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May 2005

Announcement of a new publication

Livelihood diversification and natural resource access

Livelihood Support Programme Working Paper Number 9

This paper sets out to explore the links between livelihood diversification and access to natural resources, and it does this bearing in mind the need to make micro-macro policy links between local level rural livelihoods and national level poverty reduction efforts represented by Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Diversification refers in this paper to the changing character of household activity portfolios and income sources, not to switching full-time occupations, nor to the relative diversity of sub-sectoral non-farm enterprises in rural areas.

The paper provides a synopsis of the livelihoods approach, summarises ideas and recent evidence concerning livelihood diversification, links diversification to natural resource access considerations, considers policy environments pertinent to both diversification and natural resource access, and proposes policy areas that could form the basis of action oriented research initiatives in this area.

The paper takes the view, supported by a considerable literature and much empirical evidence, that livelihood diversification is generally a good thing for rural poverty reduction. It helps to lessen the vulnerability of the poor to food insecurity and livelihood collapse; it can provide the basis for building assets that permit individuals and households to construct their own exit routes out of poverty; and it can improve the quality and sustainability of natural resources that constitute key assets in rural livelihoods.

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