Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University:

The Lund Institute of Economic Research

Postal address: Nationalekonomiska institutionen, Ekonomihögskolan,
P O Box 7082, S-220 02 Lund, Sweden
Visiting address: Tycho Brahes Väg 1, Lund
Web page: http://www.nek.lu.se/eng.htm

Projects/Courses/PhD studies on or related to South Asia:

The Department of Economics in Lund offers several courses on development economics in general, and specific courses such as gender equality and development, and environment in poor countries where the problems of South Asian countries are highlighted by Dr. Alia Ahmad. The department has also over the years produced a number of master's and undergraduate thesises including MFS (financed by Sida) on South Asian countries – Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
Alia Ahmad is closely involved with the development of the Masters programme in Asian Studies, established at Lund University in 2003, and she is regularly teaching at the courses. More information on the Masters Programme.

South Asia related research at the department

The Department of economics at Lund University offers no specific programme/seminar on South Asia, but through Alia Ahmad it nevertheless maintains a strong profile in South Asian Studies. Her research has mainly concentrated on the problems of a low income, labour surplus economy like Bangladesh.

AliaAssociate Professor Alia Ahmad has a research interest in Development economics, specialising in population, gender and environmental issues; agriculture and rural development; small industries and the informal sector in Asian countries: social capital, institutions and common-pool resources. She has been involved in research on other South and Southeast Asian countries as well, besides writing two reports on Sri Lanka for the Swedish International Decvelopment Agency, Sida – concerning institutional reforms and private sector development, and also about regional inequality. Ahmad has also previously worked for the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies, NIAS, on institutional problems related to the management of groundwater in Vietnam.
Dr. Ahmed retired in 2009. See also her personal homepage

• In January 2002 Alia Ahmad received SEK 125 000 as a SASNET planning grant for networking on a research programme on ”State, Community and Resources”, along with Neelambar Hatti, Dept. of Economic History; and Pernille Gooch, Human Ecology Division, Lund University. The aim of the programme was to develop methodologies for research on institutional problems related to common-pool resources in Asia. The main activity consisted of organising a workshop on common-pool resources (CPR) in South Asia, inviting renowned scholars from India, Bangladesh and Nepal. A Workshop on CPR and institutions in South Asia was successfully held in Mysore, India, 27–29 August 2002.

Bangladesh• Alia Ahmad is involved in a research project on ”Community Management of Openwater Inland Fisheries – A comparative study of cases from Bangladesh and India”. It is a project born out of the larger programme on ”State, Community and Resources”. It was given SEK 75 000 as a SASNET planning grant in January 2003.
In December 2003 the project got a boost with a three-years (2004-06) Swedish Research Links grant (SEK 330 000) from Sida and the Swedish Research Council. See full list of Swedish Research Links grants for the period 2004-06.
Project abstract: Openwater inland fisheries specific management problems due to their common-pool resource characteristics. In recent years, several NGOs and state initiatives in India and Bangladesh are experimenting with community institutions in the fisheris sector for meeting goals of efficiency, equity and sustainability. This study aims  1. to find out how far the new institutions have ensued successful collective action among the poor, have received reduced poverty and achieved gender equity; and 2. to explore  the factors behind their success or failure. Departing from current literature on common-pool resource management, social capital and collective action, the study is based on primary data from Tawa Matsya Sangha (TMS) project in Madhya Pradesh, India, and Community-based Management of Fisheries supported by local NGOs and International organizations  (the WorldFish Center, DFID) in Bangladesh. The study will contribute to knowledge on the interaction of traditional and new institutions supported by external forces, and community´s ability to manage local resources through collective actionand gender equity. Cooperation among researchers will focus on conceptual/methodological and collection/analysis of data.

