Executive director of MATI​

Lenen Rahaman

Three years of a journey of finding poverty dimensions worldwide, together with Oxford University and ATD fourth world, gave us new insights into working with the people living in poverty.

The findings of this international research demonstrate that the genuine participation of people living in poverty in cooperation with others is possible in international research and generates new insights. A majority of the participants involved in the research in Bangladesh noted that in part because of the Merging of Knowledge methodology, everyone’s experience and opinion could be valued and considered in equal measure. Participants also noted that the methodology enabled them to understand new aspects of poverty that had not occurred to them prior to engaging with people from such different backgrounds.

The international research work summarizes several major findings, providing a clear account of the multidimensional nature of poverty in Bangladesh. Further, many of the factors associated with poverty were identified to be closely interdependent. Beyond the more familiar attributes related to housing conditions, work, health, food, financial security, etc., this work highlights a number of less recognized aspects of poverty that were identified by the research groups, many of which are rarely considered in descriptions of poverty or captured in current multidimensional poverty indices.

One consideration concerns the way people are treated by others, including across wider society, its services and institutions. Another relates to the psychological and physical suffering people living in poverty experience due to permanent tension brought about from their daily struggle to survive and the continued neglect of their efforts to make a better life for themselves.

Research findings on the multiple dimensions of poverty thus offer lessons for formulating policies both in Bangladesh and more generally across developing countries. Research outcomes can also be used to explore ways poverty reduction efforts led by development agencies and government can be made more effective. On the other hand, various economic policies aimed at addressing poverty in all its forms may not ultimately be successful if a multiple dimensions framework is overlooked, leading to questions about their overall effectiveness. 

Future work on these newly identified dimensions of poverty in Bangladesh will require government policymakers and regulators to conduct a thorough analysis of the pros and cons associated with the research outcomes. In this connection, research outcomes should be shared more widely with different government bodies and institutions. However, it cannot be said that existing policy failures are merely the consequence of inaccurate results or errors in data on global poverty reduction efforts over the decades.

Encouraging the inclusion of people living in poverty and their participation in various policies and programs, including in the design and decision-making process has yet to be fully carried out by those working in the development sector.   Without identifying and addressing these concerns, achieving socioeconomic well-being in many developing countries will remain an elusive goal.

Lenen Rahaman

Founder and director of Mati NGO

Poverty in Bangladesh