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Annex 11

Inter-agency experiences and lessons



1. -Agencies agreed strongly on the guiding principles that underpin sustainable livelihoods (SL) approaches.

2. -The SL framework is a diagnostic tool that has to be made context-specific.

3. -The tools and methods used to put SL approaches into practice are not specific to SL methodology.

4. -SL approaches add value to our work because they:

5. -The participatory approaches that underpin the SL guiding principles are not unique to SL approaches and need to be adapted.

6. -A participatory analysis of livelihoods, differentiated by socio-economic strata, gender and stages in household cycle, should be conducted early on to determine entry points; overinvestment in research and analysis should be avoided by building on existing secondary data and local institutional knowledge and relying as much as possible on pilot interventions accompanied by participatory process monitoring.

7. -Holistic diagnosis may result in interventions in a single sector or at a few key entry points, provided that they address the concerns of the poor.

8. -Initial entry points can be sectoral, and can then widen to include other sectors.

9. -Grassroots institutional capacity-building and risk-management capacity are crucial to sustainability.

10.-SL approaches must consider the interaction between livelihood systems at the micro level and their policy environment.

11.-SL-driven policy analysis must consider policy content and processes.

12.-SL approaches upstream are valuable, provided that they are linked to micro-level ground-truthing. Policy changes that are driven from below - that have a strong grassroots power base and are supported by civil society - are likely to be more lasting.

13. Certain issues need further clarification:


This report synthesizes the main issues and lessons learned from the Forum. The Forum brought together several agencies that had been applying or developing sustainable livelihoods (SL) approaches in their work, including CARE, the Department for International Development (DFID), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The purpose of the Forum was to:

The Forum was expected to provide participants the opportunity to:

The Forum followed the three-week web/e-mail conference "Operationalizing participatory ways of applying SL approaches", which served to familiarize Forum participants with SL concepts, guiding principles and the SL framework. Four theme papers were prepared as a basis for discussion during the Web/E-Conference1, and theme moderators prepared guidance notes to support them.

The Forum was organized around a series of case studies in order to focus discussion on concrete issues related to operationalizing SL approaches. Each agency prepared and presented one or more of its own project experiences as a basis for analysing the strengths and weaknesses of SL approaches. Case studies were selected that typified the range of situations confronted by development agencies. These ran the gamut from drought-prone areas of Mali, to upland watersheds in Latin America, to flood-prone lowland paddy areas in Bangladesh, to cold grasslands in Mongolia. Four of the eight case studies concerned sustainable natural resource management (watershed management, land husbandry, soil and water conservation, integrated pest management). The remaining four were examples of dryland agriculture, artisanal fisheries, livestock and household food security (see Table 1). Four mini-case studies dealt with cross-cutting issues: gender, rural micro-finance, institutional restructuring and the design of a sectoral regional project.

Forum participants were split up into groups of seven to eight members, each with well-defined terms of reference. The groups had to: (1) understand the project as designed, then apply the SL framework and assess what might have changed if SL principles had been used; (2) analyse how the project evolved during implementation, then apply SL principles and discuss what difference this might have made to implementation; (3) examine project outcomes and consider whether the application of SL approaches would have resulted in substantially different outcomes; (4) suggest ways of redesigning the project in the light of SL approaches and identify constraints likely to emerge in implementing the redesigned project; and (5) draw out lessons regarding the value added by SL approaches and flag any issues needing further clarification.

At the end of the second day, each case study group reported back to the plenary group, which then prioritized the most important unresolved issues. New "issue groups" were formed to discuss these and report back to the plenary group.

Unresolved issues

1. What are the best entry points for SL approaches?
2. Do SL approaches add value for implementation?
3. If SL approaches help agencies understand the poor, do they help reach them?
4. Do SL approaches always need a policy dimension?
5. How much diagnosis and when?
6. Are SL approaches culture-bound?
7. Can SL approaches work in authoritarian regimes?
8. What do SL approaches imply for donor agencies?

Participants then broke up into agency-specific groups to discuss the implications of SL approaches for operations in their own agencies.

As a postscript to the Forum, after the closing session, an inter-agency managers' meeting endorsed recommendations from the Forum on the question: "Where do we go from here?"


Summary of case studies for the Forum



Donor/ agency

Sector/ entry points





  • Agriculture: integrated pest management (fish/rice)
  • Strengthening village institutions
  • Empowerment
  • Education
  • Specific poverty focus


Upper Piraí Participatory

& Integrated Watershed



  • Watershed management
  • Community development planning
  • Governance


Soil & Water Conservation in the Ethiopian Highlands


  • Soil & water conservation
  • Participatory approach
  • Community empowerment


Lempira Sur Project


  • Agriculture: sustainable hillside farming systems
  • Community empowerment
  • Health
  • Education
  • Governance
  • Policy


Malawi Sustainable

Livelihoods Programme


  • Food security
  • Enterprise development & employment generation
  • Environmental/natural resource management
  • Coordination
  • Poverty policy analysis & programming
  • Participation
  • Communication
  • Science & technology


Segou Village Development Fund


  • Agriculture - food production
  • Credit for animal traction
  • Village associations (elders)
  • Community empowerment
  • Institutional development
  • Health
  • Literacy
  • Credit & savings


Arhangai Rural Poverty

Alleviation Project


  • Credit for restocking
  • Vegetable production
  • Income-generation


Improving Household Food Security

& Nutrition in the Luapula Valley


Survival Fund

  • Food security & nutrition
  • Agriculture
  • Health
  • Community development
  • Education
  • Community empowerment


What are SL?

The need to clarify what SL approaches are emerged as a central concern of the Forum. There was consensus that SL approaches comprised two elements: the SL guiding principles and the SL framework. The tools and methods used to put sustainable livelihoods into practice are essential but not specific to SL approaches.

The SL guiding principles. These are a guide to the main concerns of sustainable livelihoods. They are the defining characteristics of development interventions that have been designed to address issues identified through the use of the SL framework. But they are only guiding principles. They neither prescribe solutions nor dictate methods, not least because the guiding principles themselves prioritize flexibility and adaptation to the diverse nature of local conditions. SL guiding principles2 are to:

1. Be people-centred:

2. Be holistic:

3. Be dynamic:

4. Build on strengths:

5. Use micro-macro links:

6. Aim for sustainability:

The SL framework. The SL framework is an analytical tool for understanding livelihoods systems and strategies and their interaction with policies and institutions. However, it needs to be made context-specific. This will often imply changing or adding elements to reflect local social, cultural, political and economic realities.

A wide range of diverse tools and methods may be used to design and implement projects that can contribute to achieving sustainable livelihoods. These methods, however, are not exclusive to SL approaches.

