Dr Meera Tiwari
Reader in International Development
Centre for Social Justice and Change, Social Sciences
Meera Tiwari is Reader in International Development with expertise in multidimensional understandings of poverty, engaging with what works in development and social impact evaluation of development interventions
I am Reader (Associate Professor) in International Development Studies at the University of East London, where I am also the programme leader for the EADI/IAC accredited MSc NGO and Development Management. In January 2019, I was appointed the Co-Deputy Director of ESRC’s UBEL Doctoral Training Programme (https://ubel-dtp.ac.uk/).
My interconnected research interests are multidimensional understandings of poverty, exploring social and economic poverties within the Capability Approach, the Sustainable Development Goals as a discourse for poverty reduction, and how can most vulnerable communities be empowered to access better opportunities in life. My work into examining social and economic problems communities encounter through a human centred approach is founded on my extensive research and fieldwork spread over two decades. I have conducted fieldwork in East London, UK, India, Ethiopia and Tanzania. My book ‘Why some development works’ draws on my research on rural women's collectives (Self-Help Groups) spanning over 10 years since 2009 in rural Bihar, India along with case studies from other countries where I have conducted research. The manuscript proposal for this monograph was awarded the CROP Poverty prize in 2016.
I have also conducted research for social impact evaluations of state supported programmes on poverty reduction and livelihoods as well as of grassroots interventions by NGOs in India, Lebanon and Brazil in various domains of development. In 2017-2018 I examined the impact of alcohol prohibition policy in Bihar on rural households since 2016. My research project on the role of dignity in improving Menstrual Health in Rural India supported by UEL's Global Research Challenge Funding, is now in its second phase. A cofounded ESRC studentship with the NGO GlobalOne has been awarded to me to take forward the research in the context of UK, India, Jordan and Bangladesh starting October 1, 2021.
I have to date supervised six Ph.D. students to successful completions and examined five Ph.Ds. I am currently the DoS for two Ph.D. students one of whom is an ESRC funded studentship and second supervisor to two other students one of whom is also ESRC funded.
Fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association, 2020-2025
Visiting Professorship: Development Management Institute, Patna, India (2018-)
Board of Trustees: Child Reach International (2011-2017), Sanirights (2015-2018)
Co-convener of thematic groups, council member and currently an active member of (2004-):
- Development Studies Association (DSA) Council Member, November 2008 – 2014
- European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2005 –
- Lead for the MSC NGO EADI/IAC Accreditation: Securing the prestigious EADI/IAC accreditation award for the MSc NGO at UEL in 2017 (https://www.eadi.org/accreditation/)
- Multidimensional Poverty Group EADI, (2003 –2018)
- Sustainable Human Development Study Group of Human Development and the Capability Association (HDCA) 2008 -2016
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences
- UKIERI Project (2012-2016) with ongoing academic work with colleagues
- Development Management Institute, Patna, India (2018-)
- JKLU University, Jaipur, India (2017-)
- Bahir Dar University, Amhara, Ethiopia (2019)
- Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia ((2012, 2019)
- and the University of Nottingham in Malaysia (2014.
- 2012/2013 European Commission, EuropeAid
- United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2013, Geneva
- Panellist, Harvard University: MDGs, Human Rights, 2010.
- Open University (2013-2018)
- University of Bath (2015-2018).
- World Development
- European Journal for Development Research
- Development and Practice
- Journal of Human Development and Capabilities
- Zed Books
- Practical Action.
My research is underpinned by the multidimensional understanding of poverty within the Capability Approach in both southern and northern contexts. I have engaged with extending the boundaries of individual agency to collective agency through my research at the grassroots in rural Bihar and deprived communities in East and South London.
