Why are we doing it?

An effective Parliament and an engaged citizenry are widely regarded as necessary if progress is to be made in tackling poverty reduction. And yet in Bangladesh and Ethiopia progress has been made towards development goals even though parliamentary scrutiny is weak and political opposition constrained.

Content:: Focus group in Durame, Ethiopia [01]

Focus group in Durame, Ethiopia

So, how important are MPs, and the way they engage with the public (both individual citizens and civil society), in the development process? What roles do they play in poverty reduction and the promotion of equality as legislators and constituency representatives? How do they determine their priorities? How do they interact with different stakeholders? What makes them effective? How do we measure this and who decides? How can the representation of poor people’s interests be improved? And what do they, and others, recommend for the future?

What are we doing?

A network of researchers in Bangladesh and Ethiopia, supported by colleagues in the UK, are building a unique dataset on the relationships at the heart of the democratic institutions in these developing nations.

Through qualitative research at the parliamentary and constituency level - mapping, interviews and observation – and using anthropological, gender and actor-oriented approaches, we are:

  1. Mapping relationships between parliamentarians and members of the public involved in poverty reduction initiatives in both countries.
  2. Exploring the extent and effectiveness of public engagement by MPs in poverty reduction through legislative and constituency case studies.
  3. Assessing the role of Parliament and MPs in poverty reduction from the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders.
  4. Facilitating the development of researchers’ capacity in three countries to measure parliamentary effectiveness.

Our research team

This project is a collaboration between SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies, London), the Hansard Society, and the Forum for Social Studies with local researchers in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and the UK.

The coalition of researchers, anthropologists and political scientists, are:

United Kingdom

  • Professor Emma Crewe, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London (Principal investigator)
  • Dr Ruth Fox, Hansard Society (Co-investigator)
  • Oonagh Gay, Consultant


  • Professor Nizam Ahmed, University of Chittagong
  • Professor Zahir Ahmed, Jahangirnagar University
  • Dr Sadik Hasan, University of Dhaka
  • Fatema Bashar, Jagannath University
  • Mohhammad Masud Rana, Jahangirnagar University


  • Dr Meheret Ayenew, Forum for Social Studies, Addis Ababa
  • Tseday Mekonnen, Consultant
  • Nega Wubie, Addis Ababa University

Our funding

This three year research project (2014-2017) is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the Department for International Development as part of a joint scheme to fund world class research on poverty alleviation, enhance the quality and impact of social science, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.