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(Special Supplement 3)
2.1 Livelihoods principles and the livelihoods framework
The livelihoods principles and framework form the basis of all livelihoods programming. The fundamental principles of livelihoods programming are that it is people-centred, multilevel, dynamic, and ultimately aims to achieve sustainable livelihoods4.
Livelihoods programming fully involves the people whose livelihoods are affected. A livelihoods approach identifies programmes based on the priorities and goals defined by people themselves and supports their own livelihoods strategies. It builds on people's strengths, and in emergencies, people are assisted in becoming less vulnerable and more resilient to the impact of disasters.
Multi-level and holistic
Livelihoods programming recognises multiple influences on people at different levels, and seeks to understand the relationships between these influences and their joint impact upon livelihoods. This includes influences at the macro level (national and international) and at the micro-level (community and household). It also recognises the multiple actors (from the private sector to national level ministries) influencing livelihoods. It acknowledges the multiple livelihood strategies that people adopt to protect and secure their livelihoods and multiple livelihood outcomes.
Livelihoods change over time. A livelihoods approach aims to understand and learn from change so that it can support positive patterns of change and help mitigate negative patterns. It explicitly recognises the effects on livelihoods of external shocks and the longer-term processes that may erode livelihoods, such as climate change, HIV/AIDS and economic decline. It also recognises the potential for competing livelihood strategies. People compete for jobs, land, etc, and this makes it difficult for everyone to achieve simultaneous improvements in their livelihoods. This is particularly important in emergency situations where competition for access to resources may increase.
Livelihoods are sustainable when:
y y y y
they are resilient in the face of external shocks and stresses they are not dependent upon external support (or if they are, this support itself is economically and institutionally sustainable) they maintain the long-term productivity of natural resources, and they do not undermine the livelihoods of, or compromise the livelihood options open to, others.
It includes shocks (e. Together with policies. and remittances. and traditional minority or marginalised groups (often particular ethnic groups) are exploited by state or non-state actors. knowledge. shelter. reduce transaction costs and can provide the basis for informal safety nets amongst poor people. February) or eliminate the external box on the vulnerability context (Lautze and Raven. It may include available stocks. Emergency livelihood frameworks have added a sixth asset .g. other transfers from the state. This can be most easily interpreted as proximity to power. economic. bank deposits. communication networks. conflict).e. e. education. than promoting sustainability. forests.). The description of the different elements below includes an interpretation of the framework for emergencies.Roberts.g. and a number of changes have been suggested for emergencies (see figure 2). etc. people's vulnerability is linked to their political status. cash. Physical assets include livestock. population. 2003. trends (e. This captures the main elements which comprise and influence people's livelihoods. water resources etc.political assets or capital. economic. which can be held in several forms. livestock and jewellery. Rather than being external. 2003. social and natural assets or capital . as well as access to an extended family and other social networks. natural. but also access to credit and investments. According to DfID (1999) it frames the external environment in which people exist. and seasonality. land. which in many emergency and nonemergency contexts can be the main determinant of vulnerability to food and income insecurity. ability to labour and good health that enable people to pursue different livelihood strategies and achieve their livelihood objectives. .g. which people can access and use to build their livelihoods (such as agricultural land. i.In emergencies. physical. The likelihood and appropriateness of achieving sustainability will depend on the conditions in which people live. road infrastructure. It may also comprise regular inflows of money. The sustainable livelihoods framework is shown in figure 1. 5 y y y y y Human assets represent the skills. e. Financial assets include income. Vulnerability context This refers to the structural and underlying causes of people's vulnerability to food and livelihood insecurity. tools and equipment. Adapted emergency frameworks either show the vulnerability context as having a direct relationship with each element of the livelihoods framework (Collinson. Livelihood assets This encompasses what people have. including earned income. the focus is more likely to be on reducing vulnerability and improving resilience. institutions and processes. but may also be community owned. In many internal conflicts. human. including political stability and basic respect for human rights.g. It also includes relationships of trust and reciprocity that facilitate cooperation. financial. vulnerability needs to be considered as endogenous and inherent to livelihoods systems. This framework was devised for development programming. such as membership of more formalised groups. Natural assets comprise natural resource stocks. pensions. the vulnerability context determines the options that people have in achieving their livelihood goals. and is the element of the framework that is most beyond people's control. governance). Social assets refer to status in society. September).
