Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Within this section the discussion will centre on the ability of SL approaches to link macro policies to micro realities, which can be considered as the arena in which the SLAs are most powerful as compared to the other approaches. As such, this section will involve a brief outline of the various strategies being employed at national level for rural development, and then examine them in the context of current trends and the Sustainable Livelihoods approaches. By this I mean that a brief outline will be given of National Strategies for Sustainable Development, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and the Comprehensive Development Framework with some comments as to how they make act as a launch pad for SLAs, and whether there is even any reason to view SLAs as potentially adding to these processes and truly linking macro and micro strategies.

6.1 National Level Development Strategies

At the moment there are three similar national-level development strategies being pushed by different international actors. Heidbrink and Paulus[102] briefly outline the main focuses of the three.

- Firstly, the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) are encouraging the formulation and implementation of National Strategies for Sustainable Development (NSSDs). These are high-level frameworks to integrate and harmonise existing development plans and strategies at a national level. The role of donors within this process is seen as being one of facilitator and promoter. In terms of its practical application, a UK headed task force is laying the groundwork for the strategies with five selected partner countries - Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Tanzania and Thailand.

- Secondly, the World Bank’s Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) is attempting to widen the development perspective beyond macro-indicators, to include structural, human, physical and country-specific factors in national development plans. The basic principles of this strategy include ownership of the framework by the countries concerned, a holistic approach, a long-term perspective, and the broad involvement of all relevant actors. In terms of its practical implementation, the CDF is currently being tested in 13 pilot countries, including Bolivia and Uganda. However, the process has not been immune to criticism, with several sceptical voices surrounding the issue of the World Bank being a ‘backseat driver’ and pushing its concerns above those of the countries concerned. Countries, such as Bolivia, have complained that the World Bank has simply latched onto an existing process within those countries and are pushing it to its limits in the demand for results.

- Finally, the World Bank and the IMF are encouraging the drawing up of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and tying them to debt relief in the countries concerned. It is these that the Sustainable Livelihoods approaches are seen as having most in common with and as having the potential, through developing a ‘checklist’ against which to compare these approaches, to link macro policies and micro realities. A central facet of these PRSPs is that there must be involvement of the actors affected by their outcomes in their drawing-up, thus giving a sense of ownership of the process at a macro level. At the moment, some countries, such as Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania, have launched interim PRSPs, with others, such as Bolivia and Uganda, beginning the first activities on the road to drawing-up PRSPs.

From this brief synopsis of the different approaches it should be noted that there are some countries involved in at least two of these strategies, with Bolivia being involved in all three. This may facilitate a smoother entry of SL approaches in these countries as they look to build on the work of each of the strategies. A warning note must be sounded here in that there is a potential danger that the three strategies could be carried out in isolation from one another, with little or no feedback between them.

6.2 Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs)

GTZ have dealt significantly with the PRSPs, facilitating a range of countries in drawing up the strategies, including Mozambique. Asche et al[103] note that from the point of view of GTZ, the main risks and challenges regarding the PRSPs are that:

(a) There may be a trade-off between the speed of their elaboration and their quality, with many countries opting for the former at the expense of the latter, due their connection with debt relief

(b) There may, as a result, also be a trade-off between speed and participation, thus reducing the concept of ownership to a theoretical principle as opposed to a practical expectation. Here the SLAs may have a significant role to play in building the capacity of local actors to participate in planning processes, which may seep up to the higher government levels

(c) A sidelining of existing national strategies and action plans which may be part implemented or may have already been designed within the cultural context and with an appropriate understanding of the assets and constraints facing all actors involved in the development process

(d) Neglect of existing project and programme experience, such as the lessons from and the existence of community groups as a result of gestion de terroirs projects.

(e) Over-extending government capacity at local and national levels, leading to increased competition amongst government and non-government organisations for increasingly scarce resources.

(f) Over-extending CSO capacity

(g) A trade-off between the asset of donor plurality and the need for a unified approach.

Carney[104] furthers this discussion, when she notes that coherence between PRSPs and SLAs is critical to ensuring successful outcomes in rural development. Thus some areas in which SLAs are seen as having the potential to enrich PRSPs are:

- In understanding livelihood groups and their assets
- In predicting responses to different policy options
- In managing cross-cutting issues
- In highlighting the long-term
- In underlining the importance of participation
- In promoting a more decentralised approach
- In setting targets and monitoring them
- In providing a ‘checklist’ to assess the PRSPs.

From this it is clear that there is a viable argument to back up the notion that SLAs have the capacity to link the macro and the micro. The present moment appears to be the ideal time, as there currently exists such a high level of support for national and local strategies on the global stage. The SL approach being developed within the FAO must therefore investigate and learn from the existing approaches (such as gestion de terroirs, Integrated Rural Development, Farming Systems, and those in use in Latin America) as well as from the broader sustainable development strategies being developed at national and international level. Through integration and alteration, the SLA has the opportunity to contribute significantly to poverty reduction and rural development.

[102] Heidbrink, K.; Paulus, S. (2000) Strategies for Sustainable Development in the Thicket of National Planning Processes
[103] Asche, H.; Breustedt, C.; Kampmann, M. et al (2000) Poverty Reduction Strategies in Developing Countries
[104] Carney, D. (2001) Discussion Paper for DFID SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS Meeting

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page