PnP: Early Livelihoods Support Key to Ultra Poor Interventions

Former ultra poor, now food seller

Uttarakhand-based Partners in Prosperity finds early introduction of new livelihoods the key to success, cost-effectiveness of its Ultra Poor Pilot

Originally an experiment to produce lower cost variations on the standard “safety net” program model, the Ultra Poor Program (UPP) developed by NGO Partners in Prosperity (PnP) ultimately confirmed what the Sorenson-Unitus Ultra Poor Initiative (UPI) team had long suspected – that early introduction of stable livelihoods plays a significant role in determining the success and scalability of an ultra poor intervention.

At the outset, the goal of the UPP was to create a more efficient ultra poor intervention that complemented, not replaced, government programs and dramatically reduced the average $500 cost-per-beneficiary of a traditional intervention. However, as the pilot progressed, the PnP team found that beneficiaries demonstrated the greatest improvement in their welfare when livelihoods – not subsidies – were the first component introduced in the intervention.

What they discovered, after some trial and error, was a series of cascading benefits initiated by the livelihood-led intervention: beneficiaries were more trusting of PnP-recommended healthcare providers, and were more likely to stick with financial literacy and savings programs when they had the regular income with which to act on the learnings and partake in these new activities.

At the pilot’s conclusion, the women reported between $35-$45 in increased income per month since the start of the livelihoods intervention. Furthermore, with new livelihoods allowing ultra poor families to meet more of their basic food and housing needs, and reducing the need for subsidies, PnP’s model demonstrates the potential of reducing program costs by 50% or more.

Read: PnP Case Study Overview
Read: PnP Case Study Report (PDF)

Other Resources:

Lessons Learned, Using Livelihoods to Combat Extreme Urban Poverty (NextBillion)
Jobs Not Handouts Help the Very Poorest (WSJ India)

Sorenson-Unitus Ultra Poor Initiative Project Page >