Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in Honduras

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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue:<--break->
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. 
 
Context:
As the second poorest country in Central America, Honduras suffers from a disparate distribution of wealth with about 60% of its population living below the poverty line[1]. The economy is centered around exports such as bananas and coffee, crops that are susceptible to weather fluctuations.   To aid households struggling to generate income, ODEF and Plan Honduras have joined together to implement the Mejoramiento Integral de la Familia Rural (MIRE).
 
Description of Intervention:
Ultra Poor households earning less than 600 Lempiras (about $30 US) each month are identified with a Participatory Wealth Ranking (PWR) during which villagers rate the economic status of all members of the community.  Eligible households are randomly assigned either a treatment or comparison group.  Treatment households receive consumption support in the form of a family garden  and training in two income generating activities including raising livestock (chicken or pigs) and growing crops (bananas or vegetables) production, or operating a pulperia (small grocery store). Participants are monitored throughout the process. 
 
Female heads of households are required to open a savings account at ODEF and are randomly assigned to one of two savings treatments.  One savings group is incentivized with savings matching biannually equal to 50% of the average account balance while a second treatment group receives monthly direct savings transfers. Both of these treatment groups receive savings incentives valued at 400 Lempiras (about $20 US).
 
By comparing ultra poor households in treatment villages who do not receive the program with those in pure comparison villages, the study is designed to measure spillover effects. IPA is also conducting qualitative research, consisting of interviews on life histories, family dynamics, and cultural traditions, to better understand the mechanisms by which the program functions.
 
Results:
Forthcoming.
 
For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.
 
[1]CIA, “World Fact Book” 

Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in Peru

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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue: 

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.

Context of the Evaluation: 

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.

Details of the Intervention:

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.

Results:

Results forthcoming.

For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.

Slum Housing Upgrading In El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay

Adequate housing is thought to provide a number of benefits, including greater satisfaction with one’s quality of life, better mental and physical health, protection against extreme weather, and improved safety and defense against crime. Researchers measured the impact of improving the quality of slum housing on household wellbeing in El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay, with IPA implementing the evaluation in Mexico. Residents were selected to receive housing upgrades by lottery. Results showed that slum upgrading significantly improved satisfaction with quality of life. In two countries positive and significant effects were detected in child health. In El Salvador, significant and positive effects were observed in the perception of safety. Finally, no effects were detected in labor market variables and in the accumulation of durable goods.

Policy Issue:
The United Nations estimates that nearly one billion people, primarily in the developing world, live in urban slums and lack proper housing.  Slum houses are typically made of waste materials such as cardboard, tin, and plastic, have dirt floors, and lack connections to basic services such as water and sewer systems. Adequate housing is thought to provide a number of benefits, including better mental and physical health, protection against extreme weather, and improved safety and defense against crime. Improved safety and security may, in turn, allow households to accumulate assets and free up time for productive activities that would otherwise be devoted to protecting these assets. Better housing can also affect individuals’ sense of dignity and satisfaction with their quality of life, which may complement improvements in other dimensions. One way to address the challenge of inadequate housing is to upgrade slum dwellings with inexpensive yet durable materials such as concrete floors or tin roofs. Despite the widely held belief that housing has an important role to play in improving health and welfare, there is little rigorous evidence about how housing improvement programs can affect the welfare of participants.
 
Context of the Evaluation:
This study as a whole measures the effect of a slum housing improvement program across three Latin American countries: El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay. Researchers partnered with IPA to carry out the evaluation in Mexico. 
 
Slums in Latin America are typically found in dangerous geographic locations, such as on cliffs or slopes, and lack access to basic services such as water, electricity, and sanitation. Residents are also exposed to significant levels of soil and water contamination and overcrowding.
 
Using baseline and national survey data, researchers identified several key differences between the slum populations and poor populations not living in slums. In particular, slum populations were worse off in terms of asset possession than other poor populations, which tend to have better access to basic services and higher quality housing. These differences were most pronounced in El Salvador, the poorest country in the sample.
 
In Uruguay and Mexico, on the other hand, poor slum dwellers tended to have significantly higher incomes than poor non-slum dwellers. This could be because slums tend to form around large urban centers where there are more employment opportunities, and people who choose to live in slums may be more willing to accept worse living conditions in exchange for better access to the labor market. 
 
