Poverty

IDS research and analysis aims to improve understanding of the geography and causes of poverty and vulnerability, and produce effective remedies towards poverty reduction.

Poverty research - woman on railway track

Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Globally, more than 800 million people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day. There are many dimensions to their deprivation, low and irregular incomes, lack of safe drinking water, poor housing, limited access to health and education, and social exclusion and discrimination. Their poverty makes them extremely vulnerable to natural and economic hazards. In many cases, extreme poverty persists over time. Importantly, poverty is not only about 'poor' people but also about the social and economic inequalities that compound and reproduce poverty. Social structures and relationships between the poor and the non-poor, middle class and elites and donors and NGOs are also key.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a bold commitment to end poverty in all forms and dimensions by 2030. This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters. Conventional frameworks for understanding development and poverty have focused on money, commodities and economic growth. Our research seeks to challenge orthodox views on the nature of poverty and contribute to a new paradigm for development centred on human wellbeing that will contribute to the achievement of the Gobal Goals. 

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Photo of Becky Mitchell More details

Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team More details

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Honorary Associate Ted Jackson More details

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Photo of Jackie Shaw, Research Fellow in the Participation research cluster More details

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Photo of Jo Howard, Research Fellow in the IDS Participation cluster More details

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Photo of Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Protection, IDS More details

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IDS staff or research student More details

Photo of Naomi Hossain, IDS Research Fellow More details

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Photo of Nick Nisbett, IDS Research Fellow in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team More details

Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow More details

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Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, DFID-funded, research programme consortium which aims to produce new evidence and policy insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa and their differential outcomes for local people and economies. More details

Analysis of Maharashtra’s Decline in Childhood Stunting

UNICEF and IDS are collaborating to undertake an in-depth analysis of the factors that may have led to the 16% decline in child stunting in Maharashtra evidenced in surveys covering the period 2006-2012. More details

Burundi Graduation Programme Evaluation

In December 2012, Concern Burundi launched its 'Graduation Model Programme' in two provinces in Burundi to work with extremely poor and marginalised communities. More details

Challenging the Investment Climate Paradigm: Governance and Growth in Vietnam

This project examines a key assumption which underlies one of the main approaches to poverty reduction currently advocated and practised by many international development agencies. More details

Child Vulnerability Assessment, UNICEF Myanmar

IDS has been commissioned to analyse the most recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data and write a report on child vulnerability, which can be utilized for evidence based programming and advocacy to improve children's status in Myanmar. More details

Developing the Inclusive Economies Measurement Framework: Applying to Different Contexts and Exploring Theories of Change

The Rockefeller Foundation defines inclusive economies as ones that are equitable, participatory, growing, stable, and sustainable. This project is developing and applying indicators of inclusive economies at sub-national scales, such as cities and intra-national market systems. More details

DFID Innovation Prizes for Environment and Development

Running innovation prizes that will improve poor people's resilience to climate change. More details

Environment and PRSPs

This research project was initiated and conceptualised in the framework of the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP), an informal network of around 30-donor and non-governmental organisations that works on strengthening the nexus between poverty reduction and environmental protection in development cooperation. More details

Fighting Over Land: Theory and Empirical Evidence from Colombia

The aim of this project is to develop a research agenda on the long-term effect of civil conflict on institutions, particularly on land tenure structure, in Colombia. More details

Food Security, Gender Equality and Peace-Building: Theoretical Framework and Future Agendas

IDS researchers have been commissioned to generate knowledge and evidence-based, actionable recommendations to governments and other stakeholders on the nexus between support to food and nutrition security and building resilient livelihoods, peace processes and stability, and how to integrate gender issues into appropriate policies and actions related to food and nutrition security in situations where conflict exists, has recently ceased, or is likely to reoccur. More details

Future Research Leaders ‘Reducing Poverty in the First 18 years of Life'

This proposed research responds to these concerns by using monetary and non-monetary measures to analyse child poverty dynamics, assessing overlaps and mismatches between those measures and investigating reasons for potential differences More details

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures)

GroFutures is a 4-year interdisciplinary research project aiming to develop the scientific basis and participatory management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Haitian Graduation Research

The Haitian Graduation Research Programme is a partnership between IDS and Fonkoze. The research has five components designed to understand better the impact of Fonkoze's Graduation Programme for the extreme poor. More details

IDS BRAC Partnership: ESRC Funded Research on Graduation as Reslilience

What determines the success of a poverty eradication programme? More details

Impact Evaluation for the UNICEF SCT Project in Oromia and SNNPR

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is collaborating with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to conduct an impact evaluation of the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme in Oromia and SNNP Regions of Ethiopia for UNICEF Ethiopia. More details

Impact Evaluation of Swedfund's Poverty Impact

This project addresses the following question: Have the investments undertaken by Swedfund contributed to poverty reduction and, if so, to what extent and how? More details

Informal Work and Wellbeing in Urban South Asia: Who Succeeds, Who Fails and Under What Conditions?