Sustainable livelihoods framework

Sources: DFID

Consensus on the SL guiding principles

Participants acknowledged that reaching consensus on the guiding principles of SL approaches is a major strength:


Tools and methods useful for SL approaches

Diagnostic tools

Implementation tools & methods

Monitoring & evaluation tools & methods

  • RRA
  • Household surveys
  • Stakeholder analysis & consultation
  • Case studies
  • Institutional capacity analysis
  • Vulnerability
  • Poverty mapping (VAM/FIVIMS)
  • Livelihood security assessment (CARE)
  • Participatory planning
  • ZOPP
  • Community action plans
  • Institutional capacity-building
  • Farming systems research
  • Action research
  • Farmer field schools
  • Integrated & participatory policy development
  • Participatory monitoring & evaluation
  • Impact monitoring & evaluation

How do SL approaches add value to our work?

Forum participants agreed that the use of the SL framework and the incorporation of the guiding principles into development policy, planning and implementation could add value in a number of ways:

1. SL approaches shift the focus from resources to people and from problems, constraints and needs to perceived strengths, opportunities, coping strategies, and local initiative.

2. SL approaches encourage early diagnosis and the establishment of feedback mechanisms within projects that can lead to a better identification and understanding of poverty and the development of diverse strategies for addressing it. (These strategies do not necessarily involve working exclusively with the poor.)

3. SL approaches require a more systematic assessment of the vulnerability and assets of people, which makes it easier to identify more appropriate entry points.

4. Applying the SL framework reveals how the inability to cope with shocks and stresses increases the vulnerability of the poor. Making the relationships between vulnerability and poverty explicit was held to be an extremely important contribution.

5. Use of the SL framework helps agencies focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Striving to achieve outputs reduces flexibility and may succeed at the cost of the sustainability of the processes. Participants acknowledged that working towards process outcomes rather than outputs could address both concerns.

6. The focus on synergy between different types of capital also adds value. Projects that strengthen human and social capital in synergy with physical, natural or financial capital are more likely to bring about sustainable outcomes.

7. SL approaches also improve the relevance of interventions with a poverty focus. This may involve partnership with organizations that were previously "invisible" to decision-makers.

8. The SL framework provides a valuable structure for promoting and integrating interdisciplinary teamwork; indeed, the guiding principles provide a common language, and the framework assists agencies in structuring information from different disciplines.

9. Providing essential information on how prevailing structures and processes affect people's livelihoods, SL approaches ensure that policy and institutional aspects are not neglected.

10. The use of SL approaches can encourage the design of open-ended, flexible development interventions. In fact, the guiding principles espouse a process of continual learning and analysis throughout the life of a project or a programme. This implies that any "diagnosis" emerging from SL approaches must necessarily be dynamic and iterative.

11. When dynamic and iterative diagnosis is built into a project, it increases that project's capacity to react and adapt to new needs and changing conditions and to tailor interventions to suit the poor.

12. These built-in, participatory feedback mechanisms can also contribute to improving the design and implementation of projects, making them more relevant to livelihood issues encountered at the local level. In several of the projects analysed during the Forum (Bolivia, Honduras, INTERFISH, Zambia), practitioners relied on such mechanisms to adjust the design of their projects and improve their implementation.

13. SL approaches add value to implementation when they bring about a continual process of demand-driven implementation, participatory feedback and implementation readjustment.

14. Since SL approaches are holistic and call for flexibility, they allow for a greater capacity to respond to contingencies.

15. SL approaches recognize the need for partnerships because people's livelihood strategies are multisectoral and no one agency can be an expert in all fields. This points to the need to identify the core competencies and comparative advantages of agencies. The emphasis on building new and innovative partnerships across projects, line agencies, NGOs, civil society, the private sector and donor agencies was viewed as an important contribution of sustainable livelihoods approaches.

Sustainable livelihoods framework

Sources: DFID

Overarching lessons

Participation and SL approaches. Participatory approaches are essential to operationalizing the guiding principles, but they need to be adapted, developed and used, as well as internalized and, institutionalized by all stakeholders.


  • Weave a fabric of sustainability
  • Acknowledge interdependence
  • Build trust
  • Find shared vision, goals, values and interests
  • Honour the range of resources
  • Generate a culture of mutual support
  • Find opportunities for creative synergy
  • Address relationship difficulties as they occur
  • See partnering as a continuous learning process

The participatory element of SL approaches, and the resulting focus on people's livelihoods, is a powerful contributor to sustainability. The first phase of the WFP project in Ethiopia was implemented under a coercive and authoritarian regime. Project interventions attempted to address land degradation, but activities were implemented through coercive "mass mobilization". With the fall of the Derg regime in 1991, communities started to revolt against the system. This led to widespread destruction of communal woodlots and physical conservation structures. The few community woodlots that were untouched were those that the communities had specifically requested and whose species composition they had selected.

Sustainability. Within the SL framework, sustainability must be looked at holistically, and it should concern:

Working at multiple levels. It is crucial to ensure that micro-level institutions/organizations influence the development of policy to secure an effective enabling environment, and that macro-level structures and processes support people to build on their own strengths.

Mali - how lack of initial diagnosis led to inappropriate entry points

The Mali Segou Village Development Fund Project largely bypassed the poorest households because insufficient attention was given at the project design stage to socio-economic differentiation within the project area or to the livelihood systems of the poor. The main entry point - animal traction - excluded the poorest households. Moreover, the project failed to reach women and youth because it selected village associations - which are composed of elderly male heads of extended household production units - as its institutional entry point. This was rectified in the course of the project's successive phases, as a result of evaluations.


Household typology - Bolivia case study


Urban-oriented "outstanding HHs"

Farm-focused ("rich and successful "middle-class" HHs)

Marginal "poor" and impoverished "middle-class" HHs

Location of house(s)

House(s) in Santa Cruz, Samaipata and the community

Houses in the community and in Samaipata

House in the community


Professional or business people

Farmers working their own land

Day labourers or sharecroppers

Access to credit

Access to formal banking services and credit

Access to micro-credit

No access to credit

Labour use

Able to hire share-croppers or day-labourers

Able to participate in reciprocal exchange labour

Often excluded from reciprocal exchange labour

Farm size and type

Own over 20 ha of land with established orchards

Own 5-20 ha with established orchards

Landless or owning <5 ha of degraded land

Livestock ownership

Over 20 head of cattle

Fewer than 20 head of cattle (among Vallunos)

No cattle

Means of transport

Own truck or pick-up

Own pick-up or motorbike

No private transport

Education and literacy

Educated, with sons studying in town



Role in local politics

Influential in local politics

Active in self-help groups or community-based organizations

Do not participate in self-help groups or community based organizations

Develop a shared vision of change. The poor have problems and weaknesses. They also have strengths and opportunities, and they often have clear aspirations of where they want to be in the future. It is important to help them to bring about this vision.