 
Details of the Intervention:                                
Researchers partnered with TECHO to evaluate the impact of upgrading housing infrastructure in urban slums in El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay, and IPA implemented the evalution in Mexico. TECHO is a youth-led non-governmental organization that works across nineteen Latin American countries to provide basic, pre-made houses to people living in slums. TECHO targets families living in sub-standard housing facilities and provides them with basic housing structures as a part of a package of social services designed to help lift households out of extreme poverty.
 
The TECHO housing units are one-room houses made with insulated pinewood and tin roofs. Units are portable, constructed with simple tools, and can be set up by groups of 4-8 volunteers. Although TECHO units are a major improvement over the recipients’ previous housing, they still lack plumbing, sewage, and gas connections. The cost of each housing unit is approximately US$1,000 and beneficiary households are expected to contribute ten percent of the total cost. In El Salvador, this is roughly equivalent to 3 months of earnings, while in Mexico and Uruguay it is closer to 1.4 months of earnings.
 
Informal settlements were eligible to receive TECHO housing if they had ten or more families living on public or private land and lacked access to one or more basic services such as electricity, water, or sewage. Within an eligible settlement, the poorest households were eligible to receive a housing upgrade. Due to budget and personnel constraints, TECHO conducted lotteries within eligible settlements to select which households would receive houses. From a sample of 2373 eligible households across all three countries, 1356 were randomly selected to receive housing upgrades and the remaining 1017 served as the comparison group. 
 
Researchers conducted follow-up surveys between 17 and 27 months after households received the improved house and collected data on self-reported satisfaction, safety, and health as well as labor market outcomes and possession of durable goods. 
 
Results and Policy Lessons:
Impacts on quality of life: Families that received housing upgrades from TECHO were more satisfied with their homes and quality of life. Satisfaction increased by 15 percentage points across all three countries, a 29 percent increase over satisfaction ratings in the comparison group. Households in El Salvador experienced the largest gains in satisfaction with their homes, approximately 21 percentage points (41 percent), partially because self-reported levels of satisfaction were generally lower than in the other countries at baseline. 
 
The program had no effect on households’ investments in their homes. Families did not make further investments in their homes in response to the TECHO improvements, and there were no significant improvements in access to water, electricity, or sanitation. 
 
Impacts on security and safety: Households in El Salvador who received housing upgrade reported substantial improvements in their feeling of security. Recipient households were 18 percentage points more likely to feel safe inside their houses, 16 percentage points more likely to feel safe leaving their homes alone, and 14 percentage points more likely to feel safe leaving children alone at home. The program did not have any significant impact on perceptions of safety in Mexico or Uruguay. 
 
Impacts on children’s health: In El Salvador and Mexico, child health improved as a result of the TECHO program. Households reported a four percentage point (27 percent) decrease in the incidence of diarrhea from a base of 15 percent. There were no statistically significant improvements in child health in Uruguay, perhaps because the experiment took place in slums that were more urbanized with better access to basic services. 
 
Researchers concluded that providing better housing in urban slums was fairly inexpensive and substantially increased life satisfaction across multiple contexts. They suggest that upgrading homes in existing slums should be considered as an option in addition to relocating residents to new houses farther away from urban centers given residents’ potential preference for proximity to labor markets.

Roots and Remedies: Persistent poverty and violence amongst urban street youth in Liberia

Policy Issue:

Poor and underemployed youth can be found at the hearts of riots, revolutions, civil wars, and petty and organized crime. In post-conflict countries, where state capacity is weak, frustrations are many, and jobs are few, policymakers are particularly concerned about these youth’s potential to destabilize society. Liberia, which recently suffered through 14 years of civil conflict, has named “youth disempowerment” as one of two major threats to durable and lasting peace. Liberia’s 2009 Youth Fragility Assessment sums it up this way: “the youth… simply wish for… the prospect of some day earning an income, even a modest one. For many, this is the impossible dream... the challenge is to make it possible, soon and for everyone.” The stakes are extremely high. The World Bank writes: “while much of the world has made rapid progress in reducing poverty in the past 60 years, areas characterized by repeated cycles of political and criminal violence are being left far behind….," and calculates a civil conflict costs the average developing country roughly 30 years of GDP growth. A quarter of the world’s population (1.5 billion people) live in places plagued by recurring and endemic violence.

