Dimensions of vulnerability of livelihoods in less-favoured areas: interplay between the individual and the collective
Sustainable poverty reduction in less-favoured areas
The geographical concentration of persistent poverty in so-called less-favoured areas calls for a critical look at the link between poverty and environment. Livelihood studies tend to focus on poverty at the individual level, whereas the concept of less-favoured area implies a problem for the collective. Studies on vulnerability tend to be biased towards external ecological causes at the regional level, while studies on coping and survival usually focus on the household. However, recent
... ver, recent insights about the internal and external dimension of livelihood vulnerability in less-favoured areas provide an argument for linking both dimensions to dynamics at the individual and collective level. At an aggregate level, individual and household responses to vulnerability lead to intended and unintended effects, while there is also evidence of collective responses to factors originating from the external vulnerability context. These linkages between the external and internal dimensions of vulnerability and responses at the individual, aggregate and collective level should be studied to understand and mitigate current trends of increasing vulnerability of livelihoods in less-favoured areas. Emerging key issues are analysis of change, analysis of livelihood pathways, aggregate consequences of behaviour, and cultural dynamics. Context The RESPONSE research program is a joint research program by Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that was initiated in 2001. RESPONSE is the acronym for Regional Food Security Policies for National Resource Management and Sustainable Economies. The program has a spatial focus on less-favoured areas. Though this paper addresses issues dealt with by the RESPONSE Working Program 2, namely livelihoods and food security, it has a broader scope because it also reviews recent empirical evidence on the subject other than the findings yielded by this working program. It includes the results of recent (2000-5) research on livelihoods in less-favoured areas, more in particular work carried out by researchers of the Dutch research schools Mansholt Graduate School (MGS) and the Research School for Resource Studies for Development (CERES). In this paper less-favoured areas are not just treated as a given context. Instead, the emphasis is on the dynamics of the interfaces between characteristics of less favoured areas and the livelihoods of people in those areas, and the implications of this for vulnerability. areas are mainly from three regions: West-Africa, the horn of Africa, and Southern Africa, many of them focusing on semi-arid or sub-humid areas (dry lands). Additionally, we use insights from studies in areas in Asia to illuminate certain aspects of vulnerability processes or provide evidence of specific effects or responses.