Can intensive support help households work themselves out of extreme poverty?

The Ultra Poor Graduation program is designed to graduate ultra poor households 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.

Study results, published in Science, show increases across income and consumption, assets, food security, and health

To see the full announcement, click here.

To support organizations implementing this approach, visit Trickle UpBoma ProjectVillage Enterprise, or BRAC.

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.

CGAP and the Ford Foundation have partnered with local organizations to apply this graduation model based off of BRAC’s Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction/Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR/TUP) program. IPA is implementing the latest replication of the Ultra Poor Graduation program in Ghana. This expansive set of impact evaluations is key to learning about the effects of implementation and will help us to determine whether the Ultra Poor Graduation program can create a pathway out of extreme poverty.

Graduating the ultra-poor program in Peru


Local organizations in each project country are implementing the graduation pilots, with technical support from the BRAC Development Institute. IPA is implementing the program in Ghana. The program has the following components which are adjusted to fit the country context:

  • Consumption Support: in the form of cash or food transfers
  • Asset Transfer: often goats or chickens, or money to invest in petty trade business
  • Livelihood Training: beneficiaries are trained with skills to generate a sustainable income with the new asset (for example: rearing livestock, petty trade, selling vegetables or honey)
  • Savings Component: beneficiaries open individual savings accounts at local banks, post offices, or are encouraged to save with rotating savings and credit organizations
  • Health Component: services range from health education to aid in accessing government services
  • Additional Services: veterinary consultation for livestock, business development trainings.

Beneficiaries are monitored throughout the two-year program.

Randomized Evaluation

IPA is conducting randomized controlled trials at program sites to measure the impact of implementation.

Quantitative Research: The quantitative component of the evaluation is comprised of a series of surveys administered to treatment and control households. The surveys include modules on topics such as consumption, physical and mental health, community participation, and entrepreneurship. A baseline and endline survey is conducted in all pilot sites. Most sites will also get a follow-up survey a year after program completion to determine whether households remain out of extreme poverty after they stop receiving support. In some sites short consumption surveys are administered quarterly throughout the two-year program implementation.

Qualitative Research: In Honduras, Peru, and Ghana IPA is conducting qualitative research to help reveal the mechanisms by which the program works. The BRAC Development Institute is conducting qualitative research at the other project sites.

Timeline: The last pilot evaluation was completed in 2014.