I have conducted primary research to study the User Perspective of Information and Communication Technologies in Rural India (Madhya Pradesh and Bihar). Three of my journal articles are based on the data from this research. I applied the Poverty and Social Impact Assessment (PSIA) and Outcome Mapping tools to Livelihoods Policy frameworks to study the impact on poverty reduction in the state of Bihar in India (2009 – 2013). In 2015 I led the team to carry out a social impact evaluation of 'Save the Girl Child Project' run by the NGO Childreach International in India using mixed methods tools. I have been part of the team that carried out the
My research in rural Ethiopia and Tanzania was focussed on understanding why some individuals, communities and grassroots organisation have progressed more than their counterparts. Recently I completed a UKIERI (UK India Education and Research Initiative) funded project (2012-14) on exploring good practice in overcoming deprivation in East London and Mumbai with Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. My collaborative project with CFF (Crops for the Future), University of Nottingham in Malaysia (2014) was on Underutilised Crops and Livelihoods.
Findings from my research in the different regions and domains of development is shaping my current work for the monograph on ‘why some development works’.
My areas of research and expertise include:
- Multidimensional understanding of poverty and a bottom-up approach to development within the Capability Approach in both southern (developing countries) and northern (developed countries) contexts
- Extending the boundaries of individual agency to collective agency through my research at the grassroots in rural Bihar and deprived communities in East and South London.
Empowerment of individuals and communities using collective agency.
- Use of street theatre as a data collection tool
- The role of dignity in improving menstrual health – dignity indicators for improving menstrual health (DI-IMH)
- Relevance of the SDGs to the community organisations and NGOs
- Capacity building of community organisations
- CPD short courses on working for charities and community organisations
- Social Impact Evaluation: In 2015 I led the team to carry out a social impact evaluation of 'Save the Girl Child Project' run by the NGO Childreach International in India using mixed methods tools and Most Significant Change (MSC) Methodology
- Poverty and Social Impact Assessment (PSIA) and Outcome Mapping tools to Livelihoods Policy frameworks to study the impact on poverty reduction in the state of Bihar in India (2009 – 2013)
- My research in rural Ethiopia and Tanzania was focussed on understanding why some individuals, communities and grassroots organisation have progressed more than their counterparts
My research into collective agency of rural women in India (2009-2019), led to mandatory signature literacy policy in the network JeeVika with over 1 million members in rural Bihar. This is one of the impact case studies submitted in UEL’s REF 21 submission.
I innovatively deployed street theatre as a data collection tool in my research into dignity and menstrual health (MH) in rural India in 2018.This resulted in the formation of girls’ street-theatre that has already performed on MH narratives in over 12 villages.
Adoption of dignity indicators for improving MH (DI-IMH), is a key output of this research. This was slowed because of the pandemic, but currently being reactivated through an ESRC cofounded studentship with GlobalOne.
My research on Sustainable Development Goals has influenced UEL’s participation (2020, 2021) in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, that assess universities against the UN’s Global Goals.
Selected Public Engagement Activities:
Dissemination workshop ‘Dignity and Menstrual Health’ to policy makers and other stakeholders:
UEL, (2019, 2020 via teams
Series of Active Citizens workshops at UEL culminating into the final event at UEL (2016),
UKIERI funded (2013-17) ‘Good practice in overcoming urban deprivations’ project in Mumbai and London where stakeholders ATD Fourth World, Osmani Trust, SAHER, participated through meetings and a set of 3 briefing papers.
Decision makers in Bihar between 2009-2013 that led to policy change.
