In Bangladesh and Ethiopia progress has been made towards development goals even though parliamentary scrutiny is weak and political opposition constrained. This research explores what role parliamentary public engagement plays in both countries in relation to poverty reduction through the work of MPs as both legislators and constituency representatives.

Our focus

An effective Parliament and an engaged citizenry are widely regarded as necessary if progress is to be made in tackling poverty reduction. Our research therefore explores the importance of MPs, and the way they engage with the public (both individual citizens and civil society), in the development process. It looks at the roles they play in poverty reduction and the promotion of equality as legislators and constituency representatives. It examines how they determine their priorities and how 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?

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

Focus group with local residents in Durame, Ethiopia

A network of researchers in Bangladesh and Ethiopia, supported by colleagues in the UK, are conducting qualitative research at the parliamentary and constituency level - mapping, interviews and observation – and using anthropological, gender and actor-oriented approaches, to:

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

Comments and findings

This parliamentary effectiveness project outputs list contains details of all our work, including forthcoming articles and books.

Our evidence to the House of Commons International Development Select Committee was cited in the Committee’s report on Parliamentary Strengthening published in January 2015. They particularly noted our recommendation that greater support be provided to facilitate dialogue between parliaments and civil society and the important role the media could play in this process.

In addition to video and briefing materials in the sidebar, below are a select list of articles and comment pieces generated during the course of the project.

Serving as a woman MP in Ethiopia: the challenges, ‘outcomes’ and beyond, Meheret Ayenew & Tsedey Mekonnen, PSA Parliaments blog, 8 March 2017

The everyday shape-shifting representation in the work of MPs, Emma Crewe, Crick Centre, 4 January 2017

Oppressors and exploiters be careful, Zahir Ahmed, Dhaka Tribune, 30 Dec 2016

Gifts, cash and alienation: how political favours can lead to conflict, Emma Crewe, Open Democracy, 25 August 2016

Representation: how drama reveals everyday democracy, Emma Crewe & Zahir Ahmed, 1 June 2016

Top tips for research impact, Emma Crewe, Impact Initiative, 6 May 2016

Research as political scrutiny, Emma Crewe, Sheffield Institute for International Development, 27 April 2016

Poverty mapping, or a lullaby?, Zahir Ahmed, Prothom Alo, 11 September 2014

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:

  • Professor Emma Crewe, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London (Principal investigator)
  • Dr Ruth Fox, Hansard Society (Co-investigator)
  • Professor Nizam Ahmed, University of Chittagong
  • Professor Zahir Ahmed, Jahangirnagar University
  • Dr Meheret Ayenew, Forum for Social Studies, Addis Ababa
  • Fatema Bashar, Jagannath University
  • Oonagh Gay, Consultant, Hansard Society
  • Dr Sadik Hasan, University of Dhaka
  • Mohhammad Masud Rana, Jahangirnagar University
  • Tseday Mekonnen, Consultant, Addis Ababa
  • 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.