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Learning from the Bangladesh Reality Check initiative David Lewis, London School of Economics ‘Guaranteed Irish?’ Conference, Wood Quay Venue, Dublin May.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning from the Bangladesh Reality Check initiative David Lewis, London School of Economics ‘Guaranteed Irish?’ Conference, Wood Quay Venue, Dublin May."— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning from the Bangladesh Reality Check initiative David Lewis, London School of Economics ‘Guaranteed Irish?’ Conference, Wood Quay Venue, Dublin May 5, 2011

2 Background Development policy interventions have evolved and changed during the past decade - the rise of Sector Wide Approaches (from late 1990s) and the 2005 DAC Paris agenda Many positive outcomes, but the main problem is that international development policy making has become more remote from ordinary people living in poverty

3 The Bangladesh setting Bangladesh Health Nutrition and Population Sector Programme (HNPSP) –US$1.8b (lead agency WB) –to improve access to and quality of health services Bangladesh Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP-II) –US$3.5b (lead agency ADB) –to increase school access, participation and completion and to improve the quality of student learning and achievement

4 Approach (1) Aims to reconnect people with policy, by listening to poor people’s views and experiences of reforms Each year, field teams live with 27 host households (in nine locations across the country) for 5 days and 4 nights, listening and documenting Participatory methods/appreciative enquiry approach based on principles of ‘simplicity’, ‘depth’ and ‘respect for voice’ Perceptions, knowledge, strategies, relationships, rights

5 Approach (2) Operates over a five year period Each Annual Report builds on the last, then used to try to influence ongoing programmes Also, through reports and meetings, aims to feed information back into broader reform processes in Bangladesh More info:

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8 Examples of findings (1) Parents still believe strongly in the value of gaining an education for their children. Traditional birth attendants and bazar pharmacists often better meet poor people’s basic health needs than formal public sector. Good leadership in a local school or health centre makes an enormous difference in the performance of those facilities.

9 Examples of findings (2) Yet despite near universal primary education, quality remains low - the culture of the classroom remains uninspiring. Also, public hospitals and clinics often function poorly. They remain unpopular because they have very few useful services to offer and informal charges are imposed on people who try to access them. Some are little more than places for people to go simply to collect supplies of free, often unneeded, drugs.

10 Impact (1) Challenging some conventional wisdoms. e.g. children and ‘drop out’ Voices add to building support for the shift from school stipends to school feeding programmes Influencing agencies: World Bank issues our annual reports to all its visiting consultants as required reading.

11 Impact (2) Replication and the RC movement: As we prepare the fourth report for Bangladesh, the approach is being adapted and used in other countries such as Indonesia and Mozambique. Value for money: with organisations now rightly under pressure to show ‘results’, the Reality Check is a cost- effective and powerful tool.

12 Potential A simple and effective tool for producing up to date, useable information about what is happening ‘on the ground’ Supplements conventional M&E systems, and longer term research A way to bring development professionals into closer contact with ordinary people (the ‘immersions’ idea)

13 Questions and issues Challenges of documenting and representing diverse views and experiences Difficulty of using reports to influence policy makers in highly technocratic policy environment Recruiting, training and holding on to field teams ready to embrace an unconventional methodology and approach

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