The basic premise of traditional development programs
has been a broad-brush identification of the poor as a homogenous entity. As a
result they have relegated the varying needs of the different echelons of the
poor in favor of a ‘collective’ approach towards poverty alleviation. This approach
fails to reach out to humanity at its poorest and most distressed, aptly termed
as ‘ultra-poor.’ In order to cater to that deprived population Bandhan started
its Chartering into Unventured Frontiers—Targeting the Hard core Poor (THP)
Program in 2006.
Presently, the program is reaching out to 5,000
hard core poor families, out of which 96.88% of the eligible families (who have
completed 2 years) have already graduated to mainstream finance. Considering
the huge swathes of population living in extreme poverty, the intervention was
a watershed one, but not adequate. Thousands of ultra-poor families were still
left out of the ambit of the THP intervention. Scaling up the program was the
crying need of the hour. This led to the emergence of ABHA (Axis Bank Bandhan
Holistic Assistance) Program. Through this program, Bandhan in collaboration
with Axis Bank Foundation would reach out to 50,000 ultra-poor families over
the next 5 years from the poverty stricken districts of West Bengal: Murshidabad
and South 24 Parganas (25,000 families in each district.)
The methodology, processes and other components of ABHA program are similar
to that of THP since the latter has already demonstrated its efficacy and impact.
West Bengal is mired in poverty, and more than 27 per cent of
the population lives below the poverty line. Empirical studies reveal startling facts about
the poverty scenario in two districts of West Bengal namely, Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas,
which are home to around 4,50,000 ultra-poor families.
ABHA is expected to be a crusade in realizing the vision of a more equitable society, where
the poorest-of-the-poor share the benefits of growth- a modest attempt to achieve financial
inclusion in true sense of the term.
erformance of the ABHA program has been mentioned below. These data are all as of August , 2014.