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This report is a brief overview of some people-centred approaches and has been carried out under the auspices of sub-programme 2.2, on People-Centred Approaches in Different Development Contexts, of the Livelihood Support Program (LSP). The LSP is an inter-departmental initiative, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, which seeks to improve the impact of FAO interventions at country level through the effective application of Sustainable Livelihood Approaches[1]. As noted in the work plan for this program, experts within the FAO and other development organisations have tended to work primarily with methods that they have used for many years, which can result in distrust of new approaches and a reluctance to adopt such approaches. Thus, potential synergies between approaches are often overlooked beyond a more abstract, academic level. The consultants group will be examining in greater detail, through interviews, documentary analysis and approach working groups, the potential for an exchange of ideas, methods and ‘best practice’ in order to allow the various SL type approaches already in use in the field to learn from and teach one another with the aim that the approaches will be most adequately oriented to the particular cultural context in which they are used. In this way, this review can be seen as simply a general overview of some existing literature on the different approaches and lessons that have been learned from them.

The approaches covered here are:

1. Gestion de Terroirs, whose use has been predominantly within francophone West Africa;

2. Farming systems, which has been used regularly within many cultural contexts;

3. The Sustainable Livelihoods framework.

4. Some of the approaches emerging from Latin America, including IRD and Ordenamiento Territorial

The examination of the appropriateness of SLAs in different cultural contexts is noted within the DfID/FAO Sienna document as being essential to attracting a wider audience to use and adapt the SL approach. As such, the document notes that concern was voiced by participants in the Sienna Forum that the SL approach appeared to be rooted within an Anglophone context, which could prove a serious obstacle to its uptake in other cultural contexts.

Thus, the main questions that would seem to need answering are:

1. What tools and methodologies are being applied to rural development and are they showing some success?

2. Are their lessons that can be learned from these approaches that can benefit the rural poor?

This report makes no pretence to answer those questions, rather the broad intention is to open the debate and clarify some of the more obvious similarities between the approaches and lessons that they may learn from one another. Hence, this review shall begin with a brief review of the Sustainable Livelihoods approach, although, as many authors have already covered this in depth, the review will be limited to that which may be relevant for the rest of the report. This will be followed by a review of the gestion de terroirs approach, some of the approaches being used in Latin America, and the farming systems approach, followed by an examination of how these approaches compare to one another.

[1] Baumann, P., Bruno, M., et al (2003) Applying People-Centred Approaches Within FAO: Some Practical Lessons (Work in Progress)

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