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Poverty dynamics amidst intersecting crises in rural Bangladesh

This paper examines three crises – namely climate-related disasters (droughts and floods), COVID-19 and related economic shocks and stressors, and conflict and political violence – to assess their relationship with household poverty dynamics in rural Bangladesh. This work is part of a broader working paper series on intersecting crises and poverty dynamics in different country contexts (e.g. see Diwakar and Brzezinska, 2023).

This paper brings together secondary literature on the pandemic and four datasets, in this case comprising the following:

• three waves of the Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey (BIHS), from 2011/12 to 2019;
• the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) yearly data, from 2010 to 2022;
• the Global Flood Observatory yearly data, from 2010 to 2018; and
• the Climate Research Unit Gridded Time Series (CRU TS) yearly data on drought, from 2010 to 2020.

Contextualising movements into and out of poverty against a backdrop of shocks, stressors, and crises requires bringing together poverty correlates relating to ‘people’, focused especially on demographics and livelihoods, and ‘place’, including the broader contexts that might inhibit escape from poverty, like crises. This approach is critical to ensure that pro-poor initiatives are sufficiently risk-informed to help prevent impoverishment and propel escape from poverty that can be sustained over time.

Key findings:
  • Rates of chronic poverty (2.4%) and impoverishment (4.6%) were relatively low in rural Bangladesh between 2011 and 2019.
  • Household strategies to navigate these contexts of precarity vary in response to different types of crises and their intersections in flood-affected areas. Livelihood- and asset-based strategies amidst flooding point to the importance of land and consumption assets that may offer liquidity to be sold in times of crises and so can act as a protective factor against impoverishment.

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