Household livelihoods in semi-arid regions. Is there a way out of poverty.

Abstract

The overall aim of a three-year study was to explore, using case-study sites in southern Zimbabwe, what the development community can do to improve rural livelihoods in semi-arid systems. Most households rely on cash and subsistence income from a number of sources – dryland crop production, gardening, livestock production, woodland activities, wage or home industries and remittances/gifts. Marked wealth differentiation occurs. We suggest that there are some key drivers of change, namely: (a) rainfall, (b) macro-economic changes, (c) changing institutional arrangements and social processes, and (d) demographic processes and HIV/AIDS. Households have a rich and varied livelihood portfolio, with displays of infinite resourcefulness to make ends meet, but we do not see the poverty status of rural households improving in semi-arid regions, with most households being below the poverty line. Rural poverty is the result of a suite of factors and processes operating at a range of scales, implying that there can be no silver bullet to rural development, and that an integrated, multi-sectoral approach to development is critical, with different, but complementary, activities pursued at different levels.

Citation

Campbell, B.; Luckert, M.; and Mutamba, M. Household livelihoods in semi-arid regions. Is there a way out of poverty. Currents: New Scholarship in the Human Services (2003) 31/32: 4-10.

Household livelihoods in semi-arid regions. Is there a way out of poverty.

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