Learning from life story collection and analysis with children who work in the leather sector in Bangladesh

In 2021 in Bangladesh, we collected 405 life stories from children living in Hazaribagh, Hemayetpur, Lalbagh, and Bhairab in Dhaka, with more than one hundred of these stories collected by children themselves. Following the story collection and transcription, children were supported by the CLARISSA implementation team to collectively analyse the stories through identifying critical ‘factors’ (events which have causes and consequences) and understanding how they causally relate to each other. The analysis of the 405 life stories resulted in the development of large system maps that illustrate all the causal dynamics that underpin lived experiences of worst forms of child labour (WFCL). Based on the systemic analysis process the children identified themes of the PAR to be set up in their localities.

Our experience with the life story collection and analysis (LSC&A) methodology is the first in the context of children in WFCL. The methodology has been used in one other project in Bangladesh to date. We therefore intentionally aimed to learn from the implementation process and to evaluate if and how the telling of, listening to, collecting and analysing of life stories is empowering and in turn whether it leads to increased ownership of the problems which motivates collective action (Burns, 2021). In this learning note we share our methodological learning and reflect on operational implications for designing and facilitating an LSC&A process with children which we hope will support adaptation and use of the methodology by others working in participatory programming with children.


Sayem, M.; Paul, S.; Apgar, M. and Snijder, M. (2022) Learning from life story collection and analysis with children who work in the leather sector in Bangladesh, CLARISSA Learning Note 1, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI:

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July 19, 2022
Article type:
July 2022
Institute of Development Studies
Mashrique Sayem, Sukanta Paul, Marina Apgar & Mieke Snijder