"Buy into" SL approaches. Policy-makers and implementers at all levels, as well as the private sector, must "buy into" SL principles and processes. Indications from several projects, including DELIVERI and Honduras, point to the crucial role that internal champions can play in facilitating this process.

Skills, attitudes and knowledge. The use of SL approaches requires new skills, attitudes and knowledge that need to be introduced across organizations, agencies and staff at all levels.

Other lessons learned: diagnosis and design

Participatory diagnosis of livelihoods is essential prior to designing a project and selecting entry points. Projects that had failed to undertake a holistic analysis of livelihood systems prior to design often adopted strategies and entry points that were largely irrelevant to the local population, especially the poor. For instance, natural resource management (NRM) projects in Bolivia and Pakistan had to expend a lot of project staff time and resources on raising awareness of their NRM initiatives because these did not correspond to the communities' felt needs.

Inappropriate entry points. Agencies should be wary of committing themselves to a narrow or commodity-based institutional entry point unless communities have been consulted or a participatory analysis of livelihoods has been carried out. Institutional commitments can make it difficult to change the project's entry point once implementation has begun.

Data produced from livelihood analyses should always be disaggregated by gender, age and socio-economic stratum. To ensure that project interventions address the concerns of the poor and build upon their strengths, it is essential that diagnostic studies start from a disaggregated analysis of the asset base and livelihood systems of different socio-economic strata, and develop a household typology.3 Different socio-economic categories within a community can have widely different livelihood strategies.

Importance and timing of diagnosis. The Forum consensus was that initial diagnosis, followed by continual reassessment in the light of changing experience, is essential for the following reasons:

The Forum consensus was that projects building on 10 to 15 years of experience - which includes analyses of livelihood systems and action research-cum-evaluation - should avoid overinvestment of time and resources in diagnosis. Instead, project planners should rely as much as possible on secondary data and pilot interventions, coupled with participatory process monitoring and adjustment during project implementation.4 Whereas, when entering a new area, a more substantial diagnostic process would be required up front. Diagnostic tools, however, must be adapted to the local and cultural context.

The holistic analysis may lead to one or more focused interventions. Once the holistic analysis is completed, a decision can be made on the scope of the entry point, e.g. how wide or narrow it should be, and within which sector, level or group it should lie. It is essential, however, that the needs of the poor be addressed.

Cultural adaptation of diagnostic tools - Pakistan

Ensuring that the views and experiences of women in purdah were accounted for offered special challenges for PRA practitioners. Literacy among women in the country is low; most women have had no previous experience participating in meetings and little opportunity to review options and make informed decisions. The project therefore developed special PRA tools that were visual and interactive rather than abstract and reflective. Time and money were spent in designing a gender-specific set of tools to detail a Brahui woman's daily time profile. One of these tools featured a woman in Brahui dress and a series of pictures drawn by a local artist representing women's triple gender roles (productive, reproductive and community management). The tool became quite popular with women. They could identify themselves through the pictures, and as they went through their daily and seasonal routines, they got a sense of how much work they were doing.This augmented their feelings of self-confidence. The project also used village-maintained photo books and a village-produced slide show for discussions. Allowing groups to select and design their own tools reinforces ownership of activities and development planning.

Single-sector or multisectoral entry points?

The DFID DELIVERI project in Indonesia is an example of an SL-type project with a single-sector entry point that worked on several levels within that sector. It aimed to make existing livestock services more client-centred and more responsive to the poor. It started work at subdistrict and community levels and gradually moved up, using the outcomes of pilot experiences at the grassroots level to influence policy-makers at higher administrative levels. By bringing decision-makers from the provincial level face to face with beneficiaries in pilot villages, the project was able to lobby effectively for policy and institutional change.

The UNDP Sustainable Livelihoods Project in Malawi went to the opposite extreme. Attempting to formulate a comprehensive action programme covering all relevant sectors, the project concluded that adoption of an SL approach did not mean designing an SL programme to cover all sectors, and that it was preferable to focus implementation on a few key leverage points within the livelihood system.

Initial entry points may begin by addressing a community's priorities in one sector, and take in other sectors as the programme matures. This allows sequential movement into areas that require more community awareness, such as projects or programmes related to natural resource management (NRM).

Sectoral entry points and sustainable livelihoods projects

Sources: based on original Bangladesh Case Study Group

Projects or programmes should take advantage of opportunities arising from decentralization to overcome the problems of sectoral entry points. When all government services come under the authority of the district, project funds channelled to the district level or below (bypassing the central ministries) can be allocated to one or another sector on the basis of emerging demand from communities. Decentralized services need not be provided by the line ministries but may be contracted to a wider range of service providers such as the private sector, NGOs or other civil-society organizations.

NRM projects may exclude certain vulnerable poor groups (e.g. landless, sharecroppers) by focusing on land-based interventions or activities. SL approaches can help in identifying alternative interventions that support the livelihood strategies of the poor. A possible strategy would be to identify those households that do not participate in project activities and, through participatory approaches, identify their members' needs and strengths. Additional initiatives that address those identified needs can then be introduced if they fall within the project's mandate. Alternatively, the needs of the poorest could be addressed indirectly through policy and institutional reform (employment creation, strengthening local institutions). For example, the Bolivia project could have influenced land tenure policies to address the felt needs of the landless and sharecroppers. Instead of working exclusively to improve the sustainability of farming practices, the project could have explored alternative options for earning non-farm income, thereby reducing pressure on the land. Another alternative could have been to initiate a different but related project, specifically targeting the functionally landless segments of society.

The Bangladesh INTERFISH project used farmer field schools to introduce fish farming in paddy fields. Although the project empowered smallholders, with such an entry point it could not reach the poorest households, most of which had no paddy lands. To justify the project's poverty focus, the project management referred to its target group as "tomorrow's poor" (i.e. "the self-sufficient small farmers who are considered to be vulnerable to any crises or shocks of the rural economy").

Since reaching the landless poor requires a different entry point and strategy, DFID is funding a complementary project, Strengthening Household Access to Bari Garden Extension (SHABGE). This project will assist functionally landless women and men farmers to improve household food security by increasing the productivity of land that is normally devoted to vegetable and fruit-tree production. Beneficiaries comprise households that have a total of one acre (0.40 ha) of land or less, including the land upon which the house is built.

Yet another alternative would be to establish partnership agreements with other agencies or donors to cover areas outside the project's mandate or objectives.

Examples of projects that successfully shifted entry points

Bolivia: Despite its single-sector entry point, this project was able to meet needs outside the agriculture/NRM sector by linking communities with resources provided by donors active in other sectors.

Honduras: This project developed from a single-sector entry point that addressed a felt need and grew to address complementary needs in other sectors.

