Newly released report by the Independent Commision for Aid Impact showcases the major successes and strengths of BRAC’s Graduation programs.

By creating inclusive and transparent partnerships with government agencies, BRAC is able to leverage its strengths and fill gaps in knowledge and resource areas. While the Independent Commision for Aid Impact (ICAI) found some opportunities for improvement between many of DFID’s partnerships, the 2019 report underscored some recent successes between the Department and BRAC’s own portfolio of programming.

Given BRAC’s size and scale, it is not a surprise that one of DFID’s largest grants is also one of it’s best-achieving. The £223 million, five-year grant to BRAC (known as the Strategic Partnership Agreement, to which DFAT is also party) happens to be the Department’s last remaining large unrestricted grant. The unrestricted nature of this grant allows BRAC to determine how to target the right people (using a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach), in the right places, in order to more effectively reach the most marginalized populations. The effectiveness and consistency of its programmatic targeting is one major reason why BRAC has been able to build its Graduation program to scale in Bangladesh.

Lipi, living in Khulna, takes care of the family goats, her main livelihood and source of nutrition (©BRAC 2017)

The concept of building programs to scale is one that BRAC (among many others) sees as a main pathway to solving world issues like poverty and inequality. More specifically, the main BRAC program highlighted in this recent report is that of the Ultra-Poor Graduation program, which aims to target rural women by providing financial and life-skills training, livelihood assets, healthcare and education linkages to create a sustainable pathway out of poverty.

From its inception in 2002, BRAC’s Graduation program remains the largest of its kind in the world, graduating 80-100,000 households from the program per year, demonstrating the scalability of this complex, holistic intervention. To date, BRAC has implemented or provided technical assistance on Graduation in 14 countries, impacting over 2 million households.

Since the program was developed, the Bangladesh Ultra-Poor Graduation Programme has gone through five iterations of implementation – signalling the value that DFID places on innovation and adaptation to Bangladesh’s varying and ever-evolving poverty contexts. DFID’s chief economist was cited as stating this support is a “great buy” within its “best buys in development.” While the report praises the program’s evolution and success, it does also highlight a wider opportunity for DFID to support similar investments in such programs outside of Bangladesh, something that BRAC and many other organizations around the world recognize as a key pathway to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 1: Ending poverty in all forms everywhere.

Download the full report here.