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Reaching Ultra Poor Women: Strategies and Solutions

February 24, 2022




Webinar Recording - Reaching Ultra Poor Women Webinar: Strategies and Solutions

  • India’s trillion-dollar economy has accelerated the pace of poverty decline and reduced absolute poverty significantly. Yet, pervasive constraints experienced by ultra-poor households across the board, many of them the most marginalized Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) groups or those disadvantaged by their circumstances (e.g., widows) - in accessing livelihoods, public services, steady income sources, consolidating assets, and more generally partaking in India’s growth - require renewed attention. India has an estimated 100-150 million households living below US$1.90. It is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated vulnerabilities experienced by these households or added more numbers to the ranks of the ultra-poor.” 

    India’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) remains one of the largest community mobilization efforts in the world, organizing more than 70 million poor women into self-help groups – building their savings, promoting sustainable livelihoods, but above all enhancing their empowerment. Special emphasis is given particularly to women from vulnerable communities such as manual scavengers, victims of human trafficking, Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). 

    The purpose of this learning event is to hear about innovative work being done by programs focusing on ultra-poor women, helping them address challenges in joining groups, their immediate needs, and going forward assisting them on a path that helps them graduate out of poverty traps. The discussion will focus on operational lessons - how was the program put in place, challenges faced, what worked and what didn’t, so DAY-NRLM can strengthen (and scale) its approach to integrating ultra-poor women into the SHG net going forward.

    By bringing in senior leadership from within the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and the World Bank, and participation of all state rural livelihood missions, it is hoped that this learning session will mark a new chapter in DAY-NRLM’s ambitious journey, by thinking through the operational strategies that the Mission needs to adopt to focus on its most vulnerable women.

    About the Learning Event

    The learning event will feature a technical session on BRAC’s Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction/Targeting the Ultra Poor (CFPR/TUP) program and lessons learnt from its implementation experience across eleven countries in South Asia and Africa. In addition, examples will be showcased from the BOMA Project’s experience in building resilience and ending extreme poverty in Africa’s drylands, and NRLM’s own state rural livelihood mission in Bihar (Jeevika).

  • Time


    Setting the context- 3:00pm-3:10pm

    Ms. Nita Kejrewal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India

    Framing remarks-

    3:10 pm- 3:35pm

    1.      Mr. Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India

    2.      Mr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank India

    Technical session-

    3:35pm -5:15pm What works for ultra-poor women

    1.      Mr. Palash K. Das, Director, Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative, BRAC

    2.      Ms. Jaya Tiwari, Vice President & Chief Impact Officer, BOMA

    3.      Mr. Balamurugan D, CEO, Jeevika, Government of Bihar

    Keynote remarks-

    5:15pm - 5:30pm (On ultra-poor and inclusion)

    Mr. R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India



    1.      Ms. Alka Upadhyaya, ex-Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development and Chairperson, National Highway Authority of India

    2.      Ms. Anna O’ Donnell, Lead Social Development Specialist, Social Sustainability and Inclusion, South Asia, World Bank

    Closing remarks- 5:50pm-6pm

    Mr. Kevin Tomlinson, Practice Manager, Social Sustainability and Inclusion, South Asia, World Bank


  • Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha

    Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India

    Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, IAS (JH-1987) took charge as Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi on May 27th, 2020. Shri Sinha holds bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from IIT, Kanpur (1985) and master’s in health sciences from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA (2004). His previous assignments include Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs; Chairman, NHAI; Managing Director, National Highways & infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd., New Delhi; Additional Chief Secretary, Rural Development, Govt. of Jharkhand, besides Secretary/Principal Secretary in Departments of IT, Road, Construction, Industry, Mines among others in the state of Jharkhand. He has to his credit several landmark projects in Govt. of India viz. Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Zojilla Tunnel, Dhubri Phulbari Bridge, universal electronic tolling, Sports Complex & Games Village at Ranchi, Ranchi Ring Road, State Data Center in Jharkhand. As Secretary, Rural Development, he is responsible for formulation, coordination and implementation of policies and programmes that addresses the development needs of the rural areas, focusing especially on eradication of poverty, creation of sustainable employment and livelihood opportunities and enabling infrastructure and institutions.

    Mr. R. Subrahmanyam

    Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India

    Mr. R. Subrahmanyam, IAS has assumed the charge of Secretary in the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India, on 13.12.2019. He is responsible for implementing various programmes/schemes for social, educational, and economic development of the target groups. Prior to this assignment, he was Secretary in the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India from 01.3.2018. He was responsible for shaping the overall policy issues in Higher and Technical Education at the national level. He joined the Department as Additional Secretary in the year 2015. He also worked in Department of Rural Development, Govt of India, as Joint Secretary, where he was in-charge of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) an employment scheme which providing social security by guaranteeing paid work per year to all the families whose adult members opt for unskilled labour-intensive work. He also worked as Director in the Ministry of Textiles. He served in many important positions in the Government of Andhra Pradesh (undivided). He was instrumental in implementing INDIRAMMA, a massive programme for providing pucca houses to all the urban and rural poor. As a keen student of Economics, he has done graduation in Economics from Madras Christian College, Chennai and MA, M Phil in International politics from JNU, New Delhi. He did MBA in International Business from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and further studied MSc in macro- economics from University of Bradford, UK on Commonwealth Fellowship.

