What is livelihood?
“A livelihood comprisesthe capabilities, assets (store, resource, claims, and access) and activities required for strengthening means of living.A livelihood is sustainable which can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assetsand provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generationand which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at local and global level and in the long and short term”Robert Chambers and Conway
Families have varying livelihood goalsBasic need securityReducing vulnerabilityIncomeLeisureSocial statusGrowth
The conditions under which the family needs to make efforts to achieve these goals can be described by 5 A’sAssetsAccessAbilitiesAssurancesAttitudesThe first four are objectivelyverifiablefeaturesAttitudesare uniquely a personal, individual feature.
Physical assets such as land (with its topography), animals, equipment (pump, tractor, implements), ponds, wells, cash, jewelry, bank balances, home stores of seed, grain and food and perhaps also goodwill with the traders, bankers etcPeople – both asset and liabilityThe quality of the asset, its carrying (or work) capacity and the risk of its deterioration are relevant facets households need to consider.
To assets – leased in/out, encroached, ownership for womenTo commons -canals, ponds, streams, rivers, forests, wastelands, grazing lands etcTo information on things like market prices, demand, seasonality, expected quality for the produce; on schemes andprogrammesTo markets and institutions; to input suppliers-physical, social and financialTo technology
Physical prowess – strength, eye sightMotor skills -- eye – hand co-ordination in spinning and weavingSpecialabilities unique to a specific trade–rigour, regimentation, managerial skillsTo envision, planTo receive market signals, negotiate“Streetsmartness”
Traditional coping mechanisms –bondedlabourCrop diversificationInsuranceFuturesSavingsSocial Capital
Different people have different level of these As depending on their life stages and thus need different approaches even in same activityThis framework also equality applicable at collective level such as village, Panchayat level etc.Collectivisation like SHG often fosters these As and thus livelihoods outcomes
Livelihoods of rural poor is the result of a complex set of interactions among various factors related to the Community themselves, the Area where they are situated and sector dynamics
Framework of Area-Community-Sector
“Self” of the person is the most pivotal factor that guides livelihoods choicesself-efficacy’, which helps explain what either constrains or supports people’s ability to seize opportunitiesEnhancing the “self-efficacy” or “sense of agency” of poor people must be a necessary and key element of strategies to remove poverty.This can only be done by engaging directly with them focusing on the “person”, her aspirations, her dreams, her dilemmas and internal blocks rather than the task / project at handCollectives like SHGs, Cluster and federation can help the members women develop confidence, draw support from each other emotionally and help each other in times of crisis
The collectives also help in achieving scale of economies, share resources and knowledge, and also manage risks.Again to fight these structures which are inherently discriminatory, women have to be organized to collectives
Poverty is also a function of the physical location a person finds herself.A vast majority of poor people in villages typically inhabit regions with complex and vulnerable ecologies; for e.g., – the undulating, hilly and mountainous terrain, erratic rainfall.Need intervention in such ecologies that result in higher productivity and carrying capacity of natural resources, which would have a direct impact on livelihoods & well being of the peopleA booming farm economy also benefits a large number of people down the line such as thelaourers, traders, transporters and a host of market players.
The Sector here denotes the multifarious institutions of the Market and the State ( including policies and rules), Technology directly affecting choices.A vast majority of poor people live in regions with weakest institutions, including poorly developed markets and weak governance.Weak governance results in inadequate penetration of public resources andprogrammesinto the rural areas which further exacerbates the already dismal situation.New opportunities/technology developments in different sectors influences production system and thus livelihoods