Life in proximity to a growing city can be especially difficult for those rural people who are poor. Findings from sustained research around three cities of the South illustrate how peri-urban conditions can create pressure for livelihood change. People were pressed further into a cash-based economy for which they were ill prepared. Surprisingly, agriculture remained important, even though urban expansion changed natural resource-based livelihoods, especially by taking land. The inevitable livelihood transitions were easier if there was support for both familiar and new natural resource-based activities, orienting production towards urban markets. Successful change was associated with greater diversification of income strands, rapid cash returns and bridging opportunities. Participatory planning of livelihood changes and local NGO inputs were advantageous. These findings are important for pro-poor development policy affecting peri-urban populations and may inform rural to urban migration policy.
Local Environment (2009) 14 (9) 879-890 [DOI: 10.1080/13549830903164193]