The Concept of Sustainable Livelihoods

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Executive Summary

Community Piggery Project: Background

In 2008, the enterprise development office in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) initiated a piggery venture for some selected communities in the municipality. Four communities, namely Jimiso, Mampamhwe, Adaase and Hansonyewodea were chosen to benefit from the project. Under the scheme, three families were chosen for each of the communities. Each family was provided with a four room pig sty, 1 boar, 2 sow and a month’s supply of feed. Also the municipal veterinary office was tasked with inoculation and other animal health requirements. The enterprise development office is responsible for conducting periodic monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the project on the families and the community as a whole.

The project has been successful in most cases and it is hoped that the ripple effect will be felt throughout the community.

The Concept of Sustainable Livelihoods

A livelihood is the capabilities, assets and activities required for a means of living. It is sustainable when it can cope and recover from stresses, shocks, and maintain and enhance its capabilities and assets, while not undermining the natural resource base (Scoones, 1998). In this definition, sustainability is primarily concerned with the carrying capacity of natural resources. This definition for sustainable livelihood was initially introduced within the context of rural livelihoods. Since its inception however, sustainable livelihood has broadened to encompass the fundamentals of capacity, capability, equity and sustainability (Chambers et al., 1991; Lautze, 1997; Scoones, 1998). The sustainable livelihoods framework was thus developed to help analyze the concept. The framework looks at livelihood assets under five categories and these include: human capital, natural capital, financial capital, social capital, and physical capital. The human capital aspects include health, nutrition, education, knowledge and skills, and capacity building. The natural capital aspects include land and produce, water and aquatic resources, trees and forest products, wildlife, foods and fiber, biodiversity, and environmental services. The aspects of financial capital include savings and credit, NGOs remittances, pensions and wages. Social capital aspects of sustainable livelihood framework include relations of trust and mutual support, formal and informal groups, common rules and sanctions, collective representation, and mechanisms for participation in decision making and leadership. The last asset under the livelihood framework is physical capital, these include transport and roads, secure shelter and buildings, water supply and sanitation, energy; communications, tools and technology. Specifically the tools aspect under the physical asset category includes equipment for production of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and modification of traditional technology.

Figure 2.1
Source: DfID, 2008
Vulnerability is characterized as insecurity in the well-being of individuals, households, and communities in the face of changes in their external environment. People move in and out of poverty and the concept of vulnerability captures the processes of change better than poverty line measurements. Vulnerability has two facets: an external side of shocks, seasonalities, and critical trends; and an internal side of defenselessness caused by lack of ability and means to cope with these (Serrat, 2008). The vulnerability context includes

• Shocks, e.g., conflict, illnesses, floods, storms, droughts, pests, diseases

• Seasonalities, e.g., prices, and employment opportunities

• Critical trends, e.g., demographic, environmental,...
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