Pakistan: The initial entry point of this project - watershed management - was of little interest to the local population, but the project was able to shift the focus to fruit-trees and community infrastructure.

Zambia: This project's initial entry point of household food security was too narrow to ensure improvement of nutritional status. The project discovered that food-based activities must go hand in hand with interventions such as primary health care, providing access to clean water and sanitation, nutrition and health education and improved weaning and breastfeeding practices.

Efforts should be made during the design stage to negotiate with the communities to include the marginalized/poorest groups. Establishing the rules of the project through a participatory process - and possibly putting them in writing - could provide the project with the mandate for ensuring that the rights of the poor are respected. Communities requesting partnership in the project would then have to agree on the approach.

The IFAD-supported P4K project in Indonesia aims to alleviate poverty by establishing savings and credit groups for landless and functionally landless people. "The rules of the game" of P4K require community members to identify which of the people requesting project support fall below the locally defined poverty threshold. Once identified, these individuals are offered a nurturing period of savings and training, during which they may borrow against the savings of the group. Having repaid their loans at least three times, they are considered to have "graduated" and can then borrow from a commercial bank. As the 1997/98 financial crisis showed, P4K participants were found to be better equipped to resist the shock of the crisis than the rest of the population in the same community.

Choice of partners is crucial. Municipal- or district-level (multisectoral) organizations can make good local partners for SL approaches but may limit opportunities to influence policy at higher levels.The help of line ministries is needed to advocate macro-level policy changes.

Other lessons learned: implementation and monitoring

The majority of the Forum and Web/E-Conference participants had serious reservations about the contribution of SL approaches to implementation. They felt that much of the value added at implementation was not specific to SL approaches but derived from applying the lessons learned from good practice over the past two or three decades in implementing participatory projects and systems-oriented approaches (such as farming systems research or household food security).

Lessons from implementation should guide redesign. The iterative process is likely to reduce risk and improve accuracy of design. The Bolivia, Honduras, Malawi and Zambia projects all benefited from ongoing redesign, which fed into and was informed by the implementation process. This took different forms, ranging from full-fledged yearly participatory assessment by communities (e.g. the Honduras case) to more traditional participatory monitoring. Other projects (e.g. Ethiopia, INTERFISH, Mali, and Mongolia) also underwent partial redesign at mid-term review or at the beginning of successive phases.

Need for an evolutionary and responsive management. Most successful sector-based initiatives, or single-entry point projects or programmes, owe much to an evolutionary and responsive process approach. This has enabled them to respond to livelihood needs outside the original sector, either by adding new components to the existing project or by forging partnerships with other projects. This was the case for the Bolivia, Honduras and Zambia projects, and to a lesser extent for the Ethiopia project.

Need for holistic outcome indicators. Indicators that better capture the anticipated impact of projects on livelihood outcomes have yet to be identified. Holistic problem analyses carried out prior to designing a programme should indicate what the true cross-sectoral links are likely to be, and so help to identify the minimum set of impact indicators to measure.

Institutional capacity-building at the grassroots level. Capacity-building and empowerment featured prominently in most of the projects analysed (e.g. Bangladesh, Bolivia, Honduras, Malawi, Mali, P4K, Zambia and the latter phase of the Ethiopia project). The strengthening of human and social capital through institution-building at the grassroots level and enhancement of technical skills featured prominently.

The farmer field school (FFS) groups promoted by INTERFISH are emerging as solid village institutions that can address community concerns and priorities over and above the technologies adopted through experimentation. The self-help groups fostered under the food security and nutrition project in Zambia to develop and implement community action plans are coalescing into apex organizations (associations or federations) that are able to press for better delivery of government services as well as to support community-led initiatives. Similarly, in the DELIVERI project in Indonesia, the initial focus of the farmer groups - in community livestock action planning - was livestock problems. The grounding provided in participatory planning allowed some groups to broaden their remit to address new issues such as the:

Capacity-building for risk-management. "Capacity-building efforts must focus on service delivery as well as risk-management. Institutions that are not able to manage risk effectively can quickly become overwhelmed, seriously jeopardizing their ability to continue to provide services. It is this risk-management aspect that is often overlooked in institutional strengthening efforts".5

In the absence of a proper analysis of the vulnerability context, the Mali project gave insufficient attention to building local capacity to manage risk. The impact was apparent both at the individual level (in the inability of farming households to reduce the risk of crop failure) and at the collective level (in the vulnerability of village associations and village development funds to credit default in the event of crop failure).

In Mongolia, with the privatization of the herder collectives (negdels), all the risks of herding have been transferred to the herders in a risk-prone environment. Services that the negdels used to provide (e.g. marketing, trucks and tractors for seasonal migrations and emergencies, equipment for haymaking) have largely collapsed. Furthermore, herders do not insure their animals, as they lack cash and see the terms as unattractive. As a result, they have reverted to traditional risk-minimizing strategies by having multispecies herds and cooperating with other households in groups, or khot ails, for herding in order to cope with the higher labour demand that comes with mixed herds. A new FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) project aims at strengthening local institutional capacity to manage pastoral risk in the Central Asian grasslands.

Exit strategies. A coherent strategy for phasing out external support should be developed at the beginning of implementation. Examples of exit strategies adopted in the Lempira Sur project in Honduras are:

The poor in charge. Moving decision-making and finance closer to the poor is an important strategy. In this regard, decentralization, if properly implemented, is an enabling condition for creating effective linkages among public-sector institutions, communities and civil society. These linkages are essential for making livelihoods genuinely sustainable, and for properly institutionalizing the SL approach.

Legal status of grassroots organizations. Legal recognition of grassroots organizations can be vital to their sustainability. In 1996-1997, the Bolivia project helped small self-help groups amalgamate. The groups, previously fostered under the project, were transformed into full-fledged community organizations (Organisationes Territoriales de Base), which, under the new Ley de Participation Popular, could obtain legal status and become grassroots partners in local development. This legal recognition allowed these organizations to:

The role of stakeholders. Regular technical auditing and review, with the full involvement of project stakeholders at all levels, can facilitate transparency and accountability (Honduras case study group).

Other lessons learned: policy

Content and processes. Participants acknowledged the need to focus on the processes of policy-making/change rather than on the content of policy alone, in order to empower people to influence policy.

Scaling up. To influence the policy environment and make it supportive of sustainable livelihoods, the feedback mechanisms from the grassroots need to be scaled up to reach policy and decision-making levels of institutions and administrations.

