+88 01713504255 contact@dri-int.org

Development Research Initiative (dRi)

Development Research Initiative (dRi) is a leading independent research and evaluation firm, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. dRi conducts dynamic research and analysis in a wide range of sectors including nutrition, health, food security, livelihoods and disaster risk reduction. Since 2008, dRi has completed over 100 research projects in Bangladesh, building a reputation for generating high-quality evidence to inform development practice and policy.

Strength in Research

Development Research Initiative offers the rare combination of highly-accomplished academicians with field researchers experienced in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The key capacity and strength of dRi is its diversified organisational composition of quantitative and qualitative experts. The dRileadership team has extensive international experience. The organisation’s directors, team leaders, technical experts and research fellows come from diverse academic backgrounds, with qualifications from some of the world’s top universities and research institutions. This organisational corps is the driving force behind dRi’s organisational ethos of focusing on ‘Data Quality’ and ‘Quality Research’ above all else.

dRi employs a team of experienced field researchers, augmented by a roster of on-call data collectors. These researchers and enumerators form the backbone of the firm’s capacity to conduct quality field research. Trained in various development-related fields (i.e. Sociology, Anthropology, Development Studies, Public Administration, Statistics, Applied Economics, etc.), the diverse background of dRi field researchers allows for dynamically allocated team compositions. This key strength of the firm permits a tailored approach to specific projects to ensure research is being conducted by the most qualified personnel.

dRi applies robust quantitative tools for counterfactual analysis, including Randomized Control Trials (RCT) and Propensity Score Matching (PSM), to determine the efficacy of a program or policy. dRi has established expertise in both in Ex Post and Ex Ante impact evaluations. dRi also offers sophisticated qualitative and participatory methodology – including Qualitative Longitudinal Research (QLR), Process Documentation Research (PDR) and Ethnography and Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) – to systematically assess the central question: ‘what works for whom and under what conditions?’. Human problems, and the intricacies of development practice, are complex phenomena. Therefore,dRi takes an inclusive, multidisciplinary and mixed-method approach to understand the complex social dynamics of research questions.

Better Data through Technology

A key feature of dRi’s research is the use of technology to ensure quality data collection. dRi uses the Survey CTO, Survey Solutions, Open Data Kit (ODK), AKVO Flow, KoBoToolbox and Qualtrics platforms along with handheld electronic tablets to administer survey questionnaires and collect data. Using mobile data transfer systems, analysts and clients are able to review data in real-time and provide feedback to the collection team when necessary. These technologies drastically reduce the overall time required for data entry, improve data quality and facilitate greater accountability for erroneous entries.

Effective Collaboration

Starting from project inception, dRi works with partner organisations to ensure that research outputs meet contractual deliverables. The dRi team leader typically meets with partners following contract signing to establish a project management modality and preliminary schedule. The questionnaire and qualitative checklist are developed in close conjunction with the partner, and in alignment with the research goals and/or project logical framework. Training sessions for the field teams result in further questionnaire refinement and elaboration, as survey questions are tested for bias-inducing language, logical errors and formatting mistakes. Partner representatives frequently attend these sessions and provide input where required, resulting in the finalisation of the questionnaire and the survey manual. As the data collection phase commences, client-appointed observers are encouraged to monitor field-level activities when possible. During this phase, raw data is uploaded on a daily basis to dRi’s server, from which approved partner data analysts can access the collected data remotely. Following preliminary data analysis, dRi typically submits a draft report to the partner organisation for review. An iterative process follows, whereby dRi works closely with the partner to ensure the final report meets all deliverable specifications.

Field-Level Expertise

dRi employs 30 full-time male and female research supervisors on its field research team. Supervisors require a master’s degree in any discipline of social science and at least three years’ experience in research. Additionally, dRi maintains a roster of over 200 enumerators for use on an ad hoc basis. The minimum qualification for these personnel is a bachelor’s degree in any discipline of social sciences with at least one-year experience in research.

The quantitative and qualitative supervisors and enumerators are selected by the Quantitative Expert and Qualitative Expert respectively. Selection criteria include prior experience in similar research, familiarity with the geographic area, and educational qualifications relevant to the research. Additionally, female enumerators are selected for gender-sensitive research projects where applicable.