structural adjustment programmes often hamper the ability of countries to deal with disasters by removing some of the state support mechanisms by. this asset has turned into a liability. Angola). Land rights and access to land are often key issues in emergencies. Policies. at local. which shape people's livelihoods. Emergencies have varying impacts on assets. institutions and processes Oxfam food security officer in an Oxfam supported vegetable garden Policies can be taken to include any government. At international level. United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisations' (NGO) policies. land tenure or land use policies can be instrumental in increasing or reducing vulnerability to disasters. in violent conflict. Vulnerability is however. and able to recover more quickly. for numerous populations who live in resource rich areas (e. and private sector policy and behaviour. and . Similarly. In natural disasters. Liberia. national and international level. Policies or strategies of warring parties are frequently deliberately aimed at undermining the livelihoods of some groups.g. assets can expose households or population groups to greater risks. For example. For example. not necessarily associated with poverty. a country's agricultural. for example. which may be lost.The resilience of people's livelihoods is largely determined by the resources or assets available to them and how these have been affected by disaster. Dinka livestock wealth in South Sudan was turned into a liability in the context of violent raiding (Keen. removal of food and agricultural subsidies. 1988). 2003. people with a greater asset base are often less vulnerable. oil and diamonds in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). as assets can be transformed into lifethreatening liabilities in complex emergencies (Lautze and Raven-Roberts. donor. The emergency model shown in Figure 2 expands the asset pentagon to include liabilities as. Spetember). destroyed or sold.
Jaspars and Shoham. there is no commonly held definition of dignity. 2005. People's protection and welfare depends on accountable political systems. Coping strategies. and participation in. December). functioning judicial systems. exchange rates). a sense of self-worth and control over one's future. such as migration for work. or any other customs. have now become the de facto livelihood strategies. political and economic institutions (formal and informal governance). undermine the production and export of agricultural products from developing countries.g. the more likely it is that people will find a way to profit from it which in turn perpetuate s the conflict. 2004). The agricultural subsidies of western countries (such as the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) and international trade rules. This has led to the most extreme forms of abuse and exploitation of historically marginalised groups (Keen. people's dignity is often forgotten. in Somalia through customary law and sharia courts (UNDP. urbanisation.g. In emergencies. In many internal conflicts. to also include quality of life. 1998). Access to. etc. a study found good examples of localised conflict resolution initiatives and good local governance (Young et al. June). forthcoming). public services. Institutions include civic. 2. economic and political marginalisation. unsafe or degrading activities (Jaspars and Shoham. economic and political marginalisation all have fundamental impacts on the viability of livelihoods. certain livelihood strategies may no longer be possible. In political or conflict related emergencies. The longer a conflict continues. The initial strategies adopted are generally those that are not damaging to livelihoods. 2002. options may include engaging in violent. illegal. but also credit systems and markets. In fact. in contrast. rules or common law that is an important feature of society. it will include an element of choice. New strategies are adopted in response to food insecurity. In Darfur. or options become more limited (e. 2000. The right to life with dignity is one of the fundamental principles in the Humanitarian Charter (Sphere. Whilst there is no standard definition of dignity in most societies. markets is crucial for all livelihoods in cash economies. and the provision of public services (Cliffe and Luckam. Local institutions can play a positive role in maintaining public order. Examples include judicial systems.2 Objectives of providing livelihood support . and as such it remains unidentifiable and unregulated in humanitarian response (Martone. whilst others will need to be increased to compensate. and climate change and long term processes of social. the coping strategies that used to be adopted in periods of acute crisis. as a result of war). The vulnerability of some groups is frequently determined by the absence or failure of these institutions. the conflict itself provides economic benefits for some groups or individuals. however. The role of informal governance often becomes more important where formal governance is weak or collapsed. They can include changes in the economy (e. and long term processes of social. inflation. but in the rush to respond to emergencies. December). HIV/AIDS. markets. As more people adopt the same strategies.reducing the role of marketing boards (de Armas and Clay. Livelihood strategies Livelihood strategies are generally understood as the strategies that people normally use in stable and peaceful times to meet basic needs and to contribute to future well-being. Livelihood outcomes Livelihood outcomes go beyond food and income security. 2002). changes in employment patterns. although in many protracted emergencies. for example. 2002. strategies become more damaging to both livelihoods and dignity. collection of wild foods. rule of law. 2001). are temporary responses to food insecurity. Processes determine the way institutions and people operate and interact.