Ethiopia case study group

Reviewing the Ethiopian project with an SL lens led participants to:

  • question the project's basic assumption that land degradation was the main cause of food insecurity;
  • consider re-diagnosis with external facilitation. This would have resulted in the process being owned by the different stakeholders: government, staff, project staff, development committees, partner agencies and community members.
  • Expected outputs of the re-diagnosis are:
  • knowledge of the main causes of food insecurity for different livelihood typologies at different levels;
  • greater understanding of the influence of policies, markets, tenure rights, population pressure, land degradation, etc. on food insecurity;
  • greater understanding of the priorities/linkages between these causes;
  • identification of more appropriate entry points and a better idea of sequencing;
  • an appreciation of WFP's comparative advantage and that of partner institutions.

Capacity-building. Policy-making that enhances SL approaches, implementation and monitoring relies on pluralistic governance structures and processes. Capacity-building for grassroots and civil-society organizations should be built in at all levels as an integral part of the SL approach. In this regard, as was pointed out in the Web/E-Conference, there is also a need to develop suitable capacity-building tools and training approaches that civil-society organizations and SL beneficiaries could use to strengthen their capacity to analyse policies.

Monitoring the impacts of policy. The impacts of policy need to be monitored in order that their effects on livelihood strategies be understood. In this regard, civil society and SL beneficiaries should also play a key role in monitoring policy impacts.

How do we redesign projects?

Forum participants emphasized that agencies did not need to wait for new projects or programmes in order to begin using SL approaches; there is much to be gained by applying SL principles to ongoing projects.

If SL approaches had been adopted at formulation, what difference would it have made?

There was broad consensus in the Bolivia, Ethiopia, Mali and Mongolia working groups that the projects would have benefited had SL approaches been adopted from the outset. In the Ethiopian case study, SL approaches might have led project planners to reconsider the project's basic assumption that land degradation was the main cause of food insecurity. The understanding gained might have resulted in a very different project.

ETHIOPIA case study group plan of action

In the case of the Mali project, holistic diagnosis would have drawn out the community's development priorities. This would have avoided inappropriate entry points, provided the project with a greater poverty focus and encouraged greater ownership of the project among the community. However, broadening the scope of the project would also have increased the risk of implementing agencies finding themselves unable to cope with such a complex project.

The Mongolia case study group concluded that, although a conventional project design would have been quicker, cheaper, easier and more acceptable to the Government and funding agencies, its disadvantages would have outweighed its potential advantages. The SL design would have been slower, more costly and riskier, but it would have resulted in a more flexible and focused project of greater relevance to the livelihood systems of herders with poor or average incomes.

If SL approaches had been adopted at implementation, what would have changed?

The Mali case study group concluded that a redesign along SL principles would have redirected the aim of the project towards reducing the vulnerability of farmers to drought-induced crop failure. Greater awareness of the socio-economic make-up of the community would have increased the chances of reaching women and the poor. The feedback that farmers would have been able to give to management would have accelerated the joint learning and adaptation process. Had the need for an exit strategy been considered from the start, planners would have given higher priority to building sustainable village organizations that could have functioned independently once the project had ended.


Benefits and risks of SL diagnosis and design - Mali case study group



  • There is a better focus on beneficiary priorities
  • Project becomes too complex and unmanageable
  • Entry points and levels are more appropriate
  • Quality drops if project tries to incorporate too much too soon
  • There is increased flexibility in programme activities
  • There are time lags and impatience for results
  • Programmes are more poverty oriented
  • Overdesign reduces flexibility
  • Unrealistic expectations are raised
  • Those who fear change react negatively
  • Stakeholders are more accountable
  • Lack of implementation capacity and follow-up
  • Stakeholders have an increased sense of ownership


Participants agreed that there were still many areas that needed further clarification. These included:

There was substantial agreement on what the unresolved issues were, but no consensus on how to address them. Participants thought that more discussion, informed by feedback from applying SL approaches to project or programme implementation, would throw light on these areas.


A comparison of conventional and SL project designs - Mongolia case study group

Advantages of conventional designs

  • Quicker; cheaper; more predictable
  • Easier for donors and governments to implement
  • Less risk of failure
  • Easier to gain approval and budget
  • More acceptable to recipient governments since they can be designed by conventional livestock experts

Disadvantages of conventional designs

  • More rigid
  • Less likely to be sustainable
  • Focus too early on sector
  • Interventions may be less appropriate
  • Less encouraging of partnerships
  • Supply-driven
  • Less informed decision-making
  • Less chance of reaching the poor
  • Do not address livelihood shock survival
  • Less easy to establish micro-macro links
  • Identify needs - not opportunities
  • Good development practice not necessarily institutionalized
  • Do not link types of capital
  • Do not induce capacity-building

Advantages of SL approaches

  • Produce process projects able to respond to needs of the poor
  • Possibly more sustainable
  • Longer project life possible
  • Institutionalize risk management
  • Interventions are community led
  • Encourage partnerships
  • Demand-driven and negotiated
  • Involve more informed decision-making
  • Greater chance of reaching the poor
  • Cater for shock survival measures
  • Easier to introduce macro-micro links
  • Identify opportunities
  • Institutionalize good development practice
  • Link different types of capital
  • Require capacity-building

Disadvantages of SL approaches

  • Slower
  • More expensive
  • Less predictable
  • Less easy for donors and governments
  • May be at greater risk of failure
  • Not so easy to get approved or to budget
  • May be less acceptable to recipient government

SL approaches and poverty

Do SL approaches always imply a focus on the poorest? There was little consensus on this issue. Agencies committed to poverty alleviation are interested in SL approaches because they are seen as a way of contributing directly to meeting internationally agreed upon development targets6. Other participants felt that the sectoral mandates of certain agencies would restrict their ability to reach the poorest7.


Can SL approaches add value to design? - Mali case study group

Opportunities for redesign

Obstacles for redesign

  • Participatory methods enable the project to obtain people's input
  • A monitoring-and-evaluation system informs management and planning, which in turn focus more on capacities, behaviour and institutions
  • Analysis of gender relations and intrahousehold dynamics overcomes
  • The vulnerability context - particularly risk can be assessed and addressed
  • Participatory technology development can increase options
  • Other economic activities - non-farm, agroforestry, migration, processing, storage, marketing - can be included
  • Higher-level policies and organizations can be addressed
  • Appraisals of soil-fertility management and land tenure issues can be conducted
  • Procurement mechanisms can be modified to improve timeliness and involve people in decision-making
  • People's responses and adjustments to (many) shocks can be evaluated in order to better understand adaptive and coping strategies
  • Feedback mechanisms can be introduced (e.g. workshops) designed to improve responsiveness of project management to people's preferences
  • Small management unit with more organizational partnerships and the flexibility to contract outsiders
  • Most management functions can be devolved to village associations and groups, and co-management increased
  • Limited capacity of managers and service providers
  • - would require substantial training at start-up
  • Personal and institutional inflexibility
  • programme manager, credit agency, public administratorsneglect of women and youth
  • History of debt-forgiving and handouts creating a dependent/passive
  • recipient culture and poor loan repayment discipline-
  • Other donors with different - sometimes destructive - approaches
  • operating in same area, e.g. offering "gifts" or other incentives
  • Overcoming dominant role of village leaders and élite
  • Inflexible procurement procedures
  • Weak use of information - capacity and will to use
  • People and institutional commitments already made and obligation to follow through
  • SL does not yet have a track record of success and simple guidelines to promote the idea
  • Fatigue of farmers and managers with redesign and development paradigm shifts among donors
  • Difficulty of overcoming managers and support staff's bias in favour of their own sector-specific interestsand changing circumstances

SL approaches may help us to understand the poor, but do they help us reach them? Five of the case studies seem to indicate that there is a fundamental issue regarding targeting any project interventions to the poorest. They point out that the projects have been successful with the "middle poor" and upwards.