How can governments and NGOs raise employment and reduce the risk of violence among these poor and risky populations? Aid programs increasingly focus on helping youth through markets, especially through microenterprise development. The logic of this assistance, however, rests on the existence of market failures among the poorest of the poor: imperfect credit markets, or production discontinuities such as minimum start-up costs or low returns to small investments. Cash grants or credit are needed to achieve minimum scale. Street youth with no assets and weak social networks may be particularly vulnerable to this trap. But so far there has been little research proving the existence of market failures or the ability of aid to help.

Meanwhile, both psychologists and economists have begun to explore the extent to which behavioral skills – such as impulse control, time preferences for immediate vs. delayed gratification, risk aversion, conscientiousness, setting and keeping long range goals, and being deliberate in choices – contribute to poverty. In a war zone, being highly present-focused might indeed be the optimal survival strategy. During peacetime, however, the absence of such preferences could in theory constitute a second source of persistent poverty: a behavioral poverty trap, leading to low savings rates, wastage of any windfalls, and high-risk behavior including involvement in drugs, crimes, and violence. Importantly, core principles underlying much economic and psychological theory assume that such preferences are fixed in young adulthood, leading anti-poverty projects to take a paternalistic approach. Again, little research has critically examined these assumptions.

Counter to conventional wisdom, preliminary investigation suggests that a behavioral transformation program, akin to cognitive behavioral therapy, can be successful. This finding, if true, would be groundbreaking, challenging conventional economic and psychological models of behavior, which posit that preferences and behaviors are stable and difficult to change, especially among adults.

Context of the Evaluation:

The study is designed to disentangle how cash and capital constraints versus dysfunctional preferences and behaviors contribute to the poverty and violence of the young men and women living on Monrovia’s streets, and to create an inexpensive and scalable program that will reduce poverty, violence, and social instability among unstable youth in Liberia and beyond.

On the preferences and behaviors side, the questions are (a) What role do cognitive and behavioral traits play in persistent poverty and violence?; (b) Are these cognitive and behavioral traits malleable in adulthood, and is sustained cognitive behavior change possible?; and (c) Will changing them reduce poverty and violence? On the market failures side, the questions are (a) What role does the lack capital and credit play in persistent poverty and violence?; (b) Will unconditional cash transfers relieve this constraint and reduce poverty and violence?; and (c) Do capital constraints and cognitive and behavioral deficiencies interact, and must both constraints be relieved to reduce poverty and violence in sustained way?

Description of the Intervention:

This “Sustainable Transformation for Youth in Liberia” (STYL) program is an experimental program, being jointly run by the research team and two NGO partners: CHF International and NEPI. As of mid-2012, STYL will have enrolled approximately 1,000 youth. Youth are recruited from urban areas where large numbers of underemployed youth congregate, and are targeted for the program on the basis of exhibiting the following characteristics: persistently poor; homeless; lack of self-discipline; angry, hostile, depressed; idle and not busy with productive pursuits; involved in organized or petty crime, and/or conflict with the law; and getting drunk and/or high regularly.

The STYL study is currently experimentally evaluating two interventions, each on its own as well as in concert with the other.

A behavioral Transformation Program (TP), akin to cognitive behavioral therapy (similar to Alcoholics Anonymous) and life-skills programs. The TP has the aims of bolstering the cognitive and social skills necessary for entrepreneurial self-help, raising youth’s aspirations, and equipping the youth to reach them. The TP involves half-day sessions 3-times a week, for 8 weeks, held in groups of 20 led by 2 counselors. The curriculum includes modules on anger management, impulse control, future orientation and planning skills, and self-esteem.

An unconditional cash grant program, in which youth are given a large $200 one-time cash grant disbursement. How the grant is spent is entirely up to the recipient, though a grant orientation session provides some basic training on financial management and business planning.

Individual youth are randomly assigned to either receive the TP; the cash grant; the TP and then the cash grant; or neither.

The plan is to conduct both short-term and long-term endline surveys to capture treatment effects, through surveys and behavioral games. If the basic interventions are shown to be effective, the research team hopes to further improve program design through iterative tweaking and testing, including varying cash grant size and TP length and intensity, and trying additional potentially complementary interventions, in order to help policymakers achieve goals most cost-effectively.

