Capacity Development Portal
Good Practices

Rural livelihoods and food security

  1. Farmer field schools
  2. Micro-gardens
  3. Livelihood Diversification and enterprise development: improving small farmer livelihoods
  4. The Livelihoods Support Programme: Bringing people-centered approaches and livelihoods at work in FAO
  5. Introducing a Livelihoods Approach in Emergencies

What problem did it address, where?

Research is increasingly showing that using livelihoods and people-centered approaches in development projects can be more effective if done with participatory management, characterized by flat hierarchical structures, increased staff participation, and multi-disciplinary collaboration at work (Hobley 2000). This corresponds to the experience of the Livelihoods Support Programme (LSP): that adequate organizational support facilitates the implementation of livelihoods and people-centered approaches in the field. What follows below are toolbox-suggestions regarding good management and on-going monitoring practices coming out of the LSP experience. These can be useful to 1) help programme and project managers organize their plans to include the use of livelihoods-type of approaches and 2) put the LSP experience at the disposition of FAO staff and consultants who would like to work in more horizontal, participatory and multi-disciplinary ways.


Encourage dialogue and multi-disciplinarity in the work. This can be done through simple changes of attitudes:

1) Work across hierarchies and across sectors: It has been LSP experience that coordination rather than top-down management encourages team members to work together. This also makes it easier for decision-making to encompass both the client’s needs and the programme’s objectives. Coordination encourages participation and multi-sectoral work, and helps in seeing people, problems, and projects in more integrated and “holistic” ways.

2) Use facilitated meetings: Facilitated meetings are a simple way to open structured dialogues and to bring together the experience of multi-disciplinary teams, allowing a range of expertise to be integrated on specific issues. Structured brainstormings help to better see the interrelations between issues and to work towards addressing them more appropriately. Facilitated meetings also have the advantage of encouraging the participation of technical staff even in the presence of supervisors and management.

Self-monitoring and adjustments: Self-monitoring, evaluation, learning, and consequent adjustment of the activities of one’s own group helps remind staff of the underlying objectives and to maintain a common vision. Periodic reports (written!) to your group, annual retreats, peer reviews, and after-action reviews for example can be self-energizing processes which help to re-adjust the work’s aims and means as necessary. The value of simply preparing written decision points and follow-up actions after meetings - each action with a named “champion” - should not be underestimated.

Where next?

For more information on these ways of working, please contact the Livelihoods Support Programme

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