Sustainable livelihoods guidance sheets: section 1

Sustainable livelihoods guidance sheets: section 1

Introduction to the Sustainable Livelihoods approach

This document, the first in a collection of seven documents that complete the Guidance Sheets, provides an introduction to sustainable livelihoods (SL). It looks at the origins and objectives of SL, its core concepts, issues around sustainability, and links to other approaches in development.

As a whole, this set of Guidance Sheets attempts to summarise and share emerging thinking on the sustainable livelihoods approach. It does not offer definitive answers and guidelines. Instead, it is intended to stimulate readers to reflect on the approach and make their own contributions to its further development.

The livelihoods approach is introduced as a way of thinking about the objectives, scope and priorities for development. The livelihoods framework and its objectives have been developed to assist with implementation, but the approach goes beyond this. In essence it is a way of putting people at the centre of development, thereby increasing the effectiveness of development assistance.

Specifically, this first section aims to:

  • show how the livelihoods approach fits in with DFID’s overall aims. Section 1.2 explores the origins of the approach from the UK Government's 1997 White paper on International Development and how these tie into DFID's livelihood-promoting activities
  • explain the livelihoods framework (as it is currently understood). Section 1.3 focuses on the key components of livelihoods approaches: people-centred, holistic, dynamic, building on strengths, macro-micro linkages, and sustainability - further discussed in Section 1.4.  
  • explain links between this and existing approaches and methodologies. Section 1.5 briefly outlines links to broad approaches to development (participatory development, sector wise approaches and integrated rural development).