Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction
The Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction (VPR) Team aims to construct dynamic and multi-dimensional perspectives on vulnerability and poverty in order to transform thinking, policy and practice.
Vulnerability is a major obstacle to social and economic development. Poor people are especially vulnerable, as they have few buffers or resources to cope with hazards or shocks. They are also significantly more likely to be affected by ill-health, unemployment, trade shocks, famine or conflict. If we are to achieve sustainable poverty reduction, we must improve our understanding of vulnerability.
The team aims to develop responses to vulnerability that give greater agency and voice to vulnerable and poor people, and that engage policymakers and practitioners.
About the team
The members of the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team seek to bring human beings to the centre of their analysis and their engagement. We work to understand women’s, men’s, and children’s experiences of vulnerability, poverty and justice. We believe both empirical evidence and innovative conceptual thinking are needed to better understand poverty and vulnerability and to support engagement with policy and practice. Learning from multifaceted perspectives ultimately leads to more effective efforts to reduce poverty, improve wellbeing and enhance social justice.
The team works to understand poverty and vulnerability from the perspective of individual people and households. We also engage with other levels of social, economic and political processes, including households, communities, regions, states and global systems), as well as to an understanding of changing natural environments.
The team has six core agendas for research and policy engagement:
- To build a better understanding of the relationships between vulnerability and the dynamics of poverty in specific country and community contexts. We look at why poverty persists and how people move into and out of poverty.
- To engage with policymakers and practitioners to promote development policies that address the relationship between vulnerability and poverty. Addressing this relationship will help people to strengthen their resilience and lead to more socially just outcomes.
- To understand how peoples’ lives and livelihoods are affected by changes in the social, economic and political contexts where they live.
- To understand how people’s identity and social and physical location affects the way they experience change. We look at important factors including gender, age and ethnic or linguistic identity, along with social status, wealth, and location in rural, peri-urban or urban areas.
- To understand which types of policy – including social policy, social protection, regulation and microfinance – are effective in addressing vulnerability and poverty.
- To explore how new information and communication technologies (ICTs) help us understanding and address vulnerability and poverty.
We tackle these research agendas in four main areas:
VPR is the go-to place for new thinking and ideas on poverty, inequality and wellbeing. Our research challenges orthodox views on how poverty is understood and how policy can accelerate poverty reduction.
The Centre for Social Protection is a global hub for research, policy analysis, and capacity building on social protection.
VPR leads work on violent conflict and the individual and group processes that lead to or result from conflict. We also analyse how violence is linked to institutional and social norms. We co-ordinate the Households in Conflict Network (HICN) and MICROCON: A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict.
VPR researches how to tackle the crisis of hunger and undernutrition. While undernutrition is increasingly a priority on the international development agenda, the knowledge base on how to accelerate undernutrition reductions has stalled. VPR’s work, including the Transform Nutrition Programme and the LANSA programme aims to address this knowledge gap and promote better nutrition outcomes.
In addition to these core areas, VPR also undertakes work on a number of other themes:
Team members are undertaking research work on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and beyond.
Members of VPR worked with the Imp-Act programme to improve the quality of microfinance services and enhance their impact on poverty. The programme supports microfinance institutions in developing social performance management systems.
Dramatic changes brought about by information and communication technologies (ICTs) have created new economic and social opportunities the world over. Access to and the strategic use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) have been shown to have the potential to help bring about economic development, poverty reduction, and democratisation and as such form a key part of VPR's research.
The Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction (VPR) team's research and advisory work on agriculture and food security covers a number of issues. These include land rights, livelihoods and food insecurity and linkages between fair trade producers and the mainstream supermarkets.
By 2030, 60 per cent of the global population will live in towns and cities. In Africa and Asia the urban population is set to double in the next two decades, while the urban share of global poverty is increasing. VPR are building on years of research to examine the role of cities in relation to poverty and vulnerability.
VPR considers DPhil applications twice yearly in October and March, for students to begin their research the following September in line with the academic year.
Given our aim of integrating PhD research with ongoing IDS work, prospective applicants are strongly advised to make contact with a VPR fellow specialising in their chosen field before submitting a formal application. All candidates are required to submit a research proposal (3,500 words max) (link to guidelines below) together with a CV. For further information, please contact email@example.com.
VPR guidelines for developing a DPhil research proposal
All candidates are required to submit a research proposal (3,500 words max) detailing what you wish to investigate, how you intend to conduct the research and how you think your research will fit within the team's research strategy.
