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Economic Strengthening for the Very Poor (ES4VP)


Provision services such as cash transfers, food, and asset transfers build resilience by ensuring that individuals and HH are protected against sudden shocks that are likely to overwhelm them. They also improve equity at both national and community levels by reducing poverty and destitution.

Designed to supplement and stabilize household income, interventions such as cash transfers are regular payments made directly to individuals. Once seen as an option for wealthy countries only, they are an increasingly a common form of social protection in low- and middle-income countries too. Consumption support may not seem productive, but it may allow households to rebuild and maintain productive assets by helping to smooth consumption so they do not have to sell productive assets.

Cash transfers seem highly promising in alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and increasing access to essential services for specific vulnerable groups. A recent report issued by DFID shows that cash transfers are likely to raise the human capital of the next generation, influence gender relations, and empower the poor to make their own decisions to improve their lives (DFID, 2011).

Nonetheless, the evidence on cash transfers is uneven and not always consistent. There is robust evidence from numerous countries that cash transfers have leveraged sizeable gains in access to health and education services, as measured by increases in school enrolment (particularly for girls) and use of health services including health monitoring for children and pregnant women (DFID, 2011). The benefit of conditional over unconditional transfers is not entirely clear (DFID 2011; 3ie, 2010).

The decade ahead is fraught with risk and provision services are necessary in a risky and changing world.  912 million people live with less than $2 a day (2010 stats WB). 75 million are unemployed youth.

Provisioning should be continued until households have developed appropriate protection strategies to ensure they do not end up in the same situation. These strategies preserve and build human capital propelling individuals and households out of poverty.