In awarding the World Food Prize, 2015, to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed the award panel recognised his attempts to "confront the complex causes of poverty, hunger, and powerlessness among the poor". Eleanor, a member of the Research and Impact Team at Send a Cow, celebrates the award and reflects on our shared approaches to development.

Livestock, skills training, savings, health education, and frequent coaching. Continue for just a couple of years. And even the world ultra-poor will flourish, long-term.

That’s the poverty alleviation recipe that has just won Sir Fazle Hasan Abed this year’s World Food Prize. He’s the leader of the world’s largest non-governmental organisation Brac, which works in Bangladesh and nine other countries and has helped around 150 million people out of poverty.


Poverty is not just poverty of money or income, we also see a poverty of self-esteem, hope, opportunity and freedom.

And it is also, more or less, the approach of Send a Cow. Unlike Brac, we rarely provide cash. But livestock provision, ongoing skills training, health education, and savings schemes are all intrinsic to our holistic programmes, which last for three years until people are self-sufficient enough to ‘graduate’.

Brac’s work has also just been proven highly effective in a randomised trial of 21,000 people in six countries. That study, co-authored by Esther DuFlo and published in the journal Science, found the effects of Brac’s graduation programmes still strong three years after people were given livestock.

So why is this cost-effective model succeeding where so many other, often more costly, attempts to tackle poverty among the world ultra-poor have failed? One key, it seems, is that they give the very poorest people hope. And that hope becomes self-fulfilling.


The award gives us hope that more and more agencies will adopt similar ways of working.

“Poverty is not just poverty of money or income,” says Sir Fazle Abed. “We also see a poverty of self-esteem, hope, opportunity and freedom. People trapped in a cycle of destitution often don’t realise their lives can be changed for the better through their own activities. Once they understand that, it’s like a light gets turned on.”

So congratulations from all of us at Send a Cow to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and Brac. His award gives us hope that more and more agencies will adopt similar ways of working. And that will be good news for the world’s poorest and hungriest people.