Publication Date
Publication Date: 
July 1, 2017

The purpose of this toolkit is to present practical guidance to help project teams ensure that poverty alleviation (PA) programmes such as those addressing food security and hunger, livelihoods, social protection, humanitarian cash/resource transfers are child-sensitive, i.e., maximise benefits for children and eliminate harm to children. This involves using child-sensitive approaches in the design, implementation, monitoring, and/or evaluation phases of PA projects whenever possible.

As explained in the guide, “Historically, poverty alleviation interventions have tended to assess risk, measure impact and provide support at the household (HH) level. These interventions often assume that increasing the incomes and strengthening the livelihood strategies of poor HHs will result in positive impacts for children in those HHs....However, increasing income and assets at the HH level does not always result in positive impacts for children. Some PA interventions can have neutral or unintended negative impacts on children. For example, programmes engaging caregivers may show evidence of effectiveness at the level of the HH, but may be ineffective in contributing to positive changes for the youngest in the house. In the worst-case scenario, such programmes can even put children at greater risk of school-leaving, exploitation or harmful labour.”

Therefore, a child-sensitive approach to PA programming is needed to ensure that PA programmes reach children and truly lead to positive benefits for them, and most importantly, to ensure that PA programmes cause no harm to children. Child-sensitive policies, programmes, and interventions can do so by:

  • Assessing and monitoring both positive and negative impacts for children, disaggregated by the age, gender, and vulnerabilities of the child.
  • Listening to and taking account of the voices and views of children in their planning, design, implementation, and review.

Additional principles of a child-sensitive approach to PA programming:

  • Adopt a flexible and adaptive programme design and implementation to ensure “do no harm” to children.
  • Ensure accountability of project teams to children and caregivers.
  • Take a rights-based approach.
  • Aim for gender-transformative programming
  • Collaborate closely with other sectors (i.e., using an integrated approach) to address all root causes of children’s deprivations (including and beyond poverty).
  • Use innovative and evidence-based approaches to enhance PA interventions (e.g., tackling behavioural barriers to improve children’s well-being by incorporating a social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) component).

The intended audience for this toolkit is child poverty technical advisors/specialists (including those working on food security and livelihoods and social protection). It also includes programme managers, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) staff and field-level practitioners involved in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of child-sensitive PA programmes.

This toolkit presents three primary building blocks for integrating child sensitivity into PA programmes. These building blocks correspond to the typical phases of the project cycle, and therefore build on each other. The sequential structure is intended to help project teams clearly relate which building blocks are most relevant for their projects at any given point in the project cycle and to ensure that the suggested actions add value throughout the life of PA projects. For each suggested action, the guide recommends a series of tools that can be used to undertake that action. It is structured as follows:

Building Block A: Analysis
Analysis Action 1: Identify child deprivations, aspirations, and context
Analysis Action 2: Identify root causes of child deprivations

Building Block B: Design
Design Action 3: Identify potential solutions
Design Action 4: Plan to address risks and question assumptions
Design Action 5: Consolidate child-sensitive design

Building Block C: MEAL
MEAL Action 6: Select indicators
MEAL Action 7: Engage children, their caregivers and the community
MEAL Action 8: Focus on accountability measures
MEAL Action 9: Advance learning on child-sensitive poverty alleviation

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