Can an intensive package of support lift the ultra poor out of extreme poverty to a more stable state? This 24-month program provides beneficiaries with a holistic set of services including: livelihood trainings, productive asset transfers, consumption support, savings plans, and healthcare. By investing in this multifaceted approach, the program strives to eliminate the need for long-term safety net services. Spanning seven countries on three continents, the Ultra Poor Graduation program is being piloted around the globe. IPA is conducting randomized evaluations in India , Pakistan , Honduras , Peru , Ethiopia , Yemen , and Ghana  to understand the impact of this innovative model.
Governments have often attempted to address the needs of the ultra poor by offering consumption support that is costly and offers no clear pathway out of food insecurity. The Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots attempt to apply a model, developed by BRAC in Bangladesh, which recognizes that the ultra poor need the "breathing space" that is provided by temporary consumption support, but that public funds may be better used to build households’ capacities to maintain a sustainable livelihood. The idea is that this initial assistance, lasting two years, will place households securely on the first rung of the development ladder, which they can then climb with the help of appropriate development strategies. The model incorporates a comprehensive package of services: a productive asset (such as chickens or goats), consumption support, livelihood trainings, healthcare, and financial services.Ideally this wide set of support services will help households to weather any shocks they may face along during their climb out of ultra poverty.
This project is a part of a set of evaluations, in partnership with CGAP and the Ford Foundation, that intends to determine whether the model, pioneered in Bangladesh, is effective in a range of contexts.
The study takes place in rural communities of the Canas and Acomayo provinces in the Department of Cusco, Peru. To assist ultra poor households with young children in the region, Juntos, a government-run conditional cash transfer program, provides families with a monthly stipend. Arariwa and Plan, the project partners, are implementing the Graduation Model in concert with the Juntos program.
The project team will use a Participatory Wealth Ranking (PWR) to target the ultra poor in the chosen provinces. As overlap is expected between the Ultra Poor Graduation project beneficiaries and Juntos beneficiaries, the project will provide a nine-month cash stipend equivalent to US$35 to those not already receiving it from Juntos.
This program will then build on the base of the Juntos program by providing all beneficiary households with a productive asset, which over two years, they will be trained to manage. During this time period, beneficiaries will be monitored with weekly visits intended to contribute to the holistic development of the family's economic potential. A microfinance promoter will also encourage beneficiaries to save in group mechanisms. At the end of the two year period, Arariwa will offer microcredit products to the beneficiary families that demonstrate characteristics of reliable clients.
In total, 80 communities will participate in the study. Three groups will be defined within these communities:
(A) Treatment households: an average of 20 treatment households will be selected in each of 40 treatment communities.
(B) Neighbors: an average of 20 comparison households will be selected from each of the same 40 treatment communities, for comparison against their neighbors who received the treatment.
(C) Comparison households: an average of 20 comparison households will be selected in each of 40 comparison communities.
The impact of the program can be assessed by comparing groups A and B or by comparing groups A and C. The two comparisons will give different answers if spillover effects are present.
For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here .