SPEC Webinar 13 - Resilience Building and Adaptability of Graduation Approach: Experience of and Evidence from BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Programme in responding to COVID-19 Shocks in Bangladesh


This webinar shared evidence on the adaptability of and resilience built by the Graduation approach based on the experience of the Ultra-Poor Graduation (UPG) programme of BRAC in Bangladesh. This was the second webinar organised by SPEC on the effectiveness of the Graduation approach against a large shock like COVID-19, following the webinar on Honduras’ Graduation program.

COVID-19 related restrictions affected the livelihoods of millions of people in Bangladesh, hitting hard the poor informal sector workers and the vulnerable non-poor people living just above the poverty line. A survey found, an additional 14.8% of the population were living below the poverty line in March 2021 (adding to existing 20.5%), who are referred to as new poor.  

BRAC, the largest NGO in the world, is complementing the government of Bangladesh’s efforts in emergency response and recovery through rebuilding livelihoods and strengthening the resilience of the vulnerable population. BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation programme (UPG) is one of the major interventions in this effort. BRAC pioneered the graduation approach in Bangladesh that is adopted in over 50 countries in the world. The UPG programme has shown evidence of building the resilience of the participants to cope with the COVID-19 shock. The design of the UPG has shown flexibility to significant adaptation during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, 98% of the participants from the 2019 cohort graduated from the programme in 2020. The UPG programme is also implementing interventions to support the ‘new poor’ who have migrated to villages and have no income.  



  • To share the experience of BRAC UPG programme’s adaptability and evidence of resilience building of the ultra-poor households to COVID-19 shocks

  • To hear the insights, experience and evidence of different shock responsive initiatives from government and experts



Rozina Haque, Programme Head, Ultra-Poor Graduation programme, BRAC

Imran Matin, Executive Director, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, BRAC University

Mohammad Mukhlesur Rahman Sarker, Joint Secretary, Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Co-operatives & National Project Director, SWAPNO

Palash Das, Director, Ultra-Poor Graduation programme, BRAC



Lisa Hannigan, Senior Social Protection Specialist / Director, Social Protection Section, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Canberra




This was the thirteenth webinar of the Linking Social Protection to Sustainable Employment webinar series, which was organized by GIZ and SPEC. Please join the Online Community Social Protection for Employment if you are interested in following the most recent discussions on the topic.