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Livelihoods programming and the Capability Approach


This research collaboration worked with selected VSO programmes to explore about how the Capability Approach can help us deliver our People First strategy in Livelihood programming.

This report, 'Exploring the Contributions of the Capability Approach to the People First Strategy', is confirmation of the resilient Livelihood Framework.

The report indicates that in terms of the application of the People First strategy, the Capability Approach overlaps and helps to advance on the strategy’s six key principles.  

From a capability perspective, being people-centred requires engaging not only with people’s needs, but their freedom to pursue their valued aspirations.

The Capability Approach provides a broad theory of change that helps to analyse how power and power relations are reproduced and challenged, contributing to the design of interventions that are evidence-based

The capability map emphasises that to be effective and appropriate, the analysis of poverty, and proposed support strategies, needs to go beyond the focus on assets and livelihood strategies, and engage with wider structural drivers that constitute people’s capability space

By focusing on participation as agency, the Capability Approach highlights the importance of establishing relationships of co-production of critical knowledge, that expands people’s abilities to reflect critically about their living conditions and act upon their value

In terms of the nature of accountability, using a Capability Approach implies focusing on wider strategic accountability about outcomes (related to capabilities to pursue valued aspirations), rather than narrower programmatic accountability about outputs and inputs

Download the full report [PDF]

Further information

For more details contact Miriam Karim, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator: miriam.karim@vsoint.org.