Research, Policy, and Governance (RPG)

Research, Policy, and Governance (RPG) is a flagship program of BIGD, which aims to build institutional capacity and produce rigorous research in order to uplift the quality of evidence-based decision and policy-making in Bangladesh.

Background

For the last two decades, a culture of innovation and evidence-based policy-making is growing in Bangladesh. Yet, the actual use of rigorous evidence in policy-making and innovative program designing is still uncommon in the country, mainly because of two reasons: 1) lack of awareness and capacities to generate and utilise evidence, and 2) lack of context-specific evidence on what works. In this context, there is good reason to believe that Bangladesh is a country ripe for further investment in building sustainable national/institutional as well as human resource capacities to continuously support context-specific evidence generation and utilisation. RPG was conceived with the objective to fill this evidence-policy gap.

Objective

RPG aims to re-establish the relationship of trust and partnership between researchers and policymakers by enhancing evidence-based policy, ultimately improving the quality of decision-making.

Approach

There are four main pathways to achieving RPG’s objectives. We call these the four pillars of RPG. These are:

i) Rigorous research and effective scale-up of innovations in governance and development;

ii) Sustained capability created for high-quality, timely and relevant research;

iii) Engaged excellence for co-creation of research agenda and research uptake strategies; and

iv) Enhanced demand for improved data analytical capabilities in public organisations, civil society organisations, think tanks and universities.

RPG team consists of a group of young Research Associates (RAs) trained in basic quantitative and qualitative research skills. As capacity building is the main focus of RPG, each RA is working on research projects guided and mentored by a senior academic since 2018. By 2021–2022 the team aspires to disseminate and publish research results, intensify engagement with policymakers with strong evidence, pilot and propose innovations in public service, and update the Masters in Governance and Development (MAGD) curriculum of BIGD. RPG does its research work in close collaboration with government counterparts and builds the capacity of government officials in strategically important positions on different aspects of evidence-based policy-making. Through this approach, RPG aims to ensure the government’s full ownership and effective research uptake.

Focus Areas

RPG’s target for 2019 was to start at least two research projects under the following topics:

i) Equitable and effective scale-up of digitisation in public service delivery;

ii) Innovations in social accountability;

iii) Making land markets work better for citizens;

iv) Macro-economic policy analysis;

The initial plan was to publish four working papers based on the research on four topics. However, given the complexity of each of these topics and high interest in further research, we decided not to publish these pieces as stand-alone research papers. Instead, each of these research pieces will be used to formulate more focused research questions and do further work on these topics. Based on the learning from our research and feedback from stakeholders, we initiated the following research projects under RPG:

Benchmark survey on digital literacy and access to public service delivery

Digital literacy is seen as a common barrier to using the new digital services introduced by the government of Bangladesh. Uptake rates are low, and even when digital services are used, citizens have to go through middlemen who are digitally literate. To investigate this issue further, we are doing a national survey (sample representative at division level) to answer the following questions: a) What is the state of digital literacy in Bangladesh and is it linked to access to digital public services? and b) What is the process and cost associated with accessing digital public services?

Social accountability in social safety nets

RPG is planning two research studies on social accountability. The first study will use mixed methods to look at the impact of social accountability measures on targeting the effectiveness of social safety net programs. For this, we are collaborating with the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF). In partnership with the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), MJF has introduced a range of social accountability measures (such as community scorecards, community groups, hotline, complaint box, etc.) in 12 districts to improve social safety net delivery.

The second research under this topic is focused on citizen engagement in public service delivery. The Government of Bangladesh is implementing Digitizing Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement Project (DIMAPPP) with support from the World Bank. Under this initiative, there is a component that promotes citizens’ engagement in monitoring local projects. The RPG research will use field reports, field officer diaries from DIMAPPP, and collect additional qualitative data to analyse the changes in norms and local political dynamics with the goal of understanding the changing role of citizens due to this initiative.

