April 20, 2023

Summary of "Transitioning from Graduation to Resilience" Virtual Event

Part of USAID’s Agency Learning and Evidence Month

The USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance funded Graduating to Resilience Activity held a two-hour virtual learning event on the 13th of April 2023: "Transitioning from Graduation to Resilience." The event was part of USAID’s Agency Learning and Evidence Month, where the 7-year livelihoods program presented learnings from its first cohort of implementation to an audience of about 160+ virtual participants following invitations to a wider cross-section of partners in the Uganda Government, nonprofit, multilateral, and private sectors.

The meeting had a panel of two presenters – Rita Larok, the AVSI Foundation Global Graduation focal person/Graduating to Resilience Chief of Party, and John Paul Nyeko, the Activity Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor; and was moderated by Mara Forbes, Trickle Up’s Uganda Program Manager.

The discussion focused on the Activity cohort one graduation results that culminated in a 73 percent graduation rate (an active 5,199 of 6,629 participants). The presentations further entailed the resilience results showing 61 percent of the graduated 73 percent remained resilient and met the graduation criteria 18 months after the closure of cohort one. This was followed by: an overview of the Activity, Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA)’s randomized control trial results, the graduation approach, and a comparison with the other two graduation programs, particularly concerning how graduation and resilience are measured. The unique identifiers of the Activity included its sequencing of activities, measurement criteria, and coaching model.

"When you have a trained and committed coach attached to accompany a household for 30 months, the relationship, confidence, and skills they share with the household is what will make the great difference in helping poor refugee and host community populations to become self-reliant and to attain resilience. This is an asset we have in our USAID-Graduating to Resilience Activity."

The program was broken up with some visuals: the Activity animation video and a story of the ‘Ntonwa Family Group.’ Other key learnings discussed were (1) why some households retrogressed after cohort one and (2) the low scores in meal frequency, housing structure, and food diversity criterion.

The ended with a positive concluding note, highlighting that focus group discussions in the resilience follow-up found that almost all families had goals and plans to improve their livelihoods. Most of the households are actively implementing skills learned, including saving, boiling water, utilizing health services, kitchen gardens, consumption of three meals, market prices awareness and knowledge, health basics, justice services and other redress mechanisms, and social networks and support through Village Saving and Loans Associations. Finally, the meeting ended with a summary of lessons learned, possible next steps, and a question-and-answer session.

Lessons Learned

  • Group coaching is effective and promotes social cohesion/peer support, and the additional household-level touch point is helpful for observation and tailored support.
  • Coaching, savings, and asset transfer were the most significant activities identified by participants – in a graduation approach-type program.
  • Family/household approach is an inclusive way of working with an entire family while addressing the needs of women and youth.
  • Refugees might take longer to graduate compared to the host groups (18-24 months might be enough for the host, but refugees might need 24-30 months).
  • Participant dropout from the project will happen and implementers need to plan for it (about 22%). So far, the Activity has witnessed a 4% dropout in months 13/24 of cohort two, noting that adaptations to programming can change the dropout situation significantly.
  • Adaptive Learning and the use of evidence for decision making is critical.

Possible next steps

  • Would adding a structured mental health component impact graduation and resilience? (IPA)
  • Would it make sense to have a longitudinal study on the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of graduation results? (IPA)
  • Do coach characteristics influence graduation resilience? (Duke University)
  • Would it be worth doing an Activity Ethnographic study (Visual story demonstrating the most significant changes in the participant’s journey to resilience using a River of Life)

Q&A Session

The question-and-answer session also addressed questions on costing, attribution, numbers and dropout, gender and inclusiveness, graduation measurement, resilience, results, and the uniqueness of the Activity and its approach. Overall, the evidence presented showed that the graduation approach showed significant positive results on the resilience of refugees and host communities. 

"We have seen the impact of the Graduating to Resilience Activity (in the field), and each time we have interacted with the participants, they have acknowledged that their coaches and trainers are helping them to achieve their goals. The Activity is creating a positive impact in people."

About Graduating to Resilience

Graduating to Resilience is a 7-year USAID- Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance- funded Activity, led by AVSI Foundation in partnership with Trickle Up and American Institutes for Research (AIR). The Activity seeks to test the ability of the Graduation Approach to graduate 13,200 extremely poor refugee and host community households (across two cohorts) from food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience. 

Graduating to Resilience articles