PPRC’s poverty research had its origin in the pioneering research project, Analysis of Poverty Trends Project (APT), conceived and led by Hossain Zillur Rahman in the late 1908s and early 1990s. Many of the issues first projected through that research and the subsequent publication Re-Thinking Rural Poverty (SAGE, 1995) such as monga, crisis and vulnerability and extreme poverty went on to become central elements of the national poverty agenda. Starting from survival dynamics, safety nets, monga elimination, marginal communities, poverty pockets, MDGs and SDGs, nutrition and universal health coverage (UHC), the Centre’s poverty research has increasingly focused on issues of social protection, graduation, the interface with growth and markets, and the impact of macro trends.

PPRC team’s research from 1990 to 2007 served a critical role in scaling up policy engagement with the issue of monga and extreme poverty. The organization has also led national efforts on scaling up social protection through comprehensive studies on safety nets, including Safety Nets in Bangladesh Volumes 1 & 2 (PPRC & UNDP).

PPRC’s current engagement on the poverty agenda is on the efficacy of safety nets (Spot Checks of five major Disaster Ministry programs) and bringing to policy attention the third poverty frontier, namely excluded and marginalized communities (EU-supported project being implemented jointly with SEHD).



PPRC has emerged as one of the key players in addressing critical knowledge gaps and advocating for a holistic perspective on urban challenges. With support from The World Bank and DFID PPRC has conducted a series of studies on urban spatial and economic growth, migration and labour markets, urban finance, access to services and urban poverty. PPRC has also developed an urban database for Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). The Centre’s urban research from 2009 to 2016 led to three major publications – Urban Bangladesh (2011) Bangladesh Urban Dynamics (2012) and The Urban Spectrum: Metropolitan to Mofussil (2016)– and an international conference on Urban Poverty: Challenges of Perspective and Action, which brought together national and international key stakeholders from different sectors. New studies are underway to address multidimensional poverty and inclusive growth in Dhaka.



Governance is a core research and advocacy priority with a series of ground-breaking publications over the years which include Local Governance and Community Capacities (2002), Unbundling Governance (2007), Governance Trends and Perceptions (2013). PPRC pursues frontier research on governance indicators, process realities and solution entry points. Using such innovative research, the Centre has promoted politically-intelligent governance agendas including local governance. PPRC also has a track record of conducting opinion surveys on the electoral process both at national and local levels. PPRC engagement on governance research is informed by a broader understanding of political dynamics and the challenges of democratic transition.Over the years some of the Centre’s ground-breaking publications have included Local Governance and Community Capacities (2002), Governance and State Effectiveness (2006), Unbundling Governance (2007), Governance Trends and Perceptions (2013) and Politics, Governance and Middle Income Aspirations (2016).


Economy and growth

PPRC has three main concerns on the issues of economy and growth – inclusive growth, impact of macro trends, long-term strategic visions and alternative economic trends indicators. Of particular interest has been the focus on the meso-economy i.e. the economic space where the poverty and growth processes interface most intimately. At another end, PPRC has collaborated with business chambers in developing a long-term strategic vision on accelerating inclusive growth.



While a relatively newer addition to PPRC’s core themes, PPRC has had a longstanding interest in population dynamics, since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that initially marked a paradigm change in how the global community prioritised approaches to population policy. More recently, with its strategic advocacy partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Centre is driving forward the agenda of realising the goals of zero unmet family planning need, zero preventable maternal deaths and zero GBV – the three zeroes agenda set at Nairobi in 2019.



Despite high enrollment and gender parity, drop-out and completion rates remain major causes of concerns. Moreover, there are large gaps in skills and quality of education in general. Addressing these strategic gaps is a PPRC research and advocacy priority. The Centre has assisted the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education in drafting the National Plan of Action as well as in developing a guide-book for primary education governance. PPRC has also undertaken research on costs of secondary education and prepared regional progress reports on secondary education.



The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have elevated health from a sectoral priority to a strategic, cross-cutting component of the global agenda. The Centre has focused its research and advocacy attention on the interface of health with economics and governance. In order to increase local awareness about Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals and policy buy-in for the UHC agenda, PPRC facilitated the formation of a cross-sectoral civic platform “Healthy Bangladesh” with leading health professionals and service providers, economists, fitness advocates and civic and policy activists. The four inter-linked priorities of Healthy Bangladesh are: UHC (accessible, affordable and quality healthcare), Nutrition, Cleanliness and Physical Fitness. PPRC most recently launched a research initiative on UHC progress indicators.


In a world where climate concerns are no longer looming but a current reality, PPRC has been trying to push the climate and sustainability agenda. The Centre’s past research on haor basins in Bangladesh examined initiatives for sustainable alternative livelihoods. PPRC has also undertaken evaluation of resettlement programs in flood affected regions. In upcoming years, PPRC intends to delve deeper into climate-related studies.