This paper discusses the lessons from a series of research projects themed around extreme poverty and ‘protecting the gains’. In its first phase of funding, Shiree supported six partner NGOs to scale-up ‘proven’ approaches to reducing extreme poverty through economically empowering households. Throughout the implementation of these projects, various lessons emerged, as well as one overriding issue, notably, the need to ensure or maximize the possibility for sustainable impacts to households, or to ‘protect the gains’.
In response to these experiences, a series of small research projects were undertaken between January and May 2011 and this chapter brings together some of the main messages from this research. There is clearly a lot to learn from not only scaling-up but also protecting the gains for the benefit of future extreme poverty programming. How can the potential of sustainability be understood and realised in practice? This outlines the key findings from the protecting the gains research projects. Some findings include, for example, the importance of raising knowledge of threats (such as viruses in shrimp cultivation) and increasing beneficiaries’ confidence to take steps to mitigate risks and make sizeable investments; The strong need for more ex-ante or preventative approaches to shock and disaster, demonstrated by the case of Save the Children UK (SCUK), in the South-West of Bangladesh; and the critical role of empowering key change makers in communities to become advocates for the extreme poor (highlighted by Care).
The paper also documents the main lessons identified by Scale Fund NGOs during the scale-up of models. Overall, the paper highlights that socio-economic contexts hold implications, for creating both enabling and constraining spaces, in which extreme poor households try to improve their livelihoods. Not only highlighting a variety of issues as key challenges in projects’ efforts to eradicate extreme poverty, the findings offer key recommendations for operational consideration and a variety of advocacy messages relevant to stakeholders in the wider policy space. The paper finishes with a summary of these. It also touches on what has been learnt throughout the research process, and makes some suggestions for the future research framework and activities of the EPRG. It makes a summary of the research questions coming from this phase – these revolve around land, governance, gender, children, and responding to disaster and climate change.
Marsden, H. Extreme Poverty and Protecting the Gains - Lessons from Recent Research. Shiree Working Paper No. 8. Shiree, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2011) 36 pp.