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Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra-Poor (SETU)

The SETU project was designed as a seven-year intervention to sustainably graduate 45,000 extreme poor households out of poverty.


CARE’s Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra-Poor (SETU) project in Bangladesh worked with Union Parishads (local governments) and extremely poor communities and facilitated opportunities for the two groups to engage in dialogue and negotiate. During this process, natural leaders emerged from among the poor who were able to mobilize communities to negotiate with landlords or with employers for fairer wages, and to represent community needs to Union Parishads. SETU also helped reestablish local budget planning meetings, which enabled the most marginalized people to advocate for spending decisions that benefited their communities. The project ensured consultations and social audits were held with local decision makers and marginalized groups of women, to make certain poor women’s perspectives were taken into account.

SETU was implemented in four districts in northwestern Bangladesh that are severely affected by seasonal food insecurity.

of households successfully graduated out of extreme poverty

of households successfully graduated out of extreme poverty

Project achievements

Marginalized people asserted their rights and priorities with local governments, which helped to increase the diversity of livelihood strategies, reduce exploitative labor, and ensure greater benefits from government safety net programs.

SETU’s development of self-help groups assisted women in building assets and helped communities lead collective action in fisheries and vegetable and banana cultivation (Union Parishads, or local governments, facilitated access to public lands and ponds).

By the end of the project, 95% of the 45,000 targeted households had successfully graduated out of extreme poverty.


Inclusive Governance: Transforming livelihood security experiences from CARE Bangladesh

This 2011 paper demonstrates the transformative potential of inclusive local governance in generating more secure livelihood and coping strategies of extremely poor people.

Read the report on CARE Insights