Women farmers with a VSO volunteer in Nigeria
©VSO/Onye Ubanatu

Resilient livelihoods

The people VSO work with are facing multiple intersecting crisis – they are at the forefront of the climate emergency experiencing extreme weather events such as drought, floods on more frequently.

This year we reached over 30,000 people through our resilient livelihoods programme
Annual report 2020-21

Women are experiencing an increased burden of care both due to the climate crisis and impact of COVID-19. The situation for young people entering the job market is dire and many leave rural areas due to a lack of livelihoods and increased food insecurity. 


VSO works on youth and women’s empowerment through:

Young members of VSO and Cocoa Life’s enterprise training group
Nicholas Seun Adatsi

Youth empowerment, green jobs and decent work

Supporting young women, men and informal workers networks to transition to green decent jobs and resilient livelihoods.

Vivian working at her roadside stall
VSO/Obscura Media

Women’s empowerment, control over incomes and right to food

Promoting women’s right to adequate food, women's control over their incomes and developing climate resilient agriculture.

Volunteering for development

Vivian working on her stall
VSO/Obscura Media
VSO has supported Vivian to start her own small business with an investment of 20,000 Kenyan Shillings, to start her own kiosk.

Through our volunteering for development approach, we strengthen the agency and voice of women, small scale food producers, and young people and their networks to:

  • Ensure a holistic focus on young girls and women’s empowerment – building on their control over incomes, food security, addressing violence against women, unpaid care work, and protecting women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • We address gender norms in particular where women are considered ‘helpers’ on the farm and not ‘farmers’ and do not often have ‘control’ over land and natural and productive resources.
  • Ensure demand for greater investment in public services, including social protection.
  • Transition to green jobs and climate resilient agriculture practices to ensure right to food and decent livelihoods
  • Ensure increased control over productive resources and incomes
Fishermen gathered around boats by the Tonle Sap, Cambodia.
VSO/Cesar Lopez Balan

COVID-19 response

We’re supporting small business owners, young entrepreneurs and apprentices to reach customers, find alternative incomes, and provide their products safely.

How we're responding to COVID-19

Key Resilient Livelihoods activities include:

  • Mobilisation, recruitment and placement of skilled volunteers and creation of strategic networks and to facilitate dialogue and action.
  • Vulnerability context analysis (VCA), social inclusion and gender analysis (SEGA) and social accountability monitoring to identify underlying causes and main constraints to resilient livelihoods and identify ways to address them.
  • Studies for evidence generation, including labour, market, value chain and unpaid care analysis
  • Livelihood protection and stabilisation support for the most vulnerable groups and people with disabilities through the strengthening of social networks, financial and market literacy, access to credit and savings and income-based safety nets, especially for those living in fragile contexts
  • Empowerment of young people to increase women’s access to assets and productive resources and address discrimination and harmful social practices 
  • Promotion of policies for decent work, inclusive food systems, climate resilience, access to public services, transparency, accountability and respect of rights for marginalized groups to challenge systems and structures

Research and evaluations

Our work in Resilient Livelihoods

Yu Saret farming in her field.
VSO/Cesar Lopez Balan

Right to food

Millions of people are struggling without a reliable source of food and income to support themselves and their families.

Men planting mangroves on a beach in the Philippines
©Pakigdait Inc

The power of regrowth

Climate change, typhoons and poor fishing practices were threatening the way of life of a coastal community in the Philippines. Then volunteers came together to plant mangroves to turn the tide.

Himalayan Permaculture Centre
Chris Evans

My permaculture journey: A sustainable approach to small-scale farming

VSO e-volunteer Chris Evans outlines how a tiny pilot permaculture scheme in Nepal successfully spread environmentally friendly farming practices and ideas in line with existing cultural traditions.