Save lives and livelihood protection. emergency response started when people were destitute. that lives could be saved in the longer term by saving livelihoods. Humanity is generally defined as: "to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it might be found. implies the need to protect livelihood. Source: Adapted from Maxwell (1999a). One of the main objectives of livelihood support in emergencies is. malnourished and had migrated to famine camps. therefore. in this sense. 1988 and de Waal. both examples of livelihood strategies The focus on livelihoods in emergency programming originates from the late 1980's. whose primary objective was to detect deterioration in food security early on and to trigger responses that would prevent destitution and famine associated with large scale loss of life. following the African famines in the middle of that decade.A blacksmith in Sudan (above) and a potter in India (below). To protect life and health and ensure respect for the human being". and to foster an environment conducive to respect for the rights of individuals in accordance with the relevant bodies of law (Caverzasio. In other words. Livelihood 'protection' can also be taken to have a broader meaning relating to upholding people's rights. also contributed to a focus on livelihoods in emergency response (e. Livelihood promotion (improving resilience of household livelihoods. and to support people's own priorities and strategies. to restore people's dignity and ensure adequate living conditions. is any activity which aims to prevent or put a stop to a specific pattern of abuse and/or alleviates its immediate effects. The actors involved in the emergency response realised that if the response had started earlier. The late 80's and early 90's was also associated with the development of famine early warning systems (FEWS). Studies on people's responses to food insecurity and famine. Corbett. . Table 1 Objectives of livelihoods programming Stage of crisis Early Acute Post crisis Development Objective of livelihoods programming Livelihood protection/mitigation (prevent erosion or destruction of assets). diversification of livelihood strategies. it would have been possible to prevent largescale loss of livelihood assets and migration to camps. improving access to markets). to protect the assets that are essential to people's livelihoods. 2001). that of humanity.g. A protection activity. 1989). rather than maintaining levels of food intake. These studies showed that a key priority for people threatened by famine was to preserve essential livelihood assets and to prevent destitution. At that time. Livelihood recovery/rehabilitation (process of protecting and promoting livelihood of people recovering from emergencies. restoring productive assets). The core principle of humanitarian action.
In development contexts. For example. Sri Lanka. or government institutions. Livelihood support may also include interventions to address the policies.The objectives of livelihood support may vary according to the stage and severity of an emergency. The appropriateness of this in emergency contexts depends on the nature of the emergency. This is illustrated in table 1 which demonstrates that different types of livelihood support can be implemented at different stages of an emergency. A bike repair shop in Trinco (above) and a laundry shop in Kilnochchi (below). institutions and processes that are part of the livelihoods framework. advocacy to change national and international policies of states. as such objectives may compromise humanitarian principles in situations of internal conflict. both supported by cash grants as part of an Oxfam livelihood activity rehabilitation project . donors and UN organisations. which can include building the capacity of local institutions such as local NGOs. capacity building and working in partnership are also key objectives of livelihood support. other forms of civil society. and can be carried out at the same time as life saving interventions.
sanitation. The proportion of internally displaced people (IDPs) who wanted to go home varied by location. Livelihoods will only become truly sustainable. Arange of programming options should be considered based on an analysis of expressed needs by the affected population.3 An overview of livelihoods interventions in emergencies Emergency response usually includes a number of standard life-saving interventions. including general food distribution and selective feeding programmes. Indonesia The range of potential interventions in any particular emergency context is much wider than table 2 indicates. Stability essentially means situations in which there is peace. An example where all objectives were combined simultaneously is Aceh (see Box 1). malnutrition and mortality are at acceptable levels. In reality. However. The most common intervention to support livelihoods has been the distribution of seeds and tools. 2. Work started with clearing roads and solid waste disposal. Working in conflict may require advocacy on respect for International Humanitarian Law to stop warring parties destroying or undermining livelihood strategies and assets. health and food distribution programmes. As stability increases. followed by livelihood recovery.Figure 3 illustrates how programme objectives and the sustainability of livelihoods are linked to stability of the context. institutions and processes that limit people's livelihood options. People then wanted to be able to rebuild houses and recover farmland. Once back in their home areas. Searching for bodies immediately post-tsunami was supported through Oxfam CFW programming in Aceh. Support for assets and strategies is often more effective if combined with policy and advocacy work to address the policies. For example. which has almost become a routine recovery intervention. and given the variety of livelihood systems that can be found in any context. stimulate markets. many displaced families in Aceh wanted to return home. 2004). international agencies started CFW programmes almost immediately. there should be a far wider range of livelihood support interventions. programmes may be able to build or recover assets as well as protect existing ones. then for water and food. At the same time. using the livelihoods framework as the basis for interventions. and that food security. market support and production support. This allowed some people to return home immediately as they had road access. For example. The CFW programmes aimed to provide cash to meet immediate needs (such as food and kitchen utensils). both in terms of the nature and severity of the emergency and the types of livelihoods affected. . the main aim of emergency interventions is to save lives and if possible. Table 2 provides a description and objectives that have been used in the past for different types of livelihood interventions. basic respect for human rights. sanitation. livelihood protection. agricultural support will often need to be accompanied by policy work on increasing access to land and land rights issues. institutions and processes are not included in the table. national and in international markets. the standard on access to markets will apply to most food security or livelihoods interventions. as each intervention must be designed to suit the local context. In the most unstable situations. Interventions that do not take account of local priorities rarely work (Sphere. as these will be particular to the emergency context. The interventions are grouped according to the Sphere minimum standards for food security: income and employment support. Box 1 Supporting livelihoods while saving lives in Aceh In the first two weeks following the tsunami. as well as public health interventions such as water. the grouping is not as clear cut as represented here and so multiple Sphere standards will apply to the same intervention (box 2). however. the vast majority of IDPs had lost everything and were depending on emergency relief to meet their immediate food and non-food needs While implementing emergency water. Assistance was requested first for burying bodies. and ensure essential work activities. Livelihood interventions to address the failings of policies. shelter and health care. if people have power in local.
