Two members of the BIGD Durdiner Diary field research team interview two men whilst a third man looks on
BIGD Durdiner Diary field research team

CLEAR Research Highlights: Chronicles of hard times in Bangladesh – Durdin-er Diaries

The Durdin-er Diaries (durdin means “hard times” in Bangla) research project explored the experiences, through the pandemic and beyond, of newly poor households in Khulna, Bangladesh, and their attempts to recover and cope. Many new poor households were not able to claim support and had to cope by taking on debt, changing jobs or doing multiple jobs, sending more family members to work, and cutting down on necessities such as food and healthcare. Most households who had not previously experienced poverty recovered, but many that had previously drifted in and out of poverty did not. Recovery was often associated with strong family and patronage networks pre-COVID. Lack of access to social protection, which often excluded these new poor, health constraints, and debt burden were limiting factors, as was stigma and prevailing social norms around poverty and gender. Local government was not trusted and seen as uninterested in helping. 

The result of the research led to a focus on expanding social protection, creating inclusive employment schemes, investing in healthcare, rebuilding government trust, and reducing shame around hardship emerge as key policy priorities. Some recommendations are:  

  • Broaden existing social protection schemes to include new poor households and improve processes for documentation.
  • Create new livelihood programs and employment schemes for the new poor through collaboration between government, the private sector, and NGOs. Provide subsidised loans and debt relief where needed.
  • Engage community leaders to reduce stigma around poverty and promote social inclusion and access to government services.
  • Invest in the primary healthcare system and access to affordable quality care to enable workforce participation and productivity. Expand national health insurance coverage.
  • Foster partnerships between local government, NGOs, and communities to rebuild trust and accountability. Provide governance and social work training to local officials.

To find out more read the full working paper:

Nazneen, S. et al. (2024) Being New Poor in Bangladesh: Coping Strategies, Constraints, and Trajectories, IDS Working Paper 601, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/IDS.2024.012

Or read this blog from January 2023:

Chronicles of Hard Times: ‘Durdin-er diaries’ in Bangladesh