Reaching the Very Poor at GAIN

We seek to intentionally, specifically, and equitably promote consumption of healthier diets for people experiencing poverty and related vulnerabilities.

Definition of ‘Reaching the Very Poor’ at GAIN

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) seeks to intentionally, specifically, and equitably promote consumption of healthier diets for people experiencing poverty and related vulnerabilities. GAIN’s 2023-2027 Strategy firmly emphasises reaching the very poor as a central goal, highlighting that individuals experiencing poverty are especially vulnerable to system shocks that can jeopardise nutrition security.

GAIN acknowledges that the various programmatic and policy contexts in which we work have distinct characteristics, and that the appropriate definition of ‘poverty’ may differ dependent on context. Thus, instead of prescribing a single poverty line or threshold to be used across programmes, GAIN typically utilizes one or more of the following measures of poverty:

  • National or sub-national poverty lines. Many countries have set poverty lines that are appropriate for the local context and that are familiar to local policymakers, development practitioners, and other actors.
  • International poverty lines. Evidence-based, objective, and well-recognised international poverty lines can be useful benchmarks. For many projects that assume access to food through market mechanisms, GAIN targets people with income levels between $1.90 and $3.20 per capita per day. We believe that for most individuals living on less than $1.90 per day, social protection is essential for accessing nutritious foods.
  • Multi-dimensional poverty measures. Poverty is more complex and nuanced than one’s monetary resources. Other areas of deprivation, such as access to education, health care, and basic infrastructure, can have marked impacts on vulnerability.

GAIN’s approach to reaching the very poor is community-oriented and human-centered, emphasizing the critical roles of policy, market systems, and social factors in creating an enabling environment for improved access to nutritious foods for people living in poverty.

What is the link to nutrition

What is the link to nutrition, food systems and policy pathways?

Affordability prevents people experiencing poverty from accessing nutritious food and they may be excluded from resources necessary to buffer against food system shocks. Therefore, addressing inequities in the production, distribution, and consumption of food is critical for promoting consumption of nutritious foods among this population.

Our approach - how do we act on this?

Much of GAIN’s work to reach the very poorest consumers is situated within the Social Protection programme, which is currently working to improve the nutrition-sensitivity of social protection systems in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Under Nourishing Food Pathways, GAIN is supporting governments and other stakeholders to improve nutrition-sensitive social protection policy, promote integration of nutritious food value chains in social protection systems, and to design more nutrition-sensitive social protection programmes.

GAIN strives to be sensitive to the needs of people living in poverty across our entire programmatic portfolio. To ensure that GAIN’s projects and programmes are adequately reaching the very poor, we take the following actions:

  • Target populations and geographies with particularly high poverty rates
  • Assess suitability of specific approaches given the needs and vulnerabilities of people living in poverty in context. This includes documenting business models that reach the very poor.
  • Involve low-income households in design and decision-making through human-centered design and inclusive governance
  • Use standard metrics and KPIs to evaluate reach and impact on the very poor, such as GAIN’s FACT toolkit.
  • Conduct internal capacity-building through knowledge exchange and co-learning, facilitated by GAIN’s internal Community of Practice on Reaching the Very Poor.


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