factors that could change future access modalities? How long will land claimants allow free access by the extreme poor if sandbar cultivation proves profitable (despite the fact that the land remained unused before the project)? What is the role of local government and local administration in the on-going access negotiation process in relation to protecting the potential long-term gains secured by the extreme poor? Are there characteristics or features of sandbars (which change in size and location every year) which give the extreme poor leverage or greater chances of access?
The research focuses on the different types of agreements and arrangements established between land claimants and groups of extreme poor households that are involved in sandbar pumpkin cultivation. The research is highly relevant as in the first year of the project, there were no claims on the land because people felt it was not productive. With the pumpkin cultivation proving to be a success, a number of elites as well as some of the extreme poor who lost land because of river erosion made claims on the land at the start of the second year of the project. These claims posed a threat to the potential gains the extreme poor could secure from the sandbars. Lessons are drawn from the research with a view to identify relevant project recommendations and policy advocacy issues.
Authors: Khan Areef Ur Rahman and Imran Reza, March 2012
Working paper 10 - Poverty Thresholds Analysis
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to explore poverty thresholds from an economic perspective. In so doing, the paper will make three important contributions. First, it will contribute to our understanding of the notion of ‘extreme poverty’ as a distinct category. Second, it will help ‘locate’ in socio-economic terms the target population of Shiree beneficiaries. Finally, it will help identify and assess useful graduation indicators. Poverty thresholds refer to minimum levels below which a person is considered to lack adequate subsistence and to be living in poverty. The poverty threshold is useful as an economic tool to define and measure the socio-economic position of the poor and to design relevant programmes to reduce poverty.
In Bangladesh, nearly one-third of the population of around 160 million lives below the national poverty line. It is also the most densely populated country in the world barring a few small city states like Singapore. With such a high incidence of poverty, the government as well as nongovernment organizations are active in implementing anti-poverty programs.
Shiree plays an important role to help the poorest in the country with a mission of lifting 1 million people out of extreme poverty by 2015. From the outset therefore SHIREE targeted a beneficiary population which was amongst the poorest of the poor. The present study, hence, provides us an opportunity to examine, inter alia the socio-economic status of the SHIREE beneficiaries and to assess whether or not they are among the very poorest of the country.
Author: Zulfiqar Ali
Click on the link to read the Poverty Thresholds Analysis
Working paper 11 – Health status and its implications for the livelihoods of slum dwellers in Dhaka city
Abstract: Poverty and ill-health has very strong link up. Poverty causes ill-health while ill-health may also be one of the major causes of poverty. Health or physical labour capacity is one of the main assets for the extremely poor. However most of urban extremely poor people are living in crowded urban slums, live and work in unhealthy conditions, lack nutritious food, clean water and decent sanitation, and tend to be poorly educated. These conditions make illness much more likely and more serious.
This paper reports examines the acute and chronic illnesses suffered by the extreme poor slum dwellers in Dhaka city and the implications on their overall livelihoods. It identifies the most common illnesses and assesses the ability of slum dwellers to access the facilities that are available to them. Findings from a quantitative survey on average health expenditures are presented, including associated losses such as a reduction in working days, salary cuts or complete job loss. The household coping mechanisms that slum dwellers use in an attempt to deal with health shocks are also investigated.
Health support from DSK-Shiree project has aided many slum dwellers through providing primary health care, consultations with specialist doctors and access to hospital, but the project is not able to provide support for all urban slum dwellers. It is proposed that the health department needs to establish mini public clinics targeting the urban extreme poor, with effective linkages strengthened between NGOs along with community based support groups and local health service providers. Subsidized or free services are required, perhaps through the introduction of health cards or a voucher system. However the paper argues that the health care system alone will not be able to solve multi-dimensional problems of extremely poor slum dwellers.
Author: Md. Adbul Baten, Md. Mustak Ahammad, Tofail Md. Alamgir Azad
Click on the link to read the Health status and its implications for the livelihoods of slum dwellers in Dhaka city
Working paper 12 – Livelihood challenges for extremely poor disabled people in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh
Abstract: This paper presents findings from qualitative and quantitative research into the challenges faced, and achievements made, by extremely poor disabled people as they undertake income-generating activities in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh. It reports a high frequency of disability amongst the extreme poor, drawing attention to the need to mainstream support and protection for disabled people within anti-poverty policy. The paper explores the current constraints faced by extremely poor disabled people engaging in social and economic activities that would allow them to graduate from poverty and the number of extremely poor people with disabilities who go without government safety-nets.