All supervisors and field researchers undergo a three to five-day intensive training session as required by the project. The training is administered at dRi’s dedicated facility in Dhaka. Senior research team members conduct the training with support from the team leader, specialists and client personnel. The researchers are informed on project details and objectives, as well as justification for the research. The research coordinator then provides in-depth training using the questionnaire developed for the study. Each and every question is explained and discussed in detail. At the end of the training, a face-to-face mock interview is conducted where one researcher acts as a respondent and another as a researcher, using tablets and applicable data collection software.

All researchers are then sent for a pilot study in the project area (or similar environment) to ensure they understand the questions and assess whether they can smoothly operate the data collection software. On return from the pilot study, their questions and queries are addressed, and the questionnaire and data collection software are fine-tuned based on their feedback. This results in the finalized questionnaire and the survey manual. The survey manual is a comprehensive reference document for the questionnaire used by the enumerators, containing an explanation of all terms and questions.

On deployment to the field, the data collection team is typically billeted inside the target community. In addition to maximising logistical efficiency, local billeting fosters a more in-depth understanding of the survey population, and builds rapport and trust with the community allowing for higher quality responses. Prior to proceeding with data collection, community leaders and other key local stakeholders are consulted to ensure survey ‘buy-in’. A meet and greet session is then held with community members and enumerators are familiarised with the area.

Ethical Considerations

During data collection, enumerators fully explain the objective and purpose of the study to the respondents prior to proceeding with the interview. Respondents are informed that their identities will remain anonymous in the report and that their data will be used only for population assessment purposes. It is communicated clearly to the respondents that they will derive no financial benefit for providing information, their participation will be fully voluntary and that they will not be penalized in any way if they choose not to participate. Before commencing with the data collection, the respondents’ consent is documented in writing. dRi’s data collection does not affect any human subjects adversely, and the protection and safety of respondents and researchers are always considered paramount.

Quality Assurance

The need for quality data cannot be overemphasized in conducting any primary research. As articulated above, thorough training of enumerators is the first building block of dRi’s data quality assurance strategy. This is followed by an extensive field-level oversight strategy to ensure the quality of the data collection.

During the survey field-work, supervisors conduct frequent spot checks on enumerators during interviews with respondents. These checks ensure that any systematic mistakes made by a specific enumerator are corrected quickly in the field. Supervisors also conduct back-checks on thirty percent of completed questionnaires, checking responses to selected portions. Research supervisors randomly select interviews completed in a given day for this verification, prior to sending collected data to the server. This process acts as a deterrent to, and detector of possible fraudulent or lazy entries by the enumerators that would otherwise compromise data quality.

One of the key advantages of using tablets in conducting data collection is that real-time metadata review provides an additional layer of data integrity validation. Such checks include observing the GPS data to matchenumerators to the location specified on the questionnaire. Automatically generated variables such as interview start/stop timestamps also ensure that each interview is conducted within a reasonable timeframe.

As a final level of quality assurance, dRi’s senior research team makes field visits and daily conference calls during data collection. During the field visits the team meets with the field supervisors to work through any issues, check the uniformity of measurements and perform ad hoc evaluations of data quality. The senior research team also maintains the survey manual, making revisions as required.

Replicable Analyses

Following data collection, the raw dataset is handed over to dRi’s quantitative expert. For quantitative data analysis, dRiemploys the SPSS or STATA statistical analysis software packages. All data cleaning, labelling, transformation and analyses are documented in a software-specific scripting file (e.g. STATA ‘do’ file) for simple replication and verification. Qualitative data analysis is typically managed using the ATLAS-TI or NVIVO software suites. Full audio and/or transcriptions of the raw interviews with respondents are maintained for documentation purposes.

