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Submitted to ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research

PIs: Anthony Marcus and Chitra Raghavan
Methodologist: Kirk Dombrowski
Partner Organization: Trickle Up India & Trickle Up New York
Nov. 2012
Poverty Alleviation via Social Network Analysis among Ultrapoor Populations in Eastern India
It is increasingly accepted by practitioners and policy makers that specific interventions are required for people living at different levels of poverty, especially those living in the conditions of ultrapoverty, often understood to be among the poorest of the 1.3 billion people who live on less than $1.25 a day. Ultrapoor households tend to be geographically remote, historically excluded and rarely access poverty alleviation programs due to their need to prioritize consumption over investment. Trapped in a state of chronic malnutrition, poor health, and illiteracy, with little or no productive assets, they usually have scant opportunity to engage in long term livelihood planning. For these reasons, this population is marginalized from both government and NGO programs.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)/Ford Foundation Ultrapoor Graduation program has adapted and tested a model, in eight countries, referred to as the graduation model. Based on careful sequencing of key inputs combining social protection, livelihoods development and microfinance, the graduation model includes identification of the most vulnerable households within a community; provision of time-bound cash transfers to households to meet basic needs; health support; livelihood planning and productive asset transfer; savings to help build resilience; and “just in time” coaching in all areas of livelihood development.

While results to date are positive, only a limited amount is known about how social relations are impacted by and impact the outcomes of the graduation model., These questions are crucial to creating powerful, cost-effective and scalable anti-poverty tools that have the potential to impact significant numbers of the ultra and extreme poor, particularly as the sustainability of impact is largely dependent on the ability of participants to continue to access information and support after program inputs end.

This research will examine graduation programs implemented by Trickle Up in numerous districts in eastern India. We will examine the impact of graduation programs on the social networks, social capital, and socio-economic outcomes of people living in ultrapoverty with the goal of understanding the nature and pathways out of ultrapoverty. Using respondent driven sampling (RDS), participants will be incentivized to recruit members of their personal networks. Using semi-structured ethnographic interviewing participants will discuss two broad network domains: personal (i.e., family planning, domestic violence and household decision making) and livelihood (i.e., food security, market activities, and savings). In each domain, participants will be asked to name the top several individuals to whom they would turn for help, resources, or information, or to whom they would refer someone in need of help and who they have helped in the past. These responses will be used to create social network maps of entire communities which will be analyzed by gender and if relevant, social status. Social network mapping is a cutting edge technique that reveals individual and community priorities in assembling patterns of exchange, help, obligation and reciprocity.