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No Lean Season

  • LocationsBangladesh, Indonesia
  • SectorSocial infrastructure
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stageTest & Transition

6th June

In January 2019, GIF was notified by Evidence Action of the tragic deaths of people who may have travelled with No Lean Season programme subsidies in Bangladesh.

Separately, Evidence Action subsequently made us aware of alleged financial impropriety with regards to the programme operations in Bangladesh.

In line with our internal processes, GIF immediately suspended and withheld further funding of the No Lean Season programme. GIF informed its donors and its regulator of these incidents immediately and reserved all rights with respect to its funding of Evidence Action.

Evidence Action appointed independent legal firms to undertake investigations into these incidents, and has shared the findings with GIF. The suspension of GIF funds remains in force whilst we exercise our audit rights on the use of GIF funds.

Our ultimate focus is on ensuring that public money is spent appropriately and to deliver transformative outcomes for the world’s poorest people. We expect the highest standards of propriety and ethics in all of the organisations in which we invest.


A $2,571,210 grant to rigorously test the effectiveness of No Lean Season, a programme which offers subsidies to low-income agricultural workers as an incentive to migrate during the famine season to urban areas where higher wages can be earned.

No Lean Season

The development problem.

Policies aimed at reducing overall poverty often disregard the impact of seasonal changes. Standard poverty statistics do not consider seasonal hunger in the official data collection and analysis and there is no direct way to determine how many of the world’s poorest people suffer from seasonal hunger. The latest data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2015 indicates that globally, roughly 300 million of the world’s rural poor suffer from seasonal hunger.

Seasonal hunger often occurs between planting and harvest in agrarian economies. During this time, rural families, particularly the landless poor who supply agricultural labour on others’ farms experience hunger as their food stock dwindles and the demand for agricultural labour falls.

The innovation.

Evidence Action's No Lean Season offers subsidies (grants or no-interest loans) to low-income agricultural workers as an incentive to migrate during the famine season to urban areas where higher wages can be earned. This intervention is supported by a series of randomised evaluations carried out between 2008 and 2014 that have demonstrated very large and persistent welfare gains for families at risk of famine from the take-up of seasonal migration for employment.

GIF’s investment.

With this investment, GIF is supporting two RCTs – one for a scale roll-out of the program in Bangladesh and another a pilot RCT in Indonesia. GIF’s grant would also support the associated global strategy and management costs through mid 2019.

Investment objective(s).

Scale up the implementation in Bangladesh to disburse at least 30,000 travel subsidies by end-2017, working toward 90,000 subsidies conditional on positive results from a large scale randomized controlled trial and build a viable operating model for delivering the programme in Indonesia.

Why we invested

The programme is an innovative way of harnessing the benefits of migration and addressing the relatively neglected problem of seasonality of poverty.

Strong evidence of the programme’s sustained cost-effective impact on the welfare of the rural poor facing seasonal hunger.

Robust study designs and strong plans to generate evidence that will contribute to evidence generation on lean season distress mitigation and temporary internal migration.

Highly capable team, with a proven track record in scaling up evidence-based programmes.

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