This literature review examines agricultural intensification through the practice of irrigation as a strategy for sustainable rural livelihoods. Core concepts to be applied in the research are those of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA), as described by DFID (1999). These emphasise that the approach will be peoplecentred, holistic and dynamic in seeking to understand, learn from and build upon the changes introduced by irrigation development. It will start from an analysis of people's assets, opportunities and constraints, seeking to build on existing povertyreducing potential and emphasising the issue of sustainability. Asset endowments to be considered are the five forms of 'capital': human, physical, social, natural and financial. Further emphases are the linkages between activities at the macro and micro levels and the importance of the policy and institutional environment in influencing chosen livelihood strategies and outcomes. There is also a need to understand the 'vulnerability context': the trends (e.g. economic and technological), shocks (e.g. climatic or market related) and cultural practices, which affect livelihoods.