Results and Policy Lessons:

Forthcominng

 

Media coverage of this project:

Chris Blattman Talks with NPR's Planet Money team here.

Chris Blattman and Paul Niehaus in Foreign Affairs here.

Jason Margolis interviews ex-combatants and researchers Tricia Gonwa and Chris Blattman.

Ex-combatant Reintegration in Liberia

For post-conflict societies, the challenges of reintegrating ex-combatants and war-affected youth are likely to far outlast and outsize the formal demobilization, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants. These programs, conducted in war’s immediate aftermath, form an important part of a policymaker’s post-conflict toolkit. While ex-combatants receive special policy attention, poor and underemployed men are also widely considered a threat to political stability.

Find a more in-depth policy report here. 

Context of the Evaluation:

In Liberia, where the bulk of the population is young, poor, and underemployed, many rural youth continue to make their living through unlawful activities, including unlicensed mining, rubber tapping, or logging. Many of them are ex-combatants, and some remain in loose armed group structures, doing the bidding of their wartime commanders. While the security situation has steadily improved since 2003, the government, the UN, and NGOs fear that these youth are a possible source of instability, particularly in hotspot regions where mining, rubber tapping, or logging and the allure of “fast money” attract young men from around the country. These youth may also be recruited into regional conflicts as mercenaries. Agriculture is and will continue to be a major source of employment and income for rural Liberians. The international NGO Landmine Action (LMA, now known as Action on Armed Violence) runs an innovative and intensive agricultural training program, targeting ex-combatants and other high-risk youth in rural hotspots.

Description of the Intervention:

The LMA program is broader and more intensive than most ex-combatant reintegration programs, and is designed to rectify some of the main failings of prior demobilization programs: it is oriented towards agriculture (the largest source of employment in Liberia); it provides both human and physical capital; and it integrates economic with psychosocial assistance. It also targets youth at natural resource hotspots that presented the most immediate security concerns.

LMA took youth selected for the program to residential agricultural training campuses, where they received 3-4 months of coursework and practical training in agriculture, basic literacy and numeracy training, psychosocial counseling; along with meals, clothing, basic medical care, and personal items. After the training, counselors facilitated graduates' re-entry with access to land in any community of their choice.  Graduates received a package of agricultural tools and supplies, valued at approximately US$200. The program's total cost is approximately $1,250 per youth, excluding the cost of constructing the campuses. The program was designed to give youth a sustainable and legal alternative to illegal resource extraction, ease their reintegration into society, reduce the risk of re-recruitment into crime and insurrection in the future, and to improve security in hotspot communities.

LMA recruited twice as many youth as it had space for in its programs, and researchers randomly assigned half of the youth to treatment (receiving the program), and half to a comparison group (not receiving the program). By comparing these two groups 18 months after the program, researchers can see the effect of the intervention on agricultural livelihoods, shifts from illicit to legal employment, poverty, social integration, aggression, and potential for future instability.  Despite massive migration, 93% of the youth were found at the time of the endline survey. The qualitative study included observation and a series of interviews with 50 of the youth.

Results and Policy Lessons:

Engagement in agriculture: More than a year after completion of the program, program participants are at least a quarter more likely than the control group to be engaged in agriculture, and 37% more likely to have sold crops. Interest in and positive attitudes toward farming are also significantly higher among program participants. 

Illicit activities:The program had little impact on rates of participation in illicit activities like mining, but those who participated in the program do spend fewer hours engaged in illicit activities, as agricultural hours seem to substitute somewhat for hours spent in illicit activities.

Income, expenditures, and wealth:  There was a sizable increase in average wealth from the program, especially in household durable assets, but no change in current income (last week and last month), savings or spending for the average program participant. Overall, the evidence suggests that cash cropping provides periodic windfalls from sales, and that these are mainly invested in durable assets (and not necessarily in agricultural inputs or equipment).  Qualitative observations also suggest that access to markets may have been an important constraint on success.

Social engagement, citizenship, and stability:  There were small but positive improvements across most measures of social engagement, citizenship, and stability. While not all of the estimated impacts are large enough to be statistically significant, they nevertheless suggest a small but broad-based reduction in alienation and some gains in stability. The evidence on aggression and crime, however, does not point to a significant reduction in illegal or aggressive behaviors among program participants.