The paper argues that improved disability legislation, and better adherence to existing legislation, is urgently needed, along with better access to quality health provision, better availability of appropriate assistive devices, more inclusive infrastructure, public transport and schooling. The paper also explores the stigmatization and exclusion of extremely poor disabled people in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas, and proposes some social and political activities which are needed to challenge this. It goes onto highlight the progress that has been made in improving the lives of many extremely poor disabled people in Bangladesh, including positive results seen from the activities of the Save the Children programme, but suggests that better support and protection across a wide range of policy issues and areas is urgently needed. The study also provides evidence that if effective support and protection were achieved, it would allow many extremely poor disabled people to not only live more healthy and happy lives, but to also make a greater contribution to economic and social progress in the country as a whole.
Author: Prokriti Nokrek, Md. Arafat Alam and Muzzafar Ahmed
Click on the link to read the Livelihood challenges for extremely poor disabled people in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh
Working paper 13 - Exploring the impact of community solidarity building approach in addressing social discriminations
Abstract: Mutual understanding and a sense of community solidarity reduces discrimination, inequality, disparity and collision whilst uniting people to build a more mature society that does not exclude anyone from social benefits. Strong social cohesion can enable people to have more social capital that ensures empowerment and reduces community vulnerability. An integrated approach for building community solidarity has therefore become mandatory so that people can gain their acceptability within the society, build their confidence and access their rights.
With this in mind CARE-Bangladesh are implementing a project titled ‘Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra-poor’ (SETU) in the north-western part of Bangladesh assisted by SHIREE and funded by DFID. SETU believes that changes in the poverty situation are not a standalone matter; rather they require a combination of social inclusion, economic empowerment, pro-poor governance, and learning and influencing that works to graduate extreme poor households out of poverty.
SETU believes that a collaborated effort towards community empowerment will promote economies of scale to ensure a more equitable society where people will gain economic freedom, social inclusion and political empowerment. Exclusion of the poor and extreme-poor from their society makes them more deprived as they are unable to access social benefits. This is why social inclusion and cohesion have become the point of emphasis in this project. Once social inclusion is ensured it creates the opportunity for exchanging views and ensuring cooperation for all members of the community.
The facilitation of the project activities has contributed to enhance collective solidarity within working communities and extremely poor are significantly less ‘stigmatized’. Instead they are considered as an ‘integral’ part of their communities, which has increased their confidence to challenge frontiers of poverty. The holistic approach of SETU has impacted on economic uplift of the targeted extremely poor households.
This paper aims to explore how SETU is building community solidarity in its working areas and how this solidarity is addressing social discriminations at the community levels.
Author: M. Mizanur Rahman, Saifuddin Ahmed and S. M. Abdul Bari
Click on the link to read the Exploring the impact of community solidarity building approach in addressing social discriminations
Working paper 14 – The effects of ill health on the livelihoods of extremely poor Adivasis in Bangladesh
Abstract: This paper presents findings from a study of the effects of ill health on selected extremely poor ethnic minority Adivasi groups (sometimes referred to as tribal groups) in the northwestern Barind region of Bangladesh. It outlines causes of ill health and explores how these are linked to poverty or marginalization. It also explores how problems of ill health and poverty are exacerbated by poor access to health services for extremely poor Adivasis who often live in remote areas and have limited access to information about health services. The findings support arguments for better health provision for extremely poor Adivasi people in Bangladesh, and for more inclusive and effective health services tailored to their linguistic, cultural, locational and livelihood circumstances. The findings support the view that both the provision of inexpensive and effective health services, and measures to help people protect their livelihoods when coping with illness, are vital for the reduction of extreme poverty in Bangladesh.
Author: Sk. Zakir Hossain
Click on the link to read the The effects of ill health on the livelihoods of extremely poor Adivasis in Bangladesh