The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Understanding and supporting sustained pathways out of extreme poverty and deprivation

Research Partners:

Show map
Principal Investigator: Andrew Shepherd. Lead Organisation: Overseas Development Institute, ODI (Chronic Poverty Advisory Network, CPAN)
Co-Investigators: Dickson Malunda (Institute of Policy Analysis and Research); Tassew Woldehanna Kahsay (AEMFI/EIFTRI); Flora Lucas Kessy (Economic and Social Research Foundation)
Researchers: Chiara Mariotti (Overseas Development Institute, ODI); Lucy Scott (Overseas Development Institute, ODI)

'Getting to Zero' extreme poverty involves ensuring that the policies, institutions and politics are right for the poorest people to escape poverty. As the reduction in the global number of people in poverty illustrates, there are widespread stories of success. We know much about how, and why, some households escape poverty and others do not. We know less, though, about what happens to those individuals and households after they escape poverty, and why some are able to stay on an upward trajectory well away from the poverty line, while others escape poverty only to be thrust back again into it after a few years or less. This research addresses the first two of the overarching call questions. The first is: 'what factors shape pathways into and out of poverty and people's experience of these, and how can policy create sustained routes out of extreme poverty in ways that can be replicated and scaled up?' The second: 'what political and institutional conditions are associated with effective poverty reduction and development, and what can domestic and external actors do to promote these conditions?' In particular, this proposed research concentrates on achieving a better understanding of how escapes from extreme poverty and deprivation can be sustained over time, since this is a poorly understood aspect of poverty dynamics. It does so combining the analysis of quantitative data with a time dimension (panel surveys) with the collection of life histories and face-to-face interviews and groups discussions with policy makers and key informants at the local level. Combining these diverse methods, the research is able to: i) investigate the individual and household factors that, for different groups of the population, enable sustained escapes from extreme poverty and deprivation; ii) identify how these routes for sustained pathways out of poverty are influenced by the broader social, political and economic environment in which people live, in particular the institutions which they have access to and the types of relationships which they enjoy; iii) inform policy makers on the policies that can help individuals and households to escape poverty and remain out of it; iv) improve policy makers', researchers' and NGO's capacity to design, implement and lobby for policies that enable people to escape poverty, help them stay on an upward trajectory out of poverty and prevent their impoverishment. The geographical focus of the research is on three East African countries (Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania) characterised by high poverty levels. These three countries have experienced significant political and institutional changes in the last decade which have led to varied outcomes in terms of policies. The research will compare the experience of these three countries in order to identify in each the successful policies and programmes and the political and institutional pre-conditions for their implementation, while also creating evidence of how these policies may be scaled-up and exported in other countries. The research is led by the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network (based at the Overseas Development Institute) in partnership with three East African research bodies (one in each of the countries involved) and sees the involvement of UK-based and African-based senior and junior researchers. Most of the research activities will be conducted in Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia: these include the collection of qualitative data on the field through life history interviews and groups meetings with policy makers, as well as activities for the dissemination of the findings of the project. Part of the data analysis and the writing up of the research findings will be done in UK, so as dissemination events targeted at the UK academic community and UK-based donors, NGOs, practitioners and policy makers.

Who will benefit from this research? Direct beneficiaries Direct beneficiaries will be policy-makers at the East African region level (i.e. based at the Africa Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa, East Africa Legislative Assembly and East African Community), at the country ministerial level and at the local government level, a wide range of Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organisations and local media. At the outset of the project, in each country there will be a scoping exercise to obtain a gender-balanced list of policymakers, practitioners, activists and academics to be involved in a Reference Group. This will be the project's major vehicle for policy makers and practitioners to share experience of policies and programmes that work using the results from the project. Other direct beneficiaries will be the people directly involved in the project's activities, including life histories interviews and focus groups. Two categories of indirect beneficiaries The first category includes the people living in poverty in the three case-study countries and in low-income countries more broadly. The second category includes donors, policy-makers, NGOs and other stakeholders working towards poverty reduction in UK and other high-income countries, as well as the public opinion in UK and other high-income countries. How will they benefit from this research? Through engagement in the project activities and dissemination of its outputs, all beneficiaries will see their understanding of poverty and of poverty dynamics improved and will acquire awareness of the importance of addressing poverty dynamics in policy making. Direct beneficiaries The main impact will be capacity building for policy-makers and practitioners, and stronger policy engagement and influence for the other stakeholders. Members of the Reference Group will have the opportunity to learn about examples of successful scaling-up of anti-poverty programmes, acquire evidence of what policy change is desirable and the requisite interventions package, and increase their awareness of the political and institutional preconditions to implement them. They will improve their ability to design and implement poverty eradication policies which account for poverty dynamics and are more strongly evidence-based. The encounter and exchange of experiences between policy-makers and researchers of different African countries will promote south-south learning. Policy makers at the East African regional level, targeted by the project's dissemination activities, will draw lessons from the project's findings to enrich and strengthen their countries' poverty reduction strategies. Members of NGOs and CSOs will have the opportunity to raise key issues with policy makers at the national level, influence the policy recommendations of the research project itself, and make their voice count in the formulation of the national policy agenda. Other stakeholders of the project (i.e. poor people participating in interviews and focus groups) will be better able to recognise their needs and articulate them in demands to politicians and local institutions. Indirect beneficiaries Poor people in low-income countries will benefit from the adoption of policies and programmes that are more effective in taking into account their needs: more people escape poverty, poverty escapes are more sustainable and less people fall back into poverty. Women and girls will benefit from the design of policies that take into account the gendered aspect of land, urbanisation, migration and education policies. Donors, researchers and international policy-makers will learn about the factors that influence pathways into and out of poverty and on the policies that can support and replicate routes out of it. They will bring this knowledge to the international debate on poverty reduction and apply it to their policy-making, especially in reference to the implementation of the post-2015 agenda.

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Chronic Poverty Advisory Network CPAN
Fund Start Date: 
July 1st, 2015
Fund End Date: 
February 28th, 2018
Fund Currency Code: 
Fund Value: 
Data type: