How best to ‘graduate’ the extremely poor from poverty, sustainably and at scale?
At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals is the first one: eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. This ambitious challenge has been adopted by Kenya in its Vision 2030, and as part of its ‘big four’ agenda of tackling food insecurity.
As complex and ambitious as this goal may be, the evidence is encouraging; high-quality, well designed and sequenced support can enable the poorest families to escape the deepest forms of poverty. Studies as far afield as Bangladesh to Senegal are showing how micro-businesses and livelihoods support are improving social and economic wellbeing, enabling access to better food and vital services such as healthcare and education. This is the essence of the graduation from poverty approach.
Yet serious obstacles continue to block the path to scale. In Kenya, as in many countries, graduation packages are being provided by NGOs in select few communities. Few mechanisms exist to scale successful initiatives country-wide or without the involvement of large aid organisations. Coordination mechanisms remain weak, and the lack of shared commitments continue to underpin ad hoc programming.