    Ms. Alka Upadhyaya

    Ex-Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development and Chairperson, National Highway Authority of India

    Ms. Alka Upadhyaya, IAS (MP:1990) took charge as Chairperson, National Highways Authority of India w.e.f. 06.12.2021 (AN). Prior to joining as Chairperson, NHAI, Ms. Alka Upadhyaya served as Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India where she worked extensively in field, in regulatory capacity and in implementation of various development programs of the Government of India. She joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1990 and has served in various positions in the Government of Madhya Pradesh & Government of India. Since 2003, as Secretary in the State Government, have been involved in policy making and decisions in various sectors like Personnel, Finance, Health & Rural Development. For the past ten years she has been working in the Rural Road Sector, first at the State Level as CEO of MP Rural Development Authority, Director General, Rural Road Development Authority & Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development. She has worked extensively on developing robust Asset Management System in the Country, with IT enabled system. Held charge of MD, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) & worked extensively in creating rural enterprise of women and setting large Producer Collectives – registered companies. One of the exciting projects has been use of Plastic waste in construction of Rural Roads, along with promotion of other local materials for building ecologically sustainable roads. She has done MSc Organic Chemistry, MA (Economics) & master’s in public administration.

    Mr. Balamurugan D

    CEO, Jeevika, Government of Bihar

    Mr. Balamurugan D. is an Indian Administrative Officer with over a decade of experience in the civil services of Indian National Government. A graduate in Agriculture Science and Agri- Management from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore, he is currently the Secretary, Rural Development Department, Govt. of Bihar with an additional charge of Chief Executive Officer of Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS) popularly known as JEEViKA, the flagship program for poverty alleviation in the State. He brings rich experience in governance and administration with his stints as District Magistrate in districts of Jehanabad, Gopalganj, Darbhanga, Gaya and Siwan. In his previous roles, he has contributed immensely in the areas of digitizing the Social Pension Programs and community led sanitation systems. Mr. Balamurugan is also the Commissioner, Self-Employment, Govt. of Bihar and leads the agenda of skill development in rural areas for gainful self-employment in rural Bihar. He has also helmed the successful implementation of the SBM and Lohiya Swachch Bihar Abhiyan program in the state, aimed at achieving 100 percent self-declaration sanitation facilities by households in Bihar.

    Palash Kanti Das

    Director, Ultra-Poor Graduation, BRAC

    Palash Kanti Das is the Director of Ultra-Poor Graduation Programme at BRAC. Mr Das is a seasoned development professional with over 20 years of experience in the sector. He brings strong expertise in the fields of sustainable and inclusive development, international relations, gender equality and diversity, and general management in the non-profit sector. Prior to joining BRAC, he served as Programme Management Specialist at UN Women Bangladesh Country Office along with a tenure at Strategic Planning Unit, UN Women Headquarters in New York, USA. Previously, he also served as the Assistant Country Director and Head, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth, UNDP, and led Christian Aid UK as the Country Director in Bangladesh. He served Oxfam at the South Asia Regional Center and Oxfam Bangladesh in various leadership roles. Mr Das holds a Master of Arts in Economics from Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University.

    Jaya Tiwari

    Vice President & Chief Impact Officer, BOMA Project

    Jaya Tiwari is a dynamic, creative, high-energy, result oriented senior professional and nonprofit leader with over 25 years of experience in research, writing, fundraising, advocacy in international development, poverty alleviation, and global health field with geographic focus on Africa. Jaya currently serves as the Vice President and Chief Impact Officer of the BOMA Project (BOMA). Prior to joining BOMA, Jaya served as the Executive Director of South Africa-Washington International Program in Washington, D.C., the Executive Director of Suffolk Partnership for Healthy Community in Suffolk, VA, Director of Global Health Programs at Physicians for Peace in Norfolk, VA, and the Director of Research for Physicians for Social Responsibility in Washington, D.C. As an experienced nonprofit leader and manager, Jaya has worked and traveled extensively in Africa, North America, and Europe. In addition to her management and fundraising expertise, Jaya has published numerous articles, issue briefs, reports and book chapters on issues ranging from global and community health, international security, nuclear nonproliferation and arms control, nuclear energy, and military budget and spending. She has provided briefings on these topics to members of the House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the United Nations. She has been interviewed and quoted by many news sources including Reuters TV, CNN Money, the Associated Press, the Times of India, the Times News Service, National Public Radio, and the Voice of America. Jaya holds master’s degrees in International Studies from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, and in Political Science & Public Administration from Benares Hindu University, Varanasi, India. Jaya completed her Ph.D. course work in International Studies at Old Dominion University in 2000.


  • Date: February 24, 2022
  • Time: 15:00 – 18:00 IST
  • Register here:
  • Hashtag: #EndUltraPoverty, #EndPoverty, #LeaveNoOneBehind, #RuralPoverty, and #AzadiKaAmritMahotsav