An Introduction to Livelihood Promotion

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Traditionally the solution to the problems of poverty was conceived as an increase in income levels through the generation of employment. However this vision has changed in the last two decades. This publication shows how it is possible to promote livelihoods as a means for poverty reduction. A livelihood is a set of economic activities that involve self-employment and/or wage-employment. A livelihood is not only for generating income, it also encompasses empowerment and the dignity of people’s lives. Therefore, according to the authors, livelihood promotion is not only based on the principles of economic growth, but also on equity and human rights.

This module is the introductory section of “A Resource Book for Livelihood Promotion”. This publication is very useful for anyone interested in livelihood promotion, you could be an NGO or a MFI practitioner, a policy maker, an adviser, or a professional from any governmental agency. This module is especially informative for those interested in formulating and developing livelihood interventions. It provides a brief and modest, but useful, conceptual framework of livelihood interventions based on one country’s experience. It also permits the readers to consider some of the options of scaling up, or of building on a self-reliant local economy.

Emerging from the Indian experience of promoting livelihoods, this module shows a list of examples of livelihoods interventions, ranging from a government irrigation program, through integrated rural development programs, employment and self-employment promotion programs, to various microfinance interventions. The module also presents an overview of livelihood promotion strategies in India, from the first methods of human and institutional development, through integrated sectoral strategies (such as the Green Revolution), strategies focused on the vulnerable segments of the population, minimalist credit, and the contingency approach to livelihood promotion.

The module also defines how these interventions can be applied by four different approaches: the spatial, the segmental, the sectoral, and the holistic. It also provides useful guidelines for a better understanding of household dynamics, as well as the kind of strategies and actions necessary to improve livelihoods at the household level. Finally, there is a brief description of livelihood promotion organisations such as MFIs, NGOs, governmental agencies, etc. Their roles in livelihood promotion and the authors’ emphasis of networking among them are also explained.

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