The Enduring Impacts of a Big Push during Multiple Crises

How do proven strategies to improve the economic conditions of ultra-poor households hold up against the increasing severity and co-incidence of economic, security, and climate shocks? Five years after receiving an economic livelihoods package, and shortly prior to the 2021 regime change, “ultra-poor” women in Afghanistan continued to have significantly higher levels of consumption, assets, market work participation, financial inclusion, children’s school enrollment, and women’s psychological well-being and empowerment, relative to the control group. Households boost resilience by diversifying productive activities and the program improves equality by reducing the gaps between ultra-poor and non-ultra- poor households across multiple dimensions. The results illustrate how an increas- ingly popular approach to improve the conditions of the very poor through a one-off “big push” intervention can strengthen household resilience through multiple shocks in one of the most fragile settings worldwide.