Technology for Sustainable Livelihoods

This site was set up in 2001 as a showcase for Practical Action's responses to Sustainable Livelihoods and is intended as a stimulus for other organisations to share their experience.

NB: This site has not been updated since 2003, and is presented here for archive use only. Practical Action is referenced through this site under its old name of ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group).

The Sustainable Livelihoods approach is a holistic, people-centred approach to tackling poverty which has been gaining prominence in major development players such as DFID and UNDP since 1998.

It has provoked a wide range of responses from organisations like Practical Action (ITDG), who organise their efforts through "technology strategies" and belong to sectoral communities of practice: eg. energy, transport, water and sanitation etc.

Is the sustainable livelihoods approach:

  1. A repackaging of the kind of approach which Practical Action has been pursuing for many years?
  2. Requiring a fundamental rethink of our programme and project activities?
  3. A new approach, but one which can complement and enhance existing activities?
  4. Relevant in the field of natural resources, but not really applicable in other areas, such as enterprise development?

Poverty and Technology reviews these questions and assesses the actual and potential impact of "new technologies", biotechnologies and information and communication technologies, which are said to get to the poverty that other technologies cannot reach.

In Practical Action's approaches, specialist staff present an overview of their work through a sustainable livelihoods lens. In particular, three elements are tackled, the relevant Policies, Institutions and Processes (PIPS) which impact upon the lives of poor people in tackling a particular set of issues or constraints, the Assets which they can mobilise and the Vulnerabilities which they face.

Case Studies look at examples of Practical Action project work. The projects' goals and outcomes for the individuals, households and communities involved are again analysed in terms of Policies Institutions and Processes, Assets and Vulnerabilities.

For resources on each of these areas, visit Livelihoods Connect

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