The Center for Global Development and Sustainability

Sustainable Livelihoods and Resilient Communities

A woman works in the field just before a monsoon in Purulia, India. © 2013 Madhabendu Hensh/Self, Courtesy of Photoshare

Humans are dependent upon the natural environment and ecosystems for their livelihoods and well-being. The dependence is more pronounced for the poor, especially in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, home to the majority of the world's poorest people. Projections suggest that shifts in international dynamics including the recent global pandemic, economic crises within national and regional economies, and ongoing climatic variability will have a substantial impact on the scope of sustaining livelihoods and reducing poverty.
Livelihood diversification activities including migration, on-farm, and non-farm activities have become an important livelihood strategy throughout developing and middle-income countries. Although these are found to account for only part of the total income of households, the significance of the diversified sector continues to grow for rural, peri-urban, and urban household economies. Households adopt livelihood diversification strategies in an attempt to generate livelihoods and enterprises that can cope with and recover from stress and shocks. Livelihood diversification in this context is perceived to have the potential to open avenues for growth by providing new opportunities, experiences, and extra incomes and resources that would otherwise be absent from the household and its members as well as vulnerable groups.

The program seeks to examine the impact of livelihood diversification on employment and enterprises within poor households/vulnerable groups to ascertain whether such efforts result in an improvement in well-being. This area of the GDS activities also aims to explore effective mechanisms and initiatives that will enhance the profitability of diversified enterprises, improve the security of livelihoods and enhance poverty reduction. We are also interested in understanding the various exploitative dynamics that are associated with such efforts and experiences. Further, in our current post-pandemic world, several households are struggling to maintain their well-being, and as a result, many are embarking on various livelihood strategies including migration and reliance on local, non-governmental, and/or state-led social protection initiatives. GDS seeks to further apply exploratory research to understand the adaptation, resilience, labor-seeking mechanisms, and sustainable livelihood options being employed in marginal and vulnerable populations within developing and emerging middle-income countries attain to some form of resilience. We also seek to understand how such resilience is constituted and sustained.