Combining cash transfers with access to financial services, livelihood promotion, and psychosocial support can strengthen long-term resilience.
The graduation approach—programming that combines cash transfers with additional resilience support such as access to financial services, livelihood promotion, and psychosocial support—has been shown to reduce poverty among the extreme poor and may also be an effective approach to strengthening long-term resilience for poor households. The impact of this approach on household resilience is currently being tested in six Sahel countries, and this study will add to the body of evidence on the role of social protection and graduation in resilience activities.
The graduation approach integrates social protection (consumption support, health, and social integration), livelihood promotion (market linkages, asset transfers and technical skill development), financial inclusion (savings, financial literacy, linkages to formal financial inclusion), and psychosocial support (coaching and caseworker support to build confidence and life skills).
As a means of reducing extreme poverty, the graduation approach has had some notable success; a study of 21,000 graduation program participants in six countries showed that one year after the program ended, program participants on average had significantly more assets and savings, spent more time working, went hungry on fewer days, and experienced lower levels of stress and improved physical health compared to those who did not participate in the program. However, assessing whether or not these benefits translate into greater resilience in the face of shocks and stresses remains an area for further investigation.
To determine if a similar approach will be as effective at strengthening resilience as it has been at reducing poverty, a version of the graduation approach is being tested in six Sahel countries in West Africa. The World Bank’s Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) complements government cash transfer programs with an integrated support package including coaching, savings groups, community sensitization, life skills training, micro-entrepreneurship training, capital injection (cash grants), and market access. The program, which targets 600,000 households, is implemented through different hybrid models including government workers, NGOs, community facilitators, and private sector providers. An ongoing study of 25,000 participants in five countries is comparing the impact of three different packages of support on resilience outcomes. The results will be available in 2019.