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Linking livelihoods and protection


Hero image description: IDP in Somalia Image credit:© Jamal Osman/IRIN Image license:ODI given rights

There is a strong interaction in situations of violent conflict between risks to people's protection and to their livelihoods and subsistence. Conflict can result in threats to people's life, dignity and integrity, ranging from deliberate personal violence, deprivation and restrictions on movement and access to basic services. The consequences for livelihoods can involve complete loss or destruction of livelihoods due to theft or destruction of assets, displacement and/or limited access to a means of production.

At such times, opportunities to meet basic needs become extremely limited for most, whereas important new opportunities may emerge for others by engaging in the war economy. Survival or subsistence strategies (such as firewood collection, small-scale crop production or casual labour), may result in risks to people's security so they may develop protection strategies to minimise risks (such as travelling in groups, finding ways of accessing information on the likelihood of attack or arming themselves). Some of these protection strategies may have adverse effects on livelihoods, such as abandoning farming, or the payment of food or money for protection. While this may decrease risk, it makes meeting immediate survival needs more difficult. Livelihoods interventions by humanitarian agencies can serve to minimise or exacerbate the protection risks that conflict-affected people face and in many ways, well designed relief programmes can go a long way towards ensuring protection.

The project approach
This project, led by the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, is the first research study to specifically examine the linkages between livelihoods and protection in conflict, and to determine whether greater linkages in analysis and action can contribute to making people safer. The objective of the project is to explore connections between livelihood systems and protection threats affecting conflict-affected populations. The aim is to understand how greater complementarity between humanitarian protection and livelihoods approaches might strengthen analysis and action in order to reduce the risks that conflict-affected populations face.


Sorcha O'Callaghan and Susanne Jaspars