How millions of women like Chobi are beating ultra poverty

September 2, 2014

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“When it would rain, we did not have a dry area to sleep… I used old and torn rags to cover my children.” The video speaks for itself. A self-told story about how Chobi Rani, with the assistance of BRAC, brought herself out of the harshest forms of poverty, to feed and send her children to school, live in a comfortable home and maintain successful enterprises in farming.

“When it would rain, we did not have a dry area to sleep… I used old and torn rags to cover my children.”

The video speaks for itself. A self-told story about how Chobi Rani, with the assistance of BRAC, brought herself out of the harshest forms of poverty, to feed and send her children to school, live in a comfortable home and maintain successful enterprises in farming.

Chobi was from one of 3.5 million households in Bangladesh still living in what is termed ultra poverty. For BRAC ultra poverty defies the category of extreme poverty – which refers to people living on approximately USD 1.25 a day. The ultra poor survive on less than USD 50 cents per day. Going beyond quantitative indicators of poverty, the ultra poor do not meet daily caloric requirements, they lack access to basic healthcare, are mostly illiterate, and socially excluded. They live on the margins of society, and tend to be out of the reach of mainstream development interventions such as formal education, healthcare, and microfinance.

BRAC, through the challenging the frontier of poverty reduction – targeting the ultra poor (CFPR-TUP) programme, designed a set of integrated interventions that help to give members of the ultra poor the tools, capacities and confidence with which to build sustainable livelihoods and rise out of poverty. These include targeting and identification that engage with the local community, transfer of productive asset(s), a weekly cash stipend, hands-on training, access to healthcare and social integration.

At its core, the work of the CFPR-TUP programme is about creating pathways out of poverty, and building resilience amongst the poorest so that they never fall back into ultra poverty.

To date, BRAC has helped 1.4 million households in Bangladesh lift themselves from ultra poverty. Modelled on BRAC’s programme, the CGAP-Ford Foundation has also helped to scale what is now known as the graduation approach in nine other countries around the world.

As part of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, BRAC has committed to graduating a further 250,000 households out of ultra poverty by the end of 2016.  It will also be seeking partnerships with governments, NGOs and MFIs, on how they, too, can adapt the graduation approach in their countries, in the drive to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Speaking at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Merida, Mexico, on 3-5 September, on Building Pathways out of Poverty, director of BRAC Microfinance Programme, Shameran Abed, will discuss ways in which innovations such as the graduation model are helping to reduce the most extreme forms of poverty around the world. Joining him at the summit, Professor Syed Hashemi, chair of the Department of Economics and Social Sciences at BRAC University, will moderate a workshop on ‘An end in sight for ultra poverty: results and realities in graduating the poorest’.

You can follow the discussion live on Twitter via the hashtag #17MCSummit
‘Chobi’s story’ was prepared as part of the BRAC’s bottom-up story telling series by Amaan Huq and Anusha Anowar.

To learn more about our work on ultra poverty, please visit the following links:

Challenging the frontiers of poverty reduction –Targeting the ultra poor programme

BRAC’s Microcredit Summit campaign commitment letter

Animation: The graduation model: Escaping extreme poverty

Briefing Note 1 – ‘An end in sight for ultra poverty – Scaling up BRAC’s graduation model for the poorest (November 2013)

Doing while learning case studyTackling extreme poverty: from Bangladesh to a global agenda (July 2013)

 

Isabel Whisson is a communication & knowledge management officer in microfinance programme.

 

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Sarah

This was really moving. Well done on the article and the bottom-up video documentary.