consumers and traders is protected and promoted Source: The Sphere Project (2004). Table 2 Description and objectives of different livelihood support interventions Intervention Food aid To meet immediate food needs of Free distribution of a combination of food populations cut off from their normal commodities to the affected population as a sources of food.g. or malnutrition. whole. The provision of money to targeted households or communities. The provision of financial services to vulnerable but economically active individuals and households. roads. building houses. The food ration is often calculated to be less than the daily wage rate for an area. irrigation systems etc.Access to markets People's safe access to market goods and services as producers.Income and employment Where income generation and employment are feasible livelihood strategies. To restart local economies through enterprise and employment creation. Food for work (FFW) Cash for work (CFW) Cash grants Micro-finance . Subsequently. The rationale for this is that the poorest self-select. prevents erosion of assets. To recover livelihoods through the purchase of essential assets or reestablish business. To rehabilitate infrastructure. To provide income to meet basic food and non-food needs and provide income support. and later on. either as emergency relief to meet their basic needs for food and non-food items. Box 2 Minimum standards for food security in emergencies Standard 1 . e. Standard 4 . burying bodies. people have access to appropriate income earning opportunities. which generate fair remuneration and contribute towards food security without jeopardizing the resources upon which livelihoods are based. To increase economic self-sufficiency. Source: S. work was initiated in the first month on land rights issues. To meet basic food and non-food needs. Cash grants were provided to people who wanted to re-establish businesses and to purchase assets essential to their livelihoods. The programme targets the poorest or most food insecure. To stimulate the local economy. food rations should meet allowing households to spend time on nutritional needs.Primary production Primary production mechanisms are protected and supported Standard 3 . As well as emergency livelihoods programmes. To rebuild community assets.General food security People have access to adequate and appropriate food and nonfood items in a manner that ensures the ir survival. Beneficiaries are paid in cash to work on public works or community schemes. If the population is cut off from their To protect or recover livelihoods by food supply or suffers abnormally high rates of preventing the sale of assets. schools. or as a grant to buy assets essential for the recovery of their livelihoods.further work was carried out on clearing waste. To cancel credit debts. Jaspars. and promoting sustainable access to markets for small scale timber producers. To stimulate the local economy. This can be loans. CFW was used to rehabilitate farms and rebuild fishing boats. Commonly these are to improve roads and water sources. Income and employment productive activities that will restore livelihoods. Income and employment Description Objectives General distribution Income and employment Public works programmes where workers are paid in food aid. remittance To provide food aid as income support for the poor or unemployed. and upholds their dignity Standard 2 .
