While levels of child poverty are falling, the decline has been uneven and pockets of extreme poverty persist worldwide.
Today, over 783 million people are living on less than $1.90 USD per day, which means that 44% of these extremely poor are children.
Living in ultra-poverty has extreme and long-lasting effects on children because they often live in hard-to-reach areas that are marginalised and excluded from community support and traditional development programmes.
If these children survive to school-age, they’re less likely to complete their education, often being forced into harmful labour, or child marriage and early parenthood, which starts the cycle again.
Ultra-Poor Graduation programmes provide extremely poor households with a pathway out of poverty by helping families engage in a productive and resilient livelihood. This programme gradually builds household capacity and empowers families to become involved with the local economy and community in productive and positive ways.
As ultra-poor families begin to move out of poverty, their children’s lives improve. Parents and caregivers gain the dignity of being able to provide nutritious meals and pay for their children’s healthcare and education needs.
Core Components and Outcomes
- Social protection: Helping families to get the support they need to meet basic needs, deal with crises, and access health and education services.
- Livelihoods promotion: Helping families to find a way to make a resilient and sustainable income. Interventions may include asset or cash transfers for a viable livelihood or linkages to formal employment, technical and business skills training, and access to markets.
- Financial inclusion: Financial inclusion provides support to new businesses, to continue and improve their livelihoods. Interventions typically include an informal savings group or access to formal banking facilities, credit and insurance mechanisms and financial literacy training.
- Social empowerment: To become active in their economy, families need to also be fully part of their local community. Activities can include life skills training, social integration, and coaching that cuts across all four pillars, underpinned by a commitment to gender equality.
Shabitri, her husband Arobindo and their three children, Modhumala (15), Ratna (12), and son Nayan (6) used to be ultra-poor, but now they’re benefiting from a World Vision programme in Bangladesh, which includes entrepreneurial and literacy training.
This ultra-poor graduation project has helped 14,000 women get the business skills (including basic literacy and numeracy) and minimal start-up costs needed to help them launch small businesses. Now many of these women, like Shabitri – who started a basket weaving business and a small grocery shop – have “graduated” from extreme poverty and are helping others in their community to do the same.
“The money my husband earned wasn’t enough. I was not able to feed my children. I thought throughout my life I would struggle with poverty and we would be unhappy forever,” Shabitri told us.
But now, the household is “a model for others,” according to Ratindra Nath Roy, a technical officer in ultra-poor graduation.
Shabitri and Arobindo have agreed to keep their children in school: “My children are doing good in their results,” says Shabitri. “I believe they may have a good future.”
Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 1 – Ending poverty: We are supporting families to earn sustainable, reliable incomes and savings for the first time.
Goal 5 – Gender equality: We are helping both men and women to earn their own incomes, encouraging equal financial relationships within households.
Goal 8 – Promote economic growth: As new businesses grow, families have adequate income, and the local economy becomes stronger.
Goal 10 – Reduce inequalities: Our programmes focus on the most vulnerable – often female-headed households or minority groups – giving them the tools to earn their own living.
 : World Bank and UNICEF. (2016). Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children.
Where is WV implementing Ultra Poor Graduation Model?
Current: Sri Lanka, India, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Armenia
Starting to scale up: Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia