No Household Left Behind: Afghanistan Targeting the Ultra Poor Impact Evaluation

This paper investigates whether the Targeting the Ultra Poor program can lift households out of poverty in a fragile context: Afghanistan.

In 80 villages in Balkh province, 1,219 of the poorest households were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. Women in treatment households received a one-off "big-push" package, including a transfer of livestock assets, cash consumption stipend, skills training, and coaching. One year after the program ended -- two years after assets were transferred -- significant and large impacts are found across all the primary pre-specified outcomes: consumption, assets, psychological well-being, total time spent working, financial inclusion, and women's empowerment. 

These findings suggest that "big-push" interventions can dramatically reduce poverty in fragile and conflict-affected regions.