September 23, 2014
IPA has been evaluating livelihood programs for the extreme poor for the past seven years. We’ve even run one ourselves. The CGAP-Ford graduation pilots were all adaptations of BRAC’s Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction-Targeting the Ultra Poor program (CFPR-TUP). Until now, to learn how to implement a graduation program you had to go to Bangladesh and learn directly from BRAC. That’s still a good idea, actually, but now there’s a new tool in the kit. The first edition of the Technical Guide to the Graduation Approach, written by Aude de Montesquiou and Tony Sheldon, with Frank DeGiovanni and Syed Hashemi, has been released and it’s excellent. 
The guide walks through the basic steps in designing a graduation program (graduation here refers to graduation from extreme poverty into 'sustainable livelihoods'). And it does what no one field visit can accomplish – it distills lessons learned from ten pilots in eight countries as they adapted the program to suit local contexts and helps new implementers avoid mistakes (e.g., goats on the loose create animosity toward the program when they eat neighbors’ gardens). An update to the guide will be released next year with input from more programs as they scale.
And the research? The final data is coming in this year and we’ll have full results in 2015.
Nathanael Goldberg is IPA's Program Director for Social Protection