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Savings & CCTs: The Next Generation of Anti-Poverty Programs?

In the fight against global poverty, conditional cash transfers (CCTs) programs are finally getting their dues. These programs—recognized in January by the New York Times as "likely the most important government anti-poverty program[s] the world has ever seen"—direct funds toward qualified households or individuals if they fulfill certain requirements like visiting health clinics or making sure their children attend school regularly. In Brazil, CCTs have seen the number of poor drop from over 20 percent of the population to less than 10 percent in a six year span. In Mexico, CCTs were associated with a decline of over 20 percent in the poverty gap. As these programs expand around the world, advances in electronic payments now offer the opportunity to leverage the success of CCTs even further. By linking CCTs to savings accounts, governments can offer a path to savings and financial inclusion to the poor and help break the inter-generational cycles of poverty. Following the success of Proyecto Capital's pathbreaking pilots supported by the Ford Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme recently lauded the idea, and the Inter-American Development Bank in partnership with the Citi Foundation announced a significant investment in further testing the concept. In November, New America Foundation, along with the Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation, United Nations Development Program and Proyecto Capital held a two-day expert Global Colloquium to discuss how to move this exciting new vision forward.
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