Effects of BRAC's Poverty Reduction Program Targeting the Ultra-poor in Rural Bangladesh
Poverty alleviation programs for the extreme poor improve participant's economic status and may also impact other important outcomes that are seldom evaluated. Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction/Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR/TUP), a program implemented by Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC), has been successful in significantly alleviating extreme poverty in rural Bangladesh. We hypothesized that the program also improved participant's subjective wellbeing and nutritional status (i.e., weight-for-height) of children, and decreased food insecurity, domestic violence, and distress. A non-equivalent pre- and post-test quasi-experimental design was used to test the hypotheses. Data were collected from a random sample of 1618 (640 program and 978 control) households across 261 villages under 38 BRAC Area Offices of 3 northern districts of Bangladesh in 2002 and 2005-2006. Linear mixed random-intercept models were used to control for the clustering effects and other potential confounders. Program households in 2006 were significantly better than the control households in women's subjective wellbeing (p<0.001) and weight-for-height of children between ages 24-35 months (p<0.01), and lower in food insecurity (p<0.001) and domestic violence (p<0.01). Reduced food insecurity was a substantial mediator of program effects on other outcomes. The results of this study are highly important as this is a large-scale program already extended to half of the country. Findings will contribute in judging the cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness of the program, and in garnering support for the expansion of such programs.
Poverty reduction program; Maternal and child nutrition; Wellbeing; Food insecurity; Domestic violence; Distress
dissertation or thesis