Eliminating extreme poverty depends critically on creating sustainable livelihoods for the economically active ultra-poor: households which are landless and primarily rely on casual work for their livelihood. The success of a “graduation approach” in a number of countries has made it a critical tool in social protection schemes. More than 40 countries are now implementing different versions of this model, at various scales. This approach was forged by the world’s largest non-governmental organization (NGO), the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (Brac), and is implemented at a small scale by various NGOs in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Jharkhand.
Less direct, more circuitous approaches to helping the poor could have a much bigger impact.
This model follows a strict set of targeting criteria to reach the ultra-poor and provides time-bound support that usually lasts between 18-24 months.
- First, food or money is given to the poor to ease the stress of daily survival.
- Second, beneficiaries are encouraged to start savings.
- Third, they are provided with livestock or other income-generating assets. Following this, there is training provided in both technical skills and life skills.
- Finally, beneficiaries are provided with health support.