Department for International Development

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The above works are all concerned with the policy implication and strategies/projects for promoting sustainable livelihoods in the process of development, in response to the depletion of natural resources. To ensure variety in the review I have included a publication by the Department for International Development (DFID) rather than a particular author/academic, and two books that look at slightly different aspects of sustainable livelihoods; Barraclough and Ghimire look at forests, and Davies looks at Food Insecurity. I wanted to see how this affected the way in which the topic of sustainable livelihoods was approached in literature.

Barraclough is very much an agrarian reform researcher. He has worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), the Inter-American Committee for Agricultural Development Studies (in nine Latin American countries). He was also Adjunct Professor of Agricultural Economics at Cornell University and was director of agrarian reform research and training programmes in Chile and Mexico. Barraclough has written many books (some in Spanish) on forests, livelihoods and food security.

His co-author Ghimire is currently (at date of publication) Project Leader at the UNRISD involving global research programmes on environmental and social change. He has also been involved with agrarian research and rural development, and has also written a number of books on such topics. Their Chapter on strategies for sustainable livelihoods is fairly simple in structure. They have an introductory section where they briefly consider the success of current implications and the role of different actors in the sustainability of Livelihoods.

The second section “Some Neglected Aspects Of Socially and Ecologically Sustainable Strategies” is introduced by looking at the meaning of the term ‘development strategy’ and what it derives from, then goes on to identify the economic view of the term, and their interpretations and suggestions as to what an effective strategy should consist of. In the third section “Political Economy of Forest Protection in the Case-Study Countries” the authors look at roles and success of actors (such as National Governments and NGOs) in the promotion of sustainable livelihoods in specific countries (Brazil, Central America, Tanzania and Nepal).

The final section “A Few International Reforms That Could Help” considers how political, cultural, economic, statistical and other problems might be overcome and makes suggestions on improving existing policies and projects. Susanna Davies was the Deputy Director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton, at the time of publication. She has been involved in a lot of research concerning food security and development. She has worked closely, in the research field, with the Save the Children Fund (UK), National Governments (e. . of the Republic of Mali) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. As well as continuing to research and teach at the Institute of Development Studies. The first section of her chapter entitled “Tracking and Tackling Food Vulnerability” summarises her findings on food vulnerability and livelihoods in the Sahel, identifying the problems and issues for that particular area. It looks in detail at the performance of a scheme called SADS (Suivi Alimentaire Delto Seno) and how successful it has been in this area.

The second section “A Simplified Methodology For Monitoring Livelihoods” suggests an alternative strategy based on the findings of the previous section. It shows a detailed, yet simple, plan for assessing problematic situations and suggests solutions or ways of attempting to tackle them. It is described by use of clearly laid out tables, supplemented with text to describe each step in greater detail. The section then goes on to describe a systematic way of introducing such a policy in an area such as the Inner Niger Delta.

The final section looks at the implications of policies on saving lives and Livelihoods and the way in which livelihood sustainability planning should be carried out, and stresses that action needs to be sooner rather than later. The chapter closes with conclusions on the aforementioned section and outlines areas of policy change that would improve the sustainability of livelihoods alongside enhancing the security of food. The book by the Department for International Development (DFID) looks at its own approaches to sustainable Livelihoods.

It does not contain one chapter on the topic broached as in the previous two works, but addresses it throughout the short publication. It initially describes and defines its ideas of and the origins sustainable livelihood approaches in development, and their principles and concepts. Later the book goes on to describe DFID’s experience in sustainable livelihood approaches and practical applications. It describes both the positive and negative aspects of their approaches, their framework reformulation and the challenges the department faces in their implications.

The book concludes with the lessons learnt from DFID’s experience and suggests improvements for future approaches. Each of the three works approaches the topic of strategies for sustainable livelihoods in a different way. Barraclough and Ghimire look at different approaches by different organisations in different areas. Davies and DFID look at particular approaches, SADS and their own (respectively), and Davies looks at one particular region. All, however, do cover some main aspects.

That is they all examine what has happened in the past (although Barraclough less so) and make suggestions about the future. The way in which they do this varies between the authors. Barraclough and Ghimire have used straight pros to detail their findings, describing textually both their ideas on the past and their suggestions for the future. Their writing appears far more subjective than that of the other two works, and are based on their impressions more than actual physical evidence. Davies has used tables to describe her theories.

They are clear and well laid out and offer easy understanding of the scheme she proposes. However her depth and detail is more factual and significant than Barraclough and Ghimire’s. The DFID publication makes similar use of tables, but again lakes thorough detail. This book is far more of textbook than the other two, with a simple layout, different colloured inks, repeated use of bullet points and frequent boxes to highlight certain points. This is incredibly useful and convenient for writing an essay but perhaps not enough for an in depth investigation. The authors agree on several points.

Firstly that past measures taken to promote sustainable livelihoods needs to be improved upon. Barraclough and Ghimire even suggest that some policies have even “contributed to increasing hardships for vulnerable social groups” (Barraclough and Ghimire, 1995:204). DFID take a different approach by tabulating the strengths and weaknesses of their past approaches and claiming that such approaches are “not a Magic Bullet” (DFID, 1999:11). DFID see them as areas to be built upon not completely revised, whereas both Barraclough and Davies seek to invent a new system.

Davies believes that much of the difficulties arise in the assessment of problem situations and sets about describing her simplified but improved research methodology. She insists that more accurate and detailed assessment will lead to far more accurate and successful projects and consequently improvement. Barraclough and Ghimire’s main contention is with past and present schemes being based on “utopian abstracts” (Barraclough and Ghimire, 1995:206), and they consider that the majority of past development schemes have been built upon ideals that are not necessarily obtainable.

They believe future schemes ought to include much more participatory elements and “negotiating some sort of social consensus” (Barraclough and Ghimire, 1995:206). The authors of this work do however admit that these sorts of approaches can be time consuming, expensive and difficult, but believe that persevering with them is the best option for sustainability and improvement in the underdeveloped regions of the world. The book from the Department of International Development looked in great detail at how their sustainable livelihood approaches could be improved to increase the success of development schemes.

Things they have chosen to take into consideration are the timing of schemes, the time of entry for particular aspects of a scheme such as policy introduction. Also the enhancement of “Cross-sectoral teamwork” (DFID 1999:22) in order to fully understand the different aspects of livelihoods. They also consider the way in which such approaches can be integrated with other development schemes, as well as investigating who should be involved and what sorts of methods might be appropriate. Like Davies, DFID are keen to improve assessment and monitoring systems to get a better picture.

Unlike the other authors, this book addresses institutional issues, challenges and problems that can directly affect the implementation of sustainable livelihood schemes. All the authors agree that sustainable livelihood systems are important and necessary in the process of development, in order to both protect and maintain natural resources and sustain the livelihood and well being of populations in the developing world. All insist that security is not enough that a balanced focus needs to be found between social, economic and environmental issues.

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