There’s a buzz abroad in the development community around a new way to tackle extreme poverty. BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) programme combines asset transfers (usually livestock), cash stipends and intensive mentoring to women and families in extreme poverty in order to help them ‘graduate’ into more sustainable livelihoods within two years.

But how do we know if it works? One of the main ways is through a series of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs). Still seen by their fans as the ‘gold standard’ of evidence, RCTs have come under sustained criticism  (see also here) in recent years, so we decided to take a closer look.

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