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May 2004
Updated January 2007

FAO Livelihood Support Programme (LSP)


The FAO Livelihood Support Programme (LSP) works through teams of FAO staff members who want to tackle specific themes in a sustainable livelihoods context. These cross-departmental and cross-disciplinary teams are called sub-programmes, and they act to integrate sustainable livelihoods principles in FAO’s work, at headquarters and in the field (see graph).

Some of the LSP Sub-Programmes have published Working Papers and Briefing Notes that can be downloaded below.



Documents published by the LSP:

Baumann, P. (2002) Improving access to natural resources for the rural poor: A critical analysis of central concepts and emerging trends from a sustainable livelihoods perspective FAO, LSP WP 1, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Cotula, L. (2002) Improving access to natural resources for the rural poor: The experience of FAO and of other key organizations from a sustainable livelihoods perspective FAO, LSP WP 2, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Karl, M. (August 2002) Participatory Policy Reform from a Sustainable Livelihoods Perspective: Review of concepts and practical experiences. FAO, LSP WP 3, Participation, Policy and Local Governance Sub-Programme.

Cleary, D. (2003) People-Centred Approaches. A brief literature review and comparison of types . FAO, LSP WP 5, People-Centered Approaches in Different Cultural Contexts Sub-Programme.

Seshia, S., and Scoones, I. (2003) Understanding access to seeds and plant genetic resources: What can a livelihoods perspective offer? FAO, LSP WP 6, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Biggs, S. D. and Messerschmidt D. (2003) The culture of access to mountain natural resources: Policy, processes and practices . FAO, LSP WP 7, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Evrard, O. (2004) La mise en oeuvre de la réforme foncière au Laos, Impacts sociaux et effets sur les conditions de vie en milieu rural (with summary in English). FAO, LSP WP 8, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Ellis, F., and Allison, E. (2004) Livelihood diversification and natural resource access . FAO, LSP WP 9, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme, Livelihood Diversification and Enterprise Development Sub-Programme.

Hodgson, S. (March 2004) Land and Water – the rights interface. FAO, LSP WP 10, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Mitchell, R. and Hanstad, T. Rural Development Institute (RDI), USA, (March 2004) Small homegarden plots and sustainable livelihoods for the poor. FAO LSP WP 11, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme. Also available in Bahasa upon request.

Hanstad, T., Nielsen, R., Brown, J. Rural Development Institute (RDI), USA, (May 2004) Land and Livelihoods: Making land rights real for India’s rural poor. FAO LSP WP 12, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Fisher, R.J., Schmidt, K., Steenhof, B. and Akenshaev, N. (May 2004) Poverty and forestry : A case study of Kyrgyzstan with reference to other countries in West and Central Asia. FAO LSP WP 13, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Cotula, L., and Toulmin, C., with van Vlaenderen, H. , Mansour Tall, S., Gaye, G. , Saunders, J. , Ahiadeke, C. and Anarfi, J.K. (July 2004) Till to tiller: Linkages between international remittances and access to land in West Africa. FAO LSP WP 14.

Baumann, P., Bruno, M., Cleary, D., Dubois, O. and Flores, X. with contributions from Warren, P., Maffei, T. and Johnson, J. (March 2004) Applying people centred development approaches within FAO: some practical lessons. FAO LSP WP 15, People Centred Approaches in Different Development Contexts Sub-Programme.

Neely, C., Sutherland, K. and Johnson, J. (October 2004) Do sustainable livelihoods approaches have a positive impact on the rural poor? A look at twelve case studies. FAO LSP WP 16.

Norfolk, S. (2004) Examining access to natural resources and linkages to sustainable livelihoods. FAO LSP WP 17

Unruh J., (2004) Post-conflict land tenure: using a sustainable livelihoods approach. FAO LSP WP 18, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Eckman, K. (February 2005) Lessons learned by the WIN project on livelihoods diversification and enterprise development. FAO LSP WP 19, Livelihoods Diversification and Enterprise Development Sub-Programme.

Warren, P. (April 2005) Between the Household and the Market: A livelihoods analysis of the SPFS seed multiplication in Southern Guatemala. FAO LSP WP 20, Livelihoods Diversification and Enterprise Development Sub-Programme.

