The pilot of the Voices of the Marginalised research study in Bangladesh is reaching its end.
This has been such a great initiative – what a difference it makes to conduct research which is truly participatory! Before getting into the learning, let me add some information about the study and the researchers.
ADD International, HelpAge International and Sightsavers have been working with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to facilitate a participatory research study. Its goal is to bring the perspectives of those who are highly marginalised, including people with disabilities, older people and people living with mental health issues, into post-2015 policymaking. There is a growing recognition of inequalities which arise from marginalisation, where those in excluded situations rarely have the opportunity for their voices to be heard. They are made more invisible by a lack of relevant data. This research provides a real opportunity to contribute to building the body of data and evidence about what is needed to ensure the needs and rights of marginalised populations are included in current and future development initiatives such as the MDGs and their successor framework.
Two types of researchers have been trained to conduct the study. First, staff from national Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working on ageing and disability issues have been involved. They are called Peer Researchers and they collected stories from peers to draw a picture of challenges national NGOs working with these groups are dealing with.
Second, older people and people with disabilities from Bhasantek slum in Dhaka and villages in the District of Cox’s Bazar have been contacted to see if they wanted to become Community Peer Researchers. They are individuals in challenging situations themselves (poverty, no livelihood, little support from relatives, lack of access to health services, etc) and are beneficiaries from national NGOs working in ageing or disability. Upon acceptance, they have been trained to collect stories from their peers
All 18 researchers have been engaged in the analysis of the stories to provide their perspective on the findings. This means 140 stories have been analysed to form the basis of a publication. While the findings will be available in May, I can already talk about the experience and learning the researchers gained from this experience. I will focus on the community peer researchers because it was the first time they had the opportunity to be involved in a research study.