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Poverty graduation model good way to optimise resource use

 Highrise apartments along the railway line in Kibera, Nairobi. The apartments are part of the Kibera Slum Upgrading Project, September 2016.  [Jacob Otieno, Standard]

Over the years, Africa has had countless poverty alleviation initiatives with varying degrees of success. While some programmes have made significant strides, others have fallen short, often due to a lack of data-driven approaches.

The persistent challenge of extreme poverty requires us to rethink and refine our strategies. It's time for African governments to adopt evidence-based models like poverty graduation, which have demonstrated efficacy in reducing poverty and optimising resource use.

Past poverty alleviation efforts have provided invaluable lessons. For instance, large-scale food aid programmes, while addressing immediate hunger, failed to create lasting economic stability.

They tended to foster dependency rather than self-sufficiency, since recipients did not receive necessary tools or opportunities to become financially independent. In another example, microfinance programmes aimed at providing small loans to the poor led to debt cycles. Without adequate support and financial literacy, many beneficiaries struggled to repay their loans.

These experiences underscore the limitations of traditional methods and highlight the need for a more comprehensive approach. In contrast, the poverty graduation model offers a holistic solution by addressing multiple dimensions of poverty simultaneously. This approach combines cash transfers, skills training, and asset provision to help the ultra-poor build sustainable livelihoods.

By using data-driven strategies, poverty graduation programmes can adapt to community needs and ensure more sustainable outcomes, breaking the cycle of poverty more effectively than traditional methods. Implementing poverty graduation programmes allows for a more efficient allocation of resources. By focusing on the most vulnerable populations and providing them with the tools to succeed, these programs can break the cycle of poverty more effectively than traditional methods.

In Kenya, for instance, the Kenya Social and Economic Inclusion Project (KSEIP) has shown that when governments invest in evidence-based approaches, the results are transformative. Village Enterprise, as part of a consortium with the Global Development Incubator and BOMA, has played a crucial role in this initiative.

Together, we have supported nearly 7,500 households to start enterprises during the first cohort (2021 - 2023) of KSEIP, with the Kenyan government now implementing the second cohort. These success stories are a testament to the power of poverty graduation programmes in changing lives and communities.

It's crucial for policymakers to recognise the potential of poverty graduation programmes and prioritise their adoption. These programmes represent a significant shift towards evidence-based policymaking, essential for achieving long-term development goals.

The potential of these programmes is immense, and their adoption can bring about a significant change in the fight against poverty. Governments must also engage with communities to understand their needs and incorporate their feedback into programme design and implementation.

The fight against poverty in Africa requires innovative and adaptive strategies. African governments can create lasting change by learning from past initiatives and embracing evidence-based models like poverty graduation. 

-Mr Muriuki is the Chief Government Relations Officer for Village Enterprise

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