DFID Sustainable Livelihoods Distance Learning Guide Glossary
Available online at Livelihoods Connect: www.livelihoods.org
Asset Pentagon The Asset Pentagon is an important component in the SL Framework. It is a visual representation of information about people’s livelihood assets. It brings to life important inter-relationships between the various assets.
Asset Status This refers to an individual’s or group’s access to livelihood assets. A change in Asset Status may involve an increase or decrease in access to livelihood assets or a change in the composition of the livelihood assets to which there is access.
Barriers to Entry Refers to the obstacles facing potential newcomers to a market. Typical obstacles include: the high level of skills and/or investment required to enter the market, bureaucratic/regulatory obstacles, cultural/social obstacles, action taken by established firms to discourage new-entrants etc.
Capital In the sustainable livelihoods framework it is best understood with reference to the following five categories: human capital, natural capital, financial capital, social capital, and physical capital. These are also known as livelihood assets. Outside the sustainable livelihoods framework the term, Capital, is used in a variety of ways. In economics it is commonly defined as being one of three factors of production, the other two being labour and land.
Civil society organisations These consist of a variety of different formal and informal organisations that represent the interests of various members of society. They may include, for example, community-based organisations, producer associations, unions, and NGOs.
Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) A Comprehensive Development Framework is a type of country-level development strategy, launched by the World Bank in 1999 with the aim of mainstreaming anti-poverty strategies into international development co-operation.
A CDF involves working out long term development objectives with the broad strategies for achieving those objectives. This is so that government, donors, civil society and the private sector have a clearer understanding of long term government policies, and can work together in an integrated way to achieve long term objectives. This is intended to address problems of disjointed, uncertain and sometimes conflicting policies and programmes implemented by different government, donor, civil society and private sector organisations.
Core Principles of Livelihood Analysis The Core Principles of Livelihoods Analysis are as follows:
Effort should be devoted to identifying and understanding the livelihood circumstances of marginalised and excluded groups.
Analysis should take into account important social divides that make a difference to people’s livelihoods. For example, it is often appropriate to consider men, women, different age groups, etc. separately. It is not sufficient to take the household as the sole unit of analysis.
The SL approach seeks to build upon people’s strengths and resourcefulness. When conducting analysis it is important to avoid thinking only about need.
The SL approach embraces the idea of dynamism. Avoid taking one-off snap shots and instead think about change over time, including concerns about sustainability.
There will never be a set recipe for which method to use under which circumstances. Flexibility is key. Equally, it is not necessary to produce one definitive ‘map’ of livelihoods. Different ‘maps’ may be appropriately used for different purposes.
The Core Principles of Livelihood Analysis should not be confused with the core principles of the sustainable livelihoods approach which are much broader.
Core Principles of The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach These are that poverty-focused development activity should be:
People-centred: sustainable poverty elimination will be achieved only if external support focuses on what matters to people, understands the differences between groups of people and works with them in a way that fits in with their current livelihood strategies, social environment and ability to adapt.
Responsive and participatory: poor people must be key actors in identifying and addressing livelihood priorities. Outsiders need processes that enable them to listen and respond to the poor.
Multi-level: poverty elimination is an enormous challenge that will only be overcome by working at multiple levels, ensuring that local-level activity informs the development of policy and an effective enabling environment, and that higher-level policies and institutions support people to build upon their own strengths.
Conducted in partnership: with both the public and the private sector.
Sustainable: there are four key dimensions to sustainability – economic, institutional, social and environmental sustainability. All are important – a balance must be found between them.
Dynamic: external support must recognise the dynamic nature of livelihood strategies, respond flexibly to changes in people’s situation, and develop longer-term commitments.
The Core Principles of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach should not be confused with the core principles of livelihood analysis which relate more specifically to the activities involved in investigating livelihoods.
Country-level development strategies Country-level development strategies integrate poverty and environment policies into a coherent, growth-orientated macro-economic framework. They come under different headings such as:
· Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF)
· Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)
· National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD)
Governments are encouraged to take strong ownership of the strategy by assuming responsibility for its formulation. This entails prioritising policy interventions and allocating the domestic and external resources necessary to implement the strategy. The resulting framework provides a basis for assessing the need for, and allocating external development assistance.
International Development Targets
Livelihoods Asset Pentagon
Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD)
Objectively Verifiable Indicators
Participatory Poverty Assessments
Policy, Institutions and Processes (PIPs)
Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP)
Pro-poor policy reform
Sustainable / Sustainability
Sustainable Livelihoods Approach
Sustainable Livelihoods Framework
Sustainable Livelihoods Guidance Sheets
Any comments or suggestions on this Glossary are welcome by email to:
This document is an output from a project funded by the UK Department For International Development (DFID) for the benefit of developing countries. The views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID or Imperial College at Wye.