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IPA Conference: Graduation Programme

IPA Group 2019

With commentators suggesting that COVID-19 may have reversed a decade of progress in developing countries, well designed anti-poverty policy remains as urgently needed as ever for the 1.3 billion plus people living in extreme poverty. To-date, the Graduation Program, which aims to build secure, sustainable and resilient livelihoods, represents the most promising intervention to tackle extreme poverty. Impact evaluations show significant effects on household income, even four years after the intervention.

From December 3rd to the 4th, the Trinity Impact Evaluation Unit (TIME) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) held the “New Directions in Graduation Research” virtual conference in partnership with Concern Worldwide and the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab. The conference featured emerging research on how the Graduation affects those pushed into extreme poverty by conflict and climate change, its impacts on gender equality and mental health, how the programs could be varied to improve cost effectiveness, and finally looked at new evidence on long-run program impacts. The event was well-attended by researchers and policy practitioners alike, who were exposed to work at the frontier of the next generation of multi-faceted anti-poverty programs.

Research from the event further strengthen the argument that the Graduation impacts hold across different contexts. Premand and Marguerie’s, Bedoya’s, and Brune’s presentations showed the Graduation Program was able to deliver consistent impacts even in conflict-affected settings in Côte d'Ivoire, Afghanistan, and Uganda.

It highlighted new questions on the Graduation Program and the existence of environmental poverty traps with King’s presentation of evidence from a natural disaster in Malawi (mid-graduation implementation). In areas such as mental well-being, progress has been made in our understanding of what works. Udry’s presentation on the short-run effects of a group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy intervention in Ghana showed significantly positive effects on mental health, physical health, and performance on cognitive tests.

Within the relationship of gender and Graduation, Bedoya’s presentation showed significant effects of the program on women’s empowerment in Afghanistan. In addition, the event highlighted new work by Concern Worldwide on addressing gender through incorporating empowerment and gender training within the Graduation program.

The work presented at the conference paves the way for a wide range of areas of future research. As more and more evidence of the graduation program’s effectiveness emerges, the conference showed there is still much room for groundbreaking research to explain how and why these interventions work, and to explore their efficacy in a vast array of previously unexplored contexts.

The presentation slides may be accessed here:

The full recorded conference can be accessed here: