This paper presents findings from 116 focus group discussions which took
place in eleven districts in Bangladesh in mid-2006. It forms the first
part of three hases of research in an integrated qualitative and
quantitative study into poverty dynamics currently being undertaken by
the author and partners from the CPRC, IFPRI and DATA Bangladesh. The
central purpose of the focus group discussions was to inform subsequent
phases of the research by exploring reasons perceived by participants
for decline or improvement in people's well-being in their communities,
and the hindrances to improvement for the chronically poor.
A secondary purpose was to explore how a set of development
interventions, which had been the focus of a previous round of the panel
surveys, had contributed to improvements in people's well-being. A
number of causes of decline and improvement featured prominently in
these discussions. Dowry, illness, and adverse dependency ratios in
families were all seen as important causes of decline in a large number
of groups and draw attention to the need for a better understanding of
life-cycle-related pressures on poor households. Improvement tended to
be related to hard work, investment and enterprise, but was also
commonly accompanied by considerable risk. This risk is illustrated most
strongly when common causes of improvement for some people are causes of
decline for others. Improvements are generally gradual, whereas declines
can be caused by the type of events which are either gradual or sudden.
Various forms of business activities, improved agriculture, microfinance
loans, salaried work, labour migration and sons and daughters working
were all seen as important factors in improvement. These interim
findings draw attention to a number of areas which warrant father
investigation. They also suggest that policy interventions aimed at
preventing decline and supporting improvement should take into account
the changing risk profile facing poor people in Bangladesh, aim to
mitigate life-cycle-related drivers of impoverishment, and help reduce
the risks involved in potentially profitable, yet risky, ventures.
Discussions among the poor: Exploring poverty dynamicswith focus groups in Bangladesh, CPRC Working Paper No. 84, Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, ISBN: 1-904049-83-4, iv + 22 pp.
Discussions among the poor: Exploring poverty dynamics with focus groups in Bangladesh. CPRC Working Paper No. 84.