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Policy in Focus: Debating Graduation

By: The International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth


The International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth

Policy in Focus: Debating Graduation 

This issue, titled ‘Debating Graduation’, features specialist guest editors Fabio Veras Soares and Ian Orton and presents 15 inspiring articles that capture the diverse and challenging views comprising the debate surrounding the Graduation Approach, ranging from committed proponents and enthusiastic new implementers, to the cautiously optimistic, to outright critics of the intervention.

The enthusiasm with and controversy over the Graduation Approach as an effective set of interventions to reduce extreme poverty date back to the beginning of the last decade. In 2002, the Bangladesh-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) BRAC launched a programme titled ‘Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction-Targeting the Ultra Poor’ (CFPR-TUP), a mix of interventions designed to support the poorest of the poor families in the rural areas of the country .

The objective of the first phase of the CFPR-TUP programme was to assist the most vulnerable families in achieving sustainable livelihoods, through a combination of one-time asset transfers, access to health care, trainings, safety nets and savings promotion, among other elements. Through the programme, households would be able to create a pathway—or ‘graduate’—out of extreme poverty within a specified time frame. This methodology came to be known as the ‘Graduation Approach’.

Since its inception in Bangladesh, there has been a proliferation in the implementation of new graduation-inspired programmes worldwide. However, this enthusiasm and increased visibility have not been free of controversy. Concerns remain regarding targeting efficacy, equity and what happens post-graduation.

A fresh perspective of the Graduation Approach is presented in the article ‘Leaving no one behind: Graduation for Refugees’. Given the unprecedented displacement of entire populations in recent years, authors highlight the work undertaken by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regarding graduation, aiming to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development policies.

Photo Credit: BRAC

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