Interest and mobilization into the election violence in Cote d’Ivoire:Conflict broke out in Cote d’Ivoire shortly before the launch of the program evaluation.  Self reported rates of interest in the violence and mobilization were fairly low among the sample population, but they were especially low among program participants – they tended to report a third less interest in or links to recruiters and recruitment activities. Given the difficulty of shifting such behaviors, these impacts of the program are regarded as extremely promising.

For a policy memo with detailed results, as well as recommendations for reintegration, livelihoods, and poverty alleviation programs in Liberia, please see here.

Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in Pakistan

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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue: 

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.

Context of the Evaluation:

Poverty in Pakistan is a growing concern—almost one third of the county’s 170 million inhabitants live in poverty, an increase of almost 13% since the1990s,[i] and there are currently 3.2 million people displaced by wars[ii]. Pakistan is home to a large feudal landholding system, where numerous poor tenants are indebted to landowners. Lacking access to formal credit, poor tenants are bonded to their impoverished condition and are often exploited for their labor.

This study takes place in the Coastal Sindh region of Pakistan. Four NGOs, Aga Khan Planning and Building Services Pakistan (AKPBSP), Badin Rural Development Society (BRDS), Indus Earth Trust (IET), Sindh Agricultural and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organization (SAFWCO), have partnered with IPA and the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund to implement the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot to assist these vulnerable households.

Details of the Intervention:

Eligible households are identified using a Participatory Wealth Ranking (PWR), a method that engages villagers in creating an economic ranking of all households in a community.  After the economic status of eligible families is verified, households are randomly assigned to either a treatment or comparison group. The treatment beneficiaries receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 1000 ($12 US) for the first year to stabilize consumption.  Next, households choose an asset and begin livelihood training.  Examples of livelihood activities include embroidery, raising livestock, fishing, and carpentry.  Beneficiaries are encouraged to save money at home, in savings boxes, or with Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) that pool money and periodically distribute group savings to each member.  Lady Health Visitors working with some of the partners provide health services to participating households. 

Results:

Forthcoming.

For additional information on Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.

 

[i] AusAID, Australian Government, “Pakistan

[ii] Hani, Faez and Seri Begawan, Bandar, “3.2m Pakistanis displaced by war against Taliban need urgent aid,” The Brunei Times

Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in Ethiopia

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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue:

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.  

Context of the Evaluation: 

This study takes place in the Wukro district of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. The World Bank reports that 77% of the population lives on less than US$2 per dayand 39% of Ethiopians live at $1.25 per day[1]. Eighty-five percent of Ethiopian households are engaged in agriculture[2].  Droughts are common in Ethiopia and Tigray was the epicenter of the 1984-85 Ethiopian famine.  The famine, which attracted worldwide media coverage, resulted in relief aid for the region from Live Aid and other efforts. 

More recently, aid efforts have begun to shift from direct food support and food-for work programs to interventions designed to increase long-term prosperity.  These interventions include credit for entrepreneurship, savings associations, and agricultural support, such as irrigation, water storage, and market linkages.  The Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot targets the lower tier of those households who are already a part of the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP),the Government of Ethiopia’s program to address food security issues by offering guaranteed employment for up to fifteen days a month in return for cash or food handouts designed to meet households’ basic nutritional needs. 

Description of Intervention:

Five hundred treatment households in ten villages in Wukro district initially receive consumption support transferred through PSNP for six months.Once households’ food consumption stabilizes, they receive individual savings accounts at DECSI, a microfinance institution operating in the region, as well as business training. Later on, participants receive a livelihood asset chosen from a preselected list of options: raising small ruminants, cattle fattening, petty trade or beekeeping, to help jump start a new economic activity. Participants are monitored throughout the process – they receive home visits to help boost confidence and build expertise, and are provided with access to social and health services.

Results:

Results forthcoming.

For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.

