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 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.
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.
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.
For additional information on Ultra Poor Graduation Pilots, click here.
[ii] Hani, Faez and Seri Begawan, Bandar, “3.2m Pakistanis displaced by war against Taliban need urgent aid,” The Brunei Times