Topic Guide: anticipating and responding to shocks: livelihoods and humanitarian responses

Topic Guide: anticipating and responding to shocks: livelihoods and humanitarian responses

Development actors have often been accused of paying too little attention to crises. At the same time, those providing emergency relief, even when using the language of ‘livelihoods’, have tended to focus their attention on meeting immediate needs and have not always tried to understand the bigger picture demanded by livelihoods approaches. However, there are hopeful signs that both these criticisms are becoming less applicable.

This Topic Guide is written primarily for people working with longer-term perspectives to support what are commonly called the ‘livelihoods’ of people (i.e. the ways in which they meet their needs) living in places where crises are a threat, are recurrent or are even the norm. Although it should be natural to continue to approach livelihoods with such a perspective (or with what may be called ‘a development approach’) even through crises, the divide between ‘emergency’ (or ‘humanitarian’) and ‘development’ thinking and practice has resisted attempts to break it down for decades.

This Guide is intended as a resource to support those on both sides of the bureaucratic divide who are striving to understand how to operate in the immediacy of a crisis but in situations that can only be understood by taking a wider and longer perspective.

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