 


[1] The World Bank, “Data: Ethiopia” 

[2] CIA, “World Factbook: Ethiopia Economy” 

Enterprises for Ultra-poor Women After War: The WINGS Program in Northern Uganda

What’s holding back impoverished women? Can small grants programs help the most vulnerable women develop sustainable livelihoods? Do employment and poverty relief empower them and improve their lives? This evaluation assessed the impact of a program that gave cash grants and basic business skills training to the poorest and most excluded women in post-war northern Uganda. The program led to dramatic increases in business and reductions in poverty. Despite these economic gains, however, there was little change in social integration, physical or mental health, or empowerment.

Find a policy note with more detail here and a full in-depth policy report here (PDFs)
 
Policy Issue:
According to one view, women have the ability to run businesses and make profits, but they are held back by too few assets, too little access to loans, too few skills, and a host of social barriers. What happens, then, when these economic barriers are removed? This study evaluates a program that gives cash, business skills training, and ongoing advising to some of the poorest women in the world, in northern Uganda, to understand its effect on new business development and poverty.
 
Another view holds that for women, with economic success comes empowerment - more independence, more decision-making power in the household, and the freedom to leave abusive relationships. This study also tests whether an entrepreneurship program that reduces poverty also empowers the women in other aspects of life.
 
Evaluation Context:
The study takes place in northern Uganda, which is emerging from twenty years of conflict and displacement. Young women and girls in particular suffered economically and educationally from the war. The women who participated in this study were displaced from their homes and lands for years, and are returning and rebuilding a life. Thus this study can inform strategies for post-war reconstruction for women and for the society in general.
 
In 2007, the NGO AVSI Uganda and two of the IPA Investigators surveyed more than 600 young females aged 14 to 35 affected by the conflict in northern Uganda, including more than 200 women formerly abducted by an armed group. The evidence from the survey, along with program experience among NGOs in northern Uganda, suggests that the development of new economic opportunities and building social capital will be crucial ingredients in reducing poverty and improving the health, education and psychosocial well-being of youth, especially young women. 
AVSI and the investigators worked together to design a program that would relieve the most serious economic constraints on women: The Women’s Income Generating Support (WINGS) program.
 
Description of the Intervention:
AVSI identified the 15 poorest and most vulnerable women in 120 villages that they wanted to support - 1800 in all. To each, they delivered WINGS’ three core components:
1.       Four days of business skills training (BST)
2.       An individual start-up grant of roughly $150
3.       Regular follow-up by trained community workers
Additional optional components of the program include group formation, training, and self-support; and spousal inclusion, training, and support. Based on records provided by AVSI, the total cost of the intervention is estimated at approximately $688 per person.
 
Evaluation Design:
The evaluation combined a randomized design with qualitative data collection. AVSI could help no more than 900 people in 60 villages at first - serving 900 already required them to triple their usual capacity. Thus AVSI and IPA held public lotteries with village leaders. 60 villages were selected to participate immediately, while the remaining 60 participated 18 months later. This design allowed for assessing 18-month impacts by comparing women in participating villages to those just about to receive the program.
 
Results:
Economically, the program was transformative. For example:
 
Cash Earnings: Earnings nearly doubled. For the average WINGS beneficiary, monthly cash income increased by UGX 16,211 to 32,692 UGX, a 98% increase over controls. In absolute terms, an increase of UGX 16,211 does not seem large (about $6.50 a month at market exchange rates). However, relative to the average income in the control group, UGX 16,481 ($6.60), it is huge. 
 
Consumption, Assets, and Savings: Participants in the WINGS program had a 33% increase in household spending, a value of UGX 11,741 ($4.72). There is also an increase in wealth, and the results imply that WINGS clients substantially increase their durable assets. Savings for program beneficiaries tripled on average, going from UGX 40,740 ($16.36) to UGX 169,862 ($68.22). 
 
These economic gains, however, were not matched by gains in health or empowerment. In fact, there was almost no effect on non-economic measures. For instance:
 
Physical and mental health: There was no significant difference in psychological distress. Women in both the program and comparison groups reported a reduction in psychological distress over time, which is not surprising because the overall quality of life in northern Uganda improved after war and displacement. Women in the WINGS group did not improve more or faster, however. If anything, they were sick about a half a day more in the previous month. 
 
Child investments: Woman are often targeted by anti-poverty programs because they are believed to be more likely than men to use the profits to benefit the household, especially children’s education and health. Women in the program spent slightly more on children’s health and education, but there was no corresponding improvement in children’s health status or school enrollment, at least after 18 months.
 