Conference papers (2010-):
2020: UEL Research E-Conference July 31via MS, Teams: Panel on Global Challenges: Connecting Contexts
2020: Covid-19 and the global intensification of inequalities: An e-symposium, Chair and presenter
2020: What has Dignity got to do with Menstrual Health? paper presented at the Human Development and Capability Association E-Conference, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand, June 30-July 2, 2020
2020: Researching the Sustainable Development Goals for real-world impact: UEL work on SDGs - in London boroughs, menstrual health, E-Workshop, March 27
2019: Research Dissemination workshop with stakeholders – Policymakers and NGOs DMI, Patna, India, November 4-8
2019: ‘Leave no-one behind’: capabilities and functionings of the two poorest boroughs of London in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, paper presented at the Human Development and Capability Association Conference, Institute of Education, UCL, London, September 9-11, 2019
2019: Research Capacity Building Workshop for Academics, June, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia
2018: Understanding the role of women's collectives in curbing alcoholism in rural India: a mixed-methods inquiry, paper presented at the International Workshop on Poverty, Inequality Dynamics, and Economic Development: Tensions and Trade-offs in Mixed Methods Research, Kings College London, 6-7 September 2018
2018: Alcoholism in rural Bihar: prohibition policy and women's collectives, presented at the panel on ‘Gender Inequalities in South Asia, Development Studies Association Annual Conference, Manchester University, 27-29 June 2018
2017: The role of women's collectives in curbing alcoholism in rural India, paper presented at the HDCA Conference: Challenging Inequalities: Human Development and Social Change, 6-8 September 2017, Cape Town, South Africa
2017: Invisible workers of India's financial capital, paper accepted and to be presented at the EADI Conference: Globalisation at the Cross Roads –Rethinking Inequalities and Boundaries, 20-23 August, Bergen, Norway, 2017
2016: Theorising Active Citizen, paper presented at the Development Studies Association annual conference, Oxford University, Oxford, Sep 14, 2016
2016: Revisiting the 'Missing Girls' in Haryana, India, paper presented at the Human Development and Capability Association Conference, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, September 1-3, 2016
2016: Rural girl child poverty in different contexts: understandings from Ghana and North India, paper presented at the UNICEF workshop on Child Poverty and Social Protection in Western Africa, Abuja, Nigeria, May 22-26, 2016
2016: Missing girls in Haryana, India: mixed methods evaluation, Seminar at Centre for Development Impact, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich
April 20, 2016
2016: Theorising Active Citizens, presentation at the Global Cities Research Network
Workshop 2: The university and the city, The American University in Cairo, 4-5 April 2016
2015: Exploring good practice in overcoming urban deprivation London and Mumbai, paper presented at the Global Cities Network Workshop, Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai, September 2015
2015: Capabilities and aspirations of the middle classes in India: what does this mean for sustainable development? paper presented at the HDCA annual conference on 'Capabilities on the Move: Mobility and Aspirations', Georgetown University, Washington DC
2015: Sanitation Outcomes in Bihar, paper presented in the panel 'Should the SDGs break away from the 'silo approach' of the MDGs?' I organised at the DSA annual conference at the University of Bath, September 2015
2015: Understanding, measuring and overcoming insecurity in post-1992 Mumbai, India, paper presented in the panel on 'Exploring 'human security': going beyond safety to well-being' at the British Association of South Asian Studies on 'Securitisation of South Asia' University of Portsmouth, 5-6 April 2015
2014: Deprivation, poverty and wellbeing in South Asia: New methodologies and new evidence, panel chair and co-convener, Understanding, measuring and overcoming urban deprivation in Mumbai, India, paper presented at the DSA annual conference, Nov 1, 2014, IoE, London
2014: The Middle Classes and urban poverty in Mumbai, paper presented at the EADI conference on Responsible Development in a Polycentric World, Inequality, Citizenship, and the Middle Classes, 23-26 June 2014, Bonn
2014: Living with Cuts: Policy, politics, and everyday lives in the recession conference on May 30, British Library. Discussant for the panel on Reframing the future with Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago: Austerity and the fate of the humanities Michael Rustin, UEL and Tavistock Centre: ‘Living with the cuts - or not’
2014: 'Understanding and measuring urban deprivation in London' paper presented at the Measuring Human Development and Capabilities in High-Income Countries conference, Roma Tre University, April 14 -15, 2014
2013: Understanding urban deprivation: wrestling with access, conference paper at the DSA annual conference, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, Nov 16, 2013
