Today, almost one billion people around the world are forced to survive on less than one dollar a day .
The majority of the world's poorest people live in marginalized rural areas, largely dependent on natural resources and the environment for their livelihoods. In many areas of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in absolute poverty is rising. One in every two children in the world lives in poverty.
In targeting the chronic poor, those who tend to be poor over long periods of time, and in many cases, over generations, Concern's livelihoods program targets those who lack representation, power and status that prevents them claiming their rights and denies them opportunities to improve their lives.
Our belief is that gender inequality in particular is a consistent feature of extreme poverty. Global phenomena such as the HIV & AIDS pandemic, economic crises, high food prices and climate change are already, and are expected to continue, to impact on the poorest most and increase their risk and vulnerability to other shocks and stresses. Concern's experience and wider evidence shows that this level or risk, if left unchecked, is a significant cause of poverty and a considerable obstacle in efforts to help lift people out of poverty.
As with all of Concern's work, our livelihoods program aims to target the poorest people in the poorest countries of the world. Within the livelihoods program these include: the landless, internally displaced people (IDPs), agro-pastoralists, women and children, fishing communities, marginal farmers, and widows and their families. Read More http://www.chronicpoverty.org/ | http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ | Concern's Food Income and Markets Program | How Concern Understands Extreme Poverty | FIM Concern US blogs | Microfinance in Bangladesh
Livelihoods : How Concern is Meeting the Challenge
Concern's livelihoods program aims to reduce-and ultimately eliminate-absolute poverty by empowering our program participants to break free of the cycle of poverty. To do this we enable them to: produce more food; secure access to a reliable food supply; reduce their vulnerability to droughts and improve their access to water.
Concern spends about a third of its overseas budget on the livelihoods program.
We ensure that communities have better access to food, as well as the tools, seeds, knowledge, and training to become more self-sufficient and produce more food through more productive agriculture, vegetable gardens and livestock rearing.
Our livelihoods program has three main components:
- Community Management of Natural Resources
- Interaction with Markets
The goal of community-based natural resources management is to increase equitable access to and control of natural resources through community management. Concern implements this through catchment/watershed management to better utilize existing water; community management of inland wetlands to provide people with resources during the driest times of the year; and conflict resolution in the competition over natural resources and land tenure.
The goal of the agriculture component is to increase food security, economic advancement and livelihood options for marginal and smallholder farmers. Concern's interventions assist farmers through conservation agriculture to maximise returns from cash crops so that they can earn a decent living. In addition, because a lot of the areas that we work in will no longer be suitable for arable crop production as a result of climate change, Concern is teaching farmers about the importance and practice of keeping increased livestock numbers. Investments in urban agriculture and tree crops are also emphasised.
The goal of the interaction with markets component is to promote economic empowerment for extremely poor people to lift themselves out of poverty. The main activities in this intervention relate to: access to finance where Concern provides start up grants and training to assist extremely poor people to graduate to microfinance products; infrastructural development, necessary to small business generation; and business development services (BDS) in which microfinance activities are promoted to stimulate work for the poorest-who we also target with vocational training.
Concern's livelihoods program in emergency contexts
After severe disruption, Concern will begin distributing food, shelter and household items to meet people's basic survival needs. However, the main focus is reestablishing markets. This involves rebuilding infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and providing cash and vouchers rather than food so that local business can be reestablished.
Through its program Concern also works to increase the capacity of the poorest to withstand shocks and stresses. Recognizing that poor populations are the most vulnerable to future disasters, Concern-through its approach to disaster risk reduction-works with these communities to:
- Better prepare them to deal with disasters by thinking about the dangers and how they might lessen the problems if these dangers come to pass
- Protecting and restoring people's means of earning income through emergency preparedness and training
- Reduce the impact of future crises on their livelihoods
- Help them to grow a variety of crops and keep domestic animals to reduce their risk, so that if one fails, they can rely on something else
In 2011, we operated livelihoods programs in 26 countries, directly benefiting 2.4 million people and indirectly benefiting 10.4 million people.
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