There is more to poverty than we see. Living below the poverty line does not only mean lack of food and money. It also encompasses lack of agency, absence of social integration, capacity deficiency in accessing essential services. To eradicate extreme poverty, approaching poverty’s multidimensional aspects is key.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that a lot of work had to be done at the community level. Fahima Akter*, working as a credit officer at BRAC Microfinance, took on the challenge head on. She travelled across Bangladesh, helping families through their financial crises, and providing life-saving information. The inevitable exhaustion that the world had been experiencing throughout most of 2020 was catching up to Fahima.
Regular coaching and mentorship is one of the cornerstones of BRAC’s Graduation approach. In times of crises, coaching plays an even greater role in ensuring that households living in extreme poverty have the support, guidance, and encouragement they need to succeed. “Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.” - Atul Gawande
The ready-made garments (RMG) industry in Bangladesh has rightly been pointed out as a lifeline for Bangladesh’s economy. When COVID-19 disrupted businesses all across the country, one of the first responses in saving the sector in Bangladesh by the government was to launch a USD 588 million stimulus package.
As the economic impact of COVID-19 threatens food security globally, evidence-based interventions that are proven to build resilience in the face of extreme shocks are needed more than ever. Nomita’s story shows how the Graduation approach provides the tools and resources that are crucial in these difficult times.
With lockdowns continuing to wreak havoc on the extreme poor populations in the Philippines, the Graduation pilot running there has shown great results in building the resilience and security for participants and their families.
With the announcement of BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative being selected as one of this year’s TED-sponsored Audacious Project winners, we look ahead to the future of Graduation programming around the world.
Almost 18 million people live in extreme poverty in Bangladesh. The impact of COVID-19 on their livelihoods has been catastrophic. Research by BIGD and PPRC shows a 73% drop in income in households living in extreme poverty when measured in the first week of April 2020 compared to two months prior. The biggest challenge during COVID-19 is how to get relief to these people, who often live in hard-to-reach areas.