The consensus of Forum participants was that it was still too soon to answer this question. The only SL-type projects analysed were DELIVERI, Honduras, and Malawi. The remainder shared only some SL elements. However, the groups felt that none of them succeeded in reaching the poorest sectors of the communities with which they worked.

Although the projects reached people who were poor by international standards, in the local context these people could have been characterized as the "middle poor" or "borderline non-poor" (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Mali and Mongolia). The Honduras project promoted technologies suitable to different socio-economic strata, including those that were of interest to and were adopted by poor tenant farmers, yet it is not clear that it reached the poorest.


Although the Mongolia project was intended as a poverty alleviation project, its main activity - credit for reconstituting herds - failed to reach the worst-off, 50 percent of the rural poor. This was due to its concern that credit be repaid. The group felt that an SL approach would have improved the project's poverty orientation.

Although the Mali project assisted dryland farmers in one of the world's poorest countries, it largely bypassed the poorest households within the project area. The case study group concluded that adoption of SL approaches would have highlighted socio-economic differences within the project area, thereby offering the project the opportunity to target the poorest.

As illustrated by the Pakistan mini-case, the existing pattern of incentives for line agency staff may not reward them for focusing on the poorest.


Working with the poorest is not glamorous. The poorest are the least willing to change because they can least afford to take risks, and because they live in a state of basic survival and have the least time available for discussion or planning. Although women staff of this project made a concerted effort to work with the poorest villages, they found that they had to spend twice as much time in those villages and made less "progress" than they did in wealthier villages. Since staff performance was evaluated on positive results, and such results were easier to achieve among the non-poor, incentives were biased against working with the poor.

There can often be trade-offs between sustainable natural resource management and reaching the poor.

"It is important to bear in mind that natural resource management interventions that have public benefits do not always have direct benefits for the poor. If the poor are not involved in project activities, then consideration must be given to add components that address their livelihood needs. These needs may be addressed by other partner organizations and not directly by the project."

- Tim Frankenberger, CARE

When projects take land or natural resource-based activities as their starting point, the implication is that they will work mainly with households owning or managing that resource. In spite of diagnostic studies and PRAs, the two participatory upland watershed management projects in Bolivia and Pakistan bypassed the landless poor because their strategies were land-based. Because the Bangladesh INTERFISH project was based on integrating fish and rice farming, it could not reach the functionally landless. According to its project document, the primary beneficiaries of the DFID/FAO 25-country West Africa artisanal fisheries project are to be: "the resource users in artisanal fishing communities, particularly the poorer groups, including small-scale traders and processors (mostly women) and consumers. Through a `process approach' these beneficiaries will be helped ... to identify, implement and evaluate development activities that correspond to their own needs and aspirations". It will be important to monitor whether the project manages to reach the poorest households, whose members do not own boats but eke out a living by shore fishing, fish processing, crop farming, working as casual labourers or working on other people's fishing boats.

What are the best entry points for SL approaches?

There was consensus that SL projects or programmes should be either single-sector or multisectoral. A range of options that can be applied, depending on where the project is in the programme cycle, is more important. Ongoing projects can incorporate SL perspectives during critical moments of the project cycle, such as during mid-term reviews or evaluations. This would help to clarify whether other factors, beyond the sector-specific constraints already being addressed by the project, could help or hinder it in achieving its objectives. The main grey areas for entry points are:

Who selects the entry point (government, donors or poor people)? Ideally, the intended beneficiaries - rather than the government or donors - should select the entry point. This will require a change from the current practice, whereby governments and donors select the entry points before beneficiaries can be consulted. Currently, agencies are not entirely free to empower communities to generate their own project ideas and are expected to respond to government requests. Before any beneficiary consultation can begin, the project must feature in the government's public expenditure programme. If a project enters the pipeline as a livestock project - as occurred in Mongolia - it may be difficult to change the institutional entry point from the livestock department, even if the project title is changed.

What is the best level of entry point for SL approaches? Some of the DFID participants at the Forum stated that you could start at any level, but it was more cost effective to work at the highest level possible. The higher the level, the higher the leverage to reorient policies, institutions and processes in order to make them more responsive, client-oriented and people-centred. However, that view is not supported by the experience of the Malawi project. This project focused its efforts at the top, attempting to mainstream SL approach concepts in all relevant national development plans and programmes (household food security, employment and sustainable NRM), but found it difficult to bring about concrete livelihood improvements at the village level.

SL approaches and policy

Do SL approaches always need a policy dimension, and if so, what is the best way of bringing about policy change? The consensus among participants of both the Forum and the Web/E-Conference was, yes, SL approaches always need to consider the interaction between livelihood systems at the micro level and the policy environment in which they operate. Understanding these relationships is critical both at initial diagnosis and during project implementation. However, SL type projects need not have an explicit policy objective.

There is also emerging consensus that using SL approaches upstream may add value, if they are appropriately linked to micro-level ground-truthing.

The DELIVERI project in Indonesia is an example of an institutional reform project whose strategy was to use information gained from piloting new approaches at the village level to press for policy changes at the provincial level and above. Conversely, DFID's approach to the Uganda Agricultural Advisory Services Project may illustrate the danger of donors embarking on a high-level policy dialogue aimed at institutional change without adequate ground-truthing at the level of livelihood systems diagnosis.

Participants acknowledged that although all agencies needed to be aware of linkages between livelihood issues and macro policies, not all agencies had a comparative advantage for policy dialogue at the national level. Agencies with a comparative advantage at the community or district level could also make a valuable contribution in their own right. They could also increase their influence on policy by establishing partnerships with other agencies that had a tradition of policy dialogue.

An important debate centred on the ethics of attempting to effect changes in policy. Although some DFID participants emphasized that it was more cost- effective to go directly to the top (to the Minister or even to the President) to influence policy, other participants at the Forum and Web/E-Conference emphasized the need to change the policy-making process to make it more bottom-up and demand-driven. They cautioned that policy changes imposed from the top down were unlikely to be lasting because they depended too much for their implementation on continuity at the top and were likely to be reversed when the Minister or head of government changed.

