Camila Gutierrez Plata, MAUD 2018 and Ross Marc Eisenberg, MUP 2018

Summer 2017

Organization: United Nations Development Programme, Bangladesh

Sponsor: International Travel Community Service Fellowship


“One of UNDP Bangladesh’s programs offers a fresh perspective on reducing poverty in the country’s cities – one that is based on local capacity building and advocacy, in order to make the process of reducing poverty a sustainable one. Ross Eisenberg (MUP), Camila Gutierrez Plata (MAUD), and Thu Nguyen (Clemson University), are in Bangladesh this summer to support the National Poverty Reduction Programme (NUPRP). We will help create a new tool for local city governments and the poor communities that inhabit these cities that can help them decide collaboratively where and how to make more impactful interventions and urban plans with project grants from UNDP, and to be able to continue improving the quality of life of the poor even after the 6-year program is over.

The NUPRP is different from previous programmes in that one of its main goals is to empower both poor communities and local governments to work together to create sustainable interventions for the urban poor. Our team this summer is in charge of designing the Urban Poverty Profile, which is a document that analyzes the specific aspects of poverty in a city, informing and guiding the resourcing and planning decisions that community and government make.

The UPP is informed by two types of information:

1) Quantitative Data: collected through participatory mapping workshops with the communities and local governments, where they mapped the location of the poor settlements and scored them based on 16 different indicators; and a Household Survey collected by the programme in partnership with the poor communities, by training young people to survey the households in their communities (both of these data collection sources are ongoing, thought for the cities we focused on were mostly completed by the time we arrived this summer).

2) Qualitative Data: this was collected through a first visit meant for us to see how the data was expressed in each of the cities by visiting different poor settlements and meeting with city officials and community leaders; a second visit after having worked on the UPP for a Validation Workshop to present to representatives from the community and local government officials, the progress of the document and get their feedback on whether the conclusions we are finding are a true reflection of their specific poverty and see if they think we should look into other topics that are a priority for the urban poor in their city;

and finally, a new set of interviews that can help make the UPP a more relatable document where not only is poverty understood through maps and diagrams, but also by the stories of those who are living through these conditions.