Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA)

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Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA): is a way of putting people at the centre of development, thereby increasing the effectiveness of development assistance.
In its simplest form, the SLA framework views people as operating in a context of vulnerability. Within this context, they have access to certain assets or poverty-reducing factors. These gain their meaning and value through the prevailing social, institutional and organizational environment. This environment also influences the livelihood strategies – ways of combining and using assets – that are open to people in pursuit of beneficial livelihood outcomes that meet their own livelihood objectives.

‘A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.’
The core principles of the SLA are that poverty-focused development activity should be:

• People-centered: 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.
• Partnership: with both the public and private sectors and civil society.
• 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 recognize the dynamic nature of livelihood strategies, respond flexibly to changes in people’s situations, and develop longer-term commitments.



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