Thematic Areas of Research

1. Environmental & Social Assessment and Management

Since its inception, dRi has engaged itself with land acquisition, resettlement and livelihood restoration process of development projects. dRi, as a farm provides wide array of services in resettlement process which includes: conducting census, socio-economic survey, and inventory of losses, consultation meetings, Participatory Rapid Assessment, sketch mapping, household numbering, video filming, data entry, land acquisition plan, developing Social Impact Assessment (SIA), preparation and implementation of Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) of World bank, ADB and Government funded projects

Presently, dRi is supporting PGCB and BREB in RAP preparation and implementation for both sub-stations and transmission line under the ‘Enhancement of Capacity of Grid-Substation and Transmission Line Project (ECGSTLP)’ project being implemented by PGCB. dRi also completed an assignment with Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for PGCB under the project titled “Conducting Census and Socio-economic Survey of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) for Improvement of Power Transmission Project in Western Zone of Bangladesh”.dRi’s recent works in this sector are project titled “Social Impact Assessment (SIA):

Jashore-Jhenaidah Road Corridor” for Roads and Highway Division, Bangladesh and “Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and Stack Holder Assessment (SHA) report for expansion of Kawranbazar Software Technology Park” for Bangladesh Hitech Park Authority.

2. Education

Bangladesh is one the exemplary countries who showed outstanding results in Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) implementation. Bangladesh achieved many targets of Millennium Development Goal ahead of time (e.g. Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty, Reduce Child Mortality, Improve Maternal Health etc.) target before time and before 2015 deadline, some of the remaining goals were achieved or were on track. Replacing EFA 2015, World Education Forum (WEF) 2015 in Incheon, Korea declared Education 2030 agenda with the objective “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (UN 2015). As one of the 17 SDGs, this agenda is reflected in SDG 4: Quality Education. Among other targets like health, employment, climate change, production & consumption etc., Education hold a unique position as many of issues which enables other SDGs success are depended on Education.

dRi involved itself in research on education sector since its inception. dRi maintains intellectual relation with several academic institutes and Universities. dRi offers its expertise to national and international organizations to support them by generating knowledge and understanding which will contribute in their initiatives to develop education sector.Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.To assess the quality of education, dRi uses Learning Assessment Tools effectively.

3. Food Security and Nutrition

Food security and adequate nutrition are among the basic needs of every human being. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development proposes a worldwide reexamine on the best way to eradicate poverty and hunger, and draws a line in the sand: poverty and hunger should end within 15 years.Only by aligning their efforts and strengths can countries wipe out the root causes that keep the hungry, food insecure and malnourished, trapped in a vicious circle of chronic deprivation.Hunger and malnutrition lead to various diseases, affects livelihood and is a barrier towards individual productivity.

Although food is a fundamental human right but according to a UN report globally one in nine people are undernourished today which means around 800 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Coping with food insufficiency and nutrition deficiency is becoming even more challenging not only because of insufficient food production, lack of accessibility and availability of food and unstable food supplies but also due to the adverse effects of increasing global climate change. In order to ensure food security and nutrition it is essential to ensure physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all people, at all times to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

dRi is committed to continue the effort of ensuring food security and nutrition through its gentle research.Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.

4. Migration and Human Rights

Lack of human rights-based migration governance at the global, regional and national levels is leading to the routine violation of migrants’ rights in transit, at international borders, and in the countries, they migrate to. This situation is more severe in the case of forced migration which causes refugee situation.

dRi works extensively in refugee situation, trying to fill the knowledge gap to minimize the vulnerability and sufferings of forcibly displace people and refugees. dRi has recently completed a research project called Building Resilience and Improving Learning Outcomes: Assessment, intervention and evaluation of Rohingya Refugee Children Education (April 2019- May 2019). dRi has contributed in total nine studies related to Rohingya issues including Access to Justice (IRC),

UNHCR’S Response to the Rohingya Refugees, the Potential impacts of this Population Influx on the Local Economy at Cox’s Bazar, Vulnerabilities and Social Protection Needs, llivelihood Resilience in Bangladesh, Education, Child Protection, Sexual and Gender Based Violence etc.dRi also works in legal labor migration issues. Currently, dRi is working with ILO in the project titled “Application of Migration Policy for Decent Work of Migrant Workers – Phase II”. Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, Project/program Design,Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.

5. Gender Rights and Violence

Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities of women and men and socially constructed characteristics like norms, values, roles and relationships between women and men and girls and boys which is learnt through socialization process, changeable and varies from society to society. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), violence against children is defined as, all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.