Land services and citizen’s experience

The land market is one of the most complex markets in Bangladesh. While land transactions are integral to most citizens’ lives, land management is highly inefficient, with several layers of informal mechanisms that negatively affect the experience of availing land services. The government is progressing towards the digitization of land services, starting with e-mutation. Our research on e-mutation shows that even with digitisation, challenges remain. The objective of this study is to take stock of all costs (formal and informal) of all land services (digital and manual) and citizens’ experience of these services.

Journal Article

COVID-19 Vaccination: Willingness and Practice in Bangladesh

Publisher: Development Policy Review

Date: 2022

Author(s): Faruk, Avinno; Quddus, Ishmam Al

Topic(s): COVID-19

Journal Article

Trust and Citizen Participation in Community-based Monitoring System: An Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh

Publisher: Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics

Date: 2022

Author(s): Rabbani, Mehnaz; Rahman, Semab; Tasneem, Dina

Topic(s): Governance and Politics

Report

COVID-19 Vaccination: Willingness and Practice in Bangladesh

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2021

Author(s): Faruk, Avinno; Quddus, Ishmam Al

Topic(s): COVID-19

Policy Brief

Understanding the Digital Gender Divide in Rural Bangladesh: How Wide It Is and Why

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2021

Author(s): Zahan, Iffat

Topic(s): Digitization

Report

Strategy Primer: For the Future of Digital in Bangladesh

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2021

Author(s): Jahangir, Zulkarin; Safir, Abdullah Hasan; Ahmed, Shamael

Topic(s): Digitization

Report

The Future of Digital in Bangladesh: Digital Readiness Assessment

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2021

Author(s): Jahangir, Zulkarin; Safir, Abdullah Hasan; Ahmed, Shamael

Topic(s): Digitization

Policy Brief

Digital Literacy in Rural Bangladesh: Survey 2019

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2020

Author(s): Jahan, Nusrat; Matin, Maria; Zahan, Iffat; Islam, Md. Saiful

Topic(s): Digitization

Working Paper

Digital Literacy of Rural Households in Bangladesh

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2020

Author(s): Shadat, Wasel Bin; Islam, Saiful; Zahan, Iffat; Matin, Maria

Topic(s): Digitization, Governance and Politics

Policy Brief

Towards a Digitalized Bangladesh: How Prepared are Today’s Youth?

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2020

Author(s): Rahman, Semab

Topic(s): Digitization

Working Paper

Understanding the First and Second Digital Divides in Rural Bangladesh

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2020

Author(s): Siddiquee, Muhammad Shahadat Hossain; Islam, Md. Saiful

Topic(s): Digitization

Policy Brief

Growth Effects of Fiscal Policy Implications for Bangladesh

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2020

Author(s): Rahman, Sultan Hafeez; Siddiquee, Muhammad Shahadat Hossain

Topic(s): Macroeconomics

Policy Brief

Knocked Down, but Up Again: The Case of Female Online Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh

Publisher: BIGD

Date: 2020

Author(s): Rabbani, Mehnaz; Zahan, Iffat; Matin, Maria

Topic(s): COVID-19, Digitization, Gender Justice

13 December 2021
Shabnaz Zubaid

How far have we come since the declaration of "Digital Bangladesh" 13 years ago? Shabnaz Zubaid shares her experiences from a recent visit to some of the remote villages of Bangladesh to observe the pattern of uptake of public digital...

Continue Reading
19 October 2021
Iffat Zahan

Meeting with Polli Samaj by UN Women/Snigdha Zaman, made available by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 The global economy loses USD 2.6 trillion to corruption each year, while developing country economies lose USD 1.26 trillion annually to corruption, tax evasion and illicit...

Continue Reading
24 March 2021
Faruq Hossain and Shamael Ahmed

COVID-19 is forcing us to discover alternative ways of doing things; qualitative field research, which traditionally calls for close interaction between researchers and their populations of interest, had to be reimagined to satisfy the need for social distancing, a preventative...

Continue Reading
15 June 2020
Shamael Ahmed

Shamael Ahmed, Research Associate at the Research, Policy and Governance (RPG) team at BIGD, discusses the stark contrast in the perception of digital technology between two neighbouring villages in Sylhet.  “তারা আইসা টিভি ভাইংগা দিয়া যামু (They’ll come and break...