As a result of this research project, a three-days closed workshop on "Community Management of Openwater Inland Fisheries in Bangladesh and India" will be held at the Department of Economics, Lund University on 14–17 March 2007. The participants to the conference include Mr. Muzaffar Ahmed and Dr. Nurul Islam from WorldFish Center in Bangladesh; Dr. Kazi Ali Toufique from the Bangladesh Institute for Development Studies, BIDS, in Dhaka (currently living in Germany); and Prof. R. Parthasarathy, Gujarat Institute of Development Research in Gota, Ahmedabad, India. Besides Dr. Alia Ahmad who organises the workshop, the Lund University representatives are Dr. Ellen Hillblom from the Dept. of Economic History, Iftekharul Haque, student at the Masters Programme in South Asian Studies, and Prof. Staffan Lindberg from the Dept. of Sociology (also SASNET’s Director). Dr. Muhammad Rab, also representing the WorldFish Center but currently living in USA, was also supposed to participate but had to cancel his visit to Sweden in the last minute.
In connection with the workshop, SASNET organises a public seminar about fish production and aquaculture in India and Bangladesh in Lund on Thursday 15 March 2007. Prof. R. Parthasarathy from India and Dr. Kazi Ali Toufique from Bangladesh participate in this seminar (seen on the photo to the right, along with Alia Ahmad). Dr. Kazi Ali Toufique will talk about ”Floodplain Aquaculture in Bangladesh: A case of Enchantment or Disenchantment?", and Prof. R. Parthasarathy about ”Governance Issues in Natural Resources Management: The case of Fisheries in India”. The seminar was organised in collaboration with the Dept. of Economics, and was also part of a Spring 2007 SASNET lectures series intended for the Lund University Masters students in Asian Studies as part of their training.

In August 2008, Dr. Ahmad was awarded a SASNET planning grant to organise a workshop titled ”Designing action research on the development of inland fisheries for poverty alleviation in Bangladesh” to be carried out in collaboration with BRAC, the largest non-governmental organization in Bangladesh. The workshop will be held at BRAC’s office in Dhaka 16–19 October 2008. The main collaboration partners are Dr. Zarina Nahar Kabir from the Dept. of Clinical Neuroscience, Occupational Therapy and Elderly Care Research (Neurotec), Karolinska Institutet Medical University in Stockholm; and Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director for BRAC, trained in development economics in the University of Cambridge, UK.
More information about the 2008 SASNET planning grants. new
The purpose behind the workshop is to assist BRAC in innovating collective action in economic spheres in order to enhance/accelerate poverty reduction through inland fisheries development. It will draw lessons from previous international research and cooperation with South Asian countries regarding community based management of inland fisheries for poverty reduction. The workshop will concentrate on specific issues like identification of economic functions that the poor fisher groups in Bangladesh can undertake in order to enhance productivity and profitability of inland fisheries; evaluation of financial, managerial, institutional, social and physical/environmental feasibility of action research in this area; designing a strategy and concrete plan for intervention by BRAC. The participants will be invited from different organizations in Bangladesh with qualification and experience in multifaceted development. 
The overall purpose of the workshop is to further strengthen research cooperation among researchers of South Asia and Swedish universities, a process that was initiated in 2002. Dr. Ahmad and her colleagues at that time started with a specific theme, namely community based management of inland fisheries and now they would like to continue this in order to make an impact on poverty in Bangladesh. Since they consider that poverty reduction goal can be achieved more effectively through action research, and NGOs (especially BRAC) have been playing an active role in Bangladesh both in the practice of development and in empirical research, the researchers consider BRAC’s initiative in community fisheries development for poverty reduction as promising.

SASNET seminar 18 April 2006
Seminar in Lund on Tuesday 18 April 2006. From left to right: Dr. Chandrabose, Alia Ahmad and Sirimevan S. Colombage.

• The department is also involved in an Indo-Swedish research project on ”Microfinance and Poverty Reduction in the Rural Sector: A Case Study of Sri Lanka”, in collaboration with Prof. Sirimevan S. Colombage (an eminent economist specialised in macro-economic processes in Sri Lanka) and Dr. Chandrabose (regional economist specialised in the tea plantation economy), both from the Dept. of Social Sciences, Open University, Nawala, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka. In November 2002 this project, through Alia Ahmad, was given a Swedish Research Links (Asian–Swedish research partnership programme) grant on 550 000 SEK for three years (2003-05) by Sida and the Swedish Research Council. Due to the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka hard in December 2004 the project was given an extension with one year, and will now be completed in the end of 2006. More information.
Project abstract: The objective is to investigate the effectiveness of microfinance in poverty reduction in the rural sector of Sri Lanka. Using pluralist approaches of sample surveys and participatory methods, it will examine how microfinance arrangements help to deal with complex issues of information asymmetry and high transaction costs. Quantitative and qualitative investigations will be carried out in the selected villages of two economically deprived districts. Data will be collected at three levels; household, organization, and community. Longitudinal methods will be used to ascertain poverty dynamics. The study will make a significant contribution in evaluating how far microfinance has helped the poor to augment productivity, output, employment and incomes and thereby to uplift their living standards. The Sri Lankan team have conducted the study with analytical and empirical inputs from the principal researcher in Sweden.
Prof. Colombage and Dr. Chandrabose visited Lund University in the middle of April 2006, and SASNET organised a lecture with them on Tuesday 18 April. They then presented their findings from the research project for masters and doctoral students from the Centre for East- and South-East Asian Studies and the Dept. of Economics, Lund University.

