PAR with the Ultrapoor

The centerpiece of The Hunger Project’s strategy in Bangladesh is the grassroots training and ongoing support of more than 145,000 volunteer animators, 40% of whom are women, who organize mass action campaigns in their areas. Within this strategy, Participatory Action Research (PAR) is an empowering tool to reach the poorest of the poor.

To facilitate this approach, a group of volunteers are selected from the most engaged and active animators. They participate in a four-day PAR Foundation Course, facilitated jointly by members of The Hunger Project’s staff and volunteer facilitators. These PAR animators learn how to analyze their own social reality and facilitate the same process within their communities among those living in the most extreme poverty. The goal is  to identify and solve problems through their own actions and form a Gono Gobeshona Shomity (GGS), or “self-help group,” at the local level.

The members of these  groups undergo a process of reflection, coming together to identify their social, political and economic obstacles, and work together to develop solutions through their GGS. Activities include starting savings and income-generating activities, and tackling social issues such as improved education or clubs for healthier lifestyles. The PAR process is designed to develop leadership and dignity, stimulate social responsibility, and empower the poorest of the poor.

Below are the  demographics of the 1,120 GGSs formed so far (as of 28 February, 2018):

Table: GGSs by Divisions

Division GGS Units GGS Members
District Covers Number of GGSs Female Male Total
Barisal 2 57 1,207 439 1,646
Chittagong 3 61 1,265 451 1,716
Dhaka 4 127 1,914 877 2,791
Khulna 6 354 6,397 2,651 9,048
Mymensingh 2 97 1,642 1,085 2,727
Ransjahi 4 247 3,580 2,956 6,536
Rangpur 2 152 2,473 1,485 3,958
Sylhet 2 25 318 169 487
Total 25 1,120 18,796 10,113 28,909

GGS Formation Year

Following the process launch in 1992, we saw linear growth of the GGS groups during 2012-2016. The GGS formation still continues, and we plan to continue their expansion.