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Lessons Learned: How to Integrate Graduation into Existing Programming

 February 25, 2020 • 3 minute read

BRAC and CARE staff during a monitoring visit in Kitui county, Kenya BRAC and CARE staff during a monitoring visit in Kitui county, Kenya

By Lauren Whitehead | Director of Technical Assistance & Cait O’Donnell | Technical Advisor, BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative

By building on existing cash transfers and public works schemes, Graduation costs can be kept to a minimum while still generating sustainable impact on the extreme poor. BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI) has been providing advisory services and technical support to governments on integrating Graduation with existing social protection systems in a cost-effective manner. We have worked with government partners in the Philippines, Kenya, Rwanda, Lesotho, Guinea, and Pakistan, among others, adapting our approach in each country to fit the local context and effectively integrate into existing programming.

Through its work, BRAC has identified some core lessons on how to integrate Graduation into existing programming and enhance cost-effectiveness:

  1. A robust and contextualized Graduation design is critical in addressing the root causes of extreme poverty and generating sustainable outcomes for participating households that makes the best use of scarce resources. This requires thorough assessments of the local context that identifies vulnerabilities of extreme poor populations along multiple dimensions including socio-economic conditions, access to social protection and basic services, gender inequality, disability, among others.
  2. Building or layering the holistic social and economic inclusion elements of Graduation on top of existing social protection programming that has already been budgeted for (e.g. cash transfers, labor and employment programs, national health insurance, etc.) is the most strategic investment of government resources for the long-term benefit of extreme poor households.
  3. The success of government Graduation programs relies on effective inter-ministerial coordination, which leverages the expertise and resources of various ministries to collectively improve the welfare of extreme poor populations. Graduation can complement and enhance the impact of existing investments by ministries ranging from social protection and agriculture to finance, education, health, and others.
  4. In the social sector, civil society organizations and NGO partners can provide access to additional resources and capacities to support effective implementation of inclusive social protection and economic development targeting the poor, including capacity-building support particularly at local government levels, collaboration with existing national and local government programs, an avenue for last mile delivery, and experimentation of innovative approaches.
  5. Innovate to scale successfully which requires testing innovative and novel approaches to design and service delivery such as varying modalities of coaching, livelihoods, digital technologies, and the like.
BRAC and CARE staff during a monitoring visit in Kitui county, Kenya
BRAC and CARE staff during a monitoring visit in Kitui county, Kenya

BRAC UPGI is committed to collaborating with governments toward effective solutions that leverage available resources to achieve the long-term benefits demonstrated by using Graduation programming. By applying these practices, BRAC UPGI has helped partnering governments keep the integration of Graduation cost-effective and maximize impact for existing programming.

For more information on the impact of Graduation and understanding the long-term benefits for participating households, read our blog Understanding the Costs of Graduation, Investing in Long-Term Gains.

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