Kamwenge district, Uganda
1 October Oct 2017 0200 4 years ago 1 October Oct 2024 0200 2 years from now

Graduating to resilience

"Graduating to resilience" will be implemented over seven years to improve food security and nutrition and to build self-reliance and resilience among extremely poor households in a refugee settlement and host communities.

AVSI G2R Charlotte2 Scaled
Budget 36,700,000

For news and updates about the project:

Notes from the Field

This set of notes comes directly from the Graduating to Resilience team in Uganda, comprised of AVSI, Trickle Up and IMPAQ International. You will read updates on our progress and gains in learning and knowledge, discoveries and challenges from the first year. This issue gives a brief overview of the Graduation Approach and the innovative aspects embedded in the Graduating to Resilience Activity, a summary of the use of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) for the identification of participants, and an overview of the Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) plan that is already in motion. READ THE NOTES HERE.


AVSI Foundation, leading a consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International and funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID, is implementing the "Graduating to resilience"​ project in the Kamwenge District, in Western Uganda. The goal is to graduate extremely poor refugee households who fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Ugandan vulnerable households from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience.

The "Graduating to resilience" project provides an opportunity to test a combination of elements of the graduation approach for impact and
cost-effectiveness, including an alternative which draws specifically on the conclusions from the uniquely Ugandan SCORE model.

With this investment, USAID is signaling its commitment to the cutting edge and ambitious “Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHope) Strategic Framework” led by the Government of Uganda and the UN, in partnership with the World Bank, donors and implementing partners. Officially launched in June 2017, ReHope is “a transformative strategy to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in a harmonized and cohesive manner to ensure more effective programming. It is a response to specific challenges faced in delivering protection and achieving social and economic development for both refugee and host communities.”


The AVSI Consortium will tackle the underlying causes of food insecurity with a sustainable, cost-effective adaptation of the Graduation Approach.

Kamwenge aims to:

  • Improve Food Security and Nutrition status of household members.
  • Improve household economic status.
  • Increase resilience of household members and communities.


As a result of the program design and Activity Learning Plan proposed by the AVSI Consortium, USAID will gain critical evidence to inform food security and resilience programming in Uganda and regionally, in refugee and other settings. Global organizations such as UNHCR stand to gain immensely about cost effective ways of adapting and scaling up the Graduation Approach as a solution to extreme poverty as we work to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.


AVSI’s past experience with the Graduation Approach in Uganda demonstrates the power of building pressure for improved services and policies, by working at the level of households and communities to increase knowledge and demand for services and appropriate policies. The use of group methodologies in the Graduation Approach stimulates creative collective action around solutions to commonly faced problems. The AVSI led consortium will facilitate the emergence of creative solutions to these problems and will support them to the extent possible.​

The AVSI Consortium will work with 13,200 households in Kamwenge District that are economically active, but chronically unable to meet their basic needs without some form of assistance. Half of the households will be from the host community, and the other half will be from the refugee community, taking into consideration each population’s unique needs. Households will be divided into two Cohorts, allowing for a rigorous evaluation to be carried out by an external agency contracted separately from this Activity by USAID. Each Cohort will participate in the "Graduating to resilience" project for 30 months.

Three treatment variations will be tested in parallel during Cohort 1: 1) Standard Adapted Model, 2) Group Coaching Model, and 3) Empowerment Model. Specific details of each treatment will be decided during the first year.


Using a woman plus household approach and targeting chronically food insecure households with the capacity to engage in productive activities, the AVSI "Graduating to resilience" project will methodically build confidence, increase capabilities, and change the behavior of women and household members in such a way as to improve nutrition, food security, accumulation of assets and income.


The "Graduating to resilience" project will adapt the Standard Graduation Approach, developed by BRAC, to the Ugandan context to address the underlying causes of food insecurity and vulnerability to shocks and stresses, in a sustainable and cost effective way.

This diagram offers a simplified look at the Standard approach.


By using the Graduation Approach and targeting women and youth, this activity will increase levels of knowledge around nutrition, health and hygiene and encourage behavior changes which are supported by group dynamics and changing cultural norms and practices. Integrated risk management that addresses household specific risks as well as regional and environmental risks will build the capacity of households and communities to prepare for and cope with health and climate shocks which contribute to instability and undermine progress.


  • 13,200 households will be targeted, using Participatory Wealth Ranking at the community level
  • 26,400 other individuals directly participating
  • 39,600 household members and neighbors receiving indirect benefits
  • 50% will be refugees of Congolese descent living in Rwamwanja Settlement
  • 50%will be Ugandan households.
  • 75% of direct participants will be women
  • 75% of direct participants will be youth



  • Household Development Plan
  • Delivering core messages about nutrition, parenting, health and hygiene
  • Weekly follow-ups and support to households
  • Referrals to services


  • Savings groups
  • Consumption Support
  • Asset Transfer
  • Market Skills Development training and linkages
  • Apprenticeship programs for older youth


  • Farmer Field School
  • Backyard Gardening demonstrations and start-up support.
  • Nutrition screening for children and referrals
  • Nutrition education for parents
  • Targeted WASH and health interventions


  • Project level risk analysis – annual basis
  • Household risk analysis by coaches with participants and households
  • Households and community level action plans developed and monitored throughout activities

Adaptations to Build Resilient Communities

The COVID-19 pandemic brought new ways of life to help prevent the spread of the virus. The video explains the path taken by our USAID-funded Graduating to Resilience program together with refugees and host communities in South Western Uganda to help them remain resilient amidst the pandemic.

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