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Appendix 1


While a livelihoods approach has generally been associated with long-term development programming, it has widely been applied by CARE in other contexts. In the 1990s, a framework for linking relief to development, the "relief-to-development continuum", was adopted into the thinking and planning of operational agencies. Linking relief to development (the two being viewed previously as separate and discrete activities) meant that if relief activities could be tied to developmental objectives, and if better-designed development programmes could protect people's assets more effectively and reduce the need for relief in response to shocks, then post-emergency recovery time would be reduced and long-term improvements would be more sustainable. The framework also put greater emphasis on intermediate activities as a category of interventions in their own right, particularly rehabilitation. "Protecting livelihoods saves lives" is the theme (Maxwell & Buchanan-Smith 1994). This means that it is as important to understand livelihood systems in emergencies as it is in a longer-term development context, and even more so when attempting to protect people's assets in the face of impending disaster (mitigation) or assisting in the recovery of people's assets and livelihoods in the aftermath of disaster (rehabilitation).

Initially, the relief-to-development continuum was depicted as shown in Table A. In general, the perception was that over time, a programme should shift from left to right along the continuum, moving away from relief and toward long-term improvements. The continuum concept was based largely on experience with natural disasters, particularly slow-onset disasters such as drought, or where a disaster was a discrete event and did not recur. However, large geographic areas and the populations that inhabit them are increasingly threatened with recurrent disasters or chronic vulnerability. Practical experience with programming under these circumstances is that the relief-to-development continuum is anything but linear, and a programme often has to cycle back towards emergency response, or it gets "stuck" in permanent safety nets.

Under conditions of complex emergencies - given the drastically different basic causes of vulnerability - approaches to programming have likewise been different. Complex emergencies are characterized by the breakdown or "failure" of state structures; intercommunal violence; disputed legitimacy of authority (whether government or "rebel"); the potential for assistance to be misused or used to prolong or exacerbate the conflict; abuse of human rights; and the deliberate targeting of civilian populations by military forces (Borton 1998). The last is a major threat. The destruction of the livelihoods, assets and institutions of civilian populations is not always an unfortunate side-effect of complex emergencies but often the military objective.

Because of the differences in the basic causes of vulnerability, the difficult operating environment of chronically vulnerable areas and the chronic recurrence of emergencies in many of the areas in which CARE works in the East Africa region, CARE has developed a set of principles and guidelines for programming in chronically vulnerable areas.1

Chronically vulnerable areas (CVAs) are primarily defined as areas that experience recurrent shocks or emergencies of either natural or man-made origin or a combination of the two (droughts, floods and epidemics as well as conflicts or complex political emergencies). Vulnerability therefore arises from both natural and political causes. Vulnerability is classically defined as exposure to risk and stress, and the lack of ability to cope with the consequences of risk (Chambers 1988; Webb & Harinarayan 1999).

A more complex view of relationships in the relief-to-development continuum is depicted in Figure A, but even this table does not capture all the complexity of programming in CVAs. For example, several categories depicted are likely to happen simultaneously. In pre-crisis "normal" times, some amount of emergency preparedness may be part of programmes that are mostly aimed at promoting long-term development or improvements in capacities and assets. Promotion and protection of livelihoods may be possible under situations of "chronic" emergency as well.

A mix of all these may be required in the aftermath of a crisis. Dealing with the short-term impacts of crises and reducing long-term vulnerability are the ultimate objectives of a livelihoods approach to programming in chronically vulnerable areas. In addition to emergency preparedness and response, early warning, rehabilitation, mitigation and long-term development, the other critical programming factor for CVAs is how and when to transition between one activity and another.

The cost of operation will almost certainly be higher in chronically vulnerable areas, so it is critical to consider cost prior to deciding to begin programmes in such areas. Yet, increasingly, operational NGOs are pushed to begin programmes in these areas, as bilateral and multilateral lending programmes focus on high-potential areas where quicker gains can be made from development investments.


The traditional relief-to-development continuum

Short term

Time frame

Long term

(Livelihood provisioning)

Examples of programme

  • Safety and protection
  • Food and non-food distribution
  • Emergency health

(Livelihood protection)

Examples of programme

  • Provision of food until harvest
  • Distribution of seeds and tools
  • Restocking of livestock herds
  • Restoration of services
  • Restoration of infrastructure

(Livelihood promotion)

Examples of programme

  • Small enterprise development/credit
  • Agricultural/natural resource
  • development
  • Development of rural services

Livelihood promotion (sustainable development)

Livelihood promotion involves improving the resilience of household livelihoods to meet basic needs on a sustainable basis. Interventions of this type often aim to reduce the structural vulnerability of livelihood systems by focusing on: (1) improving production to stabilize yields through diversification into agro-ecologically appropriate crops, and through soil and water conservation measures (agriculture and natural resource-type measures) (e.g. Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mozambique, Nepal, Peru); (2) creating alternative income-generating activities (small-enterprise activities) (Bolivia, Tanzania); (3) reinforcing coping strategies that are economically and environmentally sustainable (seasonably appropriate off-farm employment) (Sudan); (4) improving on-farm storage capacity to increase the availability of buffer stocks (Guatemala); and (5) improving common property management through community participation (e.g. Bangladesh, Nepal). Promotion-type interventions can also deal with meso-level development, where the linkages between food surplus areas and food deficit areas could be strengthened through investment in regional infrastructure and market organization (e.g. Sudan, Zimbabwe). Such interventions could help the terms of trade for the poor by improving local access to income, food availability and lowering food prices. In addition, livelihood promotion activities could focus on preventive measure that improve the health and sanitation conditions and population/resource balance to insure that any income and production gains are not lost to disease and unchecked population growth (e.g. Honduras, Guatemala) (Frankenberger 1996). Most of CARE's work involves promotion-type activities.

