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Livelihoods and Chronic Conflict - London launch

Time (GMT +00) 00:00 23:59


Kate Longley, ODI

Karin Hussein, OECD

Karen Westley, Shell Foundation

Background issues and the synthesis findings were presented by Kate Longley.

Karim Hussein (OECD, previously ODI and co-editor of the Working Paper series) presented an analysis (co-authored by David Seddon) of the impacts of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, illustrating the ability of livelihoods analysis to get beyond an overt focus on 'the conflict' to consider a longer historical trajectory of change that incorporates a differentiated understanding of the political, social and economic impacts of and responses to conflict (i.e. for different groups of actors and at different levels). The paper also highlighted the importance of integrating humanitarian principles with livelihoods approaches in work in conflict situations.

Karen Westley (Shell Foundation, previously CARE International) described the use of participatory methods in an inter-agency livelihood assessment undertaken in Kosovo in July 2000 (from a paper co-authored by Vladimir Mikhalev). The assessment was successfully able to get beyond the usual preoccupations with food aid and geographical targeting to better understand the vulnerability of extended families, the nature of remittances and problems in using land holding size as an indicator of poverty. The assessment process promoted greater use of participatory approaches in Kosovo, and the results influenced programming decisions made by various NGOs and the World Bank. Susanne Jaspars reviewed various livelihood assessment tools that are currently used in chronic conflict situations (based on a paper co-authored by Jeremy Shoham), pointing out that most livelihood assessments focus on the micro level and fail to include an analysis of engagement in the war economy; many do not consider political vulnerability; and the use of assessment results is often limited to estimating emergency relief needs. Practical constraints to conducting livelihood assessments in chronic conflict include problems of security and access, difficulties in getting information on illegal activities, and in identifying livelihood / wealth groups. The review recommended that livelihood assessment approaches must be combined with conflict and political analysis tools.

There was considerable discussion on the comparisons and potential compatibility of livelihoods approaches (or needs-based approaches) with rights-based approaches. At the Nairobi meeting, livelihoods approaches were considered to be largely compatible with rights-based approaches. However, the Kosovo assessment (presented at the London meeting) provided an example in which a livelihoods approach was considered to have certain advantages over a rights-based approach in that the latter would not have been capable of moving beyond issues relating to ethnicity. Questions were also raised regarding the extent to which it was possible (or necessary) to observe the humanitarian principle of neutrality, particularly in efforts to address the underlying causes of conflict and promote peace-building. Opinions were divided on this point: some participants felt that efforts to support livelihoods and respect neutrality are unworkable in practice; one agency found it particularly challenging to incorporate peace-building with livelihoods protection and promotion while observing humanitarian principles; another suggested that it was possible both to promote peace and remain neutral; others felt that the principle of neutrality was absolutely essential in ensuring humanitarian access in conflict settings.