Empowerment: The conventional wisdom also assumes that lending to women will enhance their status in the household. Data from this study, however, showed no evidence of resulting empowerment for women in household decision-making, independence, gender attitudes, or rates of intimate partner violence. This pattern has been seen before, and is often referred to as the “impact-paradox.” 
 
Overall, the WINGS program impacted women’s economic standing significantly, but the data show that translating these gains into improvements in psychological health, physical health, or empowerment is more complex.
 
For more, you can read a first person account of the project on the Freakonomics Blog.

Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in Ghana

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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue:

Households well below the poverty-line face an interrelated set of challenges, each of which colludes to keep families in extreme poverty. These families are food insecure, do not have access to financial services, have few assets, savings, and inadequate access to healthcare, and often cannot afford education for children or need children to work. Without many opportunities or tools with which to change their situation, these households are vulnerable to shocks, such as bad harvests, and often dependent on charitable or government services for basic food support during lean seasons.

Graduating from Ultra Poverty (GUP) uses the Ultra Poor Graduation model, developed by BRAC as part of its Targeting the Ultra Poor Program in Bangladesh, to confront extreme poverty by offering a holistic set of services. The model addresses the varied needs of households in extreme poverty by providinga sequenced set of services, including consumption support, productive asset transfer, livelihood training, savings services, and healthcare. This approach is based on the premise that beneficiaries require intensive support, beyond financial services, to make a sustainable change out of extreme poverty. In Ghana, the GUP evaluation provides an opportunity to measure the impact of the savings component of this program.

Making weekly visits and providing a holistic bundle of services is costly. Evidence suggests that poor households, who are resource constrained, may be able to improve their economic welfare with improved financial products like savings accounts. The Savings Out of Ultra Poverty (SOUP) program in northern Ghana provides households with the opportunity to save money in a secure account through a weekly Susu collection program to build capital for future expenses, providing an opportunity to learn whether savings alone can make a difference for households in extreme poverty.

By comparing the impact of the GUP and SOUP interventions, this study will help determine the impact of savings alone as well as savings when combined with a holistic package of services and which approach is more cost effective in improving household economic and social outcomes in the short and medium term.

Context of the Evaluation:

In Ghana, the GUP and SOUP programs are being implemented in 155 communities in the districts of Tamale Metro, East Mamprusi, and Bulsa in the Northern and Upper East Regions.  Presbyterian Agricultural Services (PAS), a local organization with experience delivering a wide range of services relating to agriculture, health, and saving, is implementing both programs with the support of IPA and in partnership with local rural banks. IPA is also conducting the impact evaluation.

The GUP and SOUP programs serve women in the poorest households of selected communities. At the time of the baseline 84 percent of these women were illiterate, 18 percent had a household member with access to some sort of paid work, 66 percent lived in houses with mud or sand flooring, 93 percent had houses with thatched roofs and nearly all households relied primarily on subsistence farming.

Description of Intervention & Evaluation:

Households in selected communities were identified using a Participatory Wealth Ranking (PWR) process where villagers were asked to collectively rank the economic status of their community members.  Field officers confirmed the poverty status of eligible families and households. Communities were then randomly assigned to receive GUP, SOUP or to serve as comparison group with no intervention. Half of the eligible GUP households were also randomly assigned to receive weekly Susu collection as part of the package of services, and half of the SOUP households received a 50 percent match on any savings deposits made.   GUP and SOUP household receiving savings services are visited weekly by PAS field agents like “Susu” or “small small moneys” agents who collect savings for safe keeping.  PAS field agents deposit savings in household bank accounts and do not charge additional fees. Transactions are recorded for each household in a passbook provided by the bank.  Clients can withdraw money at any time by visiting a local bank branch.

GUP households receive consumption support during the lean season, an asset to jump-start a new entrepreneurial venture, membership to the National Health Insurance Scheme and weekly training with support from field staff throughout the 2-year program. Households are also supported by community support committees, connected to health services, and receive assistance in opening an account a local bank.

Households selected to receive the SOUP program receive savings accounts and weekly Susu collection services only – without all of the other components of the original Ultra Poor Graduation program. Half of the SOUP participants also receive a 50 percent match of all weekly savings deposits up to GHS 1.50 ($0.88 US) per week. There is no minimum or maximum to the amount that clients can save each week.

