Where did these perspectives come from? The sustainable livelihoods approach facilitates the identification of practical priorities for actions that are based on the views and interests of those concerned but they are not a panacea. This will enhance the capacity of livelihoods perspectives to address key lacunae in recent discussions, including questions of knowledge, politics, scale and dynamics. I identify four: the need to articulate livelihoods perspectives with concerns of knowledge, politics, scale and dynamics. This line of work overlapped substantially with studies that emerged from Marxist political geography, but had, in some respects, another intellectual trajectory which came to be labelled as political ecology (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987, Robbins 2003, Forsyth 2003). 2003). This multi-disciplinary research team had been developing an approach which attempted to analyse livelihood change in a comparative way, and had developed a diagrammatic checklist to link elements of the field enquiry (Scoones 1998). So why are livelihoods perspectives seemingly not as prominent today compared to a decade ago? But what happens when contexts are the most important factor, over-riding the micro-negotiations around access to assets and the finely-tuned strategies of differentiated actors? Many thought not, and new climate change adaptation studies emerged which focused on adaptation to long-term change (Adger et al. As cattle ranching was associated with higher economic returns and infrastructure investments, this livelihood was identified as the most sustainable. As against the bureaucratic 'top-down' approach, MSSRF practices 'bottom-up' and participatory approach. A second area, with similar concerns but with different origins, is work on transitions in socio-technical systems (Geels and Schot 2007, Smith and Stirling 2008). A concern for dynamic ecologies, history and longitudinal change, gender and social differentiation and cultural contexts meant that geographers, social anthropologists and socio-economists offered a series of influential rich-picture analyses of rural settings in this period.2 This defined the field of environment and development, as well as wider concerns with livelihoods under stress, with the emphasis on coping strategies and livelihood adaptation. 2003). Despite the use of the word ‘sustainable’, the third failing has been the lack of rigorous attempts to deal with long-term secular change in environmental conditions. To effectively address deforestation, however, requires broader integrated approaches that go far beyond the promotion of sustainable land-uses. But such single time-frame analyses may miss out on longer-term dynamics and the potentials for more radical transformations. This may not be through gradual, incremental shifts, but through more radical transitions, where new social, economic and technological systems unfold. http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Pubs/files/whitepaper1997.pdf. Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Diversity is the watchword, and livelihoods approaches have challenged fundamentally single-sector approaches to solving complex rural development problems. Some tried to make politics more explicit, adding ‘political capital’ to the list of assets, and emphasising that social capital implied attention to power relations. But, in the same way, a rosy picture of local, adaptive coping to immediate pressures, based on local capacities and knowledge, may miss out on long-term shifts which will, in time, undermine livelihoods in more fundamental ways. 6 http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Pubs/files/whitepaper1997.pdf. It fosters inquiry into how agrarian power relations between classes and other social groups are created, understood, contested and transformed. As global transformations continue apace, attention to scale issues must be central to the reinvigoration of livelihoods perspectives. In particular it is shown that the poorest rely in a larger proportion on fishing activities while the better off mainly rely on farming. In the same way, sustainability debates became part-and-parcel of market-oriented solutions and top-down, instrumental global environmental governance (Berkhout et al. See: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fjps20/current. While definitions vary, the common starting point is to focus on how different people in a given place make a living, which often includes multiple activities. 3Robert Chambers (personal communication, October 2008), although, as he points out, there are various other earlier antecedents, including a paper for a 1975 Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting entitled ‘Policies for Future Rural Livelihoods’. This, the paper argues, will enhance the capacity of livelihoods perspectives to address key lacunae in recent discussions, including questions of knowledge, politics, scale and dynamics. Attention to how livelihoods are structured by relations of class, caste, gender, ethnicity, religion and cultural identity are central. Abstract and Figures Livelihoods perspectives have been central to rural development thinking and practice in the past decade. The study underlines the need to access credit conditioned to climate change resilience, access to improved varieties of crops, availing extension services and targeted resources allocations. But where do such perspectives come from, what are their conceptual roots, and what influences have shaped the way they have emerged? The ‘community of practice’ associated with sustainable livelihoods approaches in this period certainly had a strong normative commitment to poverty reduction and bottom-up, participatory approaches. 8See Carswell et al. A simple, integrating approach was needed that would tie people into this conversation, and become a way of explaining – and making happen – the idea. Small-scale agriculture, which provides a precarious living to millions of poor rural households, remains severely neglected by policy-makers in all three countries. debates about ‘mixed farming’, for example, Scoones and Wolmer 2002), the assumption is that the end point, with agriculture as a business, driven by entrepreneurship and vibrant markets, linked to a burgeoning urban economy, is the ideal to strive for.14 Such framings of course present a normative version of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ livelihoods and so ‘good’ and ‘bad’ rural futures, defining ‘progress’ in a particular way. As with gender and other dimensions of social difference, questions of class must be central to any livelihoods analysis. Community Development. Of course the social development advisors in DfID pointed out (correctly) that they had been advocating livelihoods approaches, sensitive to local needs and cultural contexts forever. But what stresses and what shocks are important? Such reflections therefore put into sharp relief the importance of complex institutional and governance arrangements, and the key relationships between livelihoods, power and politics. Drawing on diverse disciplinary perspectives and cutting across sectoral boundaries, livelihoods perspectives provide an essential counter to the monovalant approaches that have dominated development enquiry and practice. Each has different emphases and disciplinary foci, and each has engaged in rural development policy and practice in different ways, with more or less influence. 11Quoted at http://www.chronicpoverty.org/toolbox/Livelihoods.php; see DfID guidance sheets at www.livelihoods.org/info/guidance_sheets_pdfs/sect8glo.p. The sustainable livelihood framework according to. Dunn (1989 p.4) Introduction It is usually assumed that most, if not all, small scale fishing communities, particularly in tropical countries, represent the poorest and most disadvantaged part of rural societies (see for instance Smith, 1979, Smith 1981, World Bank 1982). However, perhaps predictably, it was the more instrumental, economic focus that remained at the core of the discussion, and defined much subsequent action on the ground. BNs reflect relationships of dependence between variables and represent all variables as probability distributions, which allows for the explicit propagation of variability and uncertainty between variables. Horses for courses. The main objective of the study was to assess the contribution of the fisheries activities in the development process of the local economy, in order to provide guidance for future rural development and poverty alleviation policies within the context of these North Cameroonian floodplain areas 1 . 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