Arguments about local knowledge and priorities and systemic concerns with sustainability issues did not have much traction in the hard-nosed debates about economic reform and neo-liberal policy of that period. Despite numerous books and papers, the neo-liberal turn from the s had extinguished effective debate on alternatives. Kothari Participation: the new tyranny? In the same way, sustainability debates became part-and-parcel of market-oriented solutions and top-down, instrumental global environmental governance Berkhout et al.
Leach I. The wider concerns about complex livelihoods, environmental dynamics and poverty-focused development, however, remained on the side-lines.
More parochially, for those hooked into UK-focused debates about development, a key moment came in with the arrival of a new Labour government, with a development ministry, the Department for International Development DfID , a vocal and committed minister, Clare Short, and a White Paper that committed explicitly to a poverty and livelihoods focus see Solesbury Solesbury, W. Indeed, the UK government had already commissioned work in this area, with several research programmes underway, including one coordinated by the Institute of Development Studies IDS at the University of Sussex, with work in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Mali.
This multi-disciplinary research team had been developing an approach which attempted to analyse livelihood change in a comparative way, and had developed a diagrammatic checklist to link elements of the field enquiry Scoones Scoones, I. The sustainable livelihoods approach. General report of the sustainable livelihoods project, — , Rome : SID. Poverty and famines.
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An essay on entitlement and deprivation , Oxford : Oxford University Press. Like the IDS sustainable livelihoods work, this was an attempt to draw economist colleagues into a discussion about questions of access and the organisational and institutional dimensions of rural development and environmental change. Drawing on work by North North, D.
Institutions, institutional change and economic performance , Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. New ecology and the social sciences: what prospects for a fruitful engagement? Annual Review of Anthropology , — It chimed very much with the work of Bebbington Bebbington, A. Capitals and capabilities: a framework for analysing peasant viability, rural livelihoods and poverty. World Development , 27 12 : — In the notionally trans-disciplinary subject area of development, making sense to economists is a must.
Thus, both the environmental entitlements approach Leach et al. Environmental entitlements: dynamics and institutions in community-based natural resource management. World Development , 27 2 : — Figure 1. Sustainable livelihoods framework: a checklist Scoones Scoones, I. This all echoed discussion around the meanings and definitions of poverty, which was beginning to accommodate broader, more inclusive perspectives on well-being and livelihoods Baulch Baulch, R.
Neglected trade-offs in poverty measurement. IDS Bulletin , 27 1 : 36 — The input-output-outcome elements of the livelihoods framework were of course easily recognised by economists, and were amenable to quantitative analysis and the application of numerous long questionnaires.
Some livelihoods analysis has unfortunately never moved much beyond this, missing out on wider social and institutional dimensions. View all notes kept the discussion firmly in the territory of economic analysis. A broader view of assets was also advocated. Bebbington Bebbington, A. However, perhaps predictably, it was the more instrumental, economic focus that remained at the core of the discussion, and defined much subsequent action on the ground.
Other work on sustainable livelihoods had emphasised other features. In IDS research report , Vol. View all notes stressed in particular the idea of institutions and organisations as mediating livelihood strategies and pathways.
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These were socio-cultural and political processes which explained how and why diverse asset inputs linked to strategies and outcomes. They were subject to power and politics and were where questions of rights, access and governance were centred. Thus a different explanatory angle, with a different disciplinary emphasis, was being offered within the same framework; one that emphasised complex processes requiring in-depth qualitative understandings of power, politics and institutions, and so a very different type of field research.
One explanation for the down-playing of this dimension of sustainable livelihoods analysis over time was the way a framework being used as a checklist for a multi-disciplinary field enquiry in three countries became something much bigger, with many more claims and associations attached to it. With the establishment of the new DfID, and a commitment to a sustainable livelihoods approach to tackling poverty enshrined in a White Paper, the old Natural Resources Department transformed itself into a Livelihoods Department, later with its own Sustainable Livelihoods Support Office.
The committee consisted of DfID staff, from a range of departments, as well as outsiders from the research and NGO community. And how could a substantial amount of new development funds be channelled to livelihoods-focused poverty reduction? This was an exciting time, with enthusiasm and commitment from a new group of people with often a quite radical vision, and a government seemingly committed to doing something about it. Of course the social development advisors in DfID pointed out correctly that they had been advocating livelihoods approaches, sensitive to local needs and cultural contexts forever.
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But advocates of a sustainable livelihoods approach argued strongly that this time it was different. Framework ideas had already been widely shared, and the concepts and practices were debated intensely with numerous case studies presented Carney et al. In the coming years there was a snowballing of interest, with the flames fanned by effective promotion and communications activities.
Livelihoods approaches compared: a multi-agency review of current practice , London : ODI. Livelihoods approaches now seemed to be applied to everything: livestock, fisheries, forestry, agriculture, health, urban development and more. A veritable avalanche of papers emerged, all claiming the sustainable livelihoods brand. In ODI working paper , Vol. Forestry and sustainable livelihoods , Rome : FAO.
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Managing natural resources for sustainable livelihoods: uniting science and participation , Ottawa : IDRC. Animal genetic resources and sustainable livelihoods. Ecological Economics , 45 3 : — 9. Institutions elude design: river basin management and sustainable livelihoods. The livelihoods approach and management of small-scale fisheries. Marine Policy , 25 2 : — View all notes As the approach became more centrally part of development programming, attempts were made to link it with operational indicators Hoon et al.
Sustainable livelihoods: concepts, principles and approaches to indicator development. In Environment and production technology division discussion paper no. Sector approaches, sustainable livelihoods and rural poverty reduction. Development Policy Review , 19 3 : — The potential of using sustainable livelihoods approaches in poverty reduction strategy papers , London : ODI.
But perhaps the more interesting applications were areas where clearly cross-cutting themes could be opened up by a livelihoods perspective. Journal of Development Studies , 36 2 : 1 — Rural livelihoods and diversity in developing countries , Oxford : Oxford University Press. Livelihoods, chronic conflict and humanitarian response: a synthesis of current practice , London : ODI.
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One of the recurrent criticisms of livelihood approaches is that they ignore politics and power. But this is not strictly true. Davies and Hossain Davies, S. Governance and sustainable livelihoods.
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October 1—3 The reality of trying to transform structures and processes: forestry in rural livelihoods , London : ODI. Drivers of change. These reflections have addressed the social and political structures and processes that influence livelihood choices. Wolmer Livelihoods in crisis? Unfortunately, though, such debates remained at the margins.
The various frameworks did not help either. Thus, the regular pleas to pay attention to power and politics often fell on deaf ears, and an instrumental application proceeded as normal, but with a livelihoods label.
The branded approaches began to be associated not just with analytical tools frameworks and checklists , but normative positions. Fourthly, it starts with analysis of strengths rather than of needs, and seeks to build on everyone's inherent potential. Sixthly, it is committed explicitly to several different dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economic, social and institutional. Where have debates about livelihoods and their sustainability ended up in ?
For some, the destination is a development aid backwater, having lost both the political and financial momentum of being at the centre of influence.