On the other hand violence against women is apparently a global pandemic existing in the forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence such as intimate partner violence, attempt to sexual acts, unwanted sexual comments or verbal abuse, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, child and forced marriage and other types of violence. According to a global survey conducted across four regions about 246 million girls and boys experience school related violence every year.

A recent study indicates that around 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence at some point in their lives and globally more than 700 million women are married below 18 years of age. dRi, with its vision to end all forms of discrimination against women, children and adolescents is continuing its effort through the gentle research.

6. Poverty and Vulnerability

Poverty means reduced or lack of access to material, economic, social, political or cultural resources required fulfilling basic needs and is caused from unemployment, social exclusion, high vulnerability of certain population to disasters and diseases as well as other phenomena which prevent them from being productive. Poverty and vulnerability are not only an issue of lack of income and resources, but also leads to hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion and also lack of participation in decision-making.

According to a UN report about 836 million people still live in extreme poverty struggling to fulfill the most basic needs while many people still risk slipping back into poverty and another 30 million children are growing up poor. However, poverty is not isolated to only rural or urban areas and both rural and urban poverty has the same negative outcomes and unique challenges. With the same tone of sustainable development goals dRi is also committed to put an effort to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions through its gentle research initiative and make sure that poor and vulnerable have equal rights to economic resources, access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services.

Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, vulnerability assessment, Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.

7. Governance and Legal Issues

Governance is the process of authoritative direction and control interacting between the formal institutions and those in the civil society whereas good governance is the process for decision making and implementation. Good governance encompasses transparency, accountability, participation, openness, responsiveness, equitability and the rule of law. Rule of law and development are considered as highly interrelated while judiciary and police are found to be the most affected institutions by corruption worldwide. Solving the legal issues may significantly reduce the prevalence of violence in the society. Similarly promoting and implementing rule of law in the society can ensure justice for all.

It is emphasized to strengthen the national institutions for building capacity by ensuring transparency, accountability and efficacy and promote and enforce effective and equal laws, rules and policies for all to build a just society.Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Developing Framework & Costing for National Action Plan, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation, etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.

8. Child and Youth Development

Healthy child and youth development begin long before birth and is one of the key determinants for health and well-being throughout life. A healthy child is one who thrives through each developmental stage and is positioned to reach his or her potential in adulthood. The capacity for a child to develop in a healthy manner depends greatly on the environment in which he or she is raised. To build a world more suitable for future generations, nations and development organizations have taken various initiatives. dRi offers its expertise to contribute in this effort. Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, vulnerability assessment, Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.

9. Health and Sanitation

Global health situation is observed on a variety of health components such as population, life expectancy, age structure of deaths, leading causes of global deaths, health of infants and small children, health of older children and adolescents and health of adults and older people. Despite significant progress in terms of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, increase in antenatal care and decrease in maternal mortality and diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and malaria, still a strong and continuous effort is essential to reduce the existing diseases and overcome the challenges related to health. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report many of the health indicators are yet to be achieved, for example, every year more than six million children still die before reaching the age of 5 years while maternal mortality rate is high in developing and least developed countries.

Today the world is fighting the challenge to ensure a healthy life and wellbeing for all people at all stages of life through a relentless effort that includes but not limited to reducing maternal mortality ratio, ending preventable deaths of newborn and children under 5 years of age, AIDS and other prevalent water-borne and communicable diseases along with strengthening country’s capacity for reducing health risk, managing health problems and creating health awareness in the community.dRi offers its expertise to contribute in world effort to improve health and sanitation.

Our expertise includes Research Design & Measurement, Feasibility Study, Socio Economic Study, vulnerability assessment, Monitoring & Evaluation, Impact Evaluation etc. employing advanced and contemporary quantitative and qualitative research tools.

10. Data Auditing

Data auditing is the process of reviewing existing data collection arrangements to highlight the problems with the existing system and indicate potential alternative options. Auditing data means looking at key metrics of data other than quantity and/or reviewing the origin, creation or format of data to assess its quality or utility for a specific purpose.

Data auditing helps to identify the factors affecting and assess the challenges associated with the current system. It enables organizations to ensure the end-to-end integrity of data activities, identify and analyze intentional and accidental breaches, monitor and analyze the database activities of any user and keep track of changes and updates made to data.