Livelihoods in fragile contexts

Question

Please identify literature, including risks, lessons and best practices, for delivering livelihoods assistance, with a focus on food security, at the community-level in fragile and extremely volatile environments, where government capacity is limited or non-existent.

Summary

There is strong literature on both livelihoods in general and livelihoods in fragile contexts, presenting conclusions and lessons from programmes and synthesising evidence from other contexts. This review draws mainly on lessons learned in the field, rather than rigorous evidence of impact. There are few impact studies conducted on programmes in fragile environments, as evaluations tend to focus on outputs and numbers reached rather than outcomes.

Key findings

It is widely accepted in the literature that best practice involves a combination of food aid (which always takes priority) and interventions with a long-term perspective. The latter increasingly include social protection mechanisms. A key lesson is that no single intervention is enough to improve livelihoods and food security: interventions need to integrate emergency relief with policy change, medium-term assistance and access, and consideration of power structures and other contextual issues.

This annotated bibliography has a programmatic and practical emphasis, and focuses geographically on Somalia and the Horn of Africa.