This study proposes an exploration of the determinants of wellbeing for informal workers living in informal settlements across a diverse set of urbanising localities in Bangladesh and India. We will present empirical evidence on what patterns and gradations of wellbeing success and failure are emerging for women and men engaged in informal work and living in informal settlements. More details

Market Based Solutions for the Extreme Poor

Studies have shown that it is often wealthier people in a community who benefit from market approaches to combatting poverty – men more than women, non-disabled more than disabled. So how and to what extent can market-based solutions improve the lives of extremely poor people? More details

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change is developing a framework to analyse alternative pathways that link different forms of technological innovation, and evaluate resulting structural change and inclusion outcomes in low-income countries. More details

Pathways to Stronger Futures in Haiti

It is widely understood that poverty undermines early childhood development (ECD). In turn, poor ECD reinforces intergenerational transmission of poverty. Economic strengthening through comprehensive social protection may offer a 'double boon': it can improve ECD in the short-term and reduce poverty in the long-run. More details

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View all Research Theme's publications

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ER80 Front Cover

Sex Workers, Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation in Ethiopia

IDS Evidence Report 80 (2014)

This case study explores economic, legal and social issues that affect sex workers, with a particular focus on the role of poverty in sex workers’ lives and the potential for poverty alleviation policies and programmes to help lift as many sex workers as possible out of poverty in order to reduce the exploitation, illness and violence associated with their work. More details

IDS publications on international development research

MQSUN Inception Report and Design Document: Impact Evaluation of the DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh, Phase II

This Inception Report presents the objectives, design, expected outputs and governance of the Department for International Development (DFID)-funded MQSUN project, entitled ‘Impact Evaluation of the DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh’. More details

Exercising my Rights: Ethical Choices and Moral Predicaments in Accessing Government Documents

This book should have wide appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates, and early-career researchers working under the broad umbrella of development studies. Although focused on fieldwork in the Global South, the discussions and reflections are relevant to field research in many other countries and contexts. More details

Fieldwork in the Global South

The chapters cover fieldwork carried out in countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America on a broad sweep of development-related topics. This book should have wide appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates, and early-career researchers working under the broad umbrella of development studies. More details

Evidence Report 55 Front Cover

Literature Review on Sexuality and Poverty

IDS Evidence Report 55 (2014)

This review contributes to the larger Sexuality, Poverty and Law Theme of the Accountable Grant, which aims to produce evidence-based, practical options for activists and policymakers for strengthening legal protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, questioning people and for sexual rights more generally. More details

Evidence report 53 teaser image

Sexuality and Poverty Synthesis Report

This report synthesises learning from these audits and is part of a larger project that focuses on understanding the links between sexuality, gender plurality and poverty with the aim of improving socioeconomic policy and programming to support people marginalised because of their sexuality. More details

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Civilian Resistance to Rebel Governance

HiCN Working Paper 170 (2014)

This paper presents a theory of civilian resistance against armed groups’ rule. It argues that rebel or paramilitary governance limited to the spheres of public order and tax collection tends to trigger only partial resistance—that is, opposition to some aspects of rule, without demanding its removal. More details

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Wartime Institutions: A Research Agenda

HiCN Working Paper 169 (2014)

This paper proposes a new research agenda on local wartime institutions. It focuses on the locality because war often segments territory, making localities the key locus of choice. To advance this research agenda this paper argues there is, indeed, great variation in wartime local institutions by relying on systematic, quantitative and qualitative original data on Colombia. More details

Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia

This book sheds light on social policies in six South Asian countries introduced between 2003 and 2013, examining the ways in which these policies have come about, and what this reflects about the nature of the state in each of these countries. More details

This is the cover image of the book, 'A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development'.

A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development

Oxford University Press (2013)

Published by Oxford University Press, this volume presents an innovative new analytical framework for understanding the dynamics of violent conflict and its impact on people and communities living in contexts of violence. More details

Making the Urban Poor Safe: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

Making the Urban Poor Safer: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

IDS Policy Briefing 47 (2013)

The most impoverished neighbourhoods of Nairobi and Mumbai are characterised by severe lack of service provision, poor access to employment opportunities and urban violence. More details

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Missing the Point: Violence Reduction and Policy Misadventures in Nairobi's Poor Neighbourhoods

IDS Evidence Report 39 (2013)

Violence and crime are part of everyday life in many of Nairobi’s poor urban neighbourhoods. More details

Non-IDS publication

Urban Settings as an Opportunity for Realizing All Child Rights

South-South Cooperation for Child Rights Working Papers 3 (2013)

This brief focuses on the challenges posed by urban poverty and exclusion, and the need to ensure that urban settings live up to their potential for realizing the rights of all children as the region continues to develop rapidly. More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 434, 'Towards a Quantifiable Measure of Resilience'.

Towards a Quantifiable Measure of Resilience

IDS Working Paper 434 (2013)

The objective of this paper is twofold. First it illustrates and discusses some of the challenges related to the measurement of resilience by reviewing some of the most recently published and grey literature on resilience in relation to food security. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Pervasive But Not the Political Order: Violence, Xenophobia and Insecurity in Townships

Agency and Governance Policy Brief 5 (2013)

Policy Brief 5 emerging from the ESRC- DfID funded project "Agency and Governance in the Context of Civil Conflict" More details

IDS publications on international development research

How Do Endemic Riots Affect Poor Urban Households? New Data From India

Agency and Governance Policy Brief 4 (2013)

Policy Brief 4 emerging from the ESRC- DfID funded project "Agency and Governance in the Context of Civil Conflict" More details

From Poverty Traps to Indigenous Philanthropy: Complexity in a Rapidly Changing World

IDS Working Paper 425 (2013)

Poverty persists around the world and is exacerbated by growing inequality especially within countries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Fleeing, Staying Put, Working with Rebels Rulers

Agency and Governance Policy Brief 3 (2013)

Policy Brief 3 emerging from the ESRC- DfID funded project "Agency and Governance in the Context of Civil Conflict" More details

IDS publications on international development research

Local Violence and the National Process of War Termination in Lebanon

Agency and Governance Policy Brief 2 (2013)

Policy Brief 2 emerging from the ESRC- DfID funded project "Agency and Governance in the Context of Civil Conflict" More details

IDS publications on international development research

Local Institutions Can Limit Non-State Armed Groups’ Power and Expansion

Agency and Governance Policy Brief 1 (2013)

Policy Brief 1 emerging from the ESRC- DfID funded project "Agency and Governance in the Context of Civil Conflict" More details