Policy is not exclusively owned by governments but is the outcome of a pluralistic consultation and negotiation process. Policy changes that are driven from below - that have a strong grassroots power base and are supported by civil society - are likely to be more lasting.

As the Forum discussions and Web/E-Conference contributions highlighted, there is clearly a need for further discussion on which institutions to target, and at which level - local, meso or macro - in order to establish SL-enhancing policies.

What indicators can be used for impact assessment?

There was consensus that new types of outcome indicators are needed to assess the impact of SL approaches. Standard output-type indicators fail to capture the most important changes, such as project-assisted increases in the problem-solving capacity of beneficiaries. In particular, more work needs to be done on capacity-building indicators. Currently, we have few examples of indicators for measuring institutional improvements8.


Because of its initial concern with output rather than outcome indicators, the Bangladesh INTERFISH project's M&E system tended to underestimate project impact. Important impacts such as the empowerment of community members to identify their own needs, access outside resources and make informed decisions, were not captured by the original M&E system. For example, farmer field schools not only trained farmers in fish/rice integrated pest management (IPM) but also offered them the opportunity to gain experience in problem-solving, critical thinking and general field ecology.

The introduction of a participatory M&E system fundamentally transformed the project management's relationship with participants. For the first time, participants were asked to define how the project should measure success and as a result the project began to think beyond the completion of its activities towards the quality of the activities and the longer-term outcomes. At the end of each rice season, farmers assess whether the learning process has helped them achieve the goal that they themselves have set.

There was less agreement among Forum participants on how to address the problem of relevant indicators. What is the best way to capture a project's impact on human and social capital development? How holistic should impact evaluations be? How can one avoid collecting too much unnecessary data? By involving the intended beneficiaries in selecting impact indicators relevant to their own priorities, the Bangladesh project was able to limit the range of outcome indicators monitored. But if donors are to compare project impact across villages, they cannot rely exclusively on the location-specific criteria suggested by beneficiaries. They will also need a minimum set of standardized criteria.

"The indicators that are used for monitoring and evaluation must be clearly linked to the problem analysis and the objectives. The project should not collect unnecessary data that are not clearly linked to the objective or the problem analysis. Programme information systems should be set up to capture both the intended and unintended consequences of program activities. These lessons learned can be derived from participatory monitoring systems and other aspects of the M&E system. Capturing the lessons learned will be critical to programme improvements. One of the key problems that implementing agencies have is allocating time and resources to document the lessons learned.

"To measure the impact of a livelihood programme, it is important to measure both criteria relevant to communities as well as normative criteria. Criteria derived from participatory approaches are the changes that are meaningful to communities. If these changes do not occur then the project has not brought about the kinds of improvements that are significant to the community. These measures may be very location-specific. Normative measures are important for targeting and allowing for cross-regional comparisons. Such measures are critical for donors and governments that need to make resource-allocation decisions across regions or across countries. Thus, both types of information need to be included in SLA M&E systems."

- Tim Frankenberger, CARE

Revision of the DFID SL framework

Several different versions of the SL framework have been developed. All are intended as tools to help people investigate livelihood strategies and understand them better. The frameworks were never intended as blueprints for analysis. Developers of the frameworks emphasize that no framework can contain every factor that affects livelihoods, and that the frameworks should be adapted and developed as practical experience is gained in working with SL approaches.

Nonetheless, Forum participants made several important observations about the framework and perceived inadequacies of its present form, which they felt could benefit from further development.

Making people visible. While the first principle of SL approaches is that they are "people-centred", people are not "visible" in the current framework. The fact that they are central to SL approaches could be made more explicit.

Levels of analysis of assets. The level at which livelihood assets are to be analysed is not immediately clear. It is important to distinguish between individually owned assets, such as land and livestock, and community assets, such as forests, grazing land, wells, roads and schools. Some means of distinguishing among these different levels needs to be introduced into the framework.

Socio-economic differentiation. It was also felt that the framework did not highlight differences between socio-economic strata within communities in their resource base, livelihood strategies and living standards. Members of poor households tend to be more vulnerable to external shocks than those of non-poor households because they own fewer assets. Policies, institutions and processes at the national level can result in highly skewed asset ownership. The poor usually have fewer livelihood options than the non-poor.

Incorporating historical and dynamic elements. Participants also felt that the SL framework was rather static. It was not immediately clear how dynamic elements, such as historical changes that did not necessarily contribute to vulnerability, might be incorporated into the analysis. It would be useful to emphasize the livelihood trajectories (ascending or declining) of different socio-economic categories of the population.

The framework needs to be sufficiently flexible to identify social networks that bind different livelihood systems together (Forum and Web/E-Conference). In many rural societies, socio-economic strata are bound together in interdependent livelihood systems, primarily where richer households with capital turn to poorer households for labour. Thus, livelihood analysis requires an understanding of how people depend on cross-strata social networks for asset-sharing, renting and co-ownership (e.g. of land, livestock, and fodder). Patron-client relations and reciprocal agreements for sharing labour or capital are important coping strategies for poor people in times of illness or other stresses and emergencies. Moreover, they lend legitimacy to the "rich" in positions of local authority. Horizontal social networks are also pivotal for addressing critical capital shortages among the poor, particularly through traditional labour-sharing and other reciprocal arrangements.


When DFID proposes a partnership analysis, it focuses on other international organizations, whereas it is equally important to analyse the partnerships that exist between stakeholders at the local level. Although SL approaches incorporate "everything", they tend to overlook the existing social networks that link households at the village level and connect them with the outside world. Any proposal on natural resources and poverty corresponds not only to the household but also to a network of interrelated actors, such as local authorities, small enterprises, community organizations, NGOs and the private sector. These networks are social structures that exist independently of projects. Projects that identify these existing social networks and build on them are more likely to be sustainable than those that attempt to create their own dynamics and organizations. However, since poor people may not necessarily have an equal voice in these local networks, there is a need for local capacity-building to empower the poor to build up their influence in the local context. - Web/E-Conference.

Cultural dimensions. The SL framework is based largely on experience from English-speaking countries. French- and Spanish-speaking practitioners experience some difficulty in working with terms such as livelihoods, which cannot be translated easily into one word in their languages. At the same time, there is a significant body of experience in Spanish- and French-speaking countries that deal with the same issues but, perhaps, have conceptualized them in different ways. A way of incorporating this experience into the framework and generating more culturally appropriate forms of the framework needs to be developed. Although sustainable livelihoods can be translated into Spanish as sistemas de vida y desarrollo sostenible, there seems to be no adequate French equivalent. In fact, none of the possible French translations below captures the concept fully.

