6.4.1 Extend Livelihood Security and Economic Security for Orphans and Vulnerable Children to Launch Career Paths for Young People
Strategies to enhance food and economic security for orphans and vulnerable children are designed to benefit very poor people or economically stable people who are vulnerable to becoming poor, for example, because of HIV, conflict, natural disaster, etc. Services are targeted to orphan-headed households, or households with large numbers of orphans and vulnerable children. Best practice programs provide a “full package” of services that help families (re)establish farming, animal husbandry, or simple agri-businesses such as trading or basic food processing. The main goal is to stabilize food and income supply.
More innovative programs have adapted to incorporate “graduation” as a strategy. In graduation programs, there is a focus on helping families reduce dependence on food aid and other subsidies, becoming self-sufficient, building up assets, and then earning a more significant income. Different packages are offered at different levels. Families at different economic levels can participation, and the programs and communities benefit from this broad participation. It is recommended that graduation programs be implemented in partnership between livelihood security teams and teams with expertise in agricultural value chain development and/or financial institutions.
An extension of these strategies would be to better customize these initiatives to consider the needs of young people at different life stages and particularly how they might launch a career or at least a more viable livelihood in the long run.
The GRAD program, based on the predecessor, Production and Safety Nets Program – Plus (2008-2011), seeks to “graduate” 50,000 families food insecure families in drought-affected Ethiopia from food assistance into stable and resilient economic security. Participating families, the vast majority of whom are female-headed, become basically stable through food aid, health care, shelter assistance, etc. Then, the program builds capacity for productive work through skill development, free provisions of assets such as seeds and tools or animals, the development of savings and producer groups, and enhancing self-awareness, motivation and self-confidence. As people become productive and more independent, the program links them with value chain development services like agricultural extension, access to markets, access to credit, etc. Value chain development starts from the beginning of the project, working with more stable community members so that suppliers and buyers are attracted to the communities and markets are functional by the time more vulnerable populations join. The target value chains – such as honey, goats, oilseed, and maize – are selected and guided by stakeholder committees with technical advice from SNV. The PSNP-Plus program engaged over 36,000 people, and rigorous evaluation of the GRAD project is ongoing.
 Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development ( GRAD) is a USAID funded program managed by CARE and implemented in partnership with a leading value chain development organization, SNV, and three food security partners. Tufts University conducts research and impact evaluation work for the project.