Modified relief-to-development framework for CVAs

Livelihood protection (mitigation)

Mitigation is often linked with rehabilitation in the middle range of the relief-to-development continuum. However, mitigation is any kind of activity that prevents the erosion or destruction of assets in the face of an impending disaster or emergency (whereas rehabilitation is primarily about rebuilding in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency).

To be effective, mitigation must be linked closely with early warning systems on the one hand and emergency preparedness on the other. It is, in effect, the first step in emergency response. A critical factor in the loss of productive assets is the lack of this link, and preventing the loss of assets (the entire range of assets, from human and social to economic and physical) is the operational objective of mitigation programming.

While protecting the capacity of vulnerable populations to be self-reliant is also a goal of mitigation, interventions depend on the type of emergency being faced. In complex political emergencies, livelihoods and assets may be deliberately destroyed by warring parties, and thus direct investment in assets would not only be lost but would actually make people more vulnerable. An analysis of the benefits and harms of any intervention is thus critical. Protecting access to resources, including food but also productive resources, is an important goal, not only for promoting self-reliance but also for preventing stress migration, which often totally isolates vulnerable groups, making them completely dependent on outside aid.

The range of activities considered mitigation includes:

Livelihood provisioning (emergency response)

Livelihood provisioning is defined as any activity that saves human life and protects adequate health and nutritional status, addressing the immediate symptoms of livelihood insecurity.

Often the first operational issue in an emergency revolves around logistics and a supply line for providing life-supporting interventions. This will usually involve a food or nutritional security assessment, with appropriate interventions tailored to each assessment. In chronic or long-term emergency settings, the programmatic focus may turn over time to promoting some level of self-reliance.

In complex emergencies, civilian livelihoods and institutions are often targeted, and civilians (particularly refugees and internally displaced persons) may be used as human shields, which makes protection a more crucial issue. The breakdown of state and civil-society institutions compounds problems of response in complex emergencies, and economic chaos is often a deliberate outcome. Lack of humanitarian access to refugee and displaced populations often prevents adequate response. While emergency response under conditions of natural disaster is a fairly well-developed practice, complex emergencies still present extremely difficult working environments.

The range of activities considered provisioning includes:

Many activities listed as mitigation or rehabilitation are often part of emergency response programmes; lines between the different activities are blurred.

Livelihood recovery (rehabilitation)

Rehabilitation overlaps with relief and development. CARE's definition of rehabilitation is "the process of protecting and promoting the livelihoods of people enduring or recovering from emergencies". The purpose of rehabilitation programmes is to, "provide short-term income transfers, rebuild household and community assets and rebuild institutions... The key task of rehabilitation is to help reinforce developmental objectives, notably livelihood security, participation, sustainability, gender equity and local institutional capacity".2

Rehabilitation was traditionally viewed as a quick transitional step between relief and development, and programme activities were traditionally aimed at rebuilding physical infrastructure and replacing lost physical assets. Over recent years, rehabilitation has grown to embrace the rebuilding or recovery of a much broader spectrum of assets destroyed by both natural disaster and war, including de-mining, psychosocial counselling of victims of war and rape, the demobilization and re-integration of combatants and large-scale support to the recovery of macroeconomic indicators. It has also come to embrace programmatic interventions that address more basic causes of emergencies themselves, including conflict resolution, democratization, human rights promotion and building the institutional capacity of indigenous organizations.

While natural disasters usually come to an end, increasingly complex emergencies can drag on for many years. Occasionally, complex emergencies have a distinct ending point, but many end up in an "uneasy peace" or a protracted, low-grade conflict. There are rarely clear and unambiguous signals to operational agencies that it is time to switch modes of programmatic intervention. This makes rehabilitation a problematic concept operationally. The switch from emergency operations to rehabilitation often requires major changes in procedures, skills and institutional culture. Promoting sustainability and participation are major challenges. While rehabilitation interventions are often long term in nature, donors often do not have a separate funding category and programmes must often be financed on the time frames of emergency operations.

The range of activities considered rehabilitation is now much broader, including:

1 CARE East Africa, 1999, "Program guidelines for chronically vulnerable areas".

2 CARE East Africa, 1999, "Program considerations for rehabilitation", based on definition by P. Harvey, W. Campbell & S. Maxwell, 1997, Rehabilitation in the Greater Horn of Africa, November. Sussex, IDS, p. 1.

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