The proposal should be structured around the following areas:
- Working title
- Problem statement (approx 750 words) - A detailed statement of the topic you intend to research. You need to show your understanding of the general subject area and explain how your chosen research fits into this. Include a rationale for why you think the work you wish to undertake is of importance.
- Key objectives (approx 500 words) - Outline the main objectives of your research.
- Three key research questions (approx 500 words) - Clearly formulate your research questions. Explain what problems or issues you wish to explore and why you wish to explore them.
- Methodology and data (approx 1000 words) - What are the methods and approaches that you plan to use to address your research questions? Explain why this is the most appropriate methodology, and include evidence that you have determined the accessibility of data and any potential difficulties that might be faced during data collection.
- Fit with VPR research agenda (approx 750 words) - Demonstrate how your proposed research is relevant to the interest and expertise available in the VPR team, and how it fits within the team's research agenda.
- Identify a possible supervisor from the team to oversee your research.
Researching the Links between Social Protection and Children’s Care
This project aims to investigate the links between social protection and children's care. More details
Not Just Talk: Practice, Power, Knowledge and Information and Communication Technologies (TPPI)
Not Just Talk: Practice, Power, Knowledge and Information and Communication Technologies is a new IDS research initiative that seeks to critically examine the opportunities and challenges that the new generation of ICT innovations pose for poor and vulnerable groups. More details
Assessment of the Impact of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes
This project will develop understanding of how and under what conditions GEP has or has not contributed to improved humanitarian outcomes. It will accumulate an evidence base that can be harnessed to inform decision makers' discussions in the area of GEP, and inform the design of gender-responsive humanitarian interventions. More details
Technical Assistance to Support UNICEF and the Government of Chad to Develop and Implement Social Protection in Chad
The need for social protection is especially urgent in chronically food insecure countries and in countries affected by climate change. Funded by UNICEF Chad, the objective is to support the Government of Chad to develop a national social protection strategy. More details
Impact Evaluation of DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh
The DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh aims to improve nutrition outcomes for children, mothers and adolescent girls by integrating the delivery of a number of nutrition specific (or direct) interventions with livelihood support provided to extremely poor people by three existing programmes in Bangladesh. More details
Measuring Well-Being for Development: A Primer
The OECD Development Centre has commissioned Allister McGregor to write "Guidelines on Measuring Progress for Development". More details
Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index - HANCI
HANCI measures and ranks governments’ political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition on an annual basis. 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
AFSPAN (Aquaculture for Food Security, Poverty Alleviation and Nutrition)
Aquaculture is widely considered as important for enhancing food security, alleviating poverty and improving nutrition. However, little information is available concerning the direct and indirect impacts of aquaculture on food security and poverty alleviation in most developing countries and LIFDCs. More details
Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability of Fishing Communities in the Face of the World Fisheries Crisis
This project is a response to the initial DFID-ESRC 'Resource scarcity, growth, and poverty reduction' call and it is titled "Tangled in their (own) safety-nets?: Resilience, adaptability, and transformability of fishing communities in the face of the World fisheries crisis. 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
Higher Level Panel of Eexperts Report on Social Protection and Food Security
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the HLPE to produce a report, to be presented at the 39th Session of the CFS, a study on social protection and food security. More details
Impact Evaluation of the PSNP and HAPB 2012
Since 2003, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been implementing a new Food Security Programme (FSP). In 2009, this programme was reviewed and reformulated. More details
Community Cooperation in Post-Conflict Bosnia
This project will investigate what determines the level of community cooperation in the post-conflict period. More details
Undernutrition and Public Policy in India
This research seeks to inform and influence the current state of debate in India on the issue of malnutrition and food security. More details
UN MONUSCO/World Bank DRC Consultancy
The primary objective of the consultancy is to support the development of a coordinated approach to monitoring and evaluation for the Peace Consolidation programme (PCP) in DRC. More details
Social Cash Transfer Programme Zambia
The Centre for Social Protection (CSP) at IDS are currently working on this large scale study, which provides an opportunity to carry out work systematically on under-researched aspects of social protection delivery and impact. More details
DAC Development Debate
On 13 June 2012 the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) hosted its third DAC Development Debate (DDD). Centring on the theme New poverty patterns: Where will the poor live? More details
Adaptive Social Protection: Migration as an Adaptive Response and the Role of Cash Transfers
