This topic provides you with a definition of livelihoods, and explains why protecting and reinforcing livelihoods is a key component of Humanitarian Food Assistance.
Providing livelihood support in the frame of humanitarian intervention has to take into consideration specific limitations (emergency needs and limited timeframe), but has great advantages in terms of further deterioration of food insecurity and in promoting restoration of self-reliance.
Take a look at possible examples of eligible livelihood support activities and at proposed case studies!!
“Livelihoods comprise the capabilities, assets and activities required for generating income and securing a means of living. Sustainable livelihoods refer to people’s capacity to generate and maintain their means of living, and enhance their own well-being as well as that of future generations.” (IFRC guidelines for livelihoods programming, 2011)
Livelihood in HFA
Humanitarian Food Assistance aims to ensure the consumption of sufficient, safe and nutritious food in anticipation of, during and in the aftermath of a humanitarian crisis, when food consumption would otherwise be insufficient or inadequate to avert excessive mortality.
The reinforcement or protection of agricultural and non-agricultural livelihoods (e.g. providing veterinary services for vulnerable livestock herds, or improving agricultural crop storage) is a legitimate and appropriate response also in some humanitarian contexts, so long as it is prompted by emergency needs and meets humanitarian objectives within an appropriate and finite timeframe.
More specifically, one of the specific objectives of humanitarian food assistance is to protect livelihoods threatened by recent, ongoing, or imminent crises, minimise damage to food production and marketing systems, and establish conditions to promote the rehabilitation and restoration of self-reliance.
In fact, livelihoods are the primary means by which households secure their food consumption. In order to feed themselves, food insecure households often resort to negative coping mechanisms (e.g. sell their productive assets, abandon livelihood pursuits in favour of migration, accumulation of debts or undertake transactional sex), all of which can further compromise their health and longer-term food-security. A household’s adequate food consumption in the short-term should, where possible, be achieved without it having to resort to negative, detrimental coping mechanisms that compromise its longer-term food security.
It is important to take into account that, given the seasonal nature and duration of agricultural and livestock production cycles, the Commission will pay close attention to the duration and sequencing of its emergency livelihood work. While the objectives and targets must still be achievable within limited and finite timeframes which are compatible with its regulation and instruments, the Commission will ensure that (a) emergency livelihood-support and livelihood-recovery interventions are afforded sufficient and realistic timescales, and (b) that they are started in good-time, as an integral part of a humanitarian response and not just at its final phase.
Support for livelihoods recovery or protection is one of the main response options to high levels of food insecurity when these have been affected by a shock or are no longer able to produce positive outcomes for the household in terms of food consumption. Indeed as stated in the HFA policy: Food assistance should also aim to protect and reinforce livelihoods, since these are the primary means by which households secure their food consumption. Food insecure households often resort to negative coping mechanisms, all of which can further compromise their livelihoods, health and longer-term food-security.
Livelihood Resource Centre, examples of livelihood interventions
Some examples of the many possible livelihood support activities that can be funded by ECHO
An example on a humanitarian livelihoods response that tries to reduce the vulnerability of the targeted households taking into account previous situation and providing new solutions.
Would you like to know more?
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies (IFRC) developed a Livelihood Resources Centre (LRC), hosted by the Spanish Red Cross. The LRC’s purpose is to increase awareness and use of effective livelihoods programming strategies to improve the capacities and economic security of people and their communities. By registering in the webpage, anyone can access the available tools, such as guidelines, publications, toolkits, project database, training opportunities and much more related to livelihoods. The trainings include different modalities (tutored online trainings, online courses and in-person training) in English, Spanish and French and are adapted to different competency levels. For some courses (the tutored online trainings and in-person trainings) having a limit of participants, priority is given to RC/RC members, however, a number of positions is reserved for external participants. Among the training opportunities, the LRC also supports a Cash Transfer Programming course developed by IFRC and CaLP. We particularly encourage to follow the free one-hour online session on livelihoods called “Basics of Livelihoods” developed within the framework of an ECHO Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) project. FAO is implementing an ECHO funded capacity building project which concentrates on four important problems: seeds, nutrition, accountability and resilience. The project focuses on crisis-prone countries in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, but the “resources” section includes also information of more generic nature. The sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) is a way to improve understanding of the livelihoods of poor people. It draws on the main factors that affect poor people's livelihoods and the typical relationships between these factors. It can be used in planning new development activities and in assessing the contribution that existing activities have made to sustaining livelihoods. The two key components of the SLA are:
- a framework that helps in understanding the complexities of poverty
- a set of principles to guide action to address and overcome poverty
A clear presentation of the SLA and relative training material is available here. As millions of people worldwide depend on livestock, you may want to visit also the LEGS (Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards) website, which provides a set of international guidelines and standards for the design, implementation and assessment of livestock interventions to assist people affected by humanitarian crises. LEGS aims to improve the quality of emergency response by increasing the appropriateness, timeliness and feasibility of livelihoods-based interventions. More information on LEGS is available here.