Exploring Changes in the Lives of the Ultra Poor: An Exploratory Study on CFPR/TUP Members

Since January 2002, BRAC started a new experimental program for the ultra-poor called, ‘Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction/Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR/TUP)’. This program targeted the ultra-poor who were either bypassed or failed to benefit and subsequently dropped out of the existing development program. The program used an asset-based approach where physical assets were provided to the selected ultra-poor women as grants. The intervention strategy also included health and social development components. The overall idea of the program was to strengthen the physical, social and human asset base of the ultra-poor so that once the grant phase was over, they could attain the foundation for sustainable livelihoods and participate and benefit from mainstream development programs. This paper is based on an exploratory study that wanted to better understand the perceptions of change as defined by the program members and the underlying factors that explain the changes perceived. The main finding is that initial conditions matter—households that owned homestead land, had other sources of income, had adult male labour-power and did not suffer from recurrent health costs did better. The program encouraged the members to save out of the income accrued from running the TUP enterprise, but the product was focused on supporting promotional needs rather than protection needs. The circumstances of the ultra-poor households differ and a sole focus on the savings for meeting promotional needs may thus need reconsideration.

Authors: Matin, Imran; Walker, Sarah
Case Study
Year: 2004