Strele M., Holtge K., Fiebiger M., Were J, Schulmeister A, with contributions from Weingartner L, (2006) Participatory Livelihoods Monitoring : Linking Programmes and Poor People's Interests to Policies. Experiences from Cambodia. FAO LSP. WP 21, Participation, Policy and Local Governance Sub-Programme

Unruh, J. D., Turray, H (2006) Land tenure, food security and investment in postwar Sierra Leone. FAO LSP WP 22, Aceess to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Nielsen, P., Hanstad, T. , and Rolfes, L. (2006) Implementing homestead plot programmes. Experience from India. Livelihood Support Programme Working Paper Number 23. FAO LSP WP 23 Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Quan, J. (2006) Land access in the 21st century. Issues, trends, linkages and policy options.. FAO LSP WP 24, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Cotula, L., Hed, C., Sylla, O., Thébaud, B., Vogt, G., and Vogt, K. (2006) Land and water rights in the Sahel. Tenure challenges of improving access to water for agriculture. FAO LSP WP 25, Aceess to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Gomes N. (2006). Access to water, pastoral resource management and pastoralists’ livelihoods: Lessons learned from water development in selected areas of Eastern Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia). FAO LSP WP 26. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Tanner, C., Baleira, S., Norfolk, S., Cau, B., and Assulai, J. (2006) Making rights a reality. Participation in practice and lessons learned in Mozambique. FAO LSP WP 27, Aceess to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Tanner C. and Baleira S.with Afonso Â, Azevedo J. P., Bila J., Chichava C., Moisés A., Pedro C. and Santos J. (2006). Mozambique’s legal framework for access to natural resources: The impact of new legal rights and community consultations on local livelihoods. FAO LSP WP 28. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Romano F. and Reeb D. (2006). Understanding forest tenure: What rights and for whom? Secure forest tenure for sustainable forest management and poverty alleviation: the case of South and Southeast Asia, with case studies of Orissa and Meghalaya, India and Nepal. FAO LSP WP 29. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Lindsay J., Wingard J. and Manaljav Z. (2006). Improving the legal framework for participatory forestry: Issues and options for Mongolia. FAO LSP WP 30. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Schmidt S. with Altanchimeg C., Tungalagtuya K., Narangerel Y., Ganchimeg D., Erdenechimeg B., Dambayuren S. and Battogoo D. New Zealand Nature Institute - Initiative for People Centered Conservation. (2006). Depleting natural wealth – perpetuating poverty: Rural livelihoods and access to forest resources in Mongolia. FAO LSP WP 31. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Schmidt S. with Altanchimeg C., Tungalagtuya K., Narangerel Y., Ganchimeg D., Erdenechimeg B., Dambayuren S. and Battogoo D. New Zealand Nature Institute - Initiative for People Centered Conservation. (2006). Rural livelihoods and access to forest resources in Mongolia: Methodology and case studies of Tsenkher Soum, Ulaan Uul Soum, Binder Soum, Teshig Soum and Baynlig Soum. FAO LSP WP 32. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Shimizu T. (2006) Assessing the access to forest resources for improving livelihoods in West and Central Asia countries. FAO LSP WP 33. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Baumann P. (2006) Forest - poverty linkages in West and Central Asia: The outlook from a sustainable livelihoods perspective. FAO LSP WP 34. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Shimizu T., and Trudel M., with case studies by Asanbaeva A., Kananian M., Naseri Gh. and Sülüsoglu M. (2006). Methodology and case studies on linkages between poverty and forestry: Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. FAO LSP WP 35. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Åkerlund U., in collaboration with Knuth L., Randrup T. and Schipperijn J. (2006). Urban and peri-urban forestry and greening in west and Central Asia: Experiences, constraints and prospects. FAO LSP WP 36. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Knuth L. (2006). Greening cities for improving urban livelihoods: Legal, policy and institutional aspects of urban and peri-urban forestry in West and Central Asia (with a case study of Armenia). FAO LSP WP 37. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Edited by Lorenzo Cotula, contributing authors: Jean-Pierre Chauveau, Salmana Cissé, Jean-Philippe Colin, Lorenzo Cotula, Philippe Lavigne Delville, Nanete Neves, Julian Quan, Camilla Toulmin, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Changes in “customary” land tenure systems in Africa. FAO LSP WP38, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme.