Incorporating the political dimension. Most participants felt that, while the framework helped practitioners focus on policies, institutions and processes, the political dimension of these structures and processes needed to be made more explicit. Experience from the case studies suggests that projects or programmes attempting to address livelihoods in a holistic way will need to engage in the political sphere in order to have positive and sustainable impacts. Political elements that need to be reflected include:

These all have clear political dimensions and potential impacts on livelihood strategies. Modifications to the framework should make it easier for people to incorporate these dimensions into their overall analysis. The impact of macro-level processes on livelihood trajectories needs more emphasis. In its SL framework, UNDP uses a hexagon rather than a pentagon, with the additional segment representing political capital.

Translating sustainable livelihoods concepts into French

Means of analysing policy, institutions and processes. The focus on policy, institutions and processes was seen as a valuable element of the SL framework, but practical methods that might be used to analyse this area were felt to be lacking and needing development.

The SL framework helps to suggest possible project actions but does not provide adequate guidance on how to prioritize among them.


"The SL framework shows the inter-linkages and helps us to understand the complex context, i.e. by broadening the way we can look at a situation ... but it doesn't help to prioritize or to come up with valid interventions. The biggest grey area is on the question of methods to use in the post-design phase. More work needs to be done to provide guidance on the process of getting from A to B. The SL framework increases the list of things to do but doesn't provide guidance on which one or how to tackle them."

Zambia case study group

"The SL framework is an aid to good decision-making, and clearly does not negate the need for sound judgement. The holistic nature of SL approaches draws us to examine and prioritise options, but leaves us with no better tool for balancing the two imperatives of priority and feasibility than good judgement".

Bangladesh case study

The measurement of assets within the framework does not allow for comparison between livelihood systems or for quantification against targets.

The SL framework is not easy to explain. DFID and CARE report that although governments, technicians and project staff readily grasp the SL guiding principles, it is much more difficult to communicate the SL framework to such an audience. CARE has addressed the problem by using participatory workshops for staff training. Each workshop starts from the SL guiding principles, and participants are encouraged to derive their own framework on the basis of the principles. DFID has found that beginning with the detailed framework, it is not easy to get messages across, but building up to the framework by drawing on examples allows it to be well understood.


The SL asset pentagon has five dimensions: natural, physical, financial, human and social capital. In attempting to apply the pentagon, the Mali case study group discovered that the perception of project planners differed from that of the case study group and that three pentagons were needed - one for each socio-economic stratum. Moreover, it was difficult to combine several dimensions of one type of capital on the same axis. Regional and community physical infrastructure did not fit easily on the same axis with household assets. How do we rate natural capital on a single axis when land is abundant but of poor quality? How do we rate human capital when health and literacy are low but labour supply is abundant? When we rate social capital as high, medium or low, what is to be our yardstick of comparison (regions within the country, the world)?


Increased programme flexibility

The consensus of the agency-based discussion groups was that their unnecessarily rigid requirements for gaining project approval presented major barriers to creating programmes that were flexible and demand-driven - i.e. characteristic of programmes adopting a sustainable livelihoods approach. Although agencies have begun to address these issues, further changes are needed.

IFAD. IFAD emphasized the need for better diagnosis, more flexible project designs, better continuity between diagnosis, design and implementation and well-focused supervision of projects.


There are many constraints on incorporating a flexible process approach into a project proposal, including the discrepancy between (1) the need to predetermine and quantify project outputs and objectives, and (2) the budgetary and planning flexibility needed to allow communities to plan and implement their own actions based on their assessment and prioritization. On the one hand, donors and implementing agencies require that project proposals provide a common reference point for project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. On the other hand, participatory projects must be sufficiently flexible to respond to community needs when they arise.

IFAD participants believed that employing SL concepts and approaches could add value to IFAD projects by reinforcing the importance of concepts already understood at IFAD but not always put into practice. Areas where improvements are possible include refining operational approaches to effective poverty alleviation, household food security, grassroots capacity-building and participatory development. In addition, the value of placing these in a holistic framework was recognized.

IFAD recognized opportunities to promote SL approaches in improving flexible and participatory elements of project design and implementation. These included IFAD's strong commitment to building strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations; its ongoing emphasis on adopting the dynamic logical framework approach and, in particular, more fully integrating it into design and planning; and direct supervision of 15 projects, which provides opportunities for participatory process monitoring.

IFAD delegates also recognized the great potential for future partnerships with the other agencies represented at the Forum. These included: tapping DFID expertise in project design and monitoring; working with FAO on improving diagnostic and monitoring processes and continued collaboration on FIVIMS; benefiting from WFP's experience in vulnerability analysis and targeting; targeting with UNDP one or more countries to introduce SL approaches into the CCA/UNDAF process; and accessing CARE International's multilingual field and training experience for IFAD project staff and country-based pilot projects.

DFID. For DFID, the main challenge is to integrate SL approaches in those parts of the agency that are not concerned with natural resource management. SL approaches have been slow to penetrate fields such as economic policy, infrastructure, health and social development, which have adopted sector-wide approaches. The main capacity constraint is a shortage of practitioners with appropriate skills to implement SL approaches.

WFP. WFP has already introduced some SL concepts into its work, namely people-centred approaches, poverty focus, vulnerability analysis, gender analysis, asset creation (broadly defined to include human capital) and partnerships. However, certain aspects of SL approaches need more work, such as:

Internalization of SL approaches

The final work of the Forum was to formulate strategies for internalizing SL principles and approaches within the work of each of the agencies.

UNDP institutionalization strategy

1. Perform self-critical diagnosis based on external evaluation.
2. Develop UNDP synthesis of UNDP SL achievements and potential (glossy) publication.
3. Sensitize administrator through moral persuasion.
4. Organize high-level technical workshop on SLA, co-hosted by Rockefeller and UNDP in collaboration with DFID and FAO.
5. Have PM/Ns brief UNDP divisional directors on outcome of this workshop.
6. Redefine UNDP/HQ SL team.
7. Produce series of papers on policy/institutional dimensions of SLA in collaboration with DFID.
8. Become member of or help establish effective SLA policy networks - multilaterals, bilaterals, academic.

WFP and SL approaches. The priority concerns are:

In the application of livelihood elements to FAAD (Food Aid and Development) policy implementation, WFP will:

FAO internalization strategy. The FAO Strategic Framework (2000-2015) approved by the 1999 FAO Conference includes sustainable livelihoods as one of its goals, therefore, it is mandatory.

How can FAO internalize the guiding principles?

1. Include initiatives in the Medium Term Plan (MTP) currently being developed (for 2002-2007) and move quickly to consolidate potential interdepartmental initiatives.

2. Work toward strategy for impact at multiple levels:

3. Build on FAO's existing initiatives:

4. Improve communications and learning opportunities:

5. Develop partnerships both within and outside FAO:

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