Project led by Sussex University to research migration as an adaptive response to climate change and the role of cash transfers. More details
States Delivering for Poor People
This project entails an initial scoping study in Rajasthan and Western UP to firm up research questions that are relevant and useful for understanding the politics and implementation of the MGNREGA. More details
'Marriage Above All Else': The Push for Heterosexual, Nuclear Families in the Making of South Africa's White Paper on Families
This report comments on the policymaking processes that led to the development of the White Paper on Families as it exists in its current iteration (November 2012). More details
Missing the Point: Violence Reduction and Policy Misadventures in Nairobi's Poor Neighbourhoods
Violence and crime are part of everyday life in many of Nairobi’s poor urban neighbourhoods. More details
Responding to Security Threats: Livelihoods Under Protracted Conflict
Populations affected by violent conflicts often withstand threats to their security as well as threats to their livelihoods. Their response to the former threats nontrivially affects their response to the latter threats, and vice versa. More details
Towards a Quantifiable Measure of Resilience
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
The Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI 2012): Measuring Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition
Measuring the Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries. Supported by Irish Aid, DFID Accountable Grant and Transform Nutrition. More details
The HANCI Donor Index 2012: Measuring Donors' Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries
This second phase of the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) scrutinises donor government commitment to reducing hunger and undernutrition in developing countries. More details
Global Development and Happiness: How can Data on Subjective Wellbeing Inform Development Theory and Practice?
How can the new science of happiness add value to development theory and practice? More details
Churning Waters: Strategic Shifts in the Nile Basin
This briefing considers the impact of the diplomatic rift between Egypt and Ethiopia in the Nile Basin on broader development in the region and the possible diplomatic and developmental scenarios that could emerge as construction of the GERD dam progresses. More details
Evaluating Outside the Box: An Alternative Framework for Analysing Social Protection Programmes
The evidence base on social protection programmes is expanding rapidly, largely pointing towards their positive impacts. More details
The Politics of Reducing Malnutrition: Building Commitment and Accelerating Progress
In the past 5 years, political discourse about the challenge of undernutrition has increased substantially at national and international levels and has led to stated commitments from many national governments, international organisations, and donors. More details
Unemployment, Service Provision and Violence Reduction Policies in Urban Maharashtra
This report analyses the relationship between violence and economic vulnerability among urban populations in the Indian state of Maharashtra. More details
The Climate Change – Migration – Urbanisation Nexus: Workshop Report
The concept of the ‘Climate Change – Migration – Urbanisation’ nexus emerged from the recognition that climate change, migration, and urbanisation are closely and intimately linked together, and can potentially become sources of vulnerability. More details
Measuring Conflict Exposure in Micro-Level Surveys
Published by the World Bank, this report extensively reviews current practices and datasets used in micro-level surveys of conflict-affected populations. We review existing conflict- and violence-related questionnaires, with a special focus on the World Bank’s Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) surveys. More details
Global Climate Change Justice: Toward a Risk-Adjusted Social Floor
Addressing climate change from social justice and human rights perspectives is a global challenge, and international negotiations dealing with climate change need to incorporate such concerns. More details
A Feminist Political Economy Analysis of Public Policies Related to Care: A Thematic Review
Unpaid care work is directly linked to the economic empowerment of women and girls. There is a large and robust body of evidence about the extent of unpaid care work that women and girls do, and its contributions to both the economy and human development outcomes. But is this evidence being used to inform public policy? More details
Promoting Inclusive Social Protection in the Post-2015 Framework
This policy briefing, part of the special MDG series, examines how the post 2015 development framework should promote ‘Inclusive Social Protection’. More details
Implementing Development Evaluations under Severe Resource Constraints
Most agency evaluations are very short both on resources and in duration, with no proper opportunity to assess impact in a valid manner. More details
State Provision of Social Protection to International Migrants: The Relevance of Social Protection Frameworks
How relevant are social protection frameworks to understanding the provision of social protection to international migrants? More details
Understanding and Tackling Violence Outside of Armed Conflict Settings
Understanding and tackling violence that occurs outside of armed conflict settings is essential to improving the wellbeing of some of the world’s poorest communities. More details
Evaluation of Early Legal Advice Project: Final Report
Home Office Research report 70 presents the findings of the evaluation of the Early Legal Advice Project (ELAP) which was provided for asylum seekers in the Midlands and East of England between November 2010 and December 2012. More details
construct dynamic and multi-dimensional perspectives on vulnerability and poverty
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