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Document Abstract
Published: 2010

What development interventions work? The long-term impact and cost-effectiveness of anti-poverty programs in Bangladesh

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While Government and NGOs in Bangladesh have undertaken many interventions designed to help individuals and households escape poverty, few studies have evaluated their long-term impact. Using a newly available longitudinal data set, this project attempted to: (1) assess the long-term impact of three antipoverty interventions in Bangladesh—microfinance, the introduction of new agricultural technologies, and educational transfers—on a range of monetary and non-monetary measures of well-being; (2) examine institutional and contextual factors underlying the performance of these interventions; and (3) compare their cost-effectiveness in attaining their development objectives.
Differences between short- and long-term impacts of the agricultural technologies arose from dissemination and targeting mechanisms; divisibility of the technology; and intrahousehold resource allocation. Programs disseminated through women’s groups, while having smaller impacts on household per capita expenditures and household assets, improved women’s asset holdings and child nutritional status. Limited coverage, lack of geographical targeting, and the declining real value of the Primary Education Stipend were responsible for the remarkably small impact of this nationwide program. Microfinance emerged as an important cause of wellbeing improvement in the qualitative work, while the impact of the PES was limited by its low monetary value.
The life-histories showed little long-term benefit from the agricultural technology programmes, possibly because they were bundled with microfinance and separate impacts were difficult to attribute. The project utilized an active user engagement strategy involving regular policy workshops and media coverage in Bangladesh to stimulate policy dialogue among key stakeholders and contribute to the design of future anti-poverty interventions
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A.R. Quisumbing

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