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Economic Strengthening for the Very Poor (ES4VP)

Economic Strengthening Pathways

Poverty researchers and development practitioners have built various conceptual frameworks and models that portray movement out of poverty as an upward path from high to low poverty, or increasingly from high to low vulnerability. The underlying idea behind these frameworks is that very poor or vulnerable households behave differently and have different needs and aspirations than less poor or vulnerable households.  Provided that practitioners can assess such differences in household economic security, they can better target and customize their activities to the specific needs and circumstances of households or populations at a certain level on this path. 

Several leaders in the economic strengthening field have begun to adopt the pathway concept. Most of these agencies have struggled to advance (or “graduate”) highly vulnerable households from direct income assistance (such as cash or food transfers) to more growth-oriented strategies. While each may identify different sequential phases, the common element is a directional pathway towards growth.[1]

Examples are the conceptual frameworks are the Economic Strengthening Pathway by PEPFAR and within LIFT’s Livelihood and Food Security Conceptual Framework, CGAP and Ford Foundation’s supported Graduation Model, inspired by BRAC’s holistic approach targeting the Ultra Poor in Bangladesh, and CARE’s Pathways to Empowerment.





[1] HH Econ Strengthening in Tanzania Jason Wolfe (p. 7)