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The sustainable livelihoods approach is a way of thinking about the objectives, scope, and priorities for development activities. It is based on evolving thinking about the way the poor and vulnerable live their lives and the importance of policies and institutions. It helps formulate development activities that are: people-centered; responsive and participatory; multi-level; conducted in partnership with the public and private sectors; dynamic; and sustainable.
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. It does not replace other tools, such as participatory development, sector-wide approaches, or integrated rural development. However, it makes the connection between people and the overall enabling environment that influences the outcomes of livelihood strategies. It brings attention to bear on the inherent potential of people in terms of their skills, social networks, access to physical and financial resources, and ability to influence core institutions (1).
Some responses to the question "why does the sustainable livelihoods approach require changes in the way programmes and projects are prepared and implemented?" are contained in the study entitled "The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach and Programme Development in Cambodia" prepared by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (2).