By disaggregating the savings component from the rest of GUP program both by randomly offering savings accounts with the original model and creating a savings-only program, researchers will be able to examine the overall importance of savings accounts in assisting ultra poor households.  Furthermore, the matched savings intervention will allow analysis of the incentives on participant savings.  Specifically, researchers will be able to determine whether households are already saving the maximum amount possible, or if incentivizing savings can further increase deposits.

Results:

Results forthcoming.

For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.

Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in Yemen

Can ultra poor households in Yemen graduate from extreme poverty with help from a holistic set of services? 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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue:

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.

Context of the Evaluation:

Located on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen faces economic challenges. Food insecurity, aggravated by a scare supply of water, leaves 32 percent of the country undernourished [1].  Over 45 percent of the population lives under $2 US a day and about 17 percent lives under $ 1.25 US a day [2]. The Social Welfare Fund (SWF), the Yemeni welfare department, and the Social Fund for Development (SFD), a government-run development agency, have partnered with IPA to pilot the Graduation Model in three governorates of southern Yemen.

Description of the Intervention:

The Graduation Model in Yemen works in accord with the SWF welfare system.  All households in the sample frame come from the SWF welfare lists and receive an average quarterly stipend of 3,000 YR ($15 US).  The poorest households are identified using the Progress Out of Poverty Index and are verified as the poorest during SWF field officer visits.  These households are then randomly assigned to either a treatment or comparison group. Beneficiaries in treatment households receive training on an income generating activity such as, sewing, raising livestock, or petty trading.  As households’ income and food consumption stabilizes, beneficiaries are required to open a savings account at the local post office and are encouraged to reach a savings goal of 10,750 YR (about $ 50US) by the end of the two year program. In addition, these ultra poor households are monitored throughout the program with weekly visits from field officers and receive additional trainings on confidence building, social integration, and sanitation practices.

Results and  Policy Lessons:

Results forthcoming.

For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.

 

[1]World Bank, “Yemen Country Brief

[2] The World Bank, “Yemen

Ultra Poor Graduation Pilot in India

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 IndiaPakistanHondurasPeruEthiopiaYemen, and Ghana to understand the impact of this innovative model.

Policy Issue: 

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.

Context of the Evaluation: 

Over 30% of West Bengal’s 82 million residents are believed to live below the poverty line, and an estimated 18% of the wealthiest rural citizens actually hold “below poverty line” cards. Murshidabad is one of the poorest districts of West Bengal, and is ranked 15 out of 17 in terms of the Human Development Index. Over 70% of the population of West Bengal lives in rural areas.

Bandhan, a Kolkata-based microfinance institution, was launched in West Bengal in 2002 to address economic and social poverty by providing greater access to formal credit. Due to rapid growth over the past seven years it now has an estimated client base of over 1.2 million borrowers in 12 states in India, providing a variety of products including loans for microenterprises and agriculture.

Details of the Intervention: 

This evaluation will help determine whether income generating assets indeed prove to be beneficial to ultra poor households, and what kind of asset provision proves most successful. The researchers will assess the impact of Bandhan’s newest venture: an outreach into ultra-poor households based on the provision of assets rather than cash and a holistic set of services. The first step in the process was to determine who was actually in this category. This was done through social mapping and wealth ranking using Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) in each of the target villages.

After a second verification of selected participants, beneficiaries were divided into a comparison and treatment group, of which the randomly selected treatment individuals received a grant of US$100 to purchase a productive asset of their choice. These assets included both farm and non-farm assets, although livestock, such as cows or goats, was the most popular selection. Households were also given access to a fund for health expenditures – a feature that may reduce their vulnerability.

Bandhan will meet with the selected households on a weekly basis for 18 months to check their status and provide supplemental business-skills training. Upon completion of this training, all households will be surveyed to determine program impacts. One year later, a second follow up survey will be conducted to evaluate the long term impacts of the graduation program. Measured outcomes will include income, assets, school attendance of children, health, and food security.

Results:

Forthcoming

After completion of this evaluation, Bandhan in partnership with Axis Bank is scaling up the program in West Bengal.

For additional information on the Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.

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