Friday, 2 May 2014

Introducing the ‘Graduation and Social Protection’ blog series

The first in Graduation and Social Protection Conference blog series

Next week over 150 people will gather in Kigali for a 3-day international conference to discuss graduation and social protection. This blog series, hosted on the IDS Povertics site, will run alongside the conference. The series aims to enliven the debate, promote wider engagement from policy-makers and practitioners and prompt the community of practice to act in the interest of the people who are most affected by the practical and theoretical questions that will be addressed at the conference.

I recently returned from a field visit in North West Bangladesh to a riverine island district where people live on islands made of silt that erode, evolve and migrate with the rains. We were visiting the long-running Chars Livelihood Programme (CLP) that targets the so-called ‘extreme-poor’ and provides an integrated package of livelihood support, cash transfers and plinth-raising to lift people above both the water and the extreme poverty line.

Image: Feet above the water line
Image: Feet above the water line. Source: Sarah Barns

It was there I met Salma*. Salma self-identified as a ‘graduate’ from the CLP. Her two year stipend and programme of integrated support ended seven years ago. Although she was still relatively better off than non-beneficiary households, her assets were evidently depleted. The heifer she had bought with the original asset transfer had been sold and in its place a less fruitful bull, which she intended to sell one day for meat. Our brief visit prompted questions about the sustainability of graduation for Salma and other beneficiaries, the possibility of graduating from extreme poverty into moderate poverty and the difficulties of measuring graduation beyond the programme’s boundaries.

Throughout the course of this blog series, our authors will explore some of these questions and many of their own. The debate will be kick-started by Stephen Devereux, co-director of the conference, who will introduce some key questions and outline his hopes for the week ahead. On Monday, Mat Pritchard from the CLP will delve deeper into the challenging questions surrounding graduation in Bangladesh. Olabanji Akinola will argue that the development community must do more to avoid the unfortunate reality of premature graduation he witnessed in his recent research into the ‘In Care of the People’ (COPE) Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme in Nigeria. Aude De Montesquiou looks through the lens of the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Programme’s graduation pilots currently being evaluated, and Mark Davies asks what graduation means from an agricultural perspective.

We hope that you will all contribute and shape this debate online and at the conference. Let us know what you (really) think in the comments section below…

*Salma is a pseudonym.

Bridget Holtom is a social protection policy officer at DFID and is the Communications Coordinator for the international conference on ‘Graduation and Social Protection’ which is co-hosted by the Government and Rwanda and the Centre for Social Protection from the UK Institute of Development Studies, with financial support from Irish Aid, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF.

This blog post is part of a series. The content of this blog series reflects the opinions of each individual author, and not necessarily those of IDS, UNICEF, DFID, IRISHAID or the Government of Rwanda.

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