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From Extreme Poverty to Sustainable Livelihoods: A Technical Guide to the Graduation Approach

By: de Montesquiou A., Sheldon T. with DeGiovanni F., & Hashemi S.



The Ford Foundation

From Extreme Poverty to Sustainable Livelihoods: Technical Guide to the Graduation Approach 

This Technical Guide distills lessons from the 10 CGAP-Ford Foundation graduation pilots implemented from 2008-2014. The guide will later be updated to incorporate new learning especially from the third-party implementers who have already started new pilots, or who will be launching their own programs using this edition of the Guide as a tool.

The Graduation Approach aims to move people out of extreme poverty and into a sustainable livelihood. Pioneered by BRAC in Bangladesh, the Approach combines elements of social protection, livelihoods development, and access to finance. The package of services includes time-limited consumption support (cash or food), the delivery of assets such as livestock, skills training, coaching, and access to saving services. Six randomized evaluations studied more than 21,000 beneficiaries of the Graduation Approach across Ethiopia, Peru, India, Ghana, Pakistan, and Honduras between 2007 and 2014. A year after the program ended, participants in five of the six countries had increased income, improved food security, increased asset holdings and savings, reduced stress levels, and happier lives as a result of the program. The Graduation Approach holds promise as a cost-effective strategy to help the poorest on a pathway to economic stability: many governments, donors and NGOs hoping are now adapting the Approach to scale it up.

Photo Credit: Trickle Up

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