New Project in the Offing

Donors meet Tuesday to design development schemes in Bangladesh

Government officials, academics and civil society representatives will meet here Tuesday to launch a new project aimed at better understanding the long-term effects of anti-poverty interventions in the country.
The project, “What Development Interventions Work? The Long-Term Impact and Cost Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Interventions in Bangladesh,” will focus on the long-term impact of three interventions-microfinance, new agricultural technologies, and food/cash transfers for education-on the livelihoods of poor people.
The project will also compare the cost effectiveness and implementation of each of these interventions.
While many evaluations have assessed the short-term effectiveness of such interventions, relatively little is known about their long-term impact or their relative cost effectiveness.
The research is led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), in partnership with the Data Analysis and Technical Assistance (DATA) Ltd., and is funded by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The project builds on IFPRI data collected during the 1990s on the impact of the three interventions on 1,787 households in rural Bangladesh. By resurveying these original households a decade later, the study analyses and compares the long-term impacts of these anti-poverty interventions.
Additionally, household members shared their personal stories of how these interventions affected their lives and whether they were able to move out of poverty.
“Returning to these villages ten years later, it is clear that many people have experienced vast improvements in their livelihoods,” said.
Agnes Quisumbing, IFPRI senior research fellow and lead researcher of the project. “This new research will help identify the role of anti-poverty interventions in achieving this progress.”
During the past ten years, Bangladesh has experienced impressive reductions in poverty. The percentage of the population living in poverty fell from 51 percent in 1995 to 40 percent in 2005, and there have been substantial improvements in the nutritional status and school enrollment levels of the poor. However, poverty remains a challenge with more than 50 million people currently living in extreme poverty.
Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative research, the project will address some key questions what are the long-term effects of the three interventions on per capita consumption, nutritional status, and school enrollment, especially among females, what is the effect of each of the interventions on physical and human capital assets and what underlying approaches at the household, community and national levels have contributed to the success or failure of these interventions.
“This research is innovative and unique among evaluation and poverty reduction studies in Bangladesh,” said Bob Baulch, coordinator for the poverty dynamics and economic mobility theme at the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, and co-leader of the project.
He said, “By integrating and sequencing quantitative and qualitative methods, the project will provide a unique perspective on the impact of these interventions from the individual to the community level.”
The findings are intended to enable policymakers, donors, and other stakeholders to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of different interventions, compare their impact and cost-effectiveness, and contribute towards the design of future anti-poverty programmes in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.
“The Government of Bangladesh has shown a remarkable willingness to evaluate the effectiveness of its anti-poverty programs, confront their short-comings, and cancel or modify programmes as a result,” said Akhter Ahmed, IFPRI senior research fellow and a key member of the research team.


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