2013: UKIERI workshop on urban deprivation, October 25-26, 2013, Mumbai, India
2013: Invited Moderator in the High-level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Tuesday, 2 July 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
2013: Invited speaker at the National Seminar on "Youth Unemployment in India: Dimensions, Challenges & Strategies", Patna 18-19 May 2013, Patna
2013: Invited panel speaker on ‘The MDGs and the changing language of the Development Discourse’ Results UK, April 19, London
2012: Understanding Urban Deprivation: a northern perspective using case studies from East and South London, (with S.P. Saqqa) paper presented at the DSA annual conference panel on Poverty dynamics and social mobility: new insights and understandings, November 2, London
2012: Invited speaker at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai on Traversing Bihar: ‘The Politics of Social Justice and Development’, July 5-6, 2012
2012: Guest lecture at the Hawassa University, ‘The post-2015 Development Agenda’, April 18, Hawassa, Ethiopia
2012: Panel speaker, on ‘Extending Socio-Economic and Political roles of Women’ at the ‘Global Summit on Changing Bihar: Forging Partnerships for Development’, 17-19 February, Patna, India
2011: What should the post-2015 development agenda look like? Paper presented as the key invited panel speaker at the International Workshop on ‘The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond: Reflections on an International Development Policy Agenda after 2015’, Bonn, Germany, 21-23 November 2011
2011: Invited participant for the workshop on the European Report on Development 2012/2013 by the European Commission, EuropeAid Development and Cooperation Directorate-General, Policy Formulation, Brussels on September 29th, 2011
2011: Panel co-organizer and Chair for Multidimensional Poverty Group at the EADI-DSA conference on Rethinking Development in an Age of Scarcity and Uncertainty
2011: Co-Panel organizer - Rethinking Capabilities: Sustainability and Social Innovation at the HDCA conference September Exploring the role of Capabilities in Social Innovation, paper presented at the conference
2011: Key speaker in the public debate on ‘The Next Chapter in Development - Goals for 2016 and Beyond’ organised by UCL Institute for Global Health, University College London, Thursday 21st July 7-9 pm, Free World Centre, London EC1
2010: Research Strategy for ICT for Development: roundtable discussion, Bangalore, India, 12-14 January - invited key panel speaker
2010: Panel organizer - Conceptualizing Sustainable Human Development from a Capability Perspective at the HDCA conference September 21-23, Amman, ‘Sustainable Human Development at grassroots – different contexts, similar ingredients?’ Paper presented at the conference.
2010: Co-Panel organizer at the DSA, conference, November 5, London, 'Rights, Capabilities and Wellbeing: Poverty and the Ethical Lens after the MDGs' ‘In search of models for Social Inclusion in India: case studies in rural and urban Bihar’ Paper presented at the conference’.
2010: Can the Human Development Approach Improve the Development Outcomes? Paper presented at ‘Twenty Years of Human Development, The past and the Future of the Human Development Index’ 28-29 January, St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge, UK
2010: Panel speaker at the International Symposium at Harvard University: The MDGs and Human Rights on 22-23 March 2010.
Books and Book Chapters
2014: Capability Approach: From Theory to Practice, (co-edited with Solava Ibrahim), Palgrave,
2014: In search of models for Social Inclusion in India: case studies in rural and urban Bihar, chapter in ‘Traversing Bihar: The Politics of Development and Social Justice’, Black Swan,
2009: Does FDI reduce poverty? The Indian cases, Chapter in TNC and Development Policy, Critical Perspectives (Eds) Rugraff, E, Sánchez-Ancochea, D and Sumner A., Palgrave.
2009: After 2015: Growth, Governance And Globalisation, International Development Policy at a Crossroads – joint with A. Sumner, Palgrave
Journal Articles/conversation piece
2020: Why India should train village health providers to fight coronavirus, The Conversation, September, 2020, https://theconversation.com/why-india-should-train-village-health-providers-to-fight-coronavirus-144376
2019: Bordering’ life: denying the right to live before being born, Third World Thematics, Vol 4(4/5), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23802014.2019.1682947
Tiwari, M (2017), Exploring the Role of Capabilities in Social Innovation, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities. 2017, Vol. 18 (2), 181-196
Tiwari, M (2015), Looking back to move forward: The MDGs and the road to post 2015', Introduction to the Journal of International Development special issue on reflections on the post 2015 debate', (2015),
Tiwari, M (2013), ‘Poverty in reality: what works on the ground?’ chapter in Development Co-operation Report 2013‘ Getting to zero on poverty: what should the international community do?’
