Frequently Asked Questions
Reporting to USAID
The Microenterprise for Self-Reliance and International Anti-Corruption Act requires that 50% of all USAID microenterprise resources benefit the very poor; this legislation was further augmented by the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act of 2004. The legislation defines the term very poor as those households living in the bottom [poorest] 50% below the nationally defined poverty line or those living below the international extreme poverty line which was updated to $1.90 per person per day in 2015.
The 2004 law requires USAID to develop, field test, and certify no fewer than two low-cost, accurate methods for partner institutions to assess the poverty level of their current and prospective clients. In actuality, USAID developed country-specific tools - the PATs - having concluded that two tools alone could not identify the very poor with reasonable accuracy across the wide range of countries in which USAID supports microenterprise development.
USAID requires implementing partners engaged in microenterprise activities to use these tools to calculate the percent of very poor program beneficiaries. See the next FAQ for more details.
All projects and partner organizations receiving at least US$100,000 from USAID in a fiscal year for microenterprise activities in countries with a USAID-approved tool are required to report. To identify partners who received this significant amount of funding, USAID will presume that any implementing partner, in a country with a USAID-approved tool, that spent at least $100,000 in obligations to support microenterprise development in the previous fiscal year will need to report using the tool, as will any partner with at least $100,000 in projected obligations for the current fiscal year. All funding accounts with microenterprise activities undertaken as part of broader programs count toward this total, including PEPFAR, ACI, and Title II. Implementing partners that demonstrate that their current fiscal year expenditures on microenterprise development fall short of the $100,000 threshold may seek exemption from the reporting requirement by emailing email@example.com.
How do the requirements affect projects or partner organizations that provide non-financial business development services? How are beneficiaries defined for these interventions?
The legislation does not distinguish between financial and non-financial microenterprise development nterventions. In each country with a Poverty Assessment Tool, all partner organizations engaging in microenterprise activities are required to use a PAT or similar tool to report on the poverty level of beneficiaries. Determining the beneficiary pool from which a partner organization will sample can be determined in conjunction with the USAID mission. In general, both those receiving direct benefits of USAID funding (such as micorenterprise owners, farmers, etc.) and their employees are considerd beneficiaries.
Incoming, existing, and/ or outgoing program beneficiaries may be included in the target poulation for poverty assesment. The intent is to report on clients which most accurately represent the beneficiaries of USAID funding. Organizational partners should work with their USAID technical officer to ensure that the correct definition of beneficiaries is being used in the sampling design.
Partners are encouraged to design their sampling plan in a way that maximizes the use of poverty data for their own benefit. For example, measuring poverty levels of potential beneficiaries can be used to help target very poor communities. Assessment of incoming beneficiaries at an early interaction and then later at the end of a program can used as a measure of program effectiveness.
Note that PATs and similar tools do not measure impact inherently; an impact assessment requires specific research design elements. PATs can be used to measure impact using the correct study design. See the next FAQ page.
Implementing partners are required to conduct their poverty assesment by the end of the Fiscal Year in which the funds were received – that is, by the end of September – and to include the results in their regular reporting to MRR. Requests to extend the timing of data reporting should be submitted to the Help Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The PAT Implementation Manual and online course include guidance on choosing an appropriate time of year to conduct household assessments. Considerations include meeting reporting requirements, avoiding or coinciding with "lean" and "plentiful times of year based on program data needs, and avoiding times of year that may coincide with decreased response rates (rainy season when roads are impassible, harvest season when farmers are very busy, etc.).
Will implementing organizations be given additional funding under their existing contracts to fulfill the U.S. Congress-mandated poverty assessment requirements?
No. The poveryt measurement requiremnet is considered part of the project's existing reporting requirement and needed funds should be built into the original funding request.
How will the poverty level results affect a partner organization's funding? What if less than 50% of its clients are very poor?
Results will not affect funding. The legislation requires that Agency-wide, at least 50% of USAID funding for microenterprise activities reaches the very poor as defined in the legislation. While the results from individual partner organizations will contribute to this statistic, the objective is to get a global figure for USAID's overall funding and not to influence the funding of individual partner organizations. It is expected that this portfolio will include organizations with a range of beneficiary poverty levels.
Will USAID country missions be responsible for ensuring that 50 percent of the program clients in their countries are very poor?
No. The legislation requires that 50 percent of microenterprise funding from USAID as an agency, not from each individual mission, reaches the very poor. This does not mean that 50 percent of the program beneficiaries of each mission, nor each individual organization, must be very poor.
Will USAID country missions need to verify poverty assessment results from the implementing partners before the partners report to MRR?
No, partner organizations are responsible for properly implementing the poverty assessment tool and reporting results directly to MRR. Prior reporting procedures to MRR will not change; the PAT results will simply be an additional statistic on the report. Reporting will be conducted through the MRR website, and compliance will be monitored in partnership with missions. The PAT Help Desk will continue to verify submitted results and will directly request data to be submitted for review.
Each partner organization is responsible for ensuring that its survey is being carried out according to the standards laid out in the Poverty Assessment Tools Implementation Manual. This responsibility includes ensuring that tools are translated into appropriate languages using procedures that maximize accuracy, local contextualization and ease of use. The USAID mission can aid local partners by coordinating these translation efforts so that all affected organizations share equitably in the effort and expense rather than each bearing the full costs of translation.
Some French and Spanish-language translations are available on this website. These should still be reviewed and adapted for local language variations.
What other tools or methodologies can be used to measure household poverty? Which can be submitted to MRR?