Continue Reading
4 June 2020
Zeeshan Ashraf

Zeeshan Ashraf, Research Associate at the Research, Policy and Governance (RPG) team at BIGD, reflects on his experience in exploring qualitative research methods first-hand, in the remote villages of Sylhet.  I have been working as a Research Associate at BRAC...

Continue Reading
1 May 2020
Iffat Zahan and Maria Matin

While most people at home are doing their best to hide away from COVID-19, researchers are making the most of this time at home to think up ways to demystify the effects of this lethal virus. One such team of...

Continue Reading
6 April 2020
Mehnaz Rabbani

On March 29th 2020, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission announced that Bangladesh will use big data analysis to contain COVID-19 pandemic. An article in the Daily Star reported that the pandemic will now be tracked through mobile phones. The idea...

Continue Reading

20

Jun '22

Digitalization and New Frontiers of Service Delivery: Opportunities and Challenges

9:00 am Dhaka

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) organized a three-day international conference titled Digitalization and New Frontiers of Service Delivery: Opportunities and Challenges from 20 to 22 June 2022 at the BRAC Center Inn...

17

Jun '21

COVID-19 Vaccination: Willingness and Practice in Bangladesh

4:30 pm Webinar

Report | Presentation A recent study found high willingness to be vaccinated (WTV) prevailing nationally in early February 2021, around the time when the nationwide vaccination program was launched in Bangladesh. Among those who were...

05

Apr '21

Launching of Strategy Primer: The Future of Digital in Bangladesh

7:30 pm Webinar

https://youtu.be/GaebHhbA8bw Powerpoint Slides | Strategy Primer | Digital Readiness Assessment Bangladesh has been experiencing a digital transformation as well as sustained economic growth. Pockets of production are...

21

Jan '21

Paradox of Korail slum during COVID-19: Ethnography of Governance

4:00 pm Webinar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMLyopEKc4A View the webinar deck here Urban slums are one of the most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic; overcrowding and resource constraints make physical distancing and...

04

Oct '20

BIGD Digital Inclusion Series (Episode 3): Last Mile Experience of Mobile Financial Services During COVID-19

10:00 am Webinar

View the webinar deck here The proportion of Mobile Financial Services (MFS) account holders have been significantly increasing worldwide, but the COVID-19 pandemic globally has encouraged people to use online and mobile channels...

20

Sep '20

BIGD Digital Inclusion Series (Episode 2): Digital Divide in Rural Bangladesh

11:00 am Webinar

View the webinar deck here Ensuring equitable internet access and usage to the rural population has become a growing concern and a big challenge for Bangladesh. It is imperative for the Bangladesh government to realize the variations in...

13

Sep '20

BIGD Digital Inclusion Series (Episode 1):Digital Literacy in Rural Bangladesh

12:00 pm Webinar

View the webinar deck here In recent years, the Government of Bangladesh has achieved commendable progress in creating an e-government system by digitizing numerous public services. However, there exists a persisting digital divide, in...

23

Aug '20

BIGD Webinar: Knocked Down, but Up Again: The Case of Female Online Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh

11:00 am Webinar

Webinar Deck | Report With lower startup costs and a broader reach, a growing number of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have recently turned to the online retail market. A large percentage of these entrepreneurs are female who...

03

Feb '20

Can Bangladesh Take Advantage of the Digital Age?

3:30 pm BRAC Centre Inn Auditorium

View the lecture here Increasing digitization of the world is transforming nations, and consequently their economies. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) organized the lecture titled, ‘Can Bangladesh Take Advantage of...

‘Digital Transformation Can Improve Governance, Dev Outcomes’

Publisher: The Business Standard

Date: 2022

Topic(s): Digitization

Most Rural Households Lack Digital Access

Publisher: The Daily Star

Date: 2020

Topic(s): Digitization

Mehnaz Rabbani

Director, Operations, Strategy, and Partnership

Sultan Hafeez Rahman, PhD

Professorial Fellow

Raihan Ahamed

Senior Programme Associate

Semab Rahman

Senior Research Associate

Up