Laurel L. Rose. Children’s property and inheritance rights and their livelihoods: The context of HIV and AIDS in Southern and East Africa. FAO LSP WP39, Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Patricia Howard and Erin Smith. Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands. Leaving two thirds out of development: Female headed households and common property resources in the highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia. FAO LSP WP40. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Christine Okali. Linking livelihoods and gender analysis for achieving gender transformative change. FAO LSP WP41. Access to Natural Resources Sub-Programme

Briefing Notes

Baumann, P. (2002) Poverty and access to natural resources: insights from a sustainable livelihood perspective. LSP Briefing Notes, Access to natural resources, number 1.

Baumann, P. (2002) Can the sustainable livelihoods approach improve the design and implementation of projects to enhance access to natural resources for the poor? LSP Briefing Notes, Access to natural resources, number 2.

Seshia, S. (2003) Seed trails and sustainable livelihoods: understanding access to seeds and plant genetic resources. LSP Briefing Notes, Access to natural resources, number 3.

Ellis, F. and Allison, E. Linking livelihood diversification to natural resources in a poverty reduction context. LSP Briefing Notes, Access to natural resources, number 4.

Mitchell, R. and Hanstad, T. Small homegarden plots and sustainable livelihoods for the poor. LSP Briefing Notes, Access to natural resources, number 5.

LSP Sub-Programmes:

Institutional learning

The institutional learning sub-programme has been set up to ensure that lessons learned from cross-departmental, cross-sectoral team work, and the application of sustainable livelihoods approaches, are identified, analysed and evaluated for feedback into the programme.

Capacity building and learning on People Centred Development (PCD) in different cultural contexts

The sub-programme functions as a service-provider to the overall programme, by building a training programme that responds to the emerging needs and priorities identified through the work of the other sub-programmes, and Contributing to FAO’s field programme by promoting the role of people and their livelihoods in projects.

Mainstreaming sustainable livelihoods approaches in the field

FAO designs resource management projects worth more than US$1.5 billion per year. Since smallholder agriculture continues to be the main livelihood source for most of the world’s poor, if some of these projects could be improved, the potential impact could be substantial.

Sustainable Livelihoods Referral and Response Facility

A Response Facility has been established to respond to the increasing number of requests from within FAO for assistance on integrating sustainable livelihood and people-centred approaches into both new and existing programmes and activities.

Improving people’s access to natural resources

Access of the poor to natural assets is essential for sustainable poverty reduction. The livelihoods of rural people with limited or no access to natural resources are vulnerable because they have difficulty in obtaining food, accumulating assets, and recuperating after shocks or misfortunes.

The main goal of this sub-programme is to build stakeholder capacity to improve poor people’s access to natural resources through the application of sustainable livelihood approaches. The sub-programme is working in the following thematic areas:

Participation, Policy and Local Governance

Local people, especially the poor, often have weak or indirect influence on policies that affect their livelihoods. Policies developed at the central level are often not responsive to local needs and may not enable access of the rural poor to needed assets and services that help develop their livelihoods.

This Sub-Programme focuses on strengthening capacities for the development of consultative processes and institutional mechanisms to enable government, private sector and civil society actors to work together for policy changes and improved access to livelihood assets by the poor.

Livelihoods diversification and enterprise development

Diversification can assist households to insulate themselves from environmental and economic shocks, trends and seasonality – in effect, to be less vulnerable. Livelihoods diversification is complex, and strategies can include enterprise development.

Natural resource conflict management

Natural resource conflicts are disagreements and disputes over access to, control and use of, natural resources. In today’s world, human pressures on natural resources are increasing, while many resource bases are deteriorating or being depleted, creating a rising potential for competition and conflict between individuals and groups. If not addressed, what may have started as a rather small dispute can over time escalate into a violent conflict, disrupting resource management systems and undermining livelihoods. Understanding and managing conflict is therefore an important step towards achieving collaborative natural resource management and sustainable livelihoods.

The sub-program is developing and field testing training packages and will be offering training to FAO programmes on how community-based natural resource conflicts can be managed in the short to medium term. Training is based on alternative conflict resolution (ACR) as a collaborative strategy to manage conflicts. ACR promotes joint decision-making and seeks voluntary agreements between disputants on the basis of identified win-win solutions.

If you wish to have more information on the programme or any of its sub-programmes, please write to LSP@fao.org


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