Livelihood in HFA

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 stopping 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.

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.

Livelihood framework

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

Provision of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertiliser, agricultural tools, etc.)
Provision of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertiliser, agricultural tools, etc.)
« 1 of 5 »

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

Are you ready for the quiz?

EUROPEAN CIVIL PROTECTION AND HUMANITARIAN AID OPERATIONS