• In August 2003 Alia Ahmad was awarded 45 000 SEK as a SASNET planning grant for a research project on ”Institutional Reforms in the Health Sector of Bangladesh and India”. See the full list of planning grants distributed in August 2003.
In November 2004 she was awarded a major two-years (2005-06) grant from Sida/SAREC for the same project, now renamed: ”Institutional problems in the primary healthcare sector in Bangladesh”. More information.
The project is carried out in cooperation with Associate Professor Neelambar Hatti, Dept. of Economic History, Lund University, and researchers at ISEC, Institute for Economic and Social Change, Bangalore, India (led by Dr. T V Sekher), as well as at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, Dhaka.
Project abstract:
In spite of some improvements in the health status of the population in recent years, Bangladesh faces severe health problems due to poor quality of primary healthcare and its unequal access.It is often assumed that the lack of resources, both public and private is the main reason. We argue that there is a problem of institutions as well that leads to misallocation of limited resources and underutilization of the existing facilities.The proposed research aims to  carry out an in-depth analysis of the institutional problems related to service provision in primary healthcare of Bangladesh together with a comparison with Karnataka, India as a successful case. Specifically,  it will focus on 1. decentralization of government functions in primary healthcare; 2. partnership between the government and the not-for-profit NGO sector; and 3. the role of the community especially women in ensuring efficient service delivery. Quantitative and qualitative data will be used.

In November 2006, Alia Ahmad received SEK 450 000 as a from Sida's Developing Country Research Council (U-landsforskningsrådet) for a new research project titled ”The Civil Society and Service Provision in the Health and Education Sector: A Comparative Study of West Bengal, India and Bangladesh”. More information about South Asia related Sida grants 2006.

Rita Afsar• Finally Associate Professor Alia Ahmad (photo to the right) is also, since 2002, involved in a research project on ”Social Capital, Collective Action and NGOs in Bangladesh”, about the role of non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) in promoting social capital/collective action and poverty reduction in six villages of Bangladesh (as a component of DFID-financed project on Livelihood strategies in rural Bangladesh). The project is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Rita Afsar, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Dr. Mahabub Hossain, the International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines. The research includes micro-level studies on social capital, never done before in Bangladesh in spite of numerous previous studies of NGO’s.
Ahmad and Afsar convened a panel on the subject, called ”Rural Livelihood and Social Capital: The Case of Bangladesh and South Asia” at the 18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, held 6–9 July 2004 in Lund, Sweden. Read the panel abstract.

The Research fellow and lecturer Therése Hindman Persson presented her doctoral thesis on 13 April, 2002. Her PhD project was called ”Economic Analyses of Drinking Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries”, and was primarily based on research in Bangladesh. The project is carried out in cooperation with researchers from the International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines, and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, Dhaka. See abstract of the thesis.

Therése Hindman Persson has focused on research on natural resources, the environment, health and development, and she runs a post-doc project called ”The Impact of Environmental Agreements on Trade and Growth”. The research is performed with financial support from the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSFR), the Crafoord Foundation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Foundation for Advancement of Economic Research at Lund University.

Since 2003 she is working for ECON, Center for Economic Analyses, a Norwegian economic knowledge-based firm, at their office in Stockholm. More information on ECON.

The Lund Institute of Economic Research

Within the framework of Lund Institute of Economic Research – the research division of the School of Economics and Management – Alia Ahmad and Therese Hindman Persson are involved with a research programme on ”Sweden and the World Economy”.
Head of this programme is Göte Hansson, Professor of International Economics (as well as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Lund University).

Description of the programme: International economics and development economics have a long tradition within the Department of Economics at the School of Economics and Management. The ”Sweden and the world economy programme”continues this tradition. It can be divided into two sub-programs: ”Internationalization and the Swedish Economy” and ”Sweden and Developing Countries”. Even though the individual projects within both sub-programmes frequently have their basis in Swedish issues, more general or theory-oriented issues are also analyzed within the two sub-programmes.

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Last updated 2010-11-22