Early in a food crisis.services. September). Power. livestock offtake/de-stocking (when animals are at increased risk of dying). a work in progress). pesticide spray. Key reading Collinson (2003. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response. UN Food and Agricultural Organisation. Purchase of livestock when there is pressure on water and pasture and prices are falling. To prevent collapse in livestock market. To ensure that prices are kept within normal boundaries.livelihoods. cages). Market support Vouchers distributed to emergency. ODI. Fishing support To increase ability of people to fish as a source of food and income. www. veterinary care. De-stocking Production support Agricultural support Agricultural support programmes usually involve some form of seed distribution in conjunction with inputs to help plant and harvest crops e. insurance. DfID (1999). February). loan rescheduling. in case of seed vouchers. To provide income support and meet basic needs. To provide production support. Oxfam GB (2003. To improve traders' access to commodities. To support traders/retailers and stimulate markets. Rome. To help re-establish crop production. The vulnerability context. interventions include provision of water. . Some of this may be done through cash or food for work programmes. Oxford: Oxfam Publishing Lautze and Raven-Roberts (2003. transport and feeder roads. August). markets or special relief shops. etc. Creti and Jaspars. Distribution of fishing tools to improve catch (nets. To stimulate markets and trade. Monetisation and subsidised sales Putting large quantities of food aid grain on to the market or subsidised sale through specified outlets. Animals can be slaughtered and meat distributed as part of the relief effort.g. interventions may include restocking. Commodity vouchers Cash vouchers Cash vouchers have a fixed cash value and can To provide income support. To protect income and terms of trade for pastoralists. After the acute stage of crisis. livelihoods and conflict: case studies in political economy analysis for humanitarian action. To improve access to staple foods for consumers. August). Market infrastructure For example. boats. HPG report 13. Livestock support To prevent loss of livestock through sales or death. fodder. be exchanged for a range of items up to this To recover livelihoods. is there something wrong with this picture? (Embedding vulnerability in livelihoods models. at above prevailing market prices. Sustainable livelihoods guidance sheets. To improve physical access to markets for producers. tools. To assist in herd recovery. Source: Jaspars et al (2002. This can take a variety of forms. value. from special shops or traders. Eds (2006).org Sphere Project (2004).affected populations which can be exchanged for fixed quantity of named commodities from certified traders either at distribution outlets.
SLA has seven guiding principles. shocks (for example. The people themselves actively participate throughout the project cycle. technologies. y y y y y . particularly rural poor people. SLA examines the influence of policies and institutions on livelihood options and highlights the need for policies to be informed by insights from the local level and by the priorities of the poor. which affects the ways in which people combine and use their assets to achieve their goals. SLA seeks to understand the dynamic nature of livelihoods and what influences them. sources of credit. or their networks of social support. knowledge and capacity. rather than the resources they use or their governments. they are flexible and adaptable to diverse local conditions.The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach The sustainable livelihoods approach ( SLA ) is a way to improve understanding of the livelihoods of poor people. SLA counts on broad partnerships drawing on both the public and private sectors. technological). Aim for sustainability. political. nor a universal solution. The framework is neither a model that aims to incorporate all the key elements of people's livelihoods. Access is also influenced by the prevailing social. It draws on the main factors that affect poor people's livelihoods and the typical relationships between these factors. and it needs to be adapted and elaborated depending on the situation. Be dynamic. Closest to the people at the centre of the framework are the resources and livelihood assets that they have access to and use. civil strife) and seasonality (for example. Sustainability is important if poverty reduction is to be lasting. It can be used in planning new development activities and in assessing the contribution that existing activities have made to sustaining livelihoods. prices. epidemics. SLA builds on people's perceived strengths and opportunities rather than focusing on their problems and needs. Encourage broad partnerships. Build on strengths. which takes account of trends (for example. employment opportunities). and then supports poor people as they address the constraints. It supports existing livelihood strategies. SLA begins by analysing people's livelihoods and how they change over time. ministries. access to education. These can include natural resources. it is a means of stimulating thought and analysis. institutional and political environment. natural disasters. for example the private sector. They do not prescribe solutions or dictate methods. SLA acknowledges that people adopt many strategies to secure their livelihoods. their health. as expressed by themselves. production. The extent of their access to these assets is strongly influenced by their vulnerability context. community -based organizations and international organizations. or take advantage of opportunities. Instead. It builds on these definitions. economic. their skills. Promote micro-macro links. and that many actors are involved. These are their livelihood strategies. The guiding principles are: y y Be people-centred. at the centre of a web of inter -related influences that affect how these people create a livelihood for themselves and their households. SLA is used to identify the main constraints and opportunities faced by poor people. People are the main concern. Rather. The two key components of the SLA are: y y a framework that helps in understanding the complexities of poverty a set of principles to guide action to address and overcome poverty The SL framework places people. Be holistic.
It does not work in a linear manner and does not attempt to provide an exact representation of reality. the way they interact and their relative importance within a particular setting. it seeks to provide a way of thinking about the livelihoods of poor people that will stimulate debate and reflection about the many factors that affect livelihoods.The SLA framework is presented in schematic form below and shows the main components of SLA and how they are linked. This should help in identifying more effective ways to support livelihoods and reduce poverty. . Rather.
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