Tiwari, M (2013), The global financial crisis and self-help groups in rural India: are there lessons from their micro savings model?, Development In Practice, Vol 23(2), pp. 278-291
Tiwari, M (2012), Re-Positioning Poverty: MICs, Measures and Methods, Introduction to the Journal of International Development 2011 Conference Issue, Vol 24(6) with Geof Wood as Guest Editors
Tiwari, M (2012), Sustainable Human Development at the Grassroots: Different Contexts, Similar Ingredients? (with S. Ibrahim), Oxford Development Studies, Vol 40(1), pp. 69-86
Tiwari, M (2011) Global Poverty Reduction to 2015 and Beyond, Global Policy, (with A. Sumner) Vol 2 (2), pp. 138-151
Tiwari, M (2010), ‘Didi’ of Rural Bihar: the real agent of change?, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XLV (33), pp. 27-30
Tiwari, M (2009), Meaning of wellbeing: a grassroots level perspective – how much of it is visible to the researchers? Social Indicators Research, Vol 90 (1), pp. 127-140
Tiwari, M (2009), After 2015: What Are The Ingredients Of An MDG Plus Agenda For Poverty Reduction? (joint with Sumner, A), Journal of International Development, Autumn Vol 21(6), pp. 834 – 843
Tiwari, M (2008), ICTs in Rural India: User perspective study of two different models in rural Madhya Pradesh and rural Bihar, India Science, Technology and Society, Vol 13 (2), pp. 233-258
Tiwari, M (2008), ICTs and Poverty Reduction: User perspective study of rural Madhya Pradesh, India European Journal for Development Research, Vol 20 (3), pp. 448-461
Tiwari, M (2007), Chronic Poverty and Entitlement Theory, Third World Quarterly, Vol 28(1), pp. 171-191
Tiwari, M (2006), An Overview of growth in the ICT sector in India: can this growth be pro-poor? In The World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development. Vol 3(4), pp. 298-315
Tiwari, M (2005), Poverty and economic policy: what happens when researchers disagree? Journal of International Development, Vol 17 (6), pp. 791-801. (Joint with A. Sumner)
Tiwari, M., Kraft, K., and Pickering-Saqqa, S. (2017),Lessons Learned Evaluation, Childreach International and Instituto Fazendo Historia, Sao Paulo,Brazil
Tiwari, M., Kraft, K., and Pickering-Saqqa, S. (2016), Lessons Learned Evaluation: True Vine School, in collaboration with Merath (LSESD), Lebanon
Tiwari, M., Kraft, K., and Pickering-Saqqa, S. (2015), Save the Girl Child Evaluation Report, written for Childreach International and Childreach India
Tiwari, M (2013), ‘Poverty in reality: what works on the ground?’ chapter in Development Co-operation Report 2013 ‘Getting to zero on poverty: what should the international community do?’
- Newton Funding (2017) seed money for research capacity building in the third sector in India and pilot for impact evaluation of alcohol prohibition policy in Bihar, India
- Civic Engagement, UEL (2016)
- Active Citizens, British Council, 2015
- Exploring good practice in urban Social Cohesion in India and the UK – UKIERI Grant, June 2012- December 2014
- Poverty and Social Impact analysis of Rural Livelihoods Programme in Bihar – Phase 3, funded by the University of East London, February – July 2013,
- Poverty and Social Impact Analysis of Rural Livelihoods Programme in Bihar – Phase 2, funded by the University of East London, February – July 2011,
- Poverty and Social Impact analysis of Rural Livelihoods Programme in Bihar, India. This was funded by a small ESRC-ICSSR grant to conduct the pilot for the Bihar component of the larger project, February – July, 2009
- Can ICTs be Drivers of Growth for the rural poor - a case study of India: fieldwork at Dhar and Madhubani districts of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, February – June, 2007, University of East London
- Multidimensional poverty
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Poverty Reduction
- Role of women’s collectives in addressing social and economic poverty
- Capacity building
- Poverty and social impacts of rural livelihood
- Impact evaluations of policy interventions
- The Capability Approach and its practical applications
AI7201: Development Management in the International Context:
AI7202: Project and Programme Design: lecture contributions
AI7400: dissertation supervision (PG)
AI4201: Introduction to International Development: Lecture contributions
AI5201: Theories of Development and Globalisation: Co-Module Leader
AI5202: Inequalities, Livelihoods and Sustainability: lecture contribution
AI5203: Planning and Fundraising: Co-teaching
AI6200: Dissertation supervision