মাঠকেন্দ্র (Mathkendra)

The idea of the Mathkendra
BIGD Mathkendra (মাঠকেন্দ্র), a field centre located in Patkelghata village in the coastal district of Shatkhira, is a manifestation of our deep commitment to research that is solution-driven and rooted in context. The Mathkendra was inaugurated on 3 October 2023, with administrative and local government
representatives of Shatkhira attending the inauguration ceremony.

The idea of the Mathkendra is to localize knowledge generation for deeper contextual insights and more targeted evidence to help local actors and decision-makers deliberate and deliver better public outcomes. In this sense, the Mathkendra gives us the opportunity to explore the idea of localizing knowledge for a better world.

Through the Mathkendra, we want to excel in rigorous learning from the field—the lifeworld of the people, their practices and preferences, the communities they live in and shape, and the places and history they inhabit. We want to turn the study of the lived context into the primary problem of social science research.

Climate change research at the heart of one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in Bangladesh
Shatkhira district is highly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather conditions, experiencing the impacts of rising temperatures, coastal and riverine flooding, storms, and increasing salinity. Environment and climate change adaptation challenges require locally-led, contextualized solutions. The Mathkendra serves as a site for close observation of the contextual realities of the affected people and experimentation with new adaptive and climate-smart initiatives, minimizing the artificial separation between doing and learning and between impacted communities and academics. By understanding the interlinkages between micro and meso levels, the Mathkendra aims to generate generalizable knowledge applicable beyond this specific location.

BIGD researchers will be living with the community in the centre to learn about the complex interaction between anthropogenic climate change and  environmental and economic factors, including land-use changes, flood management efforts, upstream developmental activities, and relative proximity to economic activities. This centre will foster a collaborative environment where researchers can learn from local experiences, co-create impactful research, and contribute to knowledge ecosystems for a better world.

Experimenting with last-mile state effectiveness
We are investing in research on last-mile state effectiveness as we believe—from our long experience of doing governance research—that it is a more feasible entry point, i.e., local administrative and political actors are more inclined to use data and evidence for better decision-making, which has a direct implication on their approval or popularity. We will conduct formative research to understand the formal and informal mechanisms that govern local-level decision-making, identify entry points, and then conduct small-scale experimentation to test what works best to improve local outcomes. The Mathkendra has a central role in this initiative, which will serve as the primary site of our formative research and pilot experimentations.

A training centre for young researchers and enumerators
The Mathkendra, with accommodation and training facilities for 70 people, is used as a site where young researchers can stay for an extended period to learn firsthand how to observe and interact with the community for their research to be rooted in context. It is also regularly used for enumerators’ training.

Logo
The Mathkendra logo symbolizes the idea of immersion, through the openness of branches and depth of roots. The centredness is around our motherland. The spatial identity is kept deeply local but also globally identifiable through the GPS code.

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