kamwenge district - uganda


“USAID is proud to have partnered with the Government of Uganda and the AVSI Foundation in building an evidence base for more responsive and sustainable development programming for orphans and vulnerable children. This uniquely Ugandan model to graduate vulnerable orphans and their families out of poverty and sustain their improvement works. It provides Ugandan policy makers, especially government, with a cost-effective tool to change the historical trend and eradicate poverty from Uganda.” 

Mark Meassick, USAID’s Chief of Mission in Uganda

March 15, 2017

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AVSI Foundation, leading a consortium with Trickle Up and AIR (former IMPAQ International) and funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID, is implementing the Graduating to Resilience project in the Kamwenge District, in Western Uganda. The goal is to graduate extremely poor refugee households who fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Ugandan vulnerable households from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience.

The Graduating to Resilience project provides an opportunity to test a combination of elements of the graduation approach for impact and cost-effectiveness, including an alternative which draws specifically on the conclusions from the uniquely Ugandan SCORE model.

With this investment, USAID is signaling its commitment to the cutting edge and ambitious “Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHope) Strategic Framework” led by the Government of Uganda and the UN, in partnership with the World Bank, donors and implementing partners. Officially launched in June 2017, ReHope is “a transformative strategy to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in a harmonized and cohesive manner to ensure more effective programming. It is a response to specific challenges faced in delivering protection and achieving social and economic development for both refugee and host communities.”


The AVSI Consortium will tackle the underlying causes of food insecurity with a sustainable, cost-effective adaptation of the Graduation Approach.

  • Graduating to Resilience project aims to:
  • Improve Food Security and Nutrition status of household members.
  • Improve household economic status.
  • Increase resilience of household members and communities.

impact statement

USAID and implementing partners will gain critical evidence to inform food security and resilience programming in Uganda and regionally, in refugee and other settings. Global organizations such as UNHCR stand to gain immensely about cost effective ways of adapting and scaling up the Graduation Approach as a solution to extreme poverty as we work to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.


AVSI’s past experience with the Graduation Approach in Uganda demonstrates the power of building pressure for improved services and policies, by working at the level of households and communities to increase knowledge and demand for services and appropriate policies. The use of group methodologies in the Graduation Approach stimulates creative collective action around solutions to commonly faced problems. The AVSI led consortium will facilitate the emergence of creative solutions to these problems and will support them to the extent possible.

The AVSI Consortium will work with 13,200 households in Kamwenge District that are economically active, but chronically unable to meet their basic needs without some form of assistance. Half of the households will be from the host community, and the other half will be from the refugee community, taking into consideration each population’s unique needs. Households will be divided into two cohorts, allowing for a rigorous evaluation to be carried out by an external agency contracted separately from this Activity by USAID. Each cohort will participate in the Graduation Activity for 30 months.

Three treatment variations will be tested in parallel during cohort 1:

1) Standard Adapted Model
2) Group Coaching Model
3) Empowerment Model.

Specific details of each treatment will be decided during the first year.

woman + household approach

Using a woman plus household approach and targeting chronically food insecure households with the capacity to engage in productive activities, the AVSI Graduating to Resilience project will methodically build confidence, increase capabilities, and change the behavior of women and household members in such a way as to improve nutrition, food security, accumulation of assets and income.

graduation approach

The Graduating to Resilience project will adapt the Standard Graduation Approach, developed by BRAC, to the Ugandan context to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and vulnerability to shocks and stresses, in a sustainable and cost effective way.

This diagram offers a simplified look of the the standard Graduation Approach.

expected results

By using the Graduation Approach and targeting women and youth, this activity will increase levels of knowledge around nutrition, health and hygiene and encourage behavior changes which are supported by group dynamics and changing cultural norms and practices. Integrated risk management that addresses household specific risks as well as regional and environmental risks will build the capacity of households and communities to prepare for and cope with health and climate shocks which contribute to instability and undermine progress.


  • 13,200 households will be targeted, using Participatory Wealth  Ranking at the community level
  • 26,400 other individuals directly participating
  • 39,600 household members and neighbors receiving indirect benefits
  • 50% will be refugees of Congolese descent living in Rwamwanja Settlement
  • 50%will be Ugandan households
  • 75% of direct participants will be women
  • 75% of direct participants will be youth

illustrative activities

– Household Development Plan
– Delivering core messages about nutrition, parenting, health and hygiene
– Weekly follow-ups and support to households
– Referrals to services

– Savings groups
– Consumption Support
– Asset Transfer
– Market Skills Development training and linkages
– Apprenticeship programs for older youth

– Farmer Field School
– Backyard Gardening demonstrations and start-up support.
– Nutrition screening for children and referrals
– Nutrition education for parents
– Targeted WASH and health interventions

– Project level risk analysis – annual basis
– Household risk analysis by coaches with participants and households
– Households and community level action plans developed and monitored throughout activities


Programming for the Graduating to Resilience project is led by the AVSI Foundation, in consortium with: