Contrary to many poverty alleviation programs implemented in Egypt and the Middle East, the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) in cooperation with the Ford Foundation piloted a poverty alleviation program that has proved to be successful in fighting poverty. The approach equips and empowers the ultra-poor, who are living on less than 1.25 US$ a day, with the necessary self-confidence skills as well as transferring assets, such as cattle or sewing machine to them, so that they can slowly but gradually take control of their lives and pursue new economic opportunities. The Graduation Approach provides a promising sustainable pathway for the beneficiaries to graduate from extreme poverty.
The Graduation approach was originally designed and implemented by the Bangladesh-based NGO BRAC and then rolled-out by the World Bank and Ford Foundation. Evaluations of the Graduation Approach implement in 6 piloted countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan and Peru indicates that 75-98% of participants have been able to graduate from extreme poverty after 18 to 36 months of projects implementation. This means that many of the beneficiaries have been able to generate income, eat a minimum of two cooked meals per day all year round, save their money, get and repay loans provided by saving and credit groups, increase spending on their families’ health and educational needs, etc. The Graduation Approach’s activities have to be implemented in strict compliance with a specific sequence as illustrated. Activities are built on each other.
This promising success has encouraged UNHCR to apply the Graduation Approach in a new setting, namely with a focus on refugees residing in urban areas. UNHCR is testing the impact of the Graduation Approach on the members of the refugee and host community trapped in extreme poverty together with Catholic Relief Service in Cairo and Caritas in Alexandria. The Egyptian context provides a particularly interesting environment to test the Graduation Approach because it allows to draw lessons in regards to the Program’s impact on refugee populations trapped in a protracted refugee situation, i.e. those refugees that have sought asylum in Egypt for at least five consecutive years after their initial displacement; as well as on the refugees suffering from crisis situations such as Syrian refugees; and lastly, on the Egyptian host community.
The projects in Cairo and Alexandria are undergoing a mid-term evaluation from September to December 2015. So stay tuned for more insights into the effectiveness and sustainability of the Graduation Program with ultra-poor and refugees in Egypt. For more information please watch here
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