10 key messages about tackling chronic poverty

Since 2011, CPAN has worked on how to tackle chronic poverty. Below is an overview of CPAN's work and key findings. Each point relates to a series of publications. Just click on the links for further information on the topic. 


#1 : Getting to zero extreme poverty requires focusing on tackling chronic poverty, preventing impoverishment, and sustaining escapes from poverty

It will not be possible to ‘get to zero’ unless development policies put those living in chronic poverty front and centre. If we are to get close to zero extreme poverty, policies must be aim for three separate but interdependent objectives – the zero poverty ‘tripod’: Tackle chronic poverty Stop impoverishment and Sustain poverty escapes.  There are three policies that address all three legs of this tripod: social assistance, massive investment in education and pro-poorest growth. All three are needed if the eradication of extreme poverty is to be sustained, and all three require massive global investment.

To know more : Chronic Poverty Report III


#2 SDGs: Focusing on poverty eradication allows the integration of many of the SDGs

Leaving no one behind is the moral challenge of our age, and is at the heart of an ambitious blueprint for action: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One specific goal is ‘ending poverty, in all its forms, everywhere’, but the SDGs also aim to tackle marginalisation. The SDG outcome document specifies that the goals should be met for all segments of society, with an aim to reach those furthest behind first. The SDGs will not be met if the poorest and most marginalised people continue to be left behind by progress. Efforts to ensure that no one is left behind are vital in the first 1,000 days.

To know more: Leave No One Behind Research Report


#3 Poverty trends: A ‘perfect storm’ of factors restrains a group of largely African fragile states from making progress on poverty.  

Extreme poverty is progressively concentrating in an overlapping group of countries: SSA countries, FCAS, LDCs  and LMI countries. Volatile growth, poor government effectiveness, low aid and environmental vulnerability looks like a ‘perfect storm’ of driving factors that will make it next to impossible for these countries to progress in eradicating poverty the future. In order to counter this, there is a need for concerted national and international effort. Relevant policy issues include extending social assistance to all the ultra-poor to bring their level of living closer to the poverty line; and paying close attention to (and supporting the rise of) rural casual wages, which influence living standards at the bottom of the income distribution. 

To know more: Towards an integrated international cooperation

#4: To reduce poverty in conflict affected areas, there is a need to adapt policies to the sub-national level.

Fragility increases the vulnerability of the population and the exposure of poor households to negative shocks. The chances of escaping poverty become very slight and the risk of falling into poverty increases. As most conflicts today occur at the intra-state level, it is important to focus on fragility and post-conflict reconstruction at a subnational level, in order to tackle poverty efficiently. If not, the poorest households are likely to experience income and expenditure declines in spite of the presence of national pro-poor policies, and become impoverished or live in chronic poverty.

To know more: Making poverty reduction a priority in fragile areas

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#5: Most countries make regular progress on human development. This needs to provide a basis for pro-poorest economic development. 

There is a need to extend and deepen human development support, and to link explicitly human development progress to economic development for the poor and poorest people. Social policies based on an integrated approach to human development (including education, health and social protection) produce powerful synergies for addressing chronic poverty. In education there is a need to provide access to pre- and post-primary education to the poorest households and create links with the labour market. In health, attempts to reach universal coverage need to focus especially on the hardest to reach. Social protection helps to create demand for both services among people who would otherwise be easily discouraged, as well as reducing their vulnerability

To know more: MIC Policy Guide| Social Protection Policy Guide 1  Social Protection Policy Guide 2 | Education Policy Guide

#6 Tackling poverty will be possible only if we ensure that poverty escapes are sustained rather than transitory.

The key differences between sustained and transitory escapes are related to resources (assets, often livestock), family attributes (parents’ education levels, family size), and experiences of series of shocks and stresses, and the enabling environment. Creating this enabling environment requires programmes and policies in neglected issues which include: the rural non-farm economy, improving poor women’s choices for sexual and reproductive health, migration, rural labour markets and social assistance.

To know more: Investigating the dynamics and drivers of transitory poverty escapes | Uganda Report Bangladesh ReportEthiopia Report | Infographics

#7: Pro-poor growth is a commonly used concept. However, to leave no one behind, we need to think about pro-poorest growth.

Economic growth will be critical to achieve the SDGs and to eradicate extreme poverty by 2023. However, not any type of growth will do the job. Growth does not reduce poverty substantially everywhere or all the time, and the poorest benefit variably from growth. The key issues to take into consideration when attempting to enable the poorest people to benefit from growth are the political economy; building the asset holdings and capabilities of the poorest; ensuring the right kind of enabling environment, including effective macro-economic management, especially the management of shocks; household economic diversification and the functioning of the rural wage labour market.

To know more: Challenge paper | WP1 |WP2 | WP3 | Project page 

#8: Social protection programmes need to be adapted to the poorest and most vulnerable in order to have a real impact on poverty levels.

Social protection policies and programmes have a crucial role in preventing households from falling into poverty and in preventing their impoverishment. Innovative designs that combine different interventions, either following a graduation approach or by building integrated social protection systems, will fulfil protective and preventive functions in order to lift people out of poverty in a sustained way.

To know more: Social Protection Policy Guide 1 | Social  Protection Policy Guide 2


#9: Anti-discrimination measures are critical where discrimination drives exclusion and poverty, but are rarely enough on their own.

Anti-discrimination measures are a key part of poverty eradication policies, and without them, certain categories of people will remain in, or slide back into, poverty. The four key strategies for reducing discrimination are legal change; attitude change; quotas and reservations; and social investment programmes. Because categories often change and evolve in time policy design may need to change in response to these changing patterns of exclusion and discrimination.

To know more: Do Anti-Discrimination Measures Reduce Poverty Among Marginalised Social Groups? | Anti-discrimination policies and programmes in low-and middle-income countries

#10: Disability and extreme poverty is an intersection of disadvantages which is likely to contribute to chronic poverty, especially among women.

Evidence from Bangladesh shows that extremely poor women with disabilities face a triple disadvantage which is likely to keep them chronically poor. The association of severe impairments with poverty status is strong. Households containing a disabled person are also more likely to be poor. Chronic illnesses are just as impoverishing. Mental health and disability issues are greatly neglected by public policy.

To know more: Disability, poverty and poverty dynamics